According to Voltaire's Candide, Admiral John Byng's 1757 execution went forward to 'encourage the others'. Of course, the story is more complicated. This microhistorical account upon a macro-event presents an updated, revisionist, and detailed account of a dark chapter in British naval history. Asking 'what was Britain like the moment Byng returned to Portsmouth after the Battle of Minorca (1756)?' not only returns a glimpse of mid-eighteenth century Britain but provides a deeper understanding of how a wartime admiral, the son of a peer, of some wealth, a once colonial governor, and sitting member of parliament came to be scapegoated and then executed for the failings of others. This manuscript presents a cultural, social, and political dive into Britain at the beginning of the Seven Years' War. Part 1 focuses on ballad, newspaper, and prize culture. Part 2 makes a turn towards the social where religion, morality, rioting, and disease play into the Byng saga. Admiral Byng's record during the 1755 Channel Campaign is explored, as is the Mediterranean context of the Seven Years' War, troubles elsewhere in the empire, and then the politics behind Byng's trial and execution.

chapter |10 pages


chapter 1|16 pages

‘Sung Hoarse’

The Intersect of Byng and Ballads

chapter 2|23 pages

‘More Dangerous Enemies’

Newspapers, Pamphlets, and Print Wars

chapter 3|17 pages

‘The Moment They Have Permission’

Byng and Prize Culture

chapter 4|22 pages

‘The Fierce Anger of God’

Byng and Religion

chapter 5|20 pages

‘Grinding the Face of the Poor’

Byng, Dearth, and Morality

chapter 6|35 pages

‘A Mob to Declare’

Three Concurrent Riots

chapter 7|19 pages

‘Dangerously Ill of Fevers’

Disease, Society, and Manning Issues

chapter 8|20 pages

‘Hot Water’

The 1755 Channel Campaign

chapter 9|26 pages

‘This Island’

Minorca in Context and in Battle

chapter 10|18 pages

‘The Empire’

India, North America, and Byng

chapter 11|35 pages

‘Error in Judgement’

Trial, Inquiry, and Sentencing

chapter |5 pages


‘To Bingyfi’ and Other Concluding Remarks