Posts Tagged ‘Sir Charles Middleton’

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.

Admiral of the Fleet James Gambier 1st Baron Gambier
13 October 1756 – 19 April 1833


James Gambier

James Gambier 1st Baron Gambier was born the second son of John Gambier, the Lieutenant Governor of the Bahamas and Deborah Stiles, a Bermudian, Gambier was brought up in England by an aunt. He was a nephew of Vice-Admiral James Gambier and of Admiral Lord Barham and became an uncle of the novelist and travel writer Georgiana Chatterton.

Gambier entered the Navy in 1767 as a midshipman on board the third-rate HMS Yarmouth, commanded by his uncle, which was serving as a guardship in the Medway, and followed him to serve on board the 60-gun fourth-rate HMS Salisbury in 1769 where he served on the North American Station. He transferred to the 50-gun fourth-rate HMS Chatham under Rear Admiral Parry, in 1772, in the Leeward Islands. Gambier was placed on the sloop HMS Spy and was then posted to England to serve on the 74-gun third-rate HMS Royal Oak, a guardship at Spithead.

He was commissioned as a lieutenant on 12 February 1777, in which rank he served in a successively in the sloop Shark, the 24-gun frigate HMS Hind, the third-rate HMS Sultan under Vice-Admiral Lord Shuldham, and then in HMS Ardent under his uncle’s flag. Lord Howe promoted Gambier to commander on 9 March 1778 and gave him command of the bomb ship HMS Thunder, which was promptly dismasted and surrendered to the French. He was taken prisoner for a short period and, after having been exchanged, he was made a post captain on 9 October 1778 and appointed to the 32-gun fifth-rate HMS Raleigh and saw action at the capture of Charleston in May 1780 during the American Revolutionary War. He was appointed commander of fifth-rate HMS Endymion, cruising in British waters, later in the year. In 1783, at the end of the War, he was placed on half-pay.

In February 1793 following the start of the French Revolutionary Wars, Gambier was appointed to command the 74-gun third-rate HMS Defence under Lord Howe. By faith an evangelical, he was regarded as an intensely religious man, nicknamed Dismal Jimmy, by the men under his command. As captain of the Defence Gambier saw action at the battle of the Glorious First of June in 1794, gaining the distinction of commanding the first ship to break through the enemy line and subsequently receiving the Naval Gold Medal.

Gambier became a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty on the Admiralty Board led by Earl Spencer in March 1795. Promoted to rear-admiral on 1 June 1795 and to vice-admiral on 14 February 1799, Gambier left the Admiralty after the fall of the First Pitt the Younger Ministry in February 1801 and became third-in-command of the Channel Fleet under Admiral William Cornwallis, with his flag in the 98-gun second-rate HMS Neptune. He went on to be governor and commander-in-chief of Newfoundland in March 1802. In that capacity he gave property rights over arable land to local people allowing them to graze sheep and cattle there and also ensured that vacant properties along the shore could be leased to local people. It was around that time that he also bought Iver Grove in Buckinghamshire.

Gambier then returned to the Admiralty as a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty on the Admiralty Board led by Viscount Melville when the Second Pitt the Younger Ministry was formed in May 1804. Promoted to full admiral on 9 November 1805, Gambier left the Admiralty in February 1806. He returned briefly for a third tour on the Admiralty Board led by Lord Mulgrave when the Second Portland Ministry was formed in April 1807.

In May 1807 Gambier volunteered to command the naval forces, with his flag in the second-rate HMS Prince of Wales, sent as part of the campaign against Copenhagen during the Napoleonic Wars. Together with General Lord Cathcart, he oversaw the bombardment of Copenhagen from 2 September until the Danes capitulated after three days (an incident that brought Gambier some notoriety in that the assault included a bombardment of the civilian quarter). Prizes included eighteen ships of the line, twenty-one frigates and brigs and twenty-five gunboats together with a large quantity of naval stores for which he received official thanks from Parliament, and on 3 November 1807 a peerage, becoming Baron Gambier, of Iver in the County of Buckingham.

In 1808 Gambier was appointed to command the Channel Fleet. In April 1809 he chased a squadron of French ships that had escaped from Brest into the Basque Roads. He called a council of war in which Lord Cochrane was given command of the inshore squadron, and who subsequently led the attack. Gambier refused to commit the Channel Fleet after Cochrane’s attack, using explosion vessels that encouraged the French squadron to warp further into the shallows of the estuary. This action resulted in the majority of the French fleet running aground at Rochefort.

Gambier was content with the blockading role played by the offshore squadron. Admiral Sir Eliab Harvey, who had commanded “Fighting Temeraire” at the Battle of Trafalgar, believed they had missed an opportunity to inflict further damage upon the French fleet. He told Gambier “I never saw a man so unfit for the command of a fleet as Your Lordship.” Cochrane threatened to use his parliamentary vote against Gambier in retaliation for not committing the fleet to action. Gambier called for a court martial to examine his conduct. The court martial, on 26 July 1809 on Gladiator in Portsmouth, exonerated Gambier. Consequently, neither Harvey nor Cochrane were appointed by the Admiralty to command for the remainder of the war. The episode had political and personal overtones. Gambier was connected by family and politics to the Tory prime minister William Pitt. In Parliament, Cochrane represented the riding of Westminster, which tended to vote Radical. In the aftermath of Basque Roads, Cochrane and Gambier quarreled and Gambier resentfully excluded Cochrane from the battle dispatches. There is little wonder that Cochrane took the unusual move of standing in opposition to parliament’s pro forma vote of thanks to Gambier.

In 1813 Gambier was part of the team negotiating the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812 between Britain and the United States. He was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath on 7 June 1815. Promoted to Admiral of the Fleet on 22 July 1830, he died at his home, Ivor House in Iver, on 19 April 1833 and was buried at St. Peter’s churchyard in Iver.

Gambier was a founding benefactor of Kenyon College in the United States, and the town that was founded with it. Gambier, Ohio is named after him, as is Mount Gambier, the extinct volcano in South Australia, and Gambier Island in British Columbia.

In July 1788 Gambier married Louisa Matthew; they had no children.

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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.

Charles Noel 1st Earl of Gainsborough
2 October 1781 – 10 June 1866

Known as Charles Edwardes until 1798, as Charles Noel between 1798 and 1823 and as the Lord Barham between 1823 and 1841, was a British peer and Whig politician.

Gainsborough was the eldest son of Sir Gerard Noel, 2nd Baronet, son of Gerard Anne Edwardes, illegitimate son of Lord Anne Hamilton, younger son of James Hamilton, 4th Duke of Hamilton). His paternal grandmother was Lady Jane, daughter of Baptist Noel, 4th Earl of Gainsborough. Gainsborough’s mother was Diana, daughter of Admiral Charles Middleton, 1st Baron Barham.

His father succeeded his father-in-law as second Baronet of the Navy in 1838 and his mother succeeded her father as second Baroness Barham in 1823, both according to special remainders in the letters patent. In 1798, on the death of his kinsman Henry Noel, 6th Earl of Gainsborough (on whose death the earldom became extinct), Gainsborough and the rest of the family assumed by Royal license the surname of Noel in lieu of his patronymic.

Gainsborough succeeded his father as Member of Parliament for Rutland in 1808, a seat he held until 1814. In 1823 he succeeded his mother in the barony of Barham and entered the House of Lords, and in 1838 he also succeeded his father in the baronetcy. In 1841 he was created Earl of Gainsborough, a revival of the title held by his ancestors.

Lord Gainsborough was four times married. He married firstly Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Welman, in 1809. There were no children from this marriage. After her death in 1811 he married secondly Elizabeth, daughter of Sir George Grey, 1st Baronet, in 1817. She died in 1818, shortly after the birth of her only child, a son, Charles George Noel.

