Howe, Richard

, fourth viscount Howe, and earl Howe, and first baron Howe of Langar, a gallant English admiral, was the third son of sir Emanuel Scrope, second lord viscount Howe, and Mary Sophia Charlotte, eldest daughter to the baron Kilmansegge. He was born in 1725, was educated at Eton, entered the sea-service at the age of fourteen, on board the Severn, hon. captain Legge, part of the squadron destined for the South Seas under Anson. He next served on board the Burford, 1743, under admiral Knowles, in which he was afterwards appointed acting lieutenant; but his commission not being confirmed, he returned to admiral Knowles in the West- Indies, where he was made lieutenant of a sloop of war; and being employed to cut an English merchantman, which had been taken by a French privateer under the guns of the Dutch settlement of St. Eustatia, and with the connivance of the governor, out of that harbour, he executed the difficult and dangerous enterprise in such a manner, as to produce the most sanguine expectations of his future services. In 1745, lieutenant Howe was with admiral Vernon in the Downs, but was in a short time raised to the rank of commander, in the Baltimore sloop of war, which joined the squadron then cruizing on the coast of Scotland, under the command of admiral Smith. During this cruize an action took place, in which captain Howe gave a fine example of persevering intrepidity. The Baltimore, in company with | another armed vessel, fell in with two French frigates of thirty guns, with troops and ammunition for the service of the pretender, which she instantly attacked, by running between them. In the action which followed, capt. Howe received a wound hi his head, which at first appeared to be fatal. He, however, soon discovered signs of life, and when the necessary operation was performed, resumed all his former activity, continued the action, if possible, with redoubled spirit, and obliged the French ships, with their prodigious superiority in men and metal, to sheer off, leaving the Baltimore, at the same time, in such a shattered condition, as to be wholly disqualified to pursue them. He was, in consequence of this gallant service, immediately made post-captain, and in April 1746, was appointed to the Triton frigate, and ordered to Lisbon, where, in consequence of captain Holbourne’s bad state of health, he was transferred to the Rippon, destined for the Coast of Guinea. But he soon quitted that station to join his early patron admiral Knowles in Jamaica, who appointed him first captain of his ship of 80 guns; and at the conclusion of the war in 1748, he returned in her to England. In March 1750-51, captain Howe was appointed to the command of the Guinea station, in La Gloire, of 44 guns; when, with his usual spirit and activity, he checked the injurious proceedings of the Dutch governor-general on the coast, and adjusted the difference between the English and Dutch settlements. At the close of 1751, he was appointed to the Mary yacht, which was soon exchanged for the Dolphin frigate, in which he sailed to the Streights, where he executed many difficult and important services. Here he remained about three years; and soon after, on his return to England, he obtained the command of the Dunkirk of 60 guns, which was among the ships that were commissioned from an apprehension of a rupture with France. This ship was one of the fleet with which admiral Boscawen sailed to obstruct the passage of the French fleet into the Gulph of St. Lawrence, when captain Howe took the Alcide, a French ship of 64 guns, off the coast of Newfoundland. A powerful fleet being prepared, in 1757, under the command of sir Edward Hawke, to make an attack upon the French coast, captain Howe was appointed to the Magnanime, in which ship he battered the fort on the island of Aix till it surrendered. In 1758 he was appointed commodore of a small squadron, which sailed to annoy tke | enemy on their coasts. This he effected with his usual success at St. Malo, where an hundred sail of ships and several magazines were destroyed; and the heavy gale blowing into shore, which rendered it impracticable for the troops to land, alone prevented the executing a similar mischief in the town and harbour of Cherbourg. On the 1st of July he returned to St. Helen’s. This expedition was soon followed by another, when prince Edward, afterwards duke of York, was entrusted to the care of commodore Howe, on board his ship the Essex. The fleet sailed on the 1st of August 1758, and on the 6th came to an anchor in the Bay of Cherbourg; the town was taken, and the bason destroyed. The commodore, with his royal midshipman on board, next sailed to St. Malo; and as his instructions were to keep the coast of France in continual alarm, he very effectually obeyed them. The unsuccessful affair of St. Cas followed. But never was courage, skill, or humanity, more powerfully or successfully displayed than on this occasion. He went in person in his barge, which was rowed through the thickest fire, to save the retreating soldiers; the rest of the fleet, inspired hy his conduct, followed his example, and at least seven hundred men were preserved, by his exertions, from the fire of the enemy or the fury of the waves. In July in the same year (1758), his elder brother, who was serving his country with equal ardour and heroism in America, found an early grave. That brave and admirable officer was killed in a skirmish between the advanced guard of the French, and the troops commanded by general Abercrombie, in the expedition against Ticonderago. Commodore Howe then succeeded to the titles and property of his family. In the following year (1759), lord Howe was employed in the Channel, on board his old ship the Magnanime but no opportunity offered- to distinguish himself till the month of November, when the French fleet, under Conflans, was defeated. When he was presented to the king by sir Edward Hawke on this occasion, his majesty said, “Your life, my lord, has been one continued series of services to your country.” In March 1760, he was appointed colonel of the Chatham division of marines; and in September following, he was ordered by sir Edward Hawke to reduce the French fort on the isle of Dumet, in order to save the expence of the transports employed to carry water for the use of the fleet. Lord Howe continued to serve, as occasion required, | in the Channel; and in the summer of 1762, he removed to the Princess Amelia, of 80 guns, having accepted the command as captain to his royal highness the duke of York, now rear-admiral of the blue, serving as second in command under sir Edward Hawke, in the Channel. On the 23d of August, 1763, his lordship was appointed to the board of admiralty, where he remained till August 1765: he was then made treasurer of the navy; and in October 1770, was promoted to be rear-admiral of the blue, and commander in chief in the Mediterranean. In March 1775, he was appointed rear-admiral of the white; and was soon after chosen to represent the borough of Dartmouth in parliament. In the month of December, in the same year, he was made vice-admiral of the blue. It was on one of these promotions that lord Hawke, then first lord of the admiralty, rose in the house of peers, and said, “I advised his majesty to make the promotion. 