Captain (later Rear-Admiral) Henry Algernon Eliot (1790-1857) was the son of Francis Perceval Eliot, a colonel in the Staffordshire Militia. He entered the Navy in December 1802 and served with distinction on various ships in the Mediterranean and the West Indies and was captured by the French in Portugal in 1810. He was given his first command, the sloop Icarus in 1819. In 1823 he married Jane, only daughter of the Rev. Dr. Alexander Crombie. He was promoted to the rank of captain in 1830.
Created by King Afonso V in 1459, The Military Order of the Tower and of the Sword, of Valour, Loyalty and Merit is a Portuguese order of knighthood and the pinnacle of the Portuguese honours system. The order is not only bestowed to people, but may be bestowed to Portuguese municipalities. It was inspired by the legend that Arab rule in Africa would end when a Christian prince would sieze the fortress at Fez. Knighthood in the Order of the Sword was given as reward to those who participated in the conquests and battles in Africa. The order fell into disuse after the conquest of Tangiers and Asilah.
The order was revived on 29 November 1808, by Prince Regent John, later John VI of Portugal. It commemorated the safe arrival of the Royal Family in the Portuguese colony of Brazil, after Napoleon had invaded Portugal. Its full title was “the Royal Order of the Tower and Sword”. It was available to both Portuguese and foreigners and for military, political or civilian achievement. Among the intended recipients were subjects of His Britannic Majesty, who had assisted the Royal Family to reach Brazil, but who were ineligible for the other Portuguese orders due to their religion.