Horatio Nelson was another of the famous Napoleonic era sailors who was frequently to be found in Plymouth Dock refitting or preparing to go and fight the French. Plymouth was also understood to be an excellent source of mariners for the insatiable demand of the Royal Navy.
He was such a household name and familiar presence that he was awarded the Freedom of Plymouth in 1801:
“Nelson was received with magnificent hospitality, and he was greeted with almost reverent affection in the streets. His step brother and his friend, Captain Hardy, were his invariable companions, and the figures of the trio became more familiar than ever to the grateful populace. No time was lost by the Corporation in asking Nelson to receive the freedom of the borough; and on the day fixed for the function, the streets were resplendent with uniforms, and he drove through the delirious crowds, in the full uniform of his office, blazing stars and golden medals on his breast. Cannon boomed, the air was rent with acclamations and sailors maimed and others sound in limb – his companions in many a fight – threw their caps aloft and struggled though the white and scarlet lines to clasp his remaining hand. Cries of “God Bless Your Honour” were raised from a thousand throats as the hero passed into the Mayoralty House in Notte Street; and within and without the cheering was thunderous.”
Plymouth Dock was also the port that built some of the ships he commanded such as the Foudroyant on which he began his affair with Lady Hamilton and directed the capture of Malta and Naples from.
Empire in Your Backyard: Plymouth Article | Significant Individuals