Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.
March 13 1737 – August 16 1814
Lutwidge was born in 1737, the son of Thomas Lutwidge and Lucy nee Hoghton. Lutwidge embarked on a career in the Navy, and is listed as a lieutenant in 1763, taking command of the purchased cutter HMS Cholmondely. He remained with her until 1765.
Lutwidge, now a commander, commissioned the bomb vessel HMS Carcass in 1771, and served in the Irish Sea until 1773. The Carcass was then refitted at Sheerness for a voyage to the Arctic, with Lutwidge retaining command. The expedition sailed up to and around Spitsbergen, managing to reach within ten degrees of the North Pole, but was prevented from travelling by thick sea ice, and returned to Britain. Sailing with the Carcass was a young Horatio Nelson, a midshipman on the expedition. Nelson was given the role of coxswain of Lutwidge’s gig. Nelson managed to obtain command of the Carcass’s cutter as the expedition progressed.
By 1800 Lutwidge began to circulate a story that while the ship had been trapped in the ice, Nelson had seen and pursued a polar bear, before being ordered to return to the ship. Lutwidge’s later version, in 1809, reported that Nelson and a companion had given chase to the bear, but on being questioned why, replied that “I wished, Sir, to get the skin for my father.” Nelson referred to Lutwidge as ‘that good old man’.
Lutwidge was appointed to command the 28-gun sixth rate HMS Triton in 1775, and sailed to North America in March the following year. He played an active role in the American War of Independence, serving in the Saint Lawrence River between 1777 and 1778. In 1777 he was made commodore and commander-in-chief of the British naval forces on Lake Champlain. He led the naval forces pursuing the Americans who were retreating from the fall of Fort Ticonderoga.
He captured the American privateer Pompey in 1778. The Triton returned to Britain to be refitted and re-coppered in early 1779, after which she returned to North America, capturing the American privateer Gates. He was involved in the capture of a Spanish convoy in 1780, and was part of Admiral George Rodney’s fleet at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent. His final duties with the Triton were to escort a convoy to Minorca and then to the Leeward Islands. Lutwidge then briefly took command of the 74-gun third rate HMS Yarmouth.
He was almost immediately posted to the new fifth rate HMS Perseverance. Back on the North American station, re-capturing the 20-gun HMS Lively. The next two years were spent on the North American station, capturing a number of American privateers during this time, the General Green, the Raven and the Diana. The Perseverance was paid off after the conclusion of the war. Lutwidge is next recorded as taking command of the third rate HMS Scipio in 1786, the Scipio then being a guard ship on the River Medway. In 1792 he commissioned the new third rate HMS Terrible. With the outbreak of the French Revolutionary War he sailed in 1793 to join the Mediterranean Fleet to join Admiral Samuel Hood.
By 1797 he had been advanced to Vice-Admiral and hoisted his flag aboard the second rate HMS Sandwich, in his post as commander-in-chief at the Nore. Lutwidge moved his flag to the new guard ship, the third rate HMS Zealand, shifting again to HMS Overyssel in 1799. He became a vice-admiral of the Red that year, and by 1800 was commander of the fleets in the Downs, where under his command was Horatio Nelson, in command of HMS Medusa.
Lutwidge was advanced to Admiral of the Blue on 1 January 1801, Admiral of the White in 1805, and Admiral of the Red in 1810. He retired from active service and died at his estates at Holmrook on 16 August 1814, at the age of 78. He had married Catherine Harvey, but they had no children. A distant relation was his great-nephew Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll.