Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount Hood (12 December 1724 – 27 January 1816) was a British admiral known particularly for his service in the American Revolutionary War and French Revolutionary Wars. He acted as a mentor to Horatio Nelson.
The son of Samuel Hood, vicar of Butleigh in Somerset, and prebendary of Wells and Mary Hoskins, daughter of Richard Hoskins, Esquire, of Beaminster, Dorset.
In 1740 Captain (later Admiral) Thomas Smith was stranded in Butleigh when his carriage broke down on the way to Plymouth. The Rev Samuel Hood rescued him and gave him hospitality for the night. Samuel and Alexander were inspired by his stories of the sea and he offered to help them in the Navy.
The Rev Samuel Hood and his wife would not allow any more sons to join the Navy as “they might be drowned”. Their third son, Arthur William became Vicar of Butleigh but died of fever in his 30’s. Another son was drowned in the local river Brue as a boy.
Samuel, older brother of Alexander Hood, 1st Viscount Bridport, entered the Royal Navy in 1741. He served part of his time as midshipman with George Brydges Rodney on the Ludlow and became a lieutenant in 1746. He had opportunities to see service in the North Sea during the War of the Austrian Succession.
In 1754, he was made commander of the sloop Jamaica and served on her at the North American station. In July 1756, while still on the North American station, he took command of the sloop HMS Lively.
Hood was made an Irish peer as Baron Hood of Catherington in September 1782. During the peace, he entered the British Parliament as Member for Westminster in the election of 1784 where he was a supporter of the government of William Pitt the Younger. In 1786 he became Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth holding that post until 1789.
Promoted to vice-admiral in 1787, he was appointed to the Board of Admiralty under John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham, brother of the Prime Minister, in July 1788. He became Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth again in June 1792.
Samuel Hood was created Viscount Hood of Whitley, Warwickshire in 1796 with a pension of £2000 per year for life (about £300,000 a year in present (2010) terms). In 1796, he was also appointed Governor of the Greenwich Hospital, a position which he held until his death in 1816. He served as Tory Member of Parliament for Westminster from 1784 to 1788 and from 1790 to 1796, and was Member for Reigate between 1789 and 1790.
He died in Greenwich on 27 January 1816 and is buried in Greenwich Hospital Cemetery. A peerage of Great Britain was conferred on his wife, Susannah, as Baroness Hood of Catherington in 1795. Samuel Hood’s titles descended to his youngest son, Henry (1753–1836).
There are several portraits of Lord Hood by Lemuel Francis Abbott in the Guildhall and in the National Portrait Gallery. He was also painted by Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough.