Oliver, Robert Dudley (DNB00)

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OLIVER, ROBERT DUDLEY (1766–1850), admiral, was born on 31 Oct. 1766. He entered the navy in May 1779, on board the Prince George, carrying the flag of Rear-admiral Robert Digby [q. v.], and in her, during the early months of 1780, was shipmate of Prince William, afterwards William IV. Remaining in the Prince George, Oliver went in her to North America in 1781, and later on to the West Indies, where he was present in the operations before St. Kitts in January 1782 [see Hood, Samuel, Viscount] and at the defeat of the French fleet off Dominica on 12 April [see Rodney, George Bridges, Lord]. After further service in North America and in the Channel, he was in 1793 lieutenant of the Active in the North Sea; in 1794 in the Artois with Captain Edmund Nagle [q. v.], and after the capture of the Revolutionnaire on 21 Oct. he was promoted to be commander, taking seniority from the date of the action. In 1795 he commanded the Hazard sloop on the coast of Ireland, and on 30 April 1796 was posted to the Nonsuch, guardship in the Huinber, which he commanded till February 1798, when he was appointed to the Nemesis going out to Quebec with a large convoy. In March 1799 he joined the Mermaid, in which he went to the Mediterranean, and after an active and successful commission brought home Lord Hutchinson from Egypt in July 1802. On the renewal of the war he was appointed in March 1803 to the Melpomene, which during the next two years was actively employed on the coast of France. In September 1805 she was in dock at Portsmouth, and Oliver, calling on Lord Nelson, then on the point of sailing to resume the command off Cadiz, expressed his concern that his ship was not able to accompany him. 'I hope,' answered Nelson, 'you will come in time to tow some of the rascals.' The Melpomene joined the fleet off Trafalgar the day after the battle, and did help to tow off the prizes. Oliver was appointed to the Mara, vacant by the death of Captain Duff, which he commanded on the coast of France till September 1806. In May 1810 he commissioned the Valiant, in which, in 1813-14, he took part in the operations on the coast of the United States. He resigned the command In July 1814, and had no further service, though promoted in regular succession to be rear-admiral 12 Aug. 1819, vice-admiral 22 July 1830, admiral 23 Nov. 1841. He died at his residence, near Dublin, on 1 Sept. 1850. Oliver married, in 1806, Mary, daughter of Sir Charles Saxton, bart., far many years resident commissioner of the navy at Portsmouth, and by her had a large family.

[Marshall's Roy. Nar. Biogr. i. 725; O'Byrne's Nav. Biogr. Dict.; Gent. Mag. 1850, ii. 547; Return of Services in the Public Record Office.]

J. K. L.