THE EXECUTION OF ADMIRAL BYNG, 14 MARCH 1757
(Highest resolution available 3538×1885)
A heavily publicized trial followed and Byng was found guilty of ‘failing to do his utmost to take or capture the enemy ships’ and in an extraordinary example of self-inflicted bloodletting, he was executed by his own marines on his own quarterdeck. A midday on 14 March 1757 he was led to the quarterdeck of the Monarque, berthed in Portsmouth harbor. There he knelt on a cushion and tied one white handkerchief around his eyes and held the other in his hand. He had requested that the marines fire when he dropped the handkerchief, the moment depicted in the painting. The two men in tears to the right of Byng are believed to be his close friends. On is his secretary, George Lawrence, to whom Byng had given his watch moments before. All accounts agree that Byng died with exceptional bravery, but there was no professional sympathy for his actions at the Battle of Minorca.