Nelson’s slate-keeper finally gets his place in Royal Navy history

112062_NELSON_SEC_07/06/11''Malcolm Paton 85, great-grandson of Thomas Goble (Lord Nelson's secretary in Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar), pictured aboard HMS Victory.' 'Picture: Allan Hutchings (112062-236)
112062_NELSON_SEC_07/06/11''Malcolm Paton 85, great-grandson of Thomas Goble (Lord Nelson's secretary in Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar), pictured aboard HMS Victory.' 'Picture: Allan Hutchings (112062-236)
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HE recorded the details of Britain’s greatest naval triumph and now one of Thomas Goble’s descendants has finally told the story of his life – 206 years on.

Goble was promoted in the field at the Battle of Trafalgar to become Admiral Lord Nelson’s secretary.

Yesterday his great grandson Malcolm Paton was filmed on board HMS Victory for the nation’s archives, relating the tale of his ancestor’s life.

Mr Paton, 85, said: ‘His was a remarkable life and he played an important role at Trafalgar. I was only too happy to record his story for posterity and I’m thrilled it will be kept at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth.’

Mr Paton, who served in Royal Navy and became a commander, comes from Norfolk, but Goble’s entire life was spent in the Portsmouth area.

He was born in the village of Burpham, near Arundel, in 1780, joined the merchant navy in his teens and was press-ganged into the Royal Navy in 1804 – the year before Trafalgar. He was 23.

He joined Victory a couple of weeks before the battle and served as Master’s Mate and carried the slate.

Mr Paton said: ‘The slate was the board on which Thomas recorded all the movements of our fleet and those of the French and Spanish, as well as significant moments during the battle.’

Soon after the battle began Nelson’s secretary, was killed and Goble was quickly promoted to Secretary to the Fleet. ‘Despite his promotion he carried on marking the slate throughout the fighting,’ added Mr Paton.

Shortly after, Nelson was hit by a musket ball and died three hours later. In Benjamin West’s celebrated painting of the death of Nelson, Goble is portrayed looking down at the dying Nelson.

Mr Paton was filmed by members of the navy’s photographic unit in the office of Victory’s current commanding officer, Lt-Cmdr Oscar Whild.

He added: ‘Thomas is supposed to have had a fiery temper and was twice court martialled. The second time he was dismissed from the service and moved to 63 High Street, Fareham where he spent the rest of his life.’

At the age of 42 Goble had married Mary Goodeve, who was exactly half his age, at St Mary’s Church, Portsea. He owned several properties at Portchester before moving to Fareham.

They died within a few months of each other in 1869. Mary was 68, Thomas, 89. They are buried together in Portchester Castle.