Rodney Maclaine Lloyd was born on 3rd July and baptised in Thornbury on 29th September 1841. He was the third son, and fifth child, of Edmund and Catherine Elizabeth Lloyd who were living at Fairfield House in Castle Street, Thornbury. The 1851 census shows that Rodney was boarding in a private school in St Andrews in Bristol. From there and at the age of 12, he entered the Navy in May 1854.
We have a fairly detailed account of his naval career from the newspapers. He served on HMS Termagent in the Baltic in 1854 and HMS Nankin (shown below on the right) in China from September 1854 to February 1859. This is very interesting as Henry Craven St John from Castle Street in Thornbury was also on the Nankin in 1857. In China he was present at all the operations in the South including the first assault on Canton in October 1856, and the capture of the Bogne forts in November 1856, and was stationed at Waith Wintong fort for 3 months during the blockade of the river. ‘This distinguished officer took part in three boat actions with war-junks with the enemy about Canton in 1857. He was midshipman of a pinnace in action at Falstian on 1st June 1857 and on December 14th 1857 was in charge of the boat that rescued Lieutenant Pim of HM gunboat Bautarer and party from an attack by the Chinese on a town near Blenhai Beach. On the following day the gallant officer was present at the capture and destruction of the town. For these and other services Rodney was specially mentioned in despatches.
On 11th July 1860 Rodney became ‘Mate’. On 31st January 1861, he jumped overboard at Messina, Sicily and swam to the rescue of a boy belonging to HMS Terrible who had fallen into the harbour. For this daring act, Rodney was awarded the Egyptian medal and the Khedive’s bronze star, together with the bronze medal of the Royal Humane Society. The 1861 census shows Rodney as Mate aboard the HMS Terrible (shown below left). On 30th August 1861 he was made a Lieutenant.
In July 1867 Rodney was in command of Her Majesty’s ship Janus when he captured a large heavily armed piratical junk in Canton river after determined resistance. In command of the gunboat ‘Bouncer’, Rodney was wounded when landed near Swatow in China with an expeditionary force under Commander Oliver Jones. It is noted that he ‘fell into a spear pit’.
We cannot account for the photograph below on the right which is amongst Lloyd family papers and seems to be a light hearted reference to yet another adventure of this young man.
On the 12th June 1869 he captured five large piratical junks in the Gulf of Tonquin. These piratical vessels were taken by night; a landing party after a brisk fight with the pirates on shore, having swam off to one captured junk, and lowered her guns upon the others. Again Henry Craven St John of Stokefield House Castle Street who was then in command of Her Majesty’s gunboat Opossum was promoted to Commander in Her Majesty’s Fleet for what appears to be the same incident.
On 9th August 1870 he promoted to the rank of Commander and it was noted in the newspapers that he was specially promoted for services in repression of piracy in the China Seas. Back on dry land, the newspaper also reported that Rodney was a member of the Portsea Island Society for the Culture of Science and Art. In January 1875 he sailed for Port Royal in Jamaica in HMS Bullfinch, a double screw gun vessel. On 23rd March it was being reported that Rodney was being court-marshalled, along with the navigation officer, for allowing the HMS Bullfinch to put aground off Port Royal. We don’t know the outcome but it seems that Rodney was cleared as on 29th April the HMS Bullfinch sailed from Port Royal for Belize, Honduras with Commander Rodney Lloyd in charge.
It seems that some good might have come from Rodney’s time on shore as on 28th December 1874 he got married in Kingston, Jamaica. His wife was Catherine Louisa, daughter of the late Mr William Payne Georges of Norris Estate, Custos of St Davids (who had died at sea in 1869 on his way to Jamaica, West Indies on the Royal Mail steamer ). On 6th March 1876 there is report Count Munster, the German Ambassador in London, expressed thanks to Rodney for the ‘good services rendered by the English men-of-war on the West Indies station on behalf of German subjects in Columbia during the late insurrection in Bolivia’.
In 1879 HMS Bullfinch ordered back to UK, and Rodney was promoted to Captain on 4th February 1879. He then seems to have spent a few years land based. The Southsea Visitors List shows Captain and Mrs Rodney Lloyd were living at ‘Haslemere’, Clarendon Road East. They advertised in the local newspaper for a ‘Plain Cook about 25, single’. The next few years the Lloyds seemed heavily involved in the social life of the Portsmouth. The newspapers show that they were on many invitation lists for grand parties and balls organised on ships in port and on land.
