Bickerton, Richard Hussey (DNB00)

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BICKERTON, Sir RICHARD HUSSEY (1759–1832), admiral, son of Vice-admiral Sir Richard Bickerton [q. v.], entered the navy in December 1771, on board the Marlborough, then commanded by his father. In the Marlborough, and afterwards in the Augusta yacht, he continued with his father till 1774, when he was appointed to the Medway , of 60 guns, flagship in the Mediterranean. Two years later he was transferred to the Enterprise frigate, and afterwards to the Invincible with Captain Hyde Parker. On 16 Dec. 1777 he was made lieutenant in the Prince George, commanded by Captain Middleton, afterwards Lord Barham. He followed Middleton to the Jupiter, of 50 guns, where he remained as first lieutenant with Captain Reynolds, who afterwards succeeded to the command. On 20 Oct. 1778 the Jupiter, in company with the Medea frigate, fell in with the French 64-gun ship Triton on the coast of Portugal. A brisk action followed (Beatson, Nav. and Mil. Memoirs, iv. 441), in which both ships suffered severely; and though no particular advantage was gained on either side, the odds against the Jupiter were considered so great as to render her equal engagement equivalent to a victory. Her first lieutenant was accordingly promoted 20 March 1779, and appointed to the command of the Swallow sloop. After nearly two years' service in the Channel the Swallow was sent out to join Sir George Rodney in the West Indies; and on 8 Feb. 1781 Bickerton was posted into the Gibraltar. In the action between Hood and De Grasse off Martinique, 29 April 1781, he commanded the Invincible, and was soon afterwards sent home in command of the Amazon frigate. From 1787 to 1790 he commanded the Sibylle frigate in the West Indies. By the death of his father in 1792 he succeeded to the baronetcy, and in 1793 commissioned the Ruby, 64, for service in the Channel. Towards the end of 1794 he was transferred to the Ramillies, in which he went to the West Indies and Newfoundland, returning in the end of 1796 to form part of the North Sea fleet, in 1796, under Admiral Duncan, and of the Channel fleet in 1797 under Lord Bridport. In 1798 he commanded the Terrible, still in the Channel fleet, and attained the rank of rear-admiral 14 Feb. 1799. In the autumn of the same year he hoisted his flag at Portsmouth as assistant to the port-admiral; in May 1800 he was sent out to the Mediterranean, and, with his flag on board the Swiftsure, had the immediate command of the blockade of Cadiz until joined by Lord Keith in October. During the following year, with his flag in the Kent, he was employed on the coast of Egypt, conducting the blockade in the absence of the commander-in-chief, and afterwards superintending the embarkation of the French army. For his services at this time he was rewarded by the sultan with the order of the Crescent, with the insignia of which he was ceremoniously invested by the capitan pasha 8 Oct. 1801. During the short peace he remained in the Mediterranean as commander-in-chief, and, on the renewal of the war, as second in command under Lord Nelson, with whom he served, during 1804 and the early months of 1805, in the blockade of Toulon. In May, when Nelson sailed for the West Indies, Bickerton, with his flag in the Royal Sovereign, was left in command (Nelson Despatches, vi. 421), but was soon afterwards called home to take office at the admiralty, where he continued till 1812, when he was appointed commander-in-chief at Portsmouth. His active service ended shortly after the grand review in 1814, at which he commanded in the second post under the Duke of Clarence. He attained the rank of vice-admiral 9 Nov. 1805, of admiral 31 July 1810, was made K.C.B. 2 Jan. 1815, lieutenant-general of marines 6 Jan. 1818, and succeeded William IV as general of marines in June 1830. In 1823 he assumed, by royal permission, the name of Hussey before that of Bickerton. He married, in 1788, Anne, daughter of Dr. James Athill, of Antigua, but had no children, and on his death, 9 Feb. 1832, the baronetcy became extinct.

[Marshall's Roy. Nav. Biog. i. 125; Ralfe's Naval Biog. ii. 277; Gent. Mag. cii. i. 175.]

J. K. L.