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The Private Correspondence of Admiral Lord Collingwood, ed. Edward Hughes (Navy Records Society vol. 98, 1957), p. 130. 16. Nicolas, Dispatches, VII,241. 17. , 239. 18. Logs of the Great Sea Fights, 1794-1805, ed. T. Sturges jackson (Navy Records Society vols 16 & 18, 1899-1900), II,l96, quoting Lt. George Brown of the Victory. 19. W. B. Admiral of the Red (London, 1919, 2 vols), I,240. 20. Diaries and Correspondence offames Harris, First Earl ofMalmesbury, ed. [James Harris] 3rd Earl of Malmesbury (London, 1844, 4 vols), lV,311.

In June 1799 Fanny stood as a sponsor to the Davisons' sixth child, Alexander Horatio Nelson Davison, though she excused herself from the baby's christening pleading the lack of a suitable gown. It was against this intimate background that Davison received Nelson's deplorable instruction in April1801 to 'signify to Lady N. that I expect, and for which I have made such a very liberal allowance to her, to be left to myself'. 30 Davison dutifully replied that 'I shall implicitly obey and execute your wishes at the proper time ...

His function there was to protect Malta and Gibraltar, to keep in check the French Mediterranean squadron, and above all to prevent it escaping through the Straits to participate in Napoleon's invasion schemes. With the Grande Armee assembling around Boulogne, it was essential that the French squadrons be prevented from uniting and coming up the Channel. It was very difficult to mount a close blockade of Toulon, in the face of frequent offshore gales in winter, and the mountains behind the port from which the blockaders could be seen far out to sea.

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