Military Wiki
Sir William Nathan Wrighte Hewett
Born (1834-08-12)August 12, 1834
Died May 13, 1888(1888-05-13) (aged 53)
Place of birth Brighton, Sussex
Place of death Portsmouth, Hampshire
Buried at Highland Road Cemetery, Portsmouth
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Navy
Years of service 1847 - 1888
Rank Vice Admiral
Commands held Cape of Good Hope Station
East Indies Station
Channel Fleet
Battles/wars Crimean War
Second Anglo-Burmese War
Mahdist War
Abyssinian War
Awards Order of Solomon
Victoria Cross
Order of the Bath
Order of the Star of India

Vice Admiral Sir William Nathan Wrighte Hewett VC KCB KCSI (12 August 1834 – 13 May 1888) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.


Hewett was born at Brighton to Dr. William Hewett,[1] physician to King William IV. He entered the Royal Navy in 1847, and served as a midshipman in the Burmese War. In 1854, while acting mate of HMS Beagle, he was attached to the Naval Brigade during the Siege of Sevastopol. While he was in command of the Right Lancaster Battery on 26 October, and again on 5 November, he performed deeds which led to a field promotion to lieutenant and his award of the Victoria Cross, one of the first for that war. The promotion was made official after passing his examinations at Portsmouth; Hewett was subsequently appointed to the royal yacht, from which he was promoted to commander 13 September 1858.[2]

Other commands included: HMS Viper, and HMS Rinaldo before his promotion to captain 24 November 1862, HMS Basilisk (1865–1869), flag-captain to Sir Henry Kellett (1870–1872) and captain of HMS Devastation (1872–1873). He was Commander-in-Chief, Cape of Good Hope and West Coast of Africa Station, in charge of naval operations during the Third Anglo-Ashanti War, from 1873. For his services during this conflict, on 31 March 1874 he was awarded made KCB. He commanded HMS Achilles from 1877 until he was drawn into service in the Mahdist War. In 1882 he was appointed Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Station.[3] Following the British defeat at El Teb, Hewett commanded the naval brigade which landed at Suakin 6 February 1884, and was appointed governor of Sudan 10 February by Baker Pasha.[2] From May 1885 to July 1885 he was Junior Naval Lord.[3]

In April, Hewett led a delegation to Emperor Yohannes IV which negotiated, in exchange for free transit of guns and ammunition through Massawa, access through Ethiopian territory for the successful evacuation of the Egyptian garrisons that had been isolated in southern Sudan by the revolt of Muhammad Ahmad (also known as the Mahdi) against the Egyptian rulers.[4]

After his return from Ethiopia, Hewett was promoted to Vice Admiral 8 July 1884. From March 1886 to April 1888 he was in command of the Channel Fleet; however, his delicate health worsened and he died shortly after his retirement.[2]

The medal

On 26 October 1854 at Sebastopol Lieutenant Hewett was in charge of the Right Lancaster Battery, which was being threatened by the enemy. Through a misunderstanding, he was ordered to spike his gun and retreat. However the lieutenant assumed the responsibility of disregarding the order, then pulled down the parapet of the battery and with the assistance of some soldiers slewed his gun round and poured on the advancing enemy a most destructive and effectual fire. On 5 November at the Battle of Inkerman he again acted with great bravery. For these two actions he was awarded the Victoria Cross. The medal is displayed at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London.[5]


  1. "Memorials and Monuments in Portsmouth". Retrieved March 14, 2013. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2  "Hewett, William Nathan Wrighte". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 William Loney RN
  4. Paul B. Henze, Layers of Time, A History of Ethiopia (New York: Palgrave, 2000), pp. 155f
  5. Victoria Cross (MED1948)

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Sir John Commerell
Commander-in-Chief, Cape of Good Hope Station
Succeeded by
Sir Francis Sullivan
Preceded by
William Jones
Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Station
Succeeded by
Sir Frederick Richards
Preceded by
Sir Frederick Richards
Junior Naval Lord
Succeeded by
William Codrington
Preceded by
Charles Fellowes
Commander-in-Chief, Channel Fleet
Succeeded by
Sir John Baird

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