Admiral Sir Philip Durham (29 July 1763 – 2 April 1845) was a Royal Navy officer whose service in the American War of Independence, French Revolutionary War and Napoleonic Wars was lengthy and distinguished.
He was born in 1763, the third son of James Durham of Largo in Fife, and entered the Navy in 1777 as Midshipman on-board the Trident. He saw active service under Rodney, and in 1780 was promoted to Acting Lieutenant and Aide-de-camp to Admiral Kempenfelt, with whom he served in the action of December 14, 1781, with the French fleet under the Guichen. He was still acting in the same capacity when the Royal George went down at Spithead on August 29, 1782.
He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in 1782, Commander in 1790, and Post Captain in 1793, and while in command of the Anson frigate took part in the unfortunate expedition to Quiberon Bay in 1794. For conspicuous service on various occasions he twice received the thanks of the Board of Trade, as well as a letter of approbation from the Commissioners of the Admiralty. In 1805 he commanded the Defiance in Admiral Calder’s action with Villeneuve off Cape Finisterre but refused to return with him to England to give evidence on his court-martial. This was a most fortunate decision as thereby he was able to take part in the Battle of Trafalgar.
Durham was promoted to Rear-Admiral in 1810, and in 1815 he and Lieutenant-General Sir James Leith conducted an expeditionary force to Guadeloupe where the celebrated Comte de Linois, a staunch Bonapartist who had there returned as Governor, had proclaimed Napoleon. On August 10, after a slight action, Linois capitulated. Durham received the K.C.B. in this year, and was made Vice-Admiral in 1819, and Admiral and G.C.B. in 1830.
He then went into Parliament as member for Queenborough, and was member for Devizes from 1834 to 1836. His last appointment was as Commander-in-Chief at Portsmouth from 1836 to 1839. His portrait, presented by himself, hangs beside that of Barnes in the Dining Room.
On receiving the news of Durham’s death, it was decided to secure a Royal Personage as Club President. The Committee took the necessary steps, and H.R.H. Adolphus Frederick Duke of Cambridge, the seventh son of King George III, was graciously pleased to accept the office, and enrolled himself as a Member of the Army & Navy Club.
Army & Navy Club Presidents
Lieutenant-General Sir Edward Barnes G.C.B.
1837 - 1838
Admiral Sir Philip Durham G.C.B.
1838 - 1945
Field-Marshal HRH Adolphus Frederick, Duke of Cambridge
1845 – 1850
Field-Marshal HRH George, Duke of Cambridge
1850 – 1904
Field-Marshal HRH the Duke of Connaught and Strathearn
1904 – 1942
Major-General HRH the Duke of Gloucester
1942 – 1974
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent