Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hotham, William (1772-1848)

HOTHAM, Sir WILLIAM (1772–1848), admiral, second son of General George Hotham, and nephew of William, first lord Hotham [q. v.], was born on 12 Feb. 1772, and was educated at Westminster School. He entered the navy in 1786, on board the Grampus, with Captain Edward Thompson, in which he made a voyage to the Guinea coast. He afterwards served at Portsmouth, in the West Indies, and in the Channel; in 1790 in the Princess Royal under his uncle's flag, and in October he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. During the years immediately following he was employed on the coast of North America and in the West Indies, and in January 1794 he joined the Victory, carrying Lord Hood's flag in the Mediterranean. In the following May he served on shore at the siege of Bastia, under the immediate orders of Nelson, on 12 Aug. was promoted to the command of the Éclair, and on 7 Oct. was advanced to post rank, and appointed to the Cyclops, which continued attached to the Mediterranean fleet till the beginning of 1796, when she was sent home with despatches and paid off. In January 1797 Hotham was appointed to the Adamant of 50 guns in the North Sea. When the mutiny broke out the Adamant was the only ship, besides the Venerable, which did not join in it, and for several weeks these two ships alone maintained the blockade of the Texel [see Duncan, Adam, Viscount Duncan]. After sharing in the glories of Camperdown on 11 Oct. 1797, the Adamant was attached to the squadron off Havre, under Sir Richard Strachan, and towards the end of 1798 was sent out to the Cape of Good Hope, where she was principally employed in the blockade of Mauritius, and on 12 Dec. 1799, in company with the Tremendous, drove ashore and destroyed the French frigate Preneuse. The Adamant continued on this service till September 1801, when she was sent home with convoy and was paid off. In March 1803 Hotham was appointed to the Raisonnable, employed to watch the enemy's flotilla at Boulogne. On this service his health gave way, and in 1804 he resigned his command, and retired for a while from active service. Subsequently he was for a short time in command of the Sea Fencibles of the Liverpool district, and of the Royal Sovereign yacht, till his promotion to flag rank on 4 Dec. 1813. For several years he was attached to the court as gentleman-in-waiting, and at his leisure drew up an interesting and gossipping volume of ‘Characters, principally Professional.’ The manuscript remains in the possession of the family, but through the kindness of Rear-admiral Charles F. Hotham, now (1890) commander-in-chief in the Pacific, the present writer has been permitted to consult a copy of it. In 1815 he was nominated a K.C.B; on 19 July 1821 became vice-admiral, and admiral on 10 Jan. 1837; on 4 July 1840 he was nominated a G.C.B., and died on 31 May 1848. He was twice married, and left issue.

[Ralfe's Naval Biog. iii. 336; Marshall's Royal Naval Biog. ii. (vol. i. pt. ii.) 580; O'Byrne's Naval Biog. Dict.; Journal of the Royal Geog. Soc. vol. xx. p. xxxiv.]

J. K. L.