By Sarah Lagan
Admiral Lord Nelson’s most famous words were perhaps “England
expects that every man will do his duty”. But press photographer
Richard Pasco can claim that his ancestor had a hand in how the very
words were written.
Pasco, a photographer for the Wilts & Glos Standard, said his
forefather, John, was the flag signalman on the HMS Victory 200 years
ago and that he had to change Nelson’s original message, which read
“considers” rather than “expects” because it used up too many flags.
The message was shortened by John to allow it to be flown from the mast
in quicker time.
He described when Nelson approached him with a
request for the flag in his diary. Pasco responded: “If your Lordship
will permit me to substitute the ‘confides’ for ‘expects’, the signal
will soon be completed, because the word ‘expects’ is in the
vocabulary, and ‘confides’ must be spelt,” His Lordship replied, in
haste, and with seeming satisfaction: “That will do, Pasco, make it
The message was flown from the Victory shortly before Nelson battled the combined forces of the French and the Spanish in 1805.
also hoisted Nelson’s final message to his fleet: “Engage the enemy
more closely” as the British fleet advanced on Villeneuve’s ships off
Spain’s Atlantic coast.
Richard explained that after the Battle
of Trafalgar, John Pasco went on to command the Victory himself and had
an encounter with another figure from naval history.
He said: “He
was sailing in the South Pacific and his wife came with him. She gave
birth on the trip and someone signed the family bible to mark the
birth. The man who signed it was Captain Bligh, who was the captain
cast away from the Bounty.”