Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Whitaker, Edward (1660-1735)

WHITAKER, Sir EDWARD (1660–1735), born in 1660, admiral, was on 16 Oct. 1688 appointed lieutenant of the Swallow, then commanded by Matthew (afterwards Lord) Aylmer [q. v.] In 1689 he was in the Mary, in 1690 again with Aylmer, in the Royal Katherine, and on 15 May 1690 he was promoted to be captain of the Dover of 44 guns, in which, during the following three years, he made several rich prizes and captured many of the French privateers. In 1693–4 he was flag-captain to Aylmer in the Royal Sovereign. In 1695–6 he successively commanded the Elizabeth, Monck, and St. Andrew, and was flag-captain to Sir Clowdisley Shovell [q. v.] in the Victory. In 1698 he was living at Leigh in Essex. In May 1699 he was appointed to the Portland, and on 13 Jan. 1701–2 to the Ranelagh, one of the fifty ships commissioned on the same day. A month later, 16 Feb., he was appointed master-attendant at Woolwich, and seems to have held the office through the year. On 4 Jan. 1702–3 he was appointed to the Restoration, and, a few days later, from her to the Dorsetshire, one of the fleet with Rooke in the Mediterranean in 1704. In the capture of Gibraltar Whitaker acted as aide-de-camp to Sir George Byng [q. v.], ‘his ship not being upon service,’ commanded the boats in the attack, rallied the men when panic-struck by the explosion of a magazine, and hoisted the English colours on the bastion. In the battle of Malaga the Dorsetshire was one of the red squadron, and was closely engaged throughout. In 1705 Whitaker commanded the Barfleur; early in 1706 he was promoted to be rear-admiral of the blue, was knighted, and appointed to command a squadron off Dunkirk. In April he convoyed the Duke of Marlborough to Holland.

In 1708, with his flag in the Northumberland, he went out to the Mediterranean with Sir John Leake [q. v.], and in August commanded the detachment which co-operated in the reduction of Minorca. When Leake returned to England, Whitaker remained in command, and on 21 Dec. was promoted to be vice-admiral of the blue. A commission of 20 Dec. to be admiral of the blue seems to have afterwards been cancelled, and on 14 Nov. 1709 he was made vice-admiral of the white. In January 1708–9 he was relieved from the command in chief in the Mediterranean by Sir George Byng, with whom he remained as second, till he again became chief by Byng's return to England in July 1709. In the summer of 1710 he also returned to England, and had no further sea service. He lived afterwards in retirement, and died on 20 Nov. 1735 at Carshalton in Surrey, where he was buried. His will (in Somerset House: Ducie, 260) was proved on 3 Dec. by his niece, Mary Whitaker, spinster, sole executrix. His wife Elizabeth (Charnock, ii. 370) died on 1 Sept. 1727. The will mentions his nephew, Captain Samuel Whitaker (ib. iii. 118), who, as commanding a ship at Gibraltar and Malaga, has been often confused with his uncle; and his granddaughter Ann, daughter of his son, Captain Edward Whitaker, deceased, who is ordered to be brought up by Mary Whitaker, 'separate from and without the advice, direction, or control of her mother.' Mary afterwards married Peter St. Eloy, who administered her will on 26 July 1738.

[Charnock's Biogr. Nav. ii. 366; Memoirs relating to the Lord Torrington (Camden Soc.), pp. 140-3, 192-3, 195; Lediard's Naval History; Manning and Bray's Surrey, ii. 517, 548; Gent. Mag. 1735, p. 682; Official letters, and commission and warrant books in the Public Record Office.]

J. K. L.