Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Meade, Richard James
MEADE, RICHARD JAMES, fourth Earl of Clanwilliam in the Irish peerage, and second Baron Clanwilliam in the peerage of the United Kingdom (1832–1907), admiral of the fleet, born on 3 Oct, 1832, was eldest son in the family of four sons and a daughter of Richard Charles Francis Meade [q. v.], third earl of Clanwilliam and Baron Gillford in the Irish peerage and Baron Clanwilliam in the peerage of the United Kingdom, by his wife Lady Elizabeth, eldest daughter of George Augustus Herbert, eleventh earl of Pembroke. He had his early education at Eton, and entered the navy on 17 Nov. 1845; he passed his examination in Nov. 1851 and was promoted to lieutenant on 15 Sept. 1852. In Dec. of the same year he was appointed to the Imperieuse, frigate, in which he served during the whole of the Russian war. The Imperieuse was senior officer's ship of the advanced squadron and followed up the ice and established the blockade of the Gulf of Finland as early in the spring as possible, and before the navigation was thought safe for heavy ships. In Sept. 1856 Lord Gillford was appointed to the Raleigh, Captain Keppel [see Keppel, Sir Henry, Suppl. II], for the China station, and when the Raleigh was wrecked near Hong Kong on the passage out, he followed Keppel and with him took part in the boat actions of Escape Creek on 25 May 1857 and of Fatshan Creek on 1 June. In August he was appointed to the Calcutta, flagship of Sir Michael Seymour [q. v.]. and in Dec. he landed with the naval brigade before Canton. At the storming of Canton on 29 Dec. Gillford was severely wounded in the left arm by a gingal bullet; he was mentioned in despatches, received the medal with clasps for Fatshan and Canton, and on 26 Feb. 1858 was promoted to commander and appointed to the Hornet, which he took to England. On 22 July 1859 he was promoted to captain. From 1862 to 1866 he commanded the Tribune in the Pacific, and from Oct. 1868 to 1871 the battleship Hercules in the Channel. In 1872 he became an aide-de-camp to Queen Victoria, and was given the command of the steam reserve at Portsmouth. On the formation of Disraeli's ministry in 1874 he joined the Board of Admiralty as junior sea lord, and continued at Whitehall until the change of government brought in a new board in May 1880. He was promoted to flag rank on 31 Dec. 1876, received the C.B. in June 1877, and succeeded to the earldom on 7 Oct. 1879. From 1880 to 1882 he had command of the flying squadron, reaching the rank of vice-admiral on 26 July 1881, and being awarded the K.C.M.G. in March 1882; from Aug. 1885 to Sept. 1886 he flew his flag as commander-in-chief on the North American and West Indies station, laying down the command in consequence of his promotion to admiral on 22 June 1886. In June 1887 he was raised to the K.C.B., and in 1888 became a commissioner of the patriotic fund. He was commander-in-chief at Portsmouth from June 1891 to June 1894, was promoted to admiral of the fleet on 20 Feb. 1895, received the G.C.B. in May following, and reached the age for retirement on 3 Oct. 1902.
In the words of one of his messmates, Clanwilliam 'throughout his life was before everything a sailor, studious of the interests of the service and of those under his command, and probably valued his rank as an admiral much more than his title as an Irish earl or English baron.' He died on 4 Aug. 1907 at Badgemore, Henley on Thames, and was buried in the family vault at Wilton, near Salisbury. He married on 17 June 1867 Elizabeth Henrietta, eldest daughter of Sir Arthur Edward Kennedy [q. v.], G.C.M.G., governor of Queensland, and had four sons and four daughters. The eldest son, Richard Charles, Lord Gillford, born in 1868, entered the navy, was made lieutenant in 1891, was flag lieutenant to Sir George Tryon [q. v.] in the Victoria in 1893, and leaving the navy shortly afterwards, died in 1905. The second son, Arthur Vesey Meade, Lord Dromore, born in 1873, succeeded to the earldom; the third, Herbert, entered the navy and reached the rank of commander in 1908; and the youngest, Edward Brabazon, was a captain in the 10th hussars.
A portrait by Rudolf Lehmann was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1899; a 'Vanity Fair' cartoon by 'Spy' was published in 1903; and an engraved portrait was published by Messrs. Walton of Shaftesbury Avenue.
[The Times, 5 and 9 Aug. 1907; Burke's Peerage.]