Osborne, Henry (DNB00)
OSBORNE or OSBORN, HENRY (1698?–1771), admiral, born before 1698, third son of Sir John Osborne, bart., of Chicksands, Bedfordshire [see under Osborne, Peter], after serving as a volunteer and midshipman on board the Superbe with Captain Monypenny in the Mediterranean, and afterwards in the Lion with Captain Bouler, passed his examination on 8 March 1716–7. On 7 July 1717 he was promoted by Sir George Byng in the Baltic to be lieutenant of the Barfleur. In 1718 he was in the Royal Oak, one of the fleet in the action off Cape Passaro, and in 1719 in the Experiment, one of a squadron on the north coast of Africa, under the command of Commodore Philip Cavendish. During the following years he served in the Preston, Nassau, Hector, Chichester, Yarmouth, and Leopard; and on 4 Jan. 1727–8 was promoted to be captain of the Squirrel, a small 20-gun frigate. In 1734 he commanded the Portland in the Channel, and in 1738 the Salisbury, one of the ships which went to the Mediterranean with Sir Chaloner Ogle [q. v.] in 1739. In September 1740 he was appointed to the Prince of Orange, one of the fleet which sailed with Ogle for the West Indies, but, being disabled in a storm, put into Lisbon for repairs before proceeding. In June 1741 he was moved by Vernon into the Chichester, and returned to England with Commodore Richard Lestock [q. v.]; he was then moved to the Princess Caroline, which he took out to the Mediterranean. The Princess Caroline was an 80-gun three-decker, a class of ships generally condemned as so crank that they could seldom open their lower-deck ports. The Princess Caroline was unable to do so in the action off Toulon on 11 Feb. 1743–4; ‘her captain,’ Mathews wrote, ‘whose conduct and behaviour proves him to be a very good officer, was obliged to scuttle the deck to vent the water, she took it in so fast.’ At the court-martial afterwards held on Admiral Richard Lestock [q. v.], Osborn deposed that in his opinion it was Lestock's neglect to get into station on the evening of the 10th and during the night that was a principal cause of the miscarriage.
On 15 July 1747 Osborn was promoted to be rear-admiral of the red, and in February 1747–8 was appointed commander-in-chief on the Leeward Islands station. On 12 May 1748 he was promoted to be vice-admiral of the white, and on 24 Feb. 1757 to be admiral of the blue. In May 1757 he was appointed commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean. In December he had intelligence that a strong French squadron, under the command of M. de la Clue, was leaving Toulon for America as a reinforcement to Louisbourg. To meet this, Osborn stationed himself to the eastward of the Straits, and De la Clue, finding it impossible to elude his vigilance, retired to Cartagena, which he had just entered when Osborn, with a very superior squadron, appeared outside, and there blockaded him for several weeks. In the end of February 1758 a squadron of three ships of the line, commanded by M. Duquesne in the Foudroyant, was sent from Toulon to endeavour to join De la Clue, and so render him strong enough to force his way out. On 28 Feb. they arrived off Cartagena, but were immediately seen and chased by superior forces. The three ships separated, but were closely followed up. One of them ran herself ashore, but was afterwards got off and joined De la Clue. The other two were captured [see Gardiner, Arthur], and Osborn, conceiving that the season was now too far advanced for the French to go to Louisbourg, drew back to Gibraltar, whence, in July, he returned to England in very bad health, consequent on a serious stroke of paralysis. For his conduct during the year he received the thanks of the House of Commons; but he was unable to accept any further service. He was promoted to be admiral of the white and vice-admiral of England on 4 Jan. 1763, with a pension of 1,200l., and died on 4 Feb. 1771.
Osborn is described by Charnock, who gathered such details from Captain William Locker [q.v.] and from Admiral Forbes, both of whom must have known Osborn well, as a man of a cold, saturnine disposition, scarcely ever making a friend, and in command austere, not always able to distinguish between tyranny and the exaction of due obedience, and probably as little attentive to the merit of others as any man who ever had the honour of holding a naval command.
[Charnock's Biogr. Nav. iv. 197; Beatson's Nav. and Mil. Memoirs; Minutes of the Court-Martial on Admiral Lestock, in the Public Record Office; Froude's Batailles Navales de la France, i. 348.]