Whitshed, James Hawkins (DNB00)
|←Whitney, Geoffrey||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 61
Whitshed, James Hawkins
WHITSHED, Sir JAMES HAWKINS (1762–1849), admiral of the fleet, born in 1762, was third son of James Hawkins (1713–1805), bishop of Raphoe, and in 1773 was entered on the books of the Ranger sloop, then on the Irish station. He was afterwards borne on the books of the Kent, guardship at Plymouth, and first went afloat in the Aldborough, serving on the Newfoundland and North American stations, till, on 4 Sept. 1778, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. During 1779 he was in the Amazon, on the home station, and in December he joined the Sandwich, flagship of Sir George Brydges (afterwards Lord) Rodney [q. v.], with whom he was present in the action off Cape St. Vincent on 16 Jan. 1780. At Gibraltar he was made commander into the San Vincente sloop, and, going out to the West Indies with Rodney, was present in the action of 17 April 1780, and on the next day, 18 April, was posted to the Deal Castle, which, in a violent hurricane in the following October, was blown from her anchorage at St. Lucia, and wrecked on the coast of Porto Rico. The crew happily escaped to the shore, and Hawkins, after recovering from a dangerous fever brought on by the exposure, was honourably acquitted by a court-martial of all blame, and was sent to England with despatches. In July 1781 he was appointed to the Ceres frigate, in which, in the following spring, he took out Sir Guy Carleton (afterwards Lord Dorchester) [q. v.] to New York, and brought him back to England in December 1783. For the next three years Hawkins commanded the Rose frigate at Leith and on the east coast of Scotland. He then studied for three years at Oxford, attending lectures on astronomy, and travelled on the continent, mainly in Denmark and in Russia. In 1791 he assumed the name of Whitshed, that of his maternal grandmother, in accordance with the terms of a cousin's will.
In 1793 he was appointed to the Arrogant of 74 guns, one of the squadron under Rear-admiral George Montagu [q. v.] in May and June 1794. In 1795 he was moved into the Namur, one of the ships which in January 1797 were detached from the Channel fleet with Rear-admiral [Sir] William Parker (1743–1802) [q. v.] to reinforce Sir John Jervis (afterwards Earl St. Vincent) [q. v.] at Lisbon, and to take part in the battle of Cape St. Vincent, for which Whitshed, with the other captains engaged, received the gold medal and the thanks of both houses of parliament. He afterwards commanded successively the Ajax and the Formidable in the Channel fleet, and on 14 Feb. 1799 was promoted to be rear-admiral. In April, with his flag in the Queen Charlotte, he commanded a squadron of four ships of the line which was sent as a reinforcement to the Mediterranean fleet, on the news of the French fleet having escaped from Brest. In the pursuit he returned off Brest with Lord Keith [see Elphinstone, George Keith, Lord Keith]. He continued in the Channel till 1801, and in 1803, on the renewal of the war, was appointed naval adviser to the lord lieutenant of Ireland, to superintend the arrangements for the defence of the Irish coast and to organise the sea fencibles. He became vice-admiral on 23 April 1804, and in the spring of 1807 was appointed commander-in-chief at Cork, where he remained for three years. On 31 July 1810 he was promoted to the rank of admiral. He was nominated a K.C.B. on 2 Jan. 1815, was commander-in-chief at Portsmouth from January 1821 to April 1824, was made a G.C.B. on 17 Nov. 1830, a baronet on 16 May 1834, baron of the kingdom of Hanover in 1843, and admiral of the fleet on 8 Jan. 1844. He died at his house in Cavendish Square, London, on 28 Oct. 1849.
Whitshed's portrait, by F. Cruikshank, is in the Painted Hall at Greenwich.
Whitshed married, in 1791, Sophia Henrietta, daughter of Captain John Albert Bentinck of the navy (d. 1775), and had issue two sons and four daughters. The eldest son was killed in 1813, when a midshipman of the Berwick. The second, St. Vincent Keene, who succeeded to the baronetcy, died in 1870; and on the death of the second baronet's only surviving son in the following year the baronetcy became extinct.[O'Byrne's Nav. Biogr. Dict.; Ralfe's Nav. Biogr. ii. 271; Marshall's Roy. Nav. Biogr. i. 120; Naval Chronicle (with portrait), xxii. 353; Gent. Mag. 1850, i. 85.]