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Royal Naval Biography/Berkeley, Maurice Frederick FitzHardinge

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[Post-Captain of 1814.]

Second son of Frederick Augustus, fifth Earl of Berkeley, (who died Aug. 8, 1810), by Mary, daughter of Mr. William Cole, of Wootton, in the county of Gloucester[1].

This officer was born early in 1788. We first find him serving as midshipman on board the Blanche frigate, Captain Zachary Mudge, by whom he is represented to have “behaved nobly” in that ship’s launch, under the command of Mr. John Smith, master’s-mate, at the capture of a French schooner, mounting one long 9-pounder, with a complement of 30 men, on the Jamaica station, Nov. 4, 1803. His first commission bears date July 9, 1808.

Lieutenant Berkeley commanded the armed boats sent up the Tagus, to co-operate with the troops occupying the lines of Torres-Vedras, and Lord Hill’s division at Alhandra, in the autumn of 1810. On the 13th Oct. he made a successful descent on the town of Villa Franca, from which the enemy fled with precipitation, and the loss of their commander, General Lucroix, who was cut down by the British seamen, and afterwards buried by them, with military honors, in the presence of the contending armies. The loss sustained bv the naval detachment in the performance of this gallant exploit, was only eight men killed and wounded.

The subject of this brief sketch was made commander Dec. , 1810; advanced to post rank, June 7, 1814,; elected a member of the corporation of Gloucester, July 28, 1820; and appointed to the Semiramis 42, flag-ship of the Hon. Sir Charles Paget, commander-in-chief on the Irish station, May 27, 1828.

Captain Berkeley married, Dec. 4, 1823, Lady Charlotte Lennox, sister to the Duke of Richmond.

Agents.– Messrs. Cooke, Halford, and Son.

  1. The marriage of the late Earl of Berkeley has been the subject of two solemn investigations at the bar of the House of Lords; the Earl himself, both during his lifetime, and in his last will, asserted that he was married in Berkeley church, Mar. 30, 1785; but that this marriage having been intentionally kept for a length of time secret, the witnesses being dead, and all registry or other trace of it, as he believed, destroyed, he was a second time married to the same lady, at Lambeth, May 16, 1796. Unfortunately, the precautions taken to conceal the marriage of 1785; (if it ever took place), threw so much of mystery around the transaction, that even the positive testimony of both parties was insufficient to convince their lordships, who decided, July 1, 1811, that William Fitzhardinge Berkeley, Esq. who claimed as eldest son and heir of his father, under the marriage of 1785, had not made out his claim.