Jellicoe was the best-known British naval commander of World War One, and commanded the British fleet at the Battle of Jutland in 1916.
John Jellicoe was born on 5 December 1859 in Southampton, the son of a merchant navy captain. He entered the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1872 and saw active service in the Egyptian War of 1882, later leading the naval brigade during the Chinese Boxer Rebellion. In the years leading up to World War One, Jellicoe served as director of naval ordnance (1905 - 1907), and controller of the navy (1908 - 1910).
In 1911, he became second in command of the Grand Fleet. He was appointed the commander of the fleet the day war broke out with Germany in 1914, a position which Winston Churchill observed made him 'the only man on either side who could lose the war in an afternoon'. Jellicoe's command was put to the test at the Battle of Jutland in May 1916 at which neither British nor German fleets were outright winners. Jellicoe was heavily criticised for failing to achieve the knockout blow against the German navy for which so many had hoped.
Towards the end of 1916, Jellicoe became first sea lord, the professional head of the Royal Navy. Jellicoe opposed the use of the convoy system to deal with the U-boat threat in the spring of 1917, but was responsible for its successful implementation after Prime Minister David Lloyd George intervened. Jellicoe was abruptly dismissed at the end of 1917.
In 1918, he was raised to the peerage as Viscount Jellicoe of Scapa for his services during the war. In 1920, he was appointed governor general of New Zealand. On his return from New Zealand and in recognition of his services as governor, Jellicoe was created an earl. He died on 20 November 1935.