Grenville, Thomas (1719-1747) (DNB00)

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GRENVILLE, THOMAS (1719–1747), captain in the navy, seventh son of Richard Grenville (1678-1728) of Wotton Hall in Buckinghamshire, younger brother of Richard Grenville, second earl Temple (1711-1779) [q. v.], and of George Grenville (1712-1770) [q. v.], was born on 3 April 1719. Having passed rapidly through the lower ranks in the navy, he was, on 6 April 1742, posted to the command of the Romney, in which, off Cape St. Vincent in the following March, he had the good fortune to capture a French ship from Vera Cruz to Cadiz with an extremely valuable cargo. In a letter to his brother George, Grenville estimated his share as being probably between 30,000l. and 40,000l., but it does not seem to have actually amounted to more than half. In the beginning of 1745 he was appointed to the Falkland, on the coast of Ireland, and in the following year to the Defiance of 60 guns, in which, in the spring of 1747, he was ordered on an independent cruise, by the influence of his brother George, then one of the lords of the admiralty. Much to their annoyance, however, the ship was at the last moment detained and attached to the squadron under Anson [q. v.], who wrote to George Grenville, promising that the detention should be for as short a time as possible, and adding ‘if there should be any service, I know he would be glad to be in it.’ On 3 May Anson met and captured the French squadron off Cape Finisterre. The success was complete; but ‘the joy of it,’ wrote George Lyttelton, ‘is palled to our family by the loss of poor Captain Grenville, one of the most promising young men in the navy, and who, had he lived, would have been an honour not to his family only, but to his country.’ About two hours after the action began his left thigh was smashed by a huge splinter, and though the mangled limb was at once amputated, he died in the course of five hours. His body was brought to England, and buried at Wotton. A column to his memory was erected in the gardens at Stowe by his uncle, Lord Cobham.

[Charnock's Biog. Nav. v. 190; The Grenville Papers, vol. i. freq.]

J. K. L.