1 have tried my lord Howe on fmportant occasions; he never asked me how he was to execute any service, but always went and performed it.” In 1778, France having become a party in the war, the French admiral D‘Estaing appeared, on the llth of July, in sight of the British fleet, at Sandy Hook, with a considerable force of line of battle ships, in complete equipment and condition. Most of the ships under lord Howe had been long in service, were not well manned, and were not line of battle ships of the present day. The French admiral, however, remained seven days without making an attack, and by that lime lord Howe had disposed his inferior force in such a manner as to set him at defiance. On D’Estaing’s leaving the Hook, lord Howe heard of the critical situation of Rhode Island, and made every possible exertion to preserve it. He afterwards acted chiefly on the defensive. Such a conduct appears to have been required, from the state of his fleet, and the particular situation of the British cause in America. He, however, contrived to baffle all the designs of the French admiral; and may be said, considering the disadvantages with which he was surrounded, to have conducted and closed the campaign with honour. Lord Howe now resigned the command to admiral Byron; and on his return to England in October, immediately struck his flag. In the course of this year, he had been advanced to be vice-admiral of the white, and shortly after, to the same rank in the red squadron. On the change of administration in 1782, lord Howe was raised | to the dignity of a viscount of Great Britain, having been previously advanced to the rank of admiral of the blue. He was then appointed to command the fleet fitted out for the relief of Gibraltar; and he fulfilled the important objects of this expedition. That fortress was effectually relieved, the hostile fleet baffled, and dared in vain to battle; and different squadrons detached to their important destinations; while the ardent hopes of his country’s foes were disappointed. Peace was concluded shortly after lord Howe’s return from performing this important service: and in January 1783, he was nominated first lord of the admiralty. That office, in the succeeding April, he resigned to lord Keppel; but was re-appointed on the 30th of December in the same year. On the 24th of September 1787, he was advanced to the rank of admiral of the white; and in July 1788, he finally quitted his station at the admiralty. In the following August he was created an earl of Great Britain.

But the greatest glory of lord Howe’s life was reserved almost to its close. On the breaking out of the revolutionary war in 1793, he accepted the command of the western squadron. Three powerful armaments were prepared for the campaign of 1794: one under lord Hood commanded the Mediterranean, reduced the island of Corsica, and protected the coasts of Spain and Italy; a second under sir John Jervis, afterwards lord St. Vincent, with a military force headed by sir Charles Grey, reduced Martijiico, Guadaloupe, St. Lucia, and St. Domingo; but the most illustrious monument of British naval glory was raised by earl Howe. During the preceding part of the war, France, conscious of her maritime inferiority, had confined her exertions to cruizers and small squadrons for harassing our trade; but in the month of May, the French were induced to depart from this system, and being very anxious for the safety of a convoy daily expected from America, with an immense supply of corn and flour, naval stores, &c. the Brest fleet, amounting to twenty-seven sail of the line, ventured to sea under tjbe command of rearadmiral Villaret. Lord Howe expecting the same convoy, went to sea with twenty ships of the line, and on the 28th of May descried the enemy to windward. After various previous manoeuvres which had been interrupted by a thick fog, the admiral found an opportunity of bringing the French to battle on the 1st of June. Between seven antj | eight in the morning, our fleet advanced in a close and compact line; and the enemy, finding an engagement unavoidable, received our onset with their accustomed valour. A close and desperate engagement ensued, in the course of which, the Montague of 130 guns, the French admiral’s ship, having adventured to encounter the Queen Charlotte of 100 guns, earl Howe’s ship, was, in less than an hour, compelled to fly; the other ships of the same division, seeing all efforts ineffectual, endeavoured to follow the flying admiral: ten, however, were so crippled that they could not keep pace with the rest; but many of the British ships being also greatly damaged, some of these disabled French ships effected their escape. Six remained in the possession of the British admiral, and were brought safe into Portsmouth, viz. two of 80 and four of 74 guns; and the Le Vengeur, of 74, was sunk, making the whole loss to the enemy amount to seven ships of the line. The victorious ships arrived safe in harbour with their prizes; and the crews, officers, and admiral, were received with every testimony of national gratitude. On the 26th of the same month, their majesties, with three of the princesses, arrived at Portsmouth, and proceeded the next morning in barges to visit lord Howe’s ship, the Queen Charlotte, at Spithead. His majesty held a naval levee on board, and presented the victorious admiral with a sword, enriched with diamonds and a gold chain, with the naval medal suspended from it. The thanks of both houses of parliament, the freedom of the city of London, and the universal acclamations of the nation, followed the acknowledgments of the sovereign. In the course of the following year, he was appointed general of marines, on the death of admiral Forbes; and finally resigned the command of the western squadron in April 1797. On the 2d of June in the same year, he was invested with the insignia of the garter. The last public act of a life employed against the foreign enemies of his country, was exerted to compose its internal dissentions. It was the lot of earl Howe to contribute to the restoration of the fleet, which he had conducted to glory on the sea, to loyalty in the harbour. His experience suggested the measures to be pursued by government on the alarming mutinies, which in 1797 distressed and terrified the nation; while his personal exertions powerfully promoted the dispersion of that spirit, which had, for a time, changed the very nature of British seamen, and | greatly helped to recall them to their former career of duty and obedience. This gallant officer, who gained the first of the four great naval victories which have raised the reputation of the British navy beyond all precedent and all comparison, died at his house in Graf ton -street, