Royal Naval Biography/Paterson, Charles William

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Vice-Admiral of the Blue.

This officer, a native of Berwick, is the son of the late Captain James Paterson of the 69th regiment of foot, by a daughter of Charles William Tonyn, Esq., Major of the 6th regiment or Inniskilling dragoons, and great-grand-daughter of Sir Patrick Hume, first Earl of Marchmont, the different branches of whose family intermarried with some of the first nobility of England and Scotland.

Having lost his father when very young, he entered the naval service in 1765, under the patronage of his noble relative the last Earl of Marchmont[1], on board the Shannon frigate, commanded by Captain Braithwaite. In 1768, we find him serving as a Midshipman of the St. Antonio, under the command of his uncle, the late Captain George Anthony Tonyn, with whom he removed into the Phoenix, on that officer being appointed Commodore on the African station, where he appears to have continued during the ensuing two years. He subsequently served as Master’s Mate, and Midshipman, in the Flora, Rose, Ardent, Ramillies, and Eagle; the latter bearing the flag of Lord Howe, whom he accompanied to America, where he assisted at the reduction of Long Island, the capture of New York, and the various expeditions up the North and East rivers[2].

In 1777, three years after he had passed for that rank, Mr. Paterson was promoted by Lord Howe to be a Lieutenant in the Strombolo fire-ship, which vessel formed part of several expeditions undertaken by his Lordship during his stay in America[3]. On his return to New York, after assisting in the attack upon, and capture of Philadelphia, our officer was removed into the Brune, commanded at that time by Captain Fergusson, the late Lieutenant-Governor of Greenwich Hospital, and subsequently by the present Admiral W. Peere Williams Freeman, with the latter of whom he returned to England at the close of 1778. His next appointment was to the Ardent, as first Lieutenant; and from that ship he went, early in 1780, into the Alcide, in which we find him present at the capture of St. Eustatia, Feb. 3, 1781[4]. From this period he served under the flag of Sir George B. Rodney in the Sandwich, Gibraltar, and Formidable, until advanced by that gallant veteran to the command of the Blast fire-vessel, an event that occurred in 1782, the same year in which the fleet of Great Britain obtained a most complete victory over that of France, commanded by the Count de Grasse, who was himself captured with the Ville de Paris, and four other ships of the line, besides one sunk in the action[5].

The Blast remained in the West Indies until the peace of 1783, when she returned to England, and was put out of commission. At the commencement of the war with the French republic, Captain Paterson obtained the command of the Gorgon store-ship, in which he proceeded with the late Viscount Hood to the Mediterranean, where he was promoted by his Lordship to post rank in the Ariadne, of 20 guns, by commission dated Jan. 20, 1794; and in the course of the same year removed into the Melpomene, a fine frigate taken possession of at Calvi, when that place surrendered to the British arms[6].

After the final subjugation of Corsica, where, as well as at Toulon, he had served with no inconsiderable degree of credit, our officer was ordered home, and we lose sight of him until 1796, when he was appointed inspecting Captain of the county quota men for the stewartry of Kircudbright and shire of Wigtoun. Returning from that duty in the following year, he received an appointment to the Admiral de Vries, of 68 guns, armed en flute, in which he continued until Dec. 1799, and then assumed the temporary command of the Montagu, a third rate.

On joining this latter ship, Captain Paterson found her crew in the most relaxed state of discipline; their irregular conduct, however, he succeeded in correcting; and for his judicious conduct in restoring them to a state of subordination, had the gratification of receiving due applause from the officer under whose orders he was then serving[7]. His next appointment was to the St. Fiorenzo, in which frigate he had the honor of attending his late Majesty during two succeeding seasons at Weymouth. He also made a trip to the Mediterranean, for the purpose of affording protection to the trade bound thither; and on his return from thence was employed in the blockade of Havre de Grace, on which service he continued until the peace of Amiens.

Captain Paterson does not appear to have been again called into service until the month of Jan. 1810, when he was ordered by Lord Mulgrave to superintend the depot for prisoners of war at Portchester Castle in Hampshire. Early in the following year he was appointed by the Right Hon. Charles Yorke to the Puissant; the command of which ship, if we mistake not, he retained until Aug. 12, 1812, when he was advanced by Viscount Melville to the rank of Rear-Admiral. His commission as Vice-Admiral bears date Aug. 12, 1819.

Our officer married, in March 1801, Jane Ellen, eldest daughter of the late David Yeats, Esq., Registrar of his Majesty’s late Province of East Florida, and great-grand-daughter of the above mentioned Major Tonyn[8].

Residence.– EastCosham Cottage, near Portsmouth, Hants.


VICE-ADMIRAL PATERSON. (Note at p. 515.) Lieutenant Home was superannuated, with the rank of Commander, Dec. 22, 1815; and died Feb. 21, 1823, aged 82 years.

  1. The titles of Earl of Marchmont and Viscount Blazonberry, have been dormant ever since 1793. They descend to the heirs general, and are claimed by Lieutenant Alexander Home, R.N.
  2. See Retired Captain, Sir Andrew Snape Hamond.
  3. For a Memoir of Earl Howe, see Naval Chronicle, vol. I, p. 4, et seq.
  4. See p. 127.
  5. See p. 35, et seq. An interesting memoir of Lord Rodney will be found in the Naval Chronicle, v. I, p. 353, et seq.
  6. See p. 252.
  7. The present Admiral Sir James Hawkins Whitshed.
  8. The Vice-Admiral’s mother, and Mrs. Paterson’s grand-mother, were sisters.