John Byng
John Byng
Historical Figure
Nationality: United Kingdom
Date of Birth: 1704
Date of Death: 1757
Cause of Death: Firing squad
Occupation: Sailor
Military Branch: Royal Navy (Seven Years' War)
Political Office(s): Commodore-Governor of Newfoundland (1742)
Member of Parliament for Rochester (1751-1757)
Turtledove Appearances:
POD: c 85,000,000 BCE;
Relevant POD: 1452
Appearance(s): The United States of Atlantis
Type of Appearance: Posthumous reference
Date of Death: Mid 18th century
Cause of Death: Execution by hanging
John Byng (29 October 1704 – 14 March 1757) was a British politician and an admiral in the Royal Navy. Byng was court-martialed and executed by firing squad for failing to "do his utmost" against the French Navy during the Battle of Minorca, at the beginning of the Seven Years' War. The French historian Voltaire wrote a treatise which surmised that the purpose of Byng's death was "pour encourager les autres."

Literary commentEdit

Byng's death, and/or Voltaire's response to it, are referenced fleetingly in numerous Harry Turtledove stories with a later POD.

John Byng in AtlantisEdit

John Byng was hanged by the British government for dereliction of duty, sometime in the 18th century.[1] The French chronicler Voltaire believed the reason was because the British government wanted to encourage its other admirals by example: "pour encourager les autres." Custis Cawthorne referenced this incident in the Atlantean Assembly to emphasize how important it was that the Atlanteans win the Atlantean War of Independence.[2] Victor Radcliff referenced Cawthorne referencing the same incident, when discussing the disobedient attitudes of the Nouveau Redon quartermasters,[3] and the Marquis de La Fayette referenced the same quote in describing the penalty for soldiers who raped friendly women.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. The year of Byng's death in this timeline is undetermined. The Seven Years' War analog seems to have delayed until 1761, so it may be that Byng lived longer than in OTL. However, it is also possible that Byng's death resulted from an earlier fictional war which we are not told about.
  2. The United States of Atlantis, pg. 39, PB.
  3. Ibid., p. 197.
  4. Ibid., p. 285.

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