Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Thomas, Richard

THOMAS, RICHARD (1777–1857), admiral, a native of Saltash in Cornwall, entered the navy in May 1790 on board the Cumberland with Captain John Macbride [q. v.] He was afterwards in the Blanche in the West Indies, and when she was paid off in June 1792 he joined the Nautilus sloop, in which he again went to the West Indies, and was present at the reduction of Tobago, Martinique, and St. Lucia. At Martinique he commanded a flat-bottomed boat in the brilliant attack upon Fort Royal. He returned to England in the Boyne, and was still on board her when she was burnt at Spithead on 1 May 1795. He was afterwards in the Glory and Commerce de Marseille in the Channel, and in the Barfleur and Victory in the Mediterranean, and on 15 Jan. 1797 was promoted to be lieutenant of the Excellent, in which, on 14 Feb., he was present in the battle of Cape St. Vincent [see Collingwood, Cuthbert, Lord]. He continued in the Excellent off Cadiz till June 1798, when he was moved to the Thalia; in February 1799 to the Defence; in December to the Triumph, and in October 1801 to the Barfleur, then carrying Collingwood's flag in the Channel. During the peace he was in the Leander on the Halifax station, and was promoted to the rank of commander on 18 Jan. 1803. The Lady Hobart packet, in which he took a passage for England, was wrecked on an iceberg. After seven days in a small boat he, with his companions, succeeded in reaching Cove Island, north of St. John's, Newfoundland. On his arrival in England he was appointed, in December 1803, to the Etna bomb, which he took out to the Mediterranean. He was posted on 22 Oct. 1805 to the Bellerophon, from which he was moved to the Queen as flag-captain to Lord Collingwood, with whom, in the Ocean and the Ville de Paris, he continued till Collingwood's death in March 1810. He remained in the Ville de Paris, as a private ship, till December, and in February 1811 was appointed to the Undaunted, in which he co-operated with and assisted the Spaniards along the coast of Catalonia. In February 1813, after nine years' continuous service in the Mediterranean, he was obliged by the bad state of his health to return to England. In 1822–5 he was captain of the ordinary at Portsmouth, and in the same capacity at Plymouth in 1834–7. He became a rear-admiral on 10 Jan. 1837, was commander-in-chief in the Pacific from 1841 to 1844—a time of much revolutionary trouble and excitement, was promoted to be vice-admiral on 8 Jan. 1848, admiral on 11 Sept. 1854, and died at Stonehouse, Plymouth, on 21 Aug. 1857. He married, in October 1827, Gratina, daughter of Lieutenant-general Robert Williams of the Royal Marines, and left issue.

[O'Byrne's Nav. Biogr. Dict.; Gent. Mag. 1857, ii. 468.]

J. K. L.