, lord viscount Torrington, an eminent naval officer, was descended
, lord viscount Torrington, an eminent naval officer, was descended from a family long seated in Kent, his direct ancestor Robert Byng, of Wrotham, inthat county, being high sheriff of it in the 34th year of queen Elizabeth; and he was the eldest son of John Byng, esq. by Philadelphia, daughter of Mr. Johnson, of Loans, Surrey. He was born in 1663, and went a Volunteer to sea in 1678, at the age of fifteen, with the king’s letter given him on the recommendation of the duke of York. In 1681 he quitted the sea-service upon the invitation of general Kirk, governor of Tangier, and served as a cadet in the grenadiers of that garrison; until on a vacancy, which soon happened, the general made him ensign of his own company; and soon after a lieutenant. In 1684, after the demolition of Tangier, lord Dartmouth, general of the sea and land forces, appointed him lieutenant of the Oxford; from which time he constantly kept to the sea-service, remaining likewise an officer in the army several years after. In 1685 he went lieutenant of his majesty’s ship the Phoenix to the East Indies where, engaging and boarding a Zinganian pirate, who maintained a desperate fight, most of those who entered with him were killed, himself much wounded, and the pirate sinking, he was taken out of the sea with scarce any remains of life. In 1688, being first lieutenant to sir John Ashby, in the fleet commanded by lord Dartmouth, fitted out to oppose the designs of the prince of Orange, he was in a particular manner intrusted and employed in the measures then carrying on amongst the most considerable officers of the fleet in favour of that prince; and was the person confided in by them to carry their secret assurances of obedience to his highness, to whom he was privately introduced, at Sherburn, by admiral Russel, afterwards earl of Orford. After his return to the fleet, lord Dartmouth sent him with capt. Aylmer, and capt. Flastings, to carry a message of submission to the prince at Windsor; and made him captain of the Constant Warwick, a ship of the fourth rate. In 1690 he commanded the Hope, a third rate, and was second to sir George Rooke, in the battle off Beachy head. In the years 1691 and 1692, he was captain of the Royal Oak, and served under admiral Russel, who commanded in chief their Majesty’s fleet. In F693, that great officer distinguished him in a particular manner, by promoting him to the rank of his first captain; in which station he served in 1694 and 1695 in the Mediterranean, where the designs of the French against Barcelona were prevented: and also the next year, 1696, in the Channel, to oppose the intended invasion of king James with a French army from the coast of France; which, upon the appearance of the fleet, was laid aside. In 1702, upon the breaking out of the war, he accepted of the command of the Nassau, a third rate, and was at the taking and burning of the French and Spanish fleets at Vigo. The year following he was made rearadmiral of the red, and served in the fleet commanded by *ir Cloudesley Shovel, in the Mediterranean; who detached him with a squadron to Algiers, where he renewed and improved our treaties with that government. In 1704 he served in the grand fleet in the Mediterranean, and commanded the squadron that attacked and cannonaded Gibraltar; and, by landing the seamen, whose valour was very remarkably displayed on this occasion, the town was taken. He was in the battle of Malaga, which followed soon after, and, for his behaviour in that action, had the honour of knighthood conferred on him by his Majesty. In the winter of this year he was sent oat with a squadron to cruise against the French, which he^ did with great success, taking about twenty of their largest privateers in about two months time, with the Thetis, a French man of war of fifty guns. In 1705 he was made vice-admiral of the blue: and upon the election of a new parliament, was returned burgess for Plymouth, which place he represented in every succeeding parliament to the year 1721, when he was advanced to the peerage.