Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Liardet, Francis

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LIARDET, FRANCIS (1798–1863), captain in the navy, second son of John Liardet by the Lady Perpetue Catherine de Paul de Lamanon d'Albe, was born at Chelsea on 14 June 1798. He entered the navy in 1809, on board the Mercury frigate, with Captain the Hon. Henry Duncan, in the Mediterranean. In March 1810 he was transferred to the Belvidera frigate, with Captain Richard Byron, on the coast of Africa, and afterwards on the North American station, and was slightly wounded in her running fight with and escape from the United States' squadron under Commodore Rodgers on 23 June 1812 (James, Naval Hist. 1860, v. 357; Roosevelt, Naval War of 1812, p. 74). After an active commission the Belvidera was paid off in October 1814, and for the next two years he served in the West Indies on board the Warrior and Forester sloop. After the peace he devoted himself for some time to the study of mathematics and navigation, and in 1819 went a voyage to the East Indies as mate of a merchant ship. In May 1821 Liardet was appointed to the Hyperion of 42 guns, going out to the Cape of Good Hope, and afterwards to the West Indies, where he was moved into the Union schooner, employed in the suppression of piracy, in which service he was severely wounded, 25 July 1823. On 18 March 1824 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, and appointed to command the Lion schooner employed in the same service. In her he destroyed several nests of pirates on the coast of Cuba, captured nine of their vessels, some of their prizes, and a slaver. He was first lieutenant of the Procris, attending on the Duke of Clarence, then lord high admiral, in 1827–8, and of the Jaseur at the Cape of Good Hope from 1828 to 1832, in which period he was three times officially reported as having saved life by jumping overboard, once in a sea abounding in sharks (Young, Acts of Gallantry, 1872, pp. 22, 35). From 1833 to 1835 he was first lieutenant of the Snake on the South American station, and from 1835 to 1838 of the Cleopatra frigate with the Hon. Charles Grey. On 28 June 1838 he was promoted to be commander, and in the following January was appointed to the Powerful of 84 guns, carrying the broad pennant of Commodore (afterwards Admiral Sir Charles) Napier [q. v.], as second in command in the Mediterranean, on the coast of Syria, and especially at the bombardment of St. Jean d'Acre. For his services during this time, when he was frequently in actual command of the Powerful, the commodore being employed on shore, Liardet was promoted to post rank 4 Nov. 1840.

In the following year he accepted an appointment as agent for the New Zealand Company at Taranaki. He arrived there towards the end of September. On 29 Nov., in expectation of an attack by the Maoris, he was endeavouring to clear the vent of a rusty old four-pounder when an untimely explosion of the charge destroyed the sight of one eye and seriously injured the other. For several years he was almost totally blind. In February 1842 he left Taranaki for Sydney, whence he returned to England. During his enforced retirement he wrote or dictated ‘Professional Recollections on points of Seamanship, Discipline, &c.,’ 8vo, 1849, and the ‘Midshipman's Companion,’ 12mo, 1851. In January 1856 he was appointed one of the captains of Greenwich Hospital, and he published ‘Friendly Hints to the Young Naval Lieutenant,’ 12mo, 1858. He died in the Hospital on 1 March 1863, and was buried in the mausoleum of the old cemetery. A marble bust by T. Milnes is in the Painted Hall.

In October 1842 Liardet married Caroline Anne, sister of Sir Edmund Filmer, bart., and widow of Lieutenant John Jervis Gregory, R.N., and had two daughters and a son.

[Information from the family; O'Byrne's Nav. Biog. Dict.; E. J. Wakefield's Adventure in New Zealand, ii. 68, 163; Wells's Hist. of Taranaki, p. 71.]

J. K. L.