Knowles, Charles Henry (DNB00)

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KNOWLES, Sir CHARLES HENRY (1754–1831), admiral, only surviving son of Admiral Sir Charles Knowles [q. v.], was born in Jamaica 24 Aug. 1754. He entered the navy in 1768 on board the Venus with Captain the Hon. Samuel Barrington [q. v.], and was afterwards in the Seaford with Captain Macbride. Three years later he was again with Macbride in the Southampton on the home station, and from 1773 to 1776 in the flagship in the West Indies with Sir George Rodney and Rear-admiral Gayton. Gayton promoted him, 28 May 1776, to be lieutenant of the Boreas. In August the Boreas was sent to New York, and in the following January Knowles went home in the Asia in order to be with his father, whose health was failing. In June he again went out to North America, and was appointed by Lord Howe to the Chatham, but on the news of his father's death, 9 Dec. 1777, and his own succession to the baronetcy, he returned to England to arrange his private affairs. Afterwards he went out to join Barrington in the West Indies, was appointed to the Ceres, and in her was present in the action in the Cul-de-Sac of St. Lucia, 15 Dec. 1778. A few days later the Ceres was captured by the French squadron, and Knowles being shortly afterwards exchanged was appointed by Barrington to his own flagship, the Prince of Wales, in which he took part in the action off Grenada on 6 July 1779, when he was slightly wounded. He returned to England with Barrington, and in the following December went as a volunteer in the Sandwich with Sir George Rodney, who promoted him at Gibraltar to the command of the Minorca sloop, 26 Jan. 1780, and a week later, 2 Feb. 1780, to be captain of the Porcupine.

For the next two years Knowles continued in the Mediterranean, sometimes at Gibraltar, more commonly at Minorca, convoying or sending vessels loaded with provisions, or engaging French or Spanish privateers or cruisers. He returned to England in the spring of 1782, and, being ordered to resume the command of the Porcupine at Gibraltar, took a passage on board the Britannia with Admiral Barrington in the grand fleet under Howe. He was then appointed to command the San Miguel, a Spanish line-of-battle ship, which was blown ashore and captured, and on the departure of Captain Curtis [see Curtis, Sir Roger] remained at Gibraltar as senior officer until the peace. In 1793–4 Knowles commanded the Dædalus frigate on the coast of North America, and after his return to England commanded the Edgar of 74 guns in the North Sea. Towards the end of 1795 he was appointed to the Goliath of 74 guns; in her he joined the Mediterranean fleet in the summer of 1796, and took part in the battle of Cape St. Vincent on 14 Feb. 1797, for which, with the other captains, he received the thanks of parliament and the gold medal. On the return of the fleet to Lisbon he was appointed to the Britannia of 100 guns, but his ill-health compelled him to resign the command and return to England. He had no further service, though promoted in due course to be rear-admiral 14 Feb. 1799, vice-admiral 23 April 1804, and admiral 31 July 1810. On the accession of George IV he was nominated an extra G.C.B. He died 28 Nov. 1831, and was succeeded in the baronetcy by his son Sir Francis Charles (1802–1892), whose son Charles George Frederick is the present baronet.

Knowles was the author of numerous pamphlets on technical subjects (see also British Museum Catalogue).

[Ralfe's Nav. Biog. ii. 227; Marshall's Royal Nav. Biog. i. 113; Burke's Peerage and Baronetage.]

J. K. L.