Open main menu

Royal Naval Biography/Hartwell, Francis John


SIR FRANCIS JOHN HARTWELL, BART.
A Director of Greenwich Hospital, and late Deputy Comptroller of the Navy.
[Retired Captain.]

This officer is the third son of Captain Broderick Hartwell, who died Lieutenant-Governor of Greenwich Hospital in January, 1784; was born about the year 1757; and at the commencement of the war with the colonies, commanded the Rattlesnake cutter, in which he fought several smart actions with the enemy’s privateers, and captured a very valuable French West Indiaman. On his promotion to the rank of Commander he was appointed to the AEtna bomb, stationed at Antigua; and on the death of Captain Broughton, he succeeded that officer in the command of the Sphynx frigate, from whence he removed to the Brune. His post commission bears date December 19, 1779.

In the month of August, 1789, when their late Majesties reviewed a squadron under Commodore Goodall, at Plymouth, Captain Hartwell commanded the Bellona of 74 guns, and was presented to the King immediately after the sham fight which took place on that occasion[1]. He continued in the Bellona during the Spanish and Russian armaments, but was paid off in the autumn of 1791. Towards the close of the following year we find him fitting out the Thetis of 38 guns, at Deptford; and at the commencement of the war with revolutionary France, cruising with considerable success in the Channel.

The Thetis was paid off in September, 1793; and about the same period Captain Hartwell became a Commissioner of the Victualling Board, in which office he remained until the autumn of 1796, when he was appointed to superintend the Dock-yard at Sheerness. In the course of 1799 he removed to Chatham Yard; and soon after obtained a seat at the Navy Board, where he continued to sit, as a Commissioner and Deputy Comptroller, till the summer of 1814. He has ever since lived in retirement.

Commissioner Hartwell received the honor of knighthood on the occasion of his acting as proxy for Lord Keith, at an installation of Knights of the Bath. He subsequently had a much greater mark of royal favor conferred upon him, being raised to the dignity of Baronet of Great Britain, October 5, 1805.

Our officer married, first, May 12, 1781, Anna Charlotte Maria, eldest daughter of John Elphinstone, Esq. Captain R.N., Lieutenant-General, Vice-Admiral, and Commander-in-Chief of the Russian fleet; and by that lady, who died June 6, 1809, had five sons and one daughter. His eldest son, the Rev. Houlton Hartwell, Vicar of Loders and Bradpole, in Dorsetshire, and an active magistrate of that county, died February 24, 1819, aged 36 years.

Sir Francis Hartwell married, second, in 1812, Miss Aldridge, sister of John Aldridge, of New Lodge, co. Sussex, Esq.

Residence.– Laleham, Middlesex.



  1. On the 18th August, 1789, his Majesty King George III. went on board the Southampton frigate in Plymouth Sound, and proceeded to review a squadron of ten 2-deckers, then in the offing, under the command of Commodore Goodall. On the approach of the royal standard the squadron formed into two separate lines of battle, that representing the enemy commanded by Captain Macbride. After manoeuvring for some time upon different tacks, in order to bring each other to action, the engagement began with a most furious cannonade between the two commanders, and soon became general. In about a quarter of an hour both fleets wore to the westward, the enemy’s line gave way, and were furiously assailed by Commodore Goodall. Captain Macbride, however, succeeded in reforming his line, wore round upon the larboard tack, and renewed the. action with fresh vigor. This continued for some time, when the enemy again gave way. Soon after both divisions formed in the order of sailing, and the King returned to Plymouth, highly pleased with his excursion, under a royal salute from the ships and forts.