Born at Porstmouth on 20 December 1774, eldest son of John Pasco, a shipwright of Plymouth Dock and Elizabeth (nee Banfield).
Pasco entered the Royal Navy on 4 June 1784, as a captain's servant on board the Druid. He was on active service in the West Indies and North America in 1786 as a gunner's servant; afterwards on various ships patrolling the English Channel, Mediterranean, Cape of Good Hope and West Indies stations.
Served on board the Victory as the Signal Lieutenant under Nelson at Trafalgar in 1805 and had been the officer responsible for the transmission of the famous battle signal 'England expects that every man will do his duty'. Severely wounded in the right arm during the battle; and as a result of his wound he received a grant from the patriotic fund and allowed a pension of £250. However, despite the fact that he was promoted to the rank of commander on 24 December 1805, he remained unemployed for almost three years afterwards.
Appointed to the command of the Hindostan for the voyage to New South Wales (1809-1810). He had married Rebecca (nee Penfold) on 1 September 1805 and with a wife and growing family there would be a necessity to make provision for them. In time his wife would provide him with six sons, two of whom died in infancy, and three daughters. Mrs. Pasco accompanied her husband on the voyage to New South Wales on board the Hindostan along with two young children - a son and daughter. Pasco left the Hindostan on 24 November 1810.
In the period 1811-1815 he was captain (promoted 3 April 1811) of the Tartarus on the North America station; the frigate Rota on the Lisbon station; and between 1815-1818 in command of the Lee, a small frigate employed in the Channel for the suppression of smuggling. He retired from active service in September 1818 and he remained ashore for the next twenty-eight years. In 1846 he was appointed as captain of the Victory at Portsmouth, and was promoted to Rear-Admiral (Blue) on his retirement on 22 September 1847, followed by Rear-Admiral (White) on 9 October 1849; Rear-Admiral (Red) in 1852; and Vice-Admiral on 11 September 1854.
The complaint by Elizabeth Macquarie (and others) regarding Pasco's propensity to chase every strange sail sighted during the voyage to NSW in 1809 is linked directly to the fact that as'commodore' of the fleet Pasco would not have been receiving any extra pay for his current rank. The term 'Commodore' was an ad hoc rank, conferred on the commander of an expedition for the duration of a specific operation or cruise only: when that was completed, the holder normally reverted to plain Captain. Consequently, Pasco was no different to any other serving naval officer. He did not hold Flag rank at this stage - nor qualify for its financial benefits. 'Prize' was the only way that he could hope to improve his financial situation.
Admiral John Pasco married a second time, on 22 July 1843, Eliza, widow of Captain Weaver, of the Royal Marines; he died [aged 79] at East Stonehouse, Plymouth, Devon on 16 November 1853.
Byrne, William R. A Naval Biographical Dictionary. London: Murray, 1849 Vol. 2 pp.869-870.
Clarke, John D. The Men of the HMS Vistory at Trafalgar, including the Muster Roll, Casualties, Rewards and Medals. Uckfield: Vintage Naval Library, 1999 p.82.
The Commissioned Sea Officers of the Royal Navy 1660-1815. (eds.) David Syrett and R.L. DiNardo. Aldershot, UK: Scolar Press, 1994 p.349.
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004 Vol. 42 p.964.
Mackenzie, Robert H. The Trafalgar Roll. London: George Allen, 1913 pp.13-14.
Naval Chronicle 24 (1810) p.437.
Popham, Hugh. A Damned Cunning Fellow: the eventful life of Rear-Admiral Sir Home Popham 1762-1820. Old Ferry Press, 1991 pp.129-130.
Tracy, Nicholas. Who's Who in Nelson's Navy: 200 naval heroes. London: Chatham Publishing, 2006 pp.285-286.
Personal communication with descendant Warren Pasco (Williamstown, Victoria) September 2003 and September 2010.
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