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- Ball led the successful blockade of Malta and established excellent relations between Britain and Malta during his governorship.
- Ball entered the navy as a youth and was promoted to lieutenant in 1778.
- Based in North America and Newfoundland, he was transferred to the West Indies and posted aboard the "Sandwich", Rodney's flagship.
- Ball was present when Rodney won a famous victory over the French off Dominica in April 1782.
- In 1783 Ball was promoted to captain.
- Like many surplus naval officers in peacetime he was put on half-pay and spent the next year in France learning the language.
- When hostilities with Spain looked imminent in 1790 Ball at last received the command for which he had been hoping the previous seven years.
- Nelson was in the same position, and also visited France, from where he reported his view of Ball as a "great coxcomb" because he wore epaulettes on his uniform (epaulettes were not introduced as uniform in the British navy until 1795).
- After serving in home waters for three years he was moved to the Newfoundland station.
- He returned to England in 1796 and was then employed off Brest and Cadiz.
- In 1798, in command of the "Alexander," he was sent to the Mediterranean under Nelson.