Charles Saunders (Royal Navy officer)

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Sir Charles Saunders
Sir Charles Saunders2.jpg
Sir Charles Saunders by Sir Joshua Reynolds
Born 1715
London, England
Died 7 December 1775
London, England
Buried Westminster Abbey
Allegiance  Kingdom of Great Britain
Service/branch  Royal Navy
Years of service 1727–1766
Rank Admiral
Commands held HMS Plymouth
HMS Sapphire
HMS Dunkirk
HMS Gloucester
HMS Yarmouth
HMS Tiger
Mediterranean Fleet
Battles/wars War of the Austrian Succession
Seven Years' War
Awards Knight of the Order of the Bath

Admiral Sir Charles Saunders, KB (c. 1715 – 7 December 1775) was a Royal Navy officer. He commanded the fourth-rate HMS Gloucester and led her in action at the Second Battle of Cape Finisterre in October 1747 during the War of the Austrian Succession. After serving as Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet, he took command of the fleet tasked with carrying James Wolfe to Quebec in January 1759 and consolidated the dead general's victory after the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in September 1759 by devoting great energy to keeping the British Army, now under the command of Colonel George Townshend, well supplied during the Seven Years' War. He later became Senior Naval Lord and then First Lord of the Admiralty.

Early career

Charles Saunders, Admiral of the Royal Navy, by Richard Brompton

Born the son of James Saunders, Saunders joined the Royal Navy in October 1727.[1] He initially served as a midshipman on the sixth-rate HMS Seahorse and then transferred to the fourth-rate HMS Hector in March 1731.[2] Promoted to lieutenant on 8 November 1734, he was posted to the fourth-rate HMS Exeter in July 1738 and then transferred to the third-rate HMS Norfolk in June 1939, to the fourth-rate HMS Sunderland in August 1939 and to the fourth-rate HMS Centurion in November 1742.[2]

Promoted to post-captain in June 1743 (with an effective date of 26 September 1741), Saunders was given command of the fourth-rate HMS Plymouth in December 1743, the fifth-rate HMS Sapphire in December 1744 and the fourth-rate HMS Dunkirk in 1745.[2] He went on to take command of the fourth-rate HMS Gloucester in 1747 and led her in action at the Second Battle of Cape Finisterre in October 1747 during the War of the Austrian Succession.[2] After that he became captain of the third-rate HMS Yarmouth later that year and of the fourth-rate HMS Tiger in 1749.[2]

Saunders was appointed Commodore in charge of the squadron at Newfoundland with his broad pennant in the fifth-rate HMS Penzance in February 1752.[1] He went on to be treasurer of Greenwich Hospital in February 1754 and Comptroller of the Navy in December 1755.[1] Saunders was Member of Parliament for Plymouth from 1750 to 1754 and then represented the Yorkshire borough of Hedon from 1754 until his death.[1]

Seven Years' War

Drawing by a soldier of Wolfe's army depicting the fleet, under Saunders' command, disembarking Wolfe's soldiers

Promoted to rear-admiral on 7 January 1756, Saunders was sent to Gibraltar as Second in Command of the Mediterranean Fleet.[1] In January 1757 he was advanced to Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet remaining in post until May 1757.[1] He took command of the fleet tasked with carrying James Wolfe to Quebec in January 1759 and, having been promoted to vice admiral on 14 February 1759, he consolidated the dead general's victory after the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in September 1759 by devoting great energy to keeping the British Army, now under the command of Colonel George Towshend, well supplied.[1] Saunders and Towshend were joint signatories for Great Britain after the French garrison capitulated.[1] In April 1760 he resumed his role as Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet and blockaded Cádiz preventing the French and Spanish fleets from sailing.[1] He was installed as Knight of the Bath in May 1761[3] and, in the action of 31 May 1762, his fleet chased down and captured the Spanish treasure ship Hermione off Cape St Mary.[1] He acquired estates at Gunton in Suffolk and at Fishley in Norfolk in 1762.[4]

Later career

Saunders joined the Board of Admiralty as Senior Naval Lord in the First Rockingham ministry in July 1765[5] and was advanced to First Lord of the Admiralty in the Chatham ministry in September 1766; after a disagreement with Lord Chatham, he stood down from the Admiralty Board in December 1766.[6] Promoted to full admiral on 18 October 1770, he died at his home at Spring Gardens in London on 7 December 1770[7] and was buried in Westminster Abbey.[8]

Family

Saunders married a Miss Buck, the daughter of a London banker, in September 1751.[2]

Legacy

Cape Saunders, on the Otago coast of New Zealand, was named in his honour by Captain James Cook, who had served under Saunders in Canada.[9]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Charles Saunders". Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. Retrieved 30 July 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Charles Saunders". Three Decks. Retrieved 31 July 2017. 
  3. ^ "No. 10108". The London Gazette. 26 May 1761. p. 1. 
  4. ^ Kirby, p. 230
  5. ^ Rodger, p. 51-52
  6. ^ "Sainty, JC, Lord High Admiral and Commissioners of the Admiralty 1660–1870, Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 4: Admiralty Officials 1660–1870 (1975), pp. 18–31". Retrieved 4 September 2009. 
  7. ^ Salmon, p. 228
  8. ^ "Sir Charles Saunders". Westminster Abbey. Retrieved 6 August 2017. 
  9. ^ Hocken, Thomas Morland (2011). Contributions to the Early History of New Zealand: Settlement of Otago. Cambridge University Press. p. 33. ISBN 978-1-108-03943-7. 

Sources

  • Kirby, John (1839). A topographical and historical description of the county of Suffolk. Longman & Co. 
  • Rodger, N.A.M. (1979). The Admiralty. Offices of State. Lavenham: T. Dalton Ltd. ISBN 0900963948. 
  • Salmon, Edward (1914). Life of Admiral Sir Charles Saunders, K.B. London: Pitman. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Savage Mostyn
Comptroller of the Navy
1755–1756
Succeeded by
Digby Dent
Preceded by
Earl Howe
Senior Naval Lord
1765–1766
Succeeded by
Augustus Keppel
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Arthur Stert
Vere Beauclerk
Member of Parliament for Plymouth
1750–1754
With: Arthur Stert
Succeeded by
The Viscount Barrington
Samuel Dicker
Preceded by
Luke Robinson
John Savile
Member of Parliament for Hedon
1754–1775
With: Peter Denis 1754–1768
Beilby Thompson 1768–1775
Succeeded by
Beilby Thompson
Lewis Watson
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Egmont
First Lord of the Admiralty
1766
Succeeded by
Sir Edward Hawke
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