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Royal Naval Biography/Beauclerk, Amelius

Vice-Admiral of the White; Knight Commander of the most honorable Military Order of the Bath; and Fellow of the Royal Society.

This officer is the third son of Aubrey, fourth Duke of St. Albans, by Lady Catharine Ponsonby, daughter of William, second Earl of Besborough, and grand-daughter of William, third Duke of Devonshire. His Lordship was born about the year 1768, and entered the naval service on board the Jackall cutter, commanded by Lieutenant Bailley, in June 1782. After serving for twelve months in that vessel, he removed into the Salisbury, and proceeded with the late Vice-Admiral John Campbell[1] to the Newfoundland station, where he continued during a period of two years; and subsequently joined the expedition bearing the broad pendant of Commodore (afterwards Lord) Gardner[2], whom he accompanied to the West Indies.

In 1789 Lord Amelius was appointed to act as Lieutenant of the Europa, a 50-gun ship, in which he returned to England; but does not appear to have been confirmed in that rank until the Spanish armament, in the ensuing year. In 1791 we find him serving on board the Swiftsure, 74, from whence he was removed into the Druid frigate; and at the commencement of the war with the French republic, went with Lord Hood to the Mediterranean, where he obtained the rank of Post Captain in the Nemesis, of 28 guns, by commission dated Sept. 16, 1793. His next appointment was, about the month of March 1794, to the Juno, another small frigate, in which he encountered and beat off a French frigate of the same name, mounting 36 guns, a corvette and a brig, in the vicinity of the Hières islands. Immediately after this event, our officer communicated the intelligence of the departure of the enemy’s fleet from Toulon to Vice-Admiral Hotham, by whom he was despatched with the tidings to the Commander-in-Chief, at that time engaged in the blockade of Bastia.

The Juno formed part of the British fleet at the capture of the Ca Ira and Censeur, French line-of-battle ships, March 14, 1795[3], and continued on the Mediterranean station until Sept. 24 following, on which day she sailed from Gibraltar in company with a squadron commanded by Captain T. Taylor, for the purpose of affording protection to the homeward bound trade.

On the 7th of the ensuing month, the body of the convoy was attacked, off Cape St. Vincent, by six sail of the line and two large frigates, under the orders of Admiral Richery, who succeeded in cutting off the Censeur[4], and about fifteen of the merchant vessels. The Argo 44, and Juno, by means of the most skilful manoeuvres, escaped with the rest of the fleet, although twice chased by the enemy.

Soon after his return to England, Lord Amelius Beauclerk was appointed to the Dryad, of 44 guns and 251 men, stationed off the coast of Ireland, where he cruized with considerable success against the enemy’s privateers; and on the 13th June, 1796, captured, after a most spirited action which lasted 45 minutes, la Proserpine, of 42 guns and 348 men, of whom 30 were slain and 45 wounded. The Dryad had 2 killed and 7 wounded.

Towards the close of 1800 his Lordship commissioned the Fortunee, of 40 guns, in which frigate he was employed in the Channel, and attending on his late Majesty at Weymouth, during the remainder of the war.

On the renewal of hostilities in 1803, our officer obtained the command of the Majestic, a third rate, attached to the Channel fleet. In the summer of 1805, he removed into the Saturn, also a 74-gun ship, and subsequently into the Royal Oak, of the same force. His appointment to the latter vessel took place about May 1809; and in the ensuing summer we find him superintending the debarkation of a division of Lord Chatham’s army, with its guns, &c. on the pestilential island of Walcheren. After the performance of this service, which, we have reason to believe, was exclusively conducted by Lord Amelius, and executed by him with much skill and activity, he assumed the government of Campvere, and the charge of the fleet and store-ships in the Roompot, during the absence of Sir Richard Strachan, the Commander-in-Chief, with the army at Flushing. On her return from this expedition the Royal Oak resumed her station in the Channel.

His Lordship was nominated a Colonel of Marines July 31, 1810; and advanced to the rank of Rear-Admiral Aug. 1. 1811, on which occasion he hoisted his flag in the North Sea fleet. In 1813 he was sent with a squadron to cruize off the North Cape, for the purpose of intercepting the American Commodore Rogers, but who had left that quarter previous to the arrival of the British. At the latter end of the war Lord Amelius commanded the force stationed in Basque Roads; and entered into a negotiation with the General of Division, Baron de la Raffiniere, Commander-in-Chief at Rochelle, for a suspension of hostilities between Great Britain and those parts of the French coast which felt disposed to acknowledge the authority of Louis XVIII. He was created a K.C.B. Jan. 2, 1815; and in the course of the same year elected a F.R.S. His promotion to the rank of Vice-Admiral took place Aug. 12, 1819.

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Town Residence. – 30, Margaret-Street, Cavendish Square.

  1. Vice-Admiral Campbell died, Dec. 16, 1790. He was a Midshipman on board the Centurion, when she made her voyage round the world, under the late Lord Anson. His character for valour was established in the memorable defeat of the Marquis de Conflans, in 1759, when he served as Captain to Sir Edward Hawke. Captain Campbell was, on that occasion, despatched to England with intelligence of that glorious victory. He was a man of modest unassuming disposition, and preserved his original simplicity of manners, although living in habits of association with the first people in the kingdom. It is this gentleman of whom the humorous anecdote has been told, that upon this or some similar occasion, Lord Anson, as they were going in his Lordship’s carriage to carry the news to the King, said, “Captain Campbell, the King will knight you, if you think proper.” – “Troth my Lord,” said the Captain, who retained his Scotch dialect as long as he lived, “I ken nae use that will be to me.” – “But your lady may like it,” replied his Lordship. “Weel then,” rejoined the Captain, “his Majesty may knight her if he pleases.
  2. Admiral Lord Gardner died at Bath, Jan. 1, 1809, in the 66th year of his age. He was universally allowed to be a most able and judicious commander. For the courage, skill, and magnanimity displayed by him in ten glorious actions, he was raised to the dignity of a Baron of the kingdom of Ireland, Dec. 29, 1800; and created a British peer Nov. 15, 1806. He left a very numerous family, including three sons in the navy, all of whom are now deceased; viz. Vice-Admiral Lord Gardner, died in London Dec. 24, 1815; Rear-Admiral Hon. Francis Farrington Gardner, died at Havre, July 7, 1821; and the Hon. Valentine Gardner, late Captain of H.M.S. Dauntless, died at Canton in Nov. 1820.
  3. See p. 340.
  4. See Rear-Admiral Sir John Gore.