Spencer, Robert Cavendish (DNB00)

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SPENCER, Sir ROBERT CAVENDISH (1791–1830), captain in the navy, born on 24 Oct. 1791, was third son of George John, second earl Spencer [q. v.], and brother of John Charles Spencer, viscount Althorp and third earl Spencer [q. v.] In August 1804 he entered the navy on board the Tigre with Captain Benjamin Hallowell, afterwards Carew [q. v.], and served continuously with him, in the Tigre and afterwards in the Malta—being promoted to be lieutenant on 13 Dec. 1810—till appointed to command the Pelorus brig in October 1812. On 22 Jan. 1813 he was promoted to be commander of the Kite, from which he was moved into the Espoir, one of the squadron off Marseilles, under the command of Captain Thomas Ussher [q. v.] He was afterwards appointed to the Carron, employed on the coast of North America, was actively engaged in the operations against New Orleans, and was promoted to post rank by the commander-in-chief, Sir Alexander Forrester Inglis Cochrane [q. v.], on 4 June 1814. In 1815 he commanded the Cydnus on the home station, and in 1817–19 the 26-gun frigate Ganymede in the Mediterranean, where he conducted a successful negotiation with the bey of Tunis. From 1819 to 1822 he commanded the Owen Glendower on the South American station, and from 1823 to 1826 the 46-gun frigate Naiad in the Mediterranean, where he took an active part in the operations against Algiers in the summer of 1824 [see Neale, Sir Harry Burrard], and was afterwards employed on the coast of Greece during the war of independence. From August 1827 to September 1828 Spencer was private secretary and groom of the bedchamber to the Duke of Clarence, then lord high admiral; in October 1828 he was nominated a K.C.H., and was knighted on 24 Nov. In September 1828 he was appointed to command the Madagascar, again in the Mediterranean, where he died, off Alexandria, on 4 Nov. 1830. He had just been recalled to England on appointment as surveyor-general of the ordnance. During these years of peace service, and especially in the Naiad, Spencer acquired a reputation in the service as a first-rate gunnery officer and disciplinarian. When the Naiad paid off, she was spoken of as the perfection of a man-of-war. He was unmarried.

His younger brother, Frederick Spencer, fourth Earl Spencer (1798–1857), born on 14 April 1798, entered the navy in 1811, and was promoted to the rank of captain on 26 Aug. 1822. In 1831 he was M.P. for Worcestershire, and afterwards for Midhurst. On the death of his eldest brother, he succeeded as fourth Earl Spencer, 1 Oct. 1845; from 1846 to 1848 he was lord chamberlain of the queen's household; was made a K.G. on 23 March 1849; in 1854 was appointed lord steward, and died a vice-admiral on the retired list on 27 Dec. 1857, when he was succeeded by his eldest son, the present Earl Spencer, K.G.

[O'Byrne's Nav. Biogr. Dict.; Marshall's Roy. Nav. Dict. vii. (Suppl. pt. iii.) 256, viii. (Suppl. pt. iv.) 401; Gent. Mag. 1831, i. 82, 1858 i. 328; Letters of Sir Henry Codrington (privately printed); Official Letters in the Public Record Office; information from Earl Spencer, K.G.]

J. K. L.