Robert R. Rea


The Royal Navy offered a promising career to the younger sons of many an English county family in the eighteenth century, and when political influence could be brought to bear, prospects for rapid advancement were considerably increased. The case of John Eliot offers an interesting example of the making of a naval officer during the Seven Years War and demonstrates the heights to which family connections could raise a very young man, for Eliot’s elevation to the governorship of the colony of West Florida at the age of twenty-four far surpassed the claims of his service at sea. Eliot’s naval career is none the less fascinating and deserving of more than the cursory, inaccurate notice it has hitherto received, and recent research makes possible for the first time something more than a hypothetical explanation of his sudden death at Pensacola.