Waldegrave, William (1753-1825) (DNB00)

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WALDEGRAVE, WILLIAM, first Baron Radstock (1753–1825), admiral, second son of John, third earl Waldegrave, and nephew of James Waldegrave, second earl [q. v.], was born on 9 July 1753. He entered the navy in 1766 on board the Jersey, bearing the broad pennant of Commodore (afterwards Sir) Richard Spry [q. v.], with whom he served for three years in the Mediterranean. He then joined the Quebec, going to the West Indies under the command of Captain Francis Reynolds (afterwards Lord Ducie), and on 1 Aug. 1772 was promoted by Vice-admiral Parry to be lieutenant of the Montagu. In January 1773 he was appointed to the Portland, in January 1774 to the Preston, and in March 1774 to the Medway, going out to the Mediterranean as flagship of Vice-admiral Man, by whom, on 23 June 1775, Waldegrave was promoted to the command of the Zephyr sloop. On 30 May 1776 he was posted to the Ripon, which he took out to the East Indies as flag-captain to Sir Edward Vernon [q. v.] His health broke down in the Indian climate, and he was compelled to return to England. In September 1778 he was appointed to the Pomona of 28 guns, in which he went to the West Indies, where he captured the Cumberland, a large and troublesome American privateer. From the Pomona he was moved to the Prudente, in which he returned to England, and was attached to the Channel fleet. On 4 July 1780, in company with the Licorne, she captured the French frigate Capricieuse, which, however, was so shattered that Waldegrave ordered her to be burnt. In April 1781 she was with the fleet that relieved Gibraltar [see Darby, George], and in December with the squadron under Rear-admiral Richard Kempenfelt [q. v.] that captured a great part of the French convoy to the Bay of Biscay, in the immediate presence of a vastly superior French fleet. In March 1782 he was appointed to the Phaëton, attached to the grand fleet under Lord Howe which in October relieved Gibraltar.

After the peace Waldegrave travelled on the continent, visited the Grecian Isles and Smyrna, where, in 1785, he married Cornelia, daughter of David Van Lennep, chief of the Dutch factory. He returned to England in 1786, but had no employment till, in the Spanish armament of 1790, he was appointed to the Majestic of 74 guns. When the dispute with Spain was settled, he again went on half-pay; but on the outbreak of war in 1793 was appointed to the Courageux, in which he went to the Mediterranean. After the occupation of Toulon he was sent home with despatches, landing at Barcelona and travelling across Spain. He returned to the fleet through Germany and the north of Italy, but again went home consequent on his promotion on 4 July 1794 to the rank of rear-admiral. In May 1795 he had command of a small squadron cruising to the westward. On 1 June he was promoted to be vice-admiral, and in the end of the year was sent out to the Mediterranean, with his flag in the Barfleur. He continued with the fleet under Sir John Jervis (afterwards Earl St. Vincent) [q. v.], and, as third in command, took part in the battle of St. Vincent on 14 Feb. 1797. In honour of this great victory, the second in command, Vice-admiral Charles Thompson [q. v.], and the fourth, Rear-admiral Parker, were made baronets. A similar honour was offered to Waldegrave, who refused it, as inferior to his actual rank as the son of an earl. On returning to England, he was appointed commander-in-chief on the Newfoundland station, and on 29 Dec. 1800 was created a peer on the Irish establishment, by the title of Baron Radstock. On 29 April 1802 he was made an admiral, but had no further employment. At the funeral of Lord Nelson he was one of the supporters of Sir Peter Parker, the chief mourner. On 2 Jan. 1815 he was nominated a G.C.B. It was practically the institution of a new order, with a new etiquette; for it had previously been the custom, if not the rule, not to confer the K.B. on men of higher rank in the table of precedence. He died on 20 Aug. 1825, and was succeeded by his eldest son, George Granville Waldegrave, second baron Radstock [q. v.]

[Ralfe's Nav. Biogr. ii. 27; Naval Chronicle (with a portrait), x. 265; Marshall's Roy. Nav. Biogr. i. 56; O'Byrne's Nav. Biogr. Dict. p. 947; Commission and Warrant Books in the Public Record Office; Foster's Peerage.]

J. K. L.