A Naval Biographical Dictionary/Richardson, Charles

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RICHARDSON, K.C.B. (Vice-Admiral of the White, 1847. f-p., 30; h-p., 30.)

Sir Charles Richardson entered the Navy, 23 Nov. 1787, as Captain’s Servant, on board the Vestal 28, Capt. Rich. John Strachan. He shortly afterwards proceeded on an embassy to China, and, on removing with Sir Richard to the Phoenix 36, was present, 19 Nov. 1791, while cruizing off the Malabar coast in company with the Perseverance frigate, in an obstinate engagement (produced by a resistance on the part of the French Captain to a search being imposed by the British upon two merchant- vessels under his orders) with La Résolue of 46 guns, whose colours were not struck until she had herself sustained a loss of 25 men killed and 40 wounded, and had occasioned one to the Phoenix of 6 killed and 11 wounded. While on the East India station Mr. Richardson was for several months employed in the boats in co-operating, up different rivers, with the army under Sir Robt. Abercrombie in its operations against Tippoo Saib. On his return to England in 1793 he joined (he had previously attained the ratings of Midshipman and Master’s Mate) the Alexander 74, Capt. West, attached to the Channel fleet; and on 4 Aug. 1794, after having fought in the Royal George 100, flagship of Sir Alex. Hood, in Lord Howe’s actions of 29 May and 1 June, he was made Lieutenant into the Circe 28, Capt. Peter Halkett. Of that frigate he was First-Lieutenant during the great mutiny at the Nore; where his exertions in preventing the crew from acquiring the ascendancy gained him, in common with his Captain and the other officers of the ship, the thanks of the Admiralty. The Circe forming one of Lord Duncan’s repeaters in the action off Camperdown 11 Oct. 1797, Lieut. Richardson on that occasion achieved an important exploit. Fearing lest the Dutch Admiral, De Winter, after his own ship had been dismasted and silenced, should effect his escape on board some other, he volunteered to go in an open boat and take him out. Succeeding in his object he had the honour of presenting him in person to the British Commander-in-Chief; who in consequence received him on promotion in Jan. 1798 on board his flagship the Venerable 74, and made him, 6 March following, his Signal-Lieutenant in the Kent 74, Capt. Wm. Johnstone Hope. In the following year, being sent with the expedition to Holland, Lieut. Richardson commanded a division of seamen attached to the army under Sir Ralph Abercromby from the period of the debarkation near the Helder until the surrender of the Dutch squadron under Admiral Storey. He was then ordered home in charge of a Dutch 68-gun ship. Some time after he had rejoined the Kent he sailed with Sir Ralph Abercromby for Egypt, where he assisted in landing the troops and fought in the battle of 8 March, 1801. In the course of the same month he removed to the Penelope 36, Capt. Hon. Henry Blackwood; and on 12 July, 1802, having previously conveyed Sir Alex. John Ball to Malta, he was nominated Acting-Commander of the Aligator 28, armée en flûte. While in that ship, to which he was confirmed 9 Oct. 1802, Capt. Richardson directed the movements of the flotilla employed at the reduction of Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice in 1803, and was highly spoken of in the public despatches for his exertions at the taking of Surinam in the spring of 1804.[1] On 6 July in that year he was in consequence invested by Sir Samuel Hood with the command of the Centaur 74, the ship bearing his broad pendant, an act which the Admiralty confirmed 27 Sept. ensuing. He returned to England in March, 1805; and was subsequently appointed – 11 Jan. 1806, to the Caesar 80 – 21 April, 1810, to the Semiramis 36, in which frigate, employed in the Channel, off Lisbon, and at the Cape of Good Hope, he continued until Aug. 1814 – 29 July, 1819, and 29 July, 1821, to the Leander 60, bearing the flag of Hon. Sir H. Blackwood, and Topaze 46, both on the East India station – and, in 1822, again to the Leander, from which ship he invalided 14 Oct. in the same year. In the Caesar Capt. Richardson went in pursuit, under the flag of Sir Rich. Strachan, of a squadron which had escaped from Brest, was employed off Rochefort, and proceeded to the Mediterranean in quest of another French squadron under Rear-Admiral Allemand. He assisted in the same ship under Rear-Admiral Stopford at the destruction of three French frigates beneath the batteries of Sable d’Olonne, and of the enemy’s squadron in Aix Roads, in Feb. and April 1809; and in the following July sailed, again under Sir Rich. Strachan, with the expedition to the Scheldt. On the town of Camvere offering to surrender, Capt. Richardson, who was the senior naval officer at the time on shore, arranged with Lieutenant-General Fraser the terms upon which the proposal was accepted. During the investment of Flushing he landed at the head of a brigade of seamen, and commanded a battery of 6 24-pounders with much effect. His services throughout the operations were so important and his zeal and bravery so very conspicuous that he elicited the public praise of the Earl of Chatham, the Military Commander-in-Chief, and the high approbation of Lieutenant-General Sir Eyre Coote, who conducted the siege, and of Major-General M‘Leod, commanding officer of the Royal Artillery.[2] On 25 Aug. 1811, being at the mouth of the river Gironde in the Semiramis and in company with the Diana 38, Capt. Richardson, while his consort was engaged with the (lately British) gun-brig Teazer of 12 18-pounder carronades, 2 long 18’s, and 85 men, succeeded, “in a manner that characterized the officer and seaman,” in driving on shore, and burning under the guns of the batteries at Royan, Le Pluvier national brig of 16 guns and 136 men.[3] In consideration of this exploit he received the “warmest acknowledgments” of his senior officer, Capt.Wm. Ferris, of the Diana, and the thanks of the Board of Admiralty. The Semiramis afterwards made a large number of prizes, and among them the Grand Jean Bart privateer of 14 guns and 106 men. During Capt. Richardson’s command of the Topaze a dispute arose between him and the authorities at Canton, which, before it could be adjusted, became so serious, that all commercial intercourse was suspended, the British factory obliged to embark without passes, and the Hon. Company’s ships to leave the Tigris. The disturbances had their origin in the circumstance of a fire from the Topaze having killed 2 out of a number of Chinese who had severely wounded 14 of her crew while employed filling water at Lintin. On 4 June, 1815, Capt. Richardson was nominated a C.B.; and on 29 June, 1841, a K.C.B. He became a Rear-Admiral 10 Jan. 1837; and a Vice-Admiral 17 Dec. 1847. Agents – Messrs. Stilwell.


  1. Vide Gaz. 1804, pp. 755, 761.
  2. Vide Gaz. 1809, pp. 1233, 1322.
  3. Vide Gaz. 1811, p. 1752.