Gainsborough married thirdly Arabella, daughter of Sir James Hamlyn-Williams, 2nd Baronet, in 1820. They had two sons and two daughters. She died in 1829, shortly after the birth of her youngest child.

Gainsborough married fourthly Lady Frances, daughter of Robert Jocelyn, 3rd Earl of Roden, in 1833. They had two children: Roden Berkeley Wriothesley Noel, a poet, and Victoria Noel, who married Sir Thomas Buxton, 3rd Baronet, later Governor of South Australia.

Gainsborough died in June 1866, at the age of 84, and was succeeded by his son from his second marriage, Charles. His eldest son from his third marriage, Gerard, was a Conservative politician. The Countess of Gainsborough remained a widow until her death in May 1885

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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.

Richard Howe 1st Earl Howe
8 March 1726 – 5 August 1799


Richard Howe

Howe was born in London, the second son of Emanuel Scrope Howe, 2nd Viscount Howe, who died as governor of Barbados in March 1735, and of Charlotte, a daughter of Baroness von Kielmansegg, afterwards Countess of Darlington, the half-sister of King George I which does much to explain his early rise in the navy. Richard Howe entered the navy in the Severn, one of the squadron sent into the south seas with George Anson in 1740. The Severn failed to round Cape Horn and returned home. Howe next served in the West Indies aboard Burford and was present when she was severely damaged in the unsuccessful attack on La Guaira on 18 February 1743. He was made acting-lieutenant in the West Indies in the same year, and the rank was confirmed in 1744.

During the Jacobite Rising of 1745, he commanded the sloop Baltimore in the North Sea, and was severely wounded in the head while cooperating with a frigate in an engagement with two French privateers. In 1746, he became post-captain, and commanded Triton in the West Indies. As captain of Cornwall, the flagship of Sir Charles Knowles, he was in the battle with the Spaniards off Havana on 2 October 1748. Between the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years’ War, Howe held commands at home and on the west coast of Africa.

In 1755, he went with Edward Boscawen to North America as captain of Dunkirk, and his capture of the French Alcide was the first shot fired in the war. From then until the peace of 1763, he served in the Channel in various more or less futile expeditions against the French coast, gaining a reputation as a firm and skillful officer for his role in the series of naval descents on the French coast including the Raid on Rochefort, Raid on St Malo, Battle of Saint Cast and the Raid on Cherbourg. He was particularly noted for his conduct at Rochefort, where he had taken the Ile d’Aix. On 20 November 1759, he led Hawke’s fleet as captain of Magnanime in the Battle of Quiberon Bay where the British won a decisive victory, forestalling a planned French invasion of Britain.

After the death of his elder brother, killed near Ticonderoga in 1758, he became Viscount Howe in the Peerage of Ireland. In 1762, he was elected M.P. for Dartmouth, and held the seat until he was elevated to the House of Lords as Earl Howe in the Peerage of Great Britain.

During 1763 and 1765, he was a member of the Admiralty board. From 1765 to 1770, he was Treasurer of the Navy. At the end of his tenure, Howe was promoted to Rear Admiral, and made Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet. He was promoted again, in 1775, to Vice Admiral. In 1776 he was appointed to the command of the North American Station.

At the beginning of the American War of Independence, Howe was known to be sympathetic to the colonists. He had known Benjamin Franklin, who was a friend of his sister, a popular lady in London society. Howe had written to Franklin in a peacemaking effort.

Because of his known sentiments, he was selected to command in America. He was joined in a commission with his brother, General Sir William Howe, head of the land forces, to attempt a reconciliation. A committee appointed by the Second Continental Congress conferred with Howe in September 1776, but nothing came of it.

Howe was ordered to institute a naval blockade of the American coastline, but this proved to be ineffectual. Howe claimed to have too few ships to successfully accomplish this, particularly as a number had to be detached to support operations by the British army. As a result large amounts of covert French supplies and munitions were smuggled to America.

