Saxton, Charles (DNB00)

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SAXTON, Sir CHARLES (1732–1808) commissioner of the navy, born in 1732, was youngest son of Edward Saxton, a merchant in London. He entered the navy in January 1744–5 on board the Gloucester as ‘captain's servant’ with Captain (afterwards Sir) Charles Saunders [q. v.], and remained in her for three years. He was then in the Eagle with Captain Collins, in the St. Albans on the coast of Guinea with Captain John Byron, and passed his examination on 3 Jan. 1753. He afterwards served in the East Indies under Vice-admiral Charles Watson [q. v.], by whom he was made lieutenant, and Vice-admiral (Sir) George Pocock [q. v.] He returned to England in 1760; on 11 Oct. 1760 was promoted to be commander, and on 28 Jan. 1762 to be captain of the Magnanime with Commodore Lord Howe, and afterwards in the fleet under Sir Edward Hawke. After the war he commanded the Pearl on the Newfoundland station, and was specially employed in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in moderating the claims of the French. The Pearl was paid off in 1766. In 1770 he commanded the Phœnix during the Spanish armament, and in 1779 commissioned the Invincible, which during 1780 formed part of the Channel fleet. At the end of the year she went out with Sir Samuel Hood to the West Indies, where Saxton was obliged to leave her for some months owing to ill-health. He commanded her again in 1781, with Hood, on the coast of North America, and in the action off the Chesapeake on 5 Sept., where, however, Hood's division of the fleet was very slightly engaged. He was still with Hood at St. Kitt's in January and February 1782, and was then sent to Jamaica. He remained on the station till the peace, returning to England in the summer of 1783. In 1787 he was one of a commission to examine into the working of the impress system, and in 1789 was appointed commissioner of the navy at Portsmouth.

On 19 July 1794 he was created a baronet. He continued at Portsmouth till 1806, when he was retired on a pension of 750l., with a remainder of 300l. a year to his wife if she survived him. In March 1801 Nelson wrote of him as a rough sailor, an acquaintance of near thirty years, which would go back to the time when Nelson had just entered the service as a twelve-year-old midshipman of the Raisonnable and Saxton was captain of the Phœnix. He died in November 1808. He married, in July 1771, Mary, daughter of Jonathan Bush of Burcott in Oxfordshire, and had issue.

[Charnock's Biogr. Nav. vi. 461; Naval Chronicle, xx. 425, where there is a portrait after Northcote; Orders in Council (vol. lxvi. 21 July 1806) and other documents in the Public Record Office.]

J. K. L.