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Hardy, Charles (1716?-1780) (DNB00)


HARDY, Sir CHARLES, the younger (1716?–1780), admiral, son of Vice-admiral Sir Charles Hardy [q. v.], entered the navy as a volunteer on board the Salisbury, commanded by Captain George Clinton, on 4 Feb. 1730-1. On 26 March 1737 he was promoted by Sir John Norris to be third lieutenant of the Swallow; on 16 May 1738 was appointed to the Augusta; on 14 Sept, 1739 to the Kent; on 9 June 1741 was promoted to command the Rupert's Prize; and on 10 Aug. 1741 was posted to the Rye of 24 guns, in which during the next two years he was stationed on the coast of Carolina and Georgia, for the protection of trade against the Spanish privateers. On 30 April 1744 he was appointed to the Jersey, in which he went out to Newfoundland in charge of convoy; some of the ships having been captured on the homeward voyage he was tried by court-martial in the following February, but was acquitted of all blame. During the summer of 1745 he commanded the Jersey on the coast of Portugal, and in July fought a severe action with the Saint Esprit, a French ship of 74 guns, without any definite result, both ships being disabled. In January 1755 he was appointed governor of New York, and before leaving England received the honour of knighthood. In the following year, a commission as rear-admiral of the blue having been sent out to him, he hoisted his flag on board the Nightingale, and afterwards in the Sunderland, in order to convoy the transports intended for the siege of Louisbourg. At Halifax he was joined by Rear-admiral Francis Holburne [q. v.], and hoisted his flag on board the Invincible as second in command. The expedition, however, failed for that year, and at the close of the season Hardy, having resigned his government, returned to England. In 1758 he was again sent out, with his flag in the Captain of 70 guns, to arrange the transport of the colonial forces to Louisbourg, where he joined Boscawen [see Boscawen, Edward] on 14 June, and having shifted his flag into the Royal William took an active part in the blockade of the harbour during the siege and reduction of the town. In 1759, with his flag in the Union, he was second in command of the grand fleet under Sir Edward Hawke [q. v.] during the long blockade of Brest and in the decisive battle of Quiberon Bay. He continued in the same post under Hawke or Boscawen during the following years, till his promotion to be vice-admiral in October 1762. On 28 Oct. 1770 he was advanced to be admiral of the blue; and on the death of Admiral Holburne in July 1771 was appointed (16 Aug.) governor of Greenwich Hospital. In 1774 he was elected member of parliament for the borough of Portsmouth; and in 1779, on Keppel's resigning the command of the Channel fleet [see Keppel, Augustus, Viscount], no officer on the active list being willing to undertake it [cf. Harland, Sir Robert], Hardy was drawn from his retirement to fill the vacant post. It was the first time he had held an independent command, and, though trained under Hawke and Boscawen, he had not been to sea for twenty years, and had lost much of his old energy and professional aptitude. And the circumstances under which he was called to the command were of extreme difficulty. It was known that both French and Spaniards were fitting out every available ship; on 9 July it was announced by royal proclamation that an invasion of the kingdom was intended, and orders were given that on the first approach of the enemy all horses, cattle, and provisions should be removed inland. Every ship fit for sea was put in commission; but those that could be mustered under Hardy's command did not then number more than thirty-five, nor, after every effort, did they reach a higher total than forty-six. Meantime the combined fleet, numbering sixty-six sail of the line, besides fourteen frigates, came into the Channel, and forty thousand troops were assembled at Havre and St. Malo ready to embark as soon as a landing-place had been secured. On 16 Aug. the enemy were off Plymouth, while Hardy, ignorant of their presence or of their numbers, was looking out for them beyond the Scilly Islands. While they were deliberating an easterly gale blew them out of the Channel, and on 29 Aug. they were in presence of the English fleet. It was Hardy's first certain knowledge of the danger; he had with him only thirty-nine ships of the line, and thinking that the larger fleet would be at a disadvantage in narrower waters he retreated up the Channel, and anchored at Spithead on 3 Sept. The French and Spanish admirals declined to follow, or to attempt a territorial attack, while Hardy's fleet, still formidable, was free to operate on their flank. Their ships became very sickly, and after cruising for a fortnight in the chops of the Channel, but never again coming higher than the Lizard, they returned to Brest. The gigantic scheme of invasion had failed mainly from the difficulty of the two allied admirals working in concert, and from the filthy and sickly condition of the allied ships. The English admiralty had done but little towards warding off the danger; and, with the great apparent disparity of force, Hardy's cautious policy was doubtless the most correct, though, in the disabled state to which the French and Spanish ships were actually reduced, more dashing tactics might have led to a brilliant success. At the close of the season Hardy struck his flag and returned to Greenwich, but the following spring was about to resume the command of the fleet when he died of an apoplectic fit at Portsmouth on 18 May 1780.

He was twice married: first, in 1749, to Mary, daughter of Bartholomew Tate of Delapre in Northamptonshire; and secondly to Catherine, only daughter of Temple Stanyan, by whom he left issue three sons and two daughters. His portrait, a half-length by Romney, has been engraved; the original is in the Painted Hall at Greenwich, to which it was presented by his daughter Catherine, the wife of Mr. Arthur Annesley of Bletchingdon, Oxfordshire.

[Charnock's Biog. Nav. v. 99; Naval Chronicle, xix. 89 (with portrait); Beatson's Nav. and Mil. Memoirs; Chevalier's Histoire de la Marine Fran9aise pendant la Guerre de l'Independance Americaine, p. 156; official documents in the Public Record Office; Armorial of Jersey [see Hardy, Sir Thomas].]

J. K. L.