Rodney and Catherine also took advantage of this period to have a family. Their son, Lionel Georges Rodney was born on 26th April 1881. Another child was born on 19th November 1882 and we believe, from the 1901 census, that she was a daughter named Margery G. In 1882 the family moved to ‘The Shrubbery,’ Grove Road, Southsea. They had a daughter on 30th July 1884 whom we believe, from the 1901 census to be named Olive.
It wasn’t long before Rodney was off on his travels again. In July 1886 there is a report that the Corvette ‘Briton’ left Zanzibar for Comoro Islands, Madagascar & Mozambique, then in September sailed from Zanzibar to Bombay, in April 1887 it sailed from Colombo in Ceylon to Maldives, Seychelles & Aden. On 12th April 1887 it was reported that the 12 screw corvette Briton (built 18 years earlier) had completed her commission on East India Station, but owing to the condition of her hull she was to be scrapped at Bombay. It was reported that the Briton had performed good and prominent service at Suarkim in 1884 and been very successful in the suppression of slavery in Zanzibar waters.
In 1888 Rodney was given command of HMS Iron Duke (shown in photo on the left). She was an old fashioned battleship with a crew of 500 men and equipped with ten 9 inch guns, four 64 pounder guns and torpedo tubes. It also had electric search lights for spotting the enemy in the dark and another electric light on the mast top for signalling up to 18 miles. The Iron Duke had previously gained some notoriety for ramming her sister ship, HMS Vanguard in thick fog in Dublin Bay in 1875. The Vanguard was sunk, although fortunately all the crew were rescued.
In August 1889 he moved as Commodore to HMS Urgent in Jamaica. Still in Jamaica in June 1891 he was awarded a ‘Good Service Pension’ of 150/- per year. On 24th May 1892 he was awarded a C. B. (Companion of the Bath) in Queen Victoria’s Birthday Honours.
By the end of 1892 he was back in Southsea, living at Emmanuel Road. It was reported that on 1st April 1893 he was appointed to HMS Neptune, but this didn’t seem to take him from his home at 23 Clarence Parade West. In July 1893 he attended a party at Osborne House organised by Queen Victoria and to which Princesses Louise and Beatrice were invited along with the Duke and Duchess of York.
On 4th April 1894 he was appointed as Rear Admiral. In November 1894 he moved to HMS Colossus and during this period he was made an honorary member of the Royal Yacht Club and on 30th July he attended a Levee at St James Palace. He presented to Queen Victoria by the Lord of the Admiralty and Rodney himself presented his brother, Charles Harford Lloyd. A few days later he attended a State Ball at Buckingham Palace. During 1895 and 1896 he was regularly invited to similar Levees and Balls.
In January 1896 he became Superintendent of Malta Dockyard. The newspaper reported that Rodney had previously been unemployed for some little time and emphasised how difficult that must have been for someone who had such an unusually active time, especially in the early portion of his career. The Malta appointment in addition to full pay of £1065 carried a table allowance of £760 per annum. In August the following the year, it was reported that Rodney, along with a lot of other officers and seaman serving in Malta had been struck down with dysentery and suffering from fever. Further reports of his sickness were given in later newspapers. He survived and in July 1899 Rodney took over temporary command of the Mediterranean Fleet pending the arrival of Admiral Sir John Fisher.
In February 1900 he returned to England and it was noted that he had made great improvements to the dockyard in Malta, particularly the French Dock. In March 1900 he was elected to be a Younger Brother to Trinity House. On 28th April 1900 Rodney’s son, Lionel Georges Rodney Lloyd died of enteric fever in Kimberley, South Africa. He was aged 19 and a midshipman on HMS Doris who had been in charge of a naval searchlight party. He was posthumously awarded a prize (a silver cup) for rifle shooting by midshipmen in the Mediterranean Fleet which he had won whilst serving on HMS Isis.
On 10th August 1900 he was made Vice Admiral. In the 1901 census Rodney and Catherine were living in Neville House, Victoria Road South, Portsmouth. His two daughters, Margery G aged 18 and Olive aged 16 were living with them. On 28th April 1904 he was made an Admiral. Rodney died 17th May 1911 at Royal Naval Club at Portsmouth from angina pectoris. Catherine died in Wandsworth in 1920 aged 63.