West, Temple (DNB00)

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WEST, TEMPLE (1713–1757), vice-admiral, born in 1713, was the son of Richard West, D.D., prebendary of Winchester, by his wife Maria, eldest daughter of Sir Richard Temple (1634–1697) [q. v.] and sister of Sir Richard Temple, viscount Cobham [q. v.], and of Hester, wife of Richard Grenville, viscountess Cobham and countess Temple [see Grenville, Richard Temple, Earl Temple]. Gilbert West [q. v.] was his elder brother. He entered the navy in September 1727 as a volunteer per order on board the Revenge, with Captain Conningsby Norbury, in the fleet at Gibraltar under Sir Charles Wager [q. v.] In July 1728 he was moved into the Canterbury with Captain Edmund Hook, on the home station and in the Mediterranean, and as volunteer and midshipman continued in her for upwards of three years. In 1733 he was in the Dursley galley with Captain Thomas Smith (d. 1762) [q. v.], and passed his examination on 21 Dec. 1733, being then twenty, according to his certificate. Two months later, on 23 Feb. 1733–4, he was promoted to be lieutenant of the Dorsetshire, from which in May he was moved to the Norfolk. On 7 April 1737 he was promoted to be commander of the Grampus sloop; a month later he was appointed to the Alderney; and on 13 June 1738 he was posted to the Deal Castle frigate, which he commanded in the Channel or on the coast of Portugal till the beginning of 1741, when he was moved to the Sapphire, and from her to the Dartmouth, one of the ships with Rear-admiral Nicholas Haddock [q. v.] in the Mediterranean. There he was moved into the 60-gun ship Warwick, which he commanded in the action off Toulon on 11 Feb. 1743–4 [see Mathews, Thomas]. The Stirling Castle, followed by the Warwick, formed the head of the English line, and both ships kept aloof from the French, firing on them from a distance. The ships astern did the same, and thus in the van there was no close action. Cooper of the Stirling Castle and West were consequently brought to a court-martial on 13 Dec. 1745 and cashiered, notwithstanding their defence that had they not kept to the windward, the French, when they tacked, must have doubled on the van and overpowered it. As the battle had so clearly been left to conduct itself, their contention was perfectly reasonable, and West's connections were sufficiently influential to give it weight. Both he and Cooper were accordingly reinstated by order in council on 12 May 1746.

In 1747 he commanded the Devonshire, as flag-captain to Rear-admiral (Sir) Peter Warren [q. v.] in the action off Cape Finisterre on 3 May. In 1748 he was commodore and commander-in-chief at the Nore. During the peace he remained on shore; but on 4 Feb. 1755 he was promoted to be rear-admiral of the red, and during the summer commanded a small squadron in the Bay of Biscay. In the following spring, with his flag in the Buckingham, he went out to the Mediterranean as second in command, with Admiral John Byng [q. v.], and in the action near Minorca, on 20 May, had command of the van, which did engage close, and, being left unsupported, received a good deal of damage. He was afterwards summarily superseded and recalled to England, but, as no blame could be laid to his door, he was on 20 Nov. nominated a member of the board of admiralty, of which his cousin, Lord Temple, was the head. On 8 Dec. he was promoted to be vice-admiral of the blue, and shortly afterwards appointed to command a squadron on particular service. He hoisted his flag in the Magnanime; but after giving evidence on Byng's court-martial, and that by no means in Byng's favour, he refused to ‘serve on terms which subject an officer to the treatment shown Admiral Byng.’ He accordingly struck his flag, and some days later, when it appeared that the sentence on Byng would be carried out, he resigned also his seat at the admiralty. In July he resumed it, but only for a few weeks, dying on 9 Aug. 1757. He married a daughter of Sir John Balchen [q. v.], and left issue. Admiral of the fleet Sir John West [q. v.] was his grandson. A monument to his memory was erected in Westminster Abbey at the cost of his widow.

[Charnock's Biogr. Nav. iv. 419; Commission and Warrant Books in the Public Record Office; Minutes of Court-martial on West, on Mathews, and on Byng.]

J. K. L.