My connection to Lord Nelson -Norfolk's favourite Son.
Updated: Nov 16, 2020
Stuart Verney - Owner of Somerleyton Meadows Bed & Breakfast, tells us about his distant relation, John Pasco who was the flag officer onboard Admiral Nelson's ship, HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. Responsible for the infamous signal: "England expects that every man will do his duty".
Rear-Admiral John Pasco (1774–1853) served in the Royal Navy between 1784 and 1853, eventually rising to the rank of Rear Admiral. He was the my Mother's great uncle, six times removed.
Our family still have the family Bible which documents all of the action that John Pasco saw during his time in the Navy.
Nelson asked Pasco to send the message "England confides that every man will do his duty". Pasco suggested "expects" be substituted for "confides", since the former was in the signal book, whereas confides would have to be spelt out letter-by-letter. Nelson quickly agreed to the change,
“His Lordship came to me on the poop, and after ordering certain signals to be made, about a quarter to noon, he said, 'Mr Pasco, I wish to say to the fleet, ENGLAND CONFIDES THAT EVERY MAN WILL DO HIS DUTY' and he added 'You must be quick, for I have one more to make which is for close action'. I replied, 'If your Lordship will permit me to substitute the confides for expects the signal will soon be completed, because the word expects is in the vocabulary, and confides must be spelt', His Lordship replied, in haste, and with seeming satisfaction, 'That will do, Pasco, make it directly'.
In effect, this new message had a completely different tone to that which Neslon originally intended - some may say it had a profound effect on the outcome of the battle.