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carrying distinguishing pennants as admiral, vice-admiral, and rear admiral, were effectively ships of war, of from 64 to 44 guns, with crews numerically large, and on board these, as Wager had been informed, was the treasure, variously estimated at from twenty to fifty millions of dollars, or from four to ten millions sterling. Besides the Expedition, Wager had with him only two ships, the Kingston of 60 guns and the Portland of 50; and the Spaniards, considering themselves the superior force, prepared for battle. About sunset Wager, in the Expedition, engaged the Spanish admiral; but neither the Kingston nor the Portland obeyed his signals to engage the other two ships, and for some time the Expedition was exposed to the fire of all three. After about an hour and a half, the Spanish admiral's ship suddenly blew up. Of the seven hundred men said to be on board, eleven only were picked up the next day. The Expedition, too, nearly foundered by the violence of the explosion, the shower of falling timbers, and the quantity of water that was forced on board through the lower deck ports. Having at length cleared her of the wreck and the water. Wager pushed on to attack one of the other ships, now barely distinguishable in the dark. His broadsides, however, were overpowering; his other two ships, guided by the flashes of the guns, came up, and about two in the morning the Spaniard, which proved to be the rear-admiral, surrendered. But the Expedition had sustained much damage in her masts and rigging, and at daybreak Wager ordered the Kingston and Portland to chase the vice-admiral, then some ten or twelve miles off. They obeyed, but with such excessive caution that the Spaniard escaped. Their captains, Timothy Bridge and Edward Windsor, were afterward tried by court-martial, which attributed their misconduct to 'want of judgment,' and sentenced them to be dismissed their ships (Campbell, iii. 210), but the mischief had been done. Nearly half of the treasure had gone down with the admiral, and a great part of the remainder had escaped with the vice-admiral. What was taken, though enough to make Wager a wealthy man, was a very small part of what might have been won had these two ships been commanded by capable men. Still, the blow to the Spaniards was very great, and was increased by the loss of many other ships picked up by Wager's cruisers and by privateers, one of which took a prize that the Spaniards offered to ransom for 180,000 dollars. In July, after his return to Jamaica, Wager first learned that on 19 Nov. 1707 he had been made rear-admiral of the blue. He continued on the station for near eighteen months longer, in which time trade was protected, merchants were contented, and 'a greater number of prizes were taken by the ships under his command than at any former period of the same length' (Charnock), a distinction which at that time had a very considerable money value. When Wager returned to England in November 1709, he was an extremely wealthy man.
On 8 Dec. he was knighted by the queen; but he had no service afloat for several years. In February 1714-16 he was appointed comptroller of the navy, an office which he held till March 1718, when he was appointed one of the lords commissioners of the admiralty. In this post he remained till June 1733, when he was sworn in of the privy council and advanced to be first lord of the admiralty. But these offices did not sever him from the active service. On 16 June 1716 he was advanced to the rank of vice-admiral, and in 1722 was nominated to the command of a squadron intended as a threat to Portugal. It was found unnecessary to push the threat further, and Wager did not embark; but in 1726 he took command of a powerful fleet sent into the Baltic to anticipate or prevent any action of Russia as a party to the treaty of Vienna (cf. Stanhope, Hist, of England, ii. 11; Lecky, Hist, of England, i. 408-9). The mere presence of the fleet produced the desired effect, and neither in 1726 nor in 1727. when Sir Norris, John (DNB00)|John Norris]] (1600?-1749) [q. v.] had succeeded Wager, was the peace of Europe broken in the north.
In the south it was different. The Spaniards determined to lay siege to Gibraltar; by the end of 1726 they had mustered an army of 15,000 men in the immediate neighbourhood of the rock, and hostilities began early in the following year. In February Wager arrived with a strong fleet and large reinforcements for the garrison. Rear-admiral Francis Hosier [q. v.] was sent to the West Indies to prevent the Spanish treasure ships leaving Portobello, and one of Wager's principal objects was to prevent any sucn ships getting into Cadiz. Early in March, however, much to his disgust, some vessels from Havana, with a large amount of treasure on board, by hugging the African shore, succeeded in slipping past him. He wrote to his friend and constant correspondent, Charles Delafaye, then secretary to the Duke of Newcastle, that there was a time for all things; a time to sit still and a time to be active; and that as he was past sixty, it was time for him to be in his garden at Parson's Green. This, however,