Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 27.djvu/418

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Belle-Isle [see Keppel, Augustus, Viscount]. On 20 May 1761 Hotham was moved into the Æolus frigate, and, continuing till the end of the war on the same service, was very successful in the capture or destruction of the enemy's privateers and merchant ships.

From 1766 to 1769 Hotham commanded the Hero guardship at Plymouth, and in her, in the spring of 1769, went out to the Mediterranean, with the relief for the garrison of Minorca. From 1770 to 1773 he commanded the Resolution at Portsmouth. In 1776 he was appointed to the Preston of 50 guns, and with a commodore's broad pennant joined Lord Howe on the North American station [see Howe, Richard, Earl Howe]. In 1777, when Howe was absent on the expedition against Philadelphia, Hotham was left senior officer at New York, and, in co-operation with Sir Henry Clinton the elder [q. v.], was endeavouring to secure a passage up the Hudson when the fatal news arrived of Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga. Continuing at New York, in the following July he took part under Howe in the preparations for the defence of Sandy Hook against the expected attack of D'Estaing and in the subsequent operations off Rhode Island. After the scattering of the fleets by the storm of 12 Aug., the Preston fell in with the 80-gun ship Tonnant alone and disabled, and boldly engaged her till the arrival of some of her consorts compelled Hotham to provide for his own safety. He was then sent to the West Indies in command of a reinforcement for Barrington, under whom he had a share in the brilliant action in the Cul-de-Sac of St. Lucia on 15 Dec. 1778 [see Barrington, Samuel].

During the summer of 1779 Hotham was stationed at Barbadoes, and early in 1780 moved his broad pennant to the Vengeance of 74 guns, in which he assisted in the several rencounters with the French fleet on 17 April, 15 and 19 May [see Rodney, George Brydges, Lord]. When Rodney afterwards proceeded to the coast of North America, Hotham was left senior officer at the Leeward Islands, and was in Port Castries of St. Lucia during the hurricane of 10–12 Oct. The Vengeance was blown from her anchors and tailed on to the rocks, but by cutting away her masts and throwing her after guns overboard, she got off, and, the wind happily veering, escaped without further damage. It was, however, found necessary for her to go to England, and in the following spring Hotham was sent home in charge of the convoy from St. Eustatius. Of the departure and the wealth of this convoy the French had fairly accurate information, and despatched a squadron of eight ships of the line besides frigates, under the command of M. de la Motte Picquet, to waylay it on its approach to the Channel. In this they fully succeeded. Every available English ship had gone with Darby to the relief of Gibraltar [see Darby, George], and on 2 May La Motte Picquet fell in with the convoy some twenty leagues to the west of the Scilly Islands. Hotham, whose force consisted of two ships of the line and three frigates, was powerless. He signalled the merchantmen to disperse and make the best of their way independently, and for the men-of-war to close with the Vengeance. The French, however, avoided the battle-ships and gave chase to the richly laden merchantmen, many of which they captured. The remainder got into Bearhaven, where they were joined by the commodore.

In 1782 Hotham, again as commodore, commanded the Edgar in the grand fleet under Howe at the relief of Gibraltar and the rencounter with the allies off Cape Spartel. On 24 Sept. 1787 he was promoted to be rear-admiral of the red, and during the Spanish armament of 1790 hoisted his flag on board the Princess Royal. On 21 Sept. 1790 he was advanced to be vice-admiral of the blue, and in February 1793, with his flag in the Britannia, went out to the Mediterranean as second in command under Lord Hood, with whom he co-operated during the campaigns of 1793 and 1794, more especially in taking charge of the blockade of the French fleet in Golfe Jouan in the autumn of 1794 [see Hood, Samuel, Viscount]. On the departure of Hood for England, Hotham succeeded to the chief command, and in the following March was at Leghorn, when he learnt that the French were again at sea. Martin, the French admiral, had, against his own judgment, been forced out by the stringent orders of the Directory. In point of numbers his fleet was equal to that of the English, but of the crews more than three-fourths were at sea for the first time, and were totally ignorant of their duties (CHEVALIER, ii. 174). On 12 March the two fleets were in sight of each other, and Martin, who understood the inferiority of his ships, resolved to avoid an action. But the wind and various accidents during the night retarded his retreat. A partial and very straggling encounter followed, renewed again on the 14th, when two of the French ships, the Caira and Censeur, were captured. The rest escaped, for the English fleet was scattered, and Hotham, not fully alive to the disorganisation of the French navy, refused to follow