Open main menu

Royal Naval Biography/Hanwell, William

[Post-Captain of 1798.]

This officer obtained his first commission about the year 1793; and in 1798? we find him serving as senior Lieutenant of the Sheerness 44, bearing the broad pendant of Commodore James Cornwallis, on the African station.

There is a privilege existing, from time immemorial, which is not enjoyed on any other station than that of the coast of Africa: it is that of the next officer giving himself the rank of his deceased superior; and which self-appointments have ever been held good by the Admiralty. Commodore Cornwallis died of a fever July 31, 1798; when Lieutenant Hanwell, who succeeded him in the command of the Sheerness, gained two gradations of rank, which, on his arrival in England, was confirmed by a post commission, dated Dec. 29, 1798. We know of no other living instance of such a fortunate advancement in the navy[1].

Early in 1810, Captain Hanwell obtained the command of the Grampus, a 50-gun ship; and on the 26th Oct. in the following year, he was tried by a court-martial upon a charge of repeated drunkenness and unofficer-like conduct, preferred against him by Lieutenant John Chesshire. The Court agreeing that the charge was not proved, acquitted him; observing, that the prosecution appeared to be malicious and vexatious. He subsequently commanded the Dictator 64; and during the latter part of the war superintended the depot for prisoners, of war at Norman Grogs.

Captain Hanwell married, in 1800, Miss Hanwell of Mixbury, near Brackley, Northamptonshire.

Agent.– ___

  1. The Naval Instructions, established by an order in council, Jan. 25, 1806, appear to abrogate this regulation, so far as concerns post rank; see sect. iv. chap. 2. art. viii.