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LITTLETON, JAMES (d. 1723), vice-admiral, grand-nephew of Sir Thomas Littleton, bart. (d. 1710) [q. v.], speaker of the House of Commons and treasurer of the navy, was first lieutenant of the Dreadnought in the battle of La Hogue, May 1692. On 27 Feb. 1692–3 he was promoted to be captain of the Swift prize of 24 guns. In 1695 he commanded the Portland of 48 guns in the Channel, and in 1696 on the Newfoundland station, whence he went with the yearly convoy to Cadiz and the Mediterranean, returning to England in May 1697. For the rest of 1697 and through 1698 the Portland was employed on the home station. In 1699 Littleton went out to the East Indies in the Anglesea, one of a small squadron under Commodore George Warren, which had been ordered to act against the pirates of Madagascar. Warren died in November, and the command devolved on Littleton. Several of the piratical vessels were destroyed, and proclamations of pardon having broken up their nests for the time, each man being suspicious of his fellow, Littleton returned to England. From 1702 to 1705 he commanded the Medway in the Channel, and in January 1704–5 was commodore of a small squadron which captured the Auguste, a large French privateer, when her consort, the Jason, commanded by the celebrated Duguay-Trouin, escaped with difficulty (cf. Lediard, p. 775; Laughton, Studies in Naval History, p. 320). In 1706 he commanded the Cambridge under Sir John Leake [q. v.] at the relief of Barcelona and the capture of Alicante, where he is said to have been landed in command of a battalion of seamen.

In 1709 he was captain of the Somerset in the West Indies; and in July 1710 was appointed commodore and commander-inchief of the squadron going to Jamaica, with his broad pennant in the Defence. He arrived there in November, and in the following July put to sea on intelligence of a Spanish fleet of twelve large ships being assembled at Cartagena. He came on the coast of New Spain with five two-decked ships on the 26th, and drove five large vessels in under the guns of the castle of Boca-Chica, the entrance to the harbour of Cartagena. On the next day, 27 July, four others were sighted and chased. About 6 p.m. the headmost ships, Salisbury and Salisbury prize, came up with the rearmost, which, after a sharp combat, struck on the approach of the Defence. The Jersey captured another; the other two escaped [see Hosier, Francis; Vernon, Edward]. Afterwards, Littleton, with his squadron, cruised off Havana, in order to intercept Du Casse, who was expected there with his squadron; but having received intelligence, given on oath before the governor of Jamaica, that a fleet of eighteen ships of war, with many transports and a large body of troops, had arrived at Martinique, destined, it was supposed, for an attack on Jamaica, Littleton drew back to cover that island. The intelligence proved to be false; but Du Casse, taking advantage of his absence, got into Havana. In July 1712 Littleton was relieved by Sir Hovenden Walker and returned to England. In November 1715 he was appointed resident commissioner and commander-in-chief at Chatham. On 1 Feb. 1715–16 he was promoted to be rear-admiral of the red; and on 15 March 1716–17 to be vice-admiral of the blue. In the spring of 1719 he was for a few weeks first captain to the Earl of Berkeley, first lord of the admiralty, specially authorised to fly the flag of lord high admiral [see Berkeley, James, third Earl of Berkeley]. He was elected M.P. for Queensborough on 24 March 1721–2, and died 3 Feb. 1722–3 (Hist. Reg. 1723; Chron. Diary, p. 10).

[Charnock's Biog. Nav. iii. 37; Burchett's Transactions at Sea; Lediard's Naval History; Members of Parl. ii. 53; official papers in the Public Record Office.]

J. K. L.