John Rushworth Jellicoe, 1st Earl Jellicoe

Jump to navigation Jump to search
John Rushworth Jellicoe in uniform of the Admiral of the Fleet, the rank he achieved in 1919.

JOHN RUSHWORTH JELLICOE, 1st Earl Jellicoe, was born at Southampton, December 5, 1859, the son of Captain I. H. Jellicoe, who was for many years in the service of the R.M.S.P. Co. He was educated at Rottingdean, and entered the navy in 1872. He became a lieutenant in 1880, securing a "triple first" certificate, and served in the Egyptian War of 1882. In 1883 Jellicoe won the special £80 prize for gunnery lieutenants at the R.N.C., Greenwich. Three years later, while serving on board the Monarch, he gained the silver medal of the Board of Trade for gallantry in saving life at sea. On 30 June, 1891, he was promoted to commander. He was on board the Victoria when that vessel was rammed and sank, 22 June, 1893. Jellicoe commanded a mixed naval brigade in the expedition to relieve the legations at Peking in 1900, being severely wounded.[1]

From 1902-10 he was almost continuously serving at the Admiralty on shore, except for a short term afloat as second-in-command of the Atlantic fleet, 1907-8. He was created a K.S.V.O. in 1907, in which year he reached flag rank. From 1908-10 he was third sea lord and controller. When war became inevitable he was second sea lord and vice admiral in rank; ordered to Scapa, he there received his appointment as commander-in-chief of the Grand Fleet (4 August, 1914) which it had been arranged should be given to him m the event of war. He held that 1st until November, 1916, when he became first sea lord, having been promoted admiral, 5 March, 1915.[1]

On 30 October, 1914, Jellicoe drew up for the Admiralty a memorandum, outlining the tactics which he would adopt to defeat the German employment of mines, submarines, and torpedoes. He would aim at fighting in the north portion of the North Sea, and would assume, if the enemy battle fleet turned away, that its intention was to lead him over mines and submarines, when he would refuse to be so drawn. He felt that such tactics, if not understood, “may bring odium upon me, and might be deemed a refusal of battle." This plan was approved by the Admiralty and carried out at the battle of Jutland.[1]

On 28 November, 1916, he handed over the command of the Grand Fleet to Sir D. Beatty, and proceeded to London to take up the office of first sea lord, and to organize measures against the German U-boat campaign. In December. 1917, he retired, being succeeded by Sir R. Wemyss, and in January, 1918, he was raised to the peerage as Viscount Jellicoe of Scapa. On 5 August, 1919, he received the thanks of the nation and a grant of £5o,ooo for his war service. Promoted, admiral of the fleet in 1919, he made a tour of the empire in that year in connexion with naval defence. Having been governor general of New Zealand, 1920-24, he was created an earl in 1925.[1]

Jellicoe married, in 1902, a daughter of Sir Charles Cayzer, Bart., and had four daughters and a son, the latter born April, 1918. He received the O.M. and the G.C.V.O. after Jutland, and held many foreign orders. In 1919 he published "The Grand Fleet, 1914-16," an account of its work under his command, and in 1920, "The Crisis of the Naval War," a record of the measures taken by him to defeat the submarines and other cognate matters. A man slightly under middle height, clean-shaven, with alert, grey eyes, strongly shaped lower jaw, high, thoughtful forehead, easy, unaffected, and decisive in speech, Jellicoe was typical of the British naval officer, who is trained seaman and scientific fighter, and devoted body, brain, and soul to the great service to which he belongs.[1]

"On this Day" index of events[edit]

This "On this Day" index section lists the main events related to John Rushworth Jellicoe, 1st Earl Jellicoe. The purpose of this section is to provide an abridged, linear list of actions and events in simple chronological order. All index entries are sourced from: Lord Edward Gleichen (1918–1920). Chronology of the War. Volumes I, II & III. Constable & Company, London. (Copyright expired)


  • 04 Aug - Takes command of the Grand Fleet.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 John Alexander Hammerton (ed.) (1933). A Popular History of The Great War, Volume I, The First Phase: 1914. The Fleetway House, London. p.589-590.