Remembered as a senior member of the Royal Navy's Admiralty during the Napoleonic Wars, this Irishman also became famous as the author of A Dictionary of the Malayan Language and The History of Sumatra, both of which were written based on his experiences in Sumatra as an employee of the East India Company.
After graduating from Trinity College, Dublin, and subsequently living and working in Benkulen, Sumatra, he earned a civil law degree from Oxford University.
In 1783, he became a member of The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge (also known as The Royal Society).
He grew up in County Wicklow, Ireland, as the son of a merchant father. He later married Elizabeth Wilkins and settled in London, England.
As Secretary of the Admiralty, he was the first to receive word that Horatio Nelson had died in combat during the victorious Battle of Trafalgar.