Royal Naval Biography/Bedford, William


WILLIAM BEDFORD, Esq
Vice-Admiral of the Blue.


During the Russian armament, in 1791, this officer served about three months as a Lieutenant in the Edgar, of 74 guns; and subsequently in the Formidable, a second rate. He was promoted to the rank of Post-Captain, Aug. 15, 1794, and in the same year appointed to the Queen, of 98 guns, bearing the flag of Sir Alan Gardner, in the Channel fleet. The Queen was present at the attack of the French fleet off l’Orient, on the 23d June, 1795; but the speedy flight of the enemy deprived Captain Bedford of an opportunity to share in the flying contest. He afterwards removed with Sir Alan into the Royal Sovereign, of 110 guns.

In our memoir of Vice-Admiral E. G. Colpoys, we have given an account of the alarming mutiny at Spithead, in the spring of 1797; and stated, that in consequence of the concessions made by government, the fleet under Lord Bridport had put to sea on the 16th May, to encounter the enemy. The spirit of disaffection, however, was not yet laid, for it discovered itself once more in the following month, when the crews of several of the ships behaved in a most audacious manner, for which two seamen belonging to the Royal Sovereign were condemned to death.

Captain Bedford continued with Sir Alan Gardner until that officer struck his flag, in Aug. 1800, on being appointed Commander-in-Chief on the coast of Ireland. He then obtained the command of the Leyden, of 68 guns, in which he served on the North Sea station until the suspension of hostilities. At the attack upon Boulogne, Aug. 15, 1801, himself and Captain Gore, of the Medusa, tendered their services to act as volunteers under a junior officer, which offer, however, Lord Nelson thought proper to decline. The Leyden had 11 men killed and 40 wounded, in the boats employed on this occasion.

On the renewal of the war, in 1803, Captain Bedford was appointed to the Thunderer, of 74 guns, in which ship he took the Venus French privateer, of 18 guns and 150 men; and assisted at the capture of la Franchise frigate, pierced for 44 guns. In 1805, he commanded the Hibernia, the flag-ship of his friend Lord Gardner; and afterwards the Caledonia, another first rate, bearing the flag of Lord Gambier, Commander-in-Chief of the Channel fleet.

At the general promotion, Aug. 12, 1812, our officer was advanced to the rank of Rear-Admiral, and soon after appointed Captain of the North Sea fleet, under the late Sir W. Young, with whom he continued until the end of the war. His commission as Vice-Admiral hears date July 19th, 1821. He married in 1808, a daughter of Commissioner Fanshawe, of Plymouth Dock-yard.