By 1778 the blockade was more promising, with many merchant ships being taken. Howe still complained to London that while his ships were able to successfully guard the southern colonies, the blockade of the northern colonies was still ineffective. His requests for more ships were rejected as the Admiralty wanted to keep much of the fleet at home to protect against a Franco-Spanish invasion of the British Isles, should they enter the war.

The strategy of the British in North America was a combination of operations aimed at capturing major cities and a blockade of the coast. In 1776 the British captured New York City with combined operations between the army and the navy.

In 1777 Admiral Howe provided support to his brother’s operation to capture Philadelphia, ferrying General Howe’s army to a landing point from which they successfully marched and took the city. General Howe spent much of the remainder of the year concentrating on capturing the forts that controlled entry to the Delaware River without which ships could not reach Philadelphia.

News of the capture of a separate British army under John Burgoyne at Saratoga threw British plans into disarray. Howe spent the winter in Newport, Rhode Island.

The appointment of a new peace commission in 1778 offended the admiral deeply, and he resigned his command. His resignation was reluctantly accepted by Lord Sandwich, then First Sea Lord, but before it could take effect France declared war, and a powerful French squadron was sent to America under the Comte d’Estaing. Greatly outnumbered and forced to take a defensive stance, Howe nevertheless baffled the French admiral at Sandy Hook, and defeated d’Estaing’s attempt to take Newport, Rhode Island by a fine combination of caution and calculated daring. On Admiral John Byron’s arrival from England with reinforcements, Howe left his station in September 1778.

Declining to serve afterwards, he cited distrust of Lord North and a lack of support during his command in America. He was further embittered by the replacement of himself and his brother as peace commissioners, as well as by attacks in the press against him by ministerial writers including the prominent American Loyalist Joseph Galloway. An enquiry in Parliament demanded by the Howe brothers to justify their conduct in America was held during 1779 but ended inconclusively. Howe spent much of the next three years with the opposition attacking the government’s alleged mismanagement of the war at sea.

As Howe had joined the opposition in Parliament to North’s government, it was clear that until it was replaced he would be unable to secure a fresh naval command. Despite the setback at Saratoga, and the entry of France, Spain and the Dutch Republic into the war, North’s government continued to gain strength until October 1781 when a British army under Lord Cornwallis was forced to surrender to a combined Franco-American force at Yorktown. Although the government was able to continue for several more months its effective power had been sapped.

In March 1782 the House of Commons passed a motion ending offensive actions against the American rebels, although the war around the rest of the globe continued with the same intensity. North’s government then fell to be replaced by a weak coalition of Whigs led by the Marquess of Rockingham.

Not until the fall of Lord North’s government in March 1782 did Howe once again accept a command – this time the Channel Fleet. Despite the suspension of hostilities in America, the war continued and the Royal Navy was severely stretched in having to deal with the French, Spanish and Dutch fleets. Howe received instructions from Augustus Keppel, the new First Lord of the Admiralty to proceed to Portsmouth and take command of the Channel Fleet.

Howe’s task was complex. He had to protect inbound trade convoys from the Americas, keep track of the Franco-Spanish fleet, while also keeping an eye on the Dutch fleet at port in the Texel but reportedly ready to sail. He also had to keep in mind the need to attempt a relief of Gibraltar which had been under siege for several years and would be forced to surrender if it wasn’t resupplied soon. Howe had to accomplish these tasks with significantly fewer ships than his combined opponents. Keppel observed the Royal Navy’s best hope was to quickly shift their limited forces from one area of danger to another.

In May Howe took a number of ships to the Dutch coast to scout out Dutch preparations. If the Dutch made a sortie into the North Sea they would be able to threaten Britain’s vital Baltic convoys, including precious naval stores which were needed for continuing the war. This in turn might lead the Dutch to launch attacks on the East coast of England. As the Dutch fleet appeared unlikely to immediately put to sea, Howe returned to Britain leaving a squadron of nine ships to keep a watch on the Texel. The French and Spanish fleets had sailed from Brest and Cadiz and combined in the Western Approaches, where they managed to capture some merchant ships. Howe put to sea to try and monitor them, and received information that a major trade convoy was incoming from the West Indies.

