Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gardner, Alan

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GARDNER, ALAN, Lord Gardner (1742–1809), admiral, son of Lieutenant-colonel Gardner of the 11th dragoon guards, was born at Uttoxeter in Staffordshire, on 12 April 1742. In his passing certificate, dated 15 Feb. 1760, he is described as more than twenty years of age, and as having been upwards of six years at sea, ‘part whereof in the merchants' service.’ The two statements seem equally incorrect, but what appears certain is that he joined the Medway, under the command of Captain Denis [see Denis, Sir Peter], in May 1755, and in January 1758 was moved into the Dorsetshire, also commanded by Denis, in which he was present in the battle of Quiberon Bay. On 7 March 1760 he was promoted to be lieutenant of the Bellona, again with Denis, but remained in the ship on Denis being superseded by Captain Faulknor, and took part in the capture of the Courageux on 14 Aug. 1761. On 12 April 1762 he was promoted to be commander of the Raven fireship, and on 17 May 1766 was advanced to post rank, and appointed to the command of the Preston, going out to Jamaica as flag-ship of Rear-admiral Parry. In 1768 he was removed into the Levant frigate, which he commanded on the same station till 1771. In 1775 he was appointed to the Maidstone of 28 guns, also sent out to the West Indies, from which in 1778 he was sent to join Lord Howe on the coast of North America, and was able to carry to Howe the first intelligence of the approach of the French fleet [see Howe, Richard, Earl]. On 3 Nov. 1778 he captured a large and heavily armed French merchant ship, which he carried with him to Antigua, when he was appointed by Byron [see Byron, Hon. John] to the Sultan of 74 guns. In her he had an important share in the battle of Grenada, 6 July 1779, as one of the seconds of the admiral; and in the following year was sent to England in charge of convoy. Towards the end of 1781 he commissioned the Duke of 98 guns, and accompanied Sir George Rodney to the West Indies, where he shared in the glories of 12 April 1782. He returned to England at the peace, and in 1786 was sent out to Jamaica as commander-in-chief, with a broad pennant in the Europa. After holding the command for three years he returned to England, and in January 1790 he was appointed to a seat at the board of admiralty, which he held till March 1795. He was also returned to parliament as member for Plymouth, which he continued to represent till 1796, when he was returned for Westminster. During the Spanish armament in 1790 he commanded the Courageux for a few months; and in February 1793, being advanced to flag-rank, he went out to the West Indies, with his flag in the Queen, and in command of a considerable squadron; but for want of troops little was effected against the French colonies. On his return to England he was attached to the grand fleet under Lord Howe, and took part in the action of 1 June 1794, when the loss of the Queen was exceptionally severe. For his services on this occasion Gardner was created a baronet, and on 4 July was advanced to the rank of vice-admiral. He was again with the fleet under Lord Bridport off Lorient, on 23 June 1795, but had little share in the action. In April 1797, at the time of the mutiny at Spithead, he had his flag in the Royal Sovereign, and in a conference with the delegates on board the Queen Charlotte is described as having lost his temper and seized one of the delegates by the collar, threatening to have him and his fellows hanged. This led to a violent outburst, from which Gardner with difficulty escaped. On 14 Feb. 1799 he was promoted to be admiral of the blue; in August 1800 he was appointed commander-in-chief on the coast of Ireland, and in the following December was created a peer of Ireland, by the title of Baron Gardner. He continued, however, to represent Westminster in parliament till, in 1806, he was raised to the dignity of a peer of the United Kingdom, by the title of Baron Gardner of Uttoxeter. In 1807 he was appointed to the command of the Channel fleet, but the state of his health compelled him to resign it in the following year, and he died a few months afterwards, on 1 Jan. 1809. There is a pleasing portrait of him in the Painted Hall at Greenwich. He married at Jamaica, in 1769, Susanna Hyde, daughter and heiress of Mr. Francis Gale, and widow of Mr. Sabine Turner. By her he had several children, the eldest of whom, Allan Hyde, succeeded to his titles.

[Charnock's Biog. Nav. vi. 583; Ralfe's Nav. Biog. i. 407; Foster's Peerage; Jerdan's National Portrait Gallery.]

J. K. L.