Howe had only 25 ships-of-the-line against 36 enemy ships under Admiral Córdoba and was separated by them from the convoy he was ordered to protect. He sent a message for the convoy to put into safety in ports in Ireland. Howe then took his fleet through a dangerous route, around the north side of the Isles of Scilly. This allowed him to get between the inbound convoy and the Franco-Spanish fleet as well as allowing him to gain the weather gauge which would be a major advantage in any battle.

The next morning the Franco-Spanish fleet had disappeared. After waiting a while Howe decided to go in pursuit of them, later receiving news that the West Indian convoy had safely reached harbour in the English Channel. The Franco-Spanish fleet had been blown southwards by a strong gale.

The British had feared that Córdoba’s combined fleet would be joined by the Dutch fleet to give the Allies overwhelming superiority in the English Channel. However the Dutch were almost completely inactive and chose not to put to sea. Howe was then able to focus on the last major task of 1782, the relief of Gibraltar.

That autumn, he carried out the relief of Gibraltar — a difficult operation, 46 French and Spanish ships-of-the-line against only 33 of his own. The exhausted state of the fleet made it impossible for Howe to outfit his ships properly or supply them with good crews, and Howe’s progress to Gibraltar was hampered by the need to escort a large convoy carrying stores.

Still, Howe handled his makeshift fleet brilliantly and took advantage of an awkward and unenterprising enemy. Howe successfully relieved Gibraltar and fought an indecisive action at the Battle of Cape Spartel after which he was able to bring his fleet safely back to Britain, bringing an effective end to the year’s campaign.

Negotiations between the various war participants had been taking place through 1782 and they were able to reach a settlement. The Peace of Paris brought an end to the conflict.

From 1783 until 1788, he served as First Lord of the Admiralty during the Younger Pitt’s first ministry. The task was often difficult, for he had to agree to extreme budgetary constraints and disappoint the hopes of many officers who were left unemployed by the peace. Nonetheless, during his time in office a number of new ships were built as part of a naval arms race with France and Spain. During his time at the Admiralty, Howe oversaw a number of innovations to signaling.

Howe felt constantly undermined by Charles Middleton, the Comptroller of the Navy. Pitt often completely bypassed Howe on naval decisions and went directly to Middleton. By 1788 Howe grew tired of this and he resigned his post as First Lord despite efforts to persuade him to stay. To show their goodwill and approval of him, the government awarded Howe an Earldom.

In 1790 a dispute by Britain and Spain over the Nootka Sound on the Pacific coast of North America threatened to spark a war between the two countries. Lord Howe, as one of the most senior and experienced officers still serving, was offered command of the Channel Fleet which he accepted. Howe was appointed to the position in May 1790 and took up his post in Portsmouth in July 1790. Consisting of 35 ships-of-the-line the Channel Fleet put to sea and cruised for around a month to the west of Ushant before returning to port. The Crisis was then settled peacefully by diplomats and Howe was able to return to his retirement on land.

On the outbreak of the War of the First Coalition against France in 1793, he was again given command of the Channel fleet again. The following year would be the greatest of his career, including the victory of the “Glorious First of June”.

Although now nearly seventy years old, Howe displayed a tactical originality uncommon in such a veteran. Howe’s active service ended after the campaign, but he continued to hold nominal command of the Channel Fleet by the king’s decree. In 1797, he was called on to pacify Spithead mutineers, and his powerful influence upon the sailors who revered him was conspicuously shown.

In June 1797, he was made a Knight of the Order of the Garter. Howe was buried in his family vault at St. Andrew’s Church, Langar, in Nottinghamshire.

Lord Howe was married on 10 March 1758 to Mary Hartop, the daughter of Colonel Chiverton Hartop of Welby in Leicestershire, and had three daughters. His Irish title descended to his brother, General William Howe, who died childless in 1814. The earldom and the viscountcy of the United Kingdom, being limited to male heirs, became extinct. The barony passed to his daughter, Sophia Charlotte, who married the Hon. Penn Assheton Curzon. Their son, Richard Curzon-Howe, succeeded his paternal grandfather as Viscount Curzon in 1820 and was created Earl Howe in 1821; he was succeeded by his son, George.

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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.

Sir Gerard Noel 2nd Baronet
17 July 1759-25 February 1838

Born Gerard Edwardes, the son of Gerard Edwardes of Welham Grove and Lady Jane Noel, daughter of Baptist Noel, 4th Earl of Gainsborough. His father was the illegitimate son of Lord Anne Hamilton, younger son of James Hamilton, 4th Duke of Hamilton. (DWW-Thus the Great-Grandson of a Duke) He was educated at Eton and St John’s College, Cambridge.

After finishing his education, Noel became partner in a Westminster banking house. He entered Parliament in 1784 as member for Maidstone. However, on the death of his cousin, Thomas Noel, MP for Rutland, he resigned so as to be elected for that county (where the Noels had regularly held one of the seats for centuries). He represented Rutland for well over forty years. Initially a supporter of Pitt the Younger, he was one of a group of MPs who in 1788 tried to form a third party independent of both Pitt and Charles James Fox; in later years, however, he was a consistent Tory.

In 1798 he inherited the estates of his uncle, Henry Noel, 6th Earl of Gainsborough (though not the peerage, which could not pass through the female line), and changed his surname to Noel. He served as High Sheriff of Rutland for 1812.

Noel married three times. His first marriage, in 1780, was to Diana Middleton (d. 1823), daughter of Captain Charles Middleton, the Comptroller of the Navy. The following year Middleton was created a baronet, with a special remainder to his new son-in-law should he have no sons of his own. Middleton later became First Lord of the Admiralty and was raised to a peerage as Lord Barham; he died in 1813 without male issue, and Noel consequently inherited his baronetcy, while Noel’s wife inherited the peerage. They had at least fifteen children:

  • Charles Noel Noel (1781–1866), MP, who succeeded to his father’s baronetcy and his mother’s barony, later created Earl of Gainsborough
  • Rev. Gerard Thomas Noel (1782–1851), a canon of Winchester
  • Major Horace Noel (1783–1807)
  • Henry Robert Noel(1784–1800)
  • William Middleton Noel (1789–1859), MP for Rutland 1838-1840
  • Captain Frederic Noel (1790–1833), a naval officer
  • Rev. Francis James Noel (1793–1854), Rector of Teston and Nettlestead in Kent
  • Berkeley Octavius Noel (1794–1841)
  • Rev. Leland Noel (1797–1870), Vicar of Exton
  • Baptist Wriothesley Noel (1799–1873)
  • Louisa Elizabeth Noel (d. 1816), who married William Hoare (d. 1819)
  • Emma Noel (d. 1873), who married Stafford O’Brien (d. 1864)
  • Charlotte Margaret Noel (d. 1869), who married (first, in 1813) Thomas Welman and (second, in 1839) Thomas Thompson
  • Augusta Julia Noel (d. 1833), who married Thomas Babington (d. 1871)
  • Juliana Hicks Noel (d. 1855), who married Rev. Samuel Phillips

His second marriage, in 1823, was to Harriett Gill (d. 1826), and his third, in 1831, to Isabella Evans. Both these marriages were childless.

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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.

Sir Charles Middleton
14 October 1726 – 17 June 1813


Middleton was born at Leith, to Robert Middleton, a customs collector of Bo’ness, Linlithgowshire, and Helen, daughter of Captain Charles Dundas RN and granddaughter of Sir James Dundas of Arniston.

Middleton entered the Royal Navy in 1741 as captain’s servant aboard HMS Sandwich and HMS Duke, and later served aboard HMS Flamborough as midshipman and master’s mate. He became lieutenant in 1745, serving aboard the frigate HMS Chesterfield, after 1748 on the west Africa station.

During the Seven Years’ War, from 1754, Middleton was stationed aboard HMS Anson during her apprehension and capture of two French ships at Louisbourg, after which he was stationed in the Leeward Islands. In January 1757, an incident over rum rations, during which Middleton lost his temper and physically attacked a sailor ended with the sailor being court martialled and Middleton being transferred and promoted to command of the sloop HMS Speaker.

In 1759 he was given command of the frigate HMS Arundel being promoted to post-rank. The following year, while in command of HMS Emerald, distinguished himself in the West Indies, taking sixteen French ships and several privateers, and received the gratitude of the merchants in the British colony of Barbados. From March 1762 Middleton took command of the frigate Adventure, patrolling the coast of Normandy.

In December 1761 Middleton married Margaret Gambier, niece of Captain Mead, who he had encountered aboard HMS Sandwich some twenty years earlier. Margaret moved to Teston in Kent, to be close to her friend Elizabeth Bouverie. In 1763, after service aboard the Adventure, he moved to join Margaret at Teston, and for the next twelve years he farmed the land belonging to Mrs Bouverie, taking on the role of a country gentleman.

In 1775, at the outbreak of the American War of Independence, Middleton was given a guardship at the Nore, a Royal Navy anchorage in the Thames Estuary, and was subsequently appointed Comptroller of the Navy in 1778, a post he held for twelve years. In 1781 was created a baronet, with a special remainder, failing any male issue, to his son in law, Gerard Noel.

In 1784, Sir Charles Middleton was elected Tory Member of Parliament for Rochester, a seat he held for six years, and three years later was promoted Rear Admiral. By 1793 a Vice Admiral, he was the following year made a Lord of the Admiralty.

In 1795 became Admiral of the Blue. He was finally, in 1805, appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, and was created Baron Barham, of Barham Court and Teston in the County of Kent, with a special remainder, failing male issue, to his only child, his daughter, Diana Noel, 2nd Baroness Barham, and her male heirs. In September 1805, Lord Barham attained the rank of Admiral of the Red. He died eight years later, aged 86, at his home of Barham Court.

In addition to his service in the Royal Navy, Sir Charles Middleton played a crucial role in the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire. He had been influenced by a pamphlet written by Rev. James Ramsay, who served as a surgeon under Middleton aboard HMS Arundel in the West Indies. When Ramsay returned to Britain he briefly lived with Sir Charles and Lady Middleton at Teston. He later became vicar of Teston and rector of Nettlestead, Kent, the livings being in the gift of Middleton.

Ramsay’s pamphlet especially affected Lady Middleton. Feeling inadequate to take up the issue of the slave trade in Parliament himself, and knowing that it would be a long, hard battle, Sir Charles Middleton suggested the young Member of Parliament William Wilberforce as the one who might be persuaded to take up the cause. In 1787 Wilberforce was introduced to James Ramsay and Thomas Clarkson at Teston, as well as meeting the growing group of supporters of abolition, which also included Edward Eliot, Hannah More, the evangelical writer and philanthropist and Beilby Porteus, Bishop of London.

Clarkson had first made public his desire to spend his life fighting for emancipation at Middleton’s home, Barham Court, overlooking the River Medway at Teston, Kent. Barham Court was effectively used for planning the campaign by Lord and Lady Barham, with numerous meetings and strategy sessions attended by Wilberforce, Clarkson, Eliot and Porteus before presenting legislation to Parliament. While Middleton never played a direct role in the effort to abolish the slave trade (finally accomplished in 1807) and slavery itself (in 1833) he played a very important part as a behind the scenes facilitator. His efforts were motivated by his evangelical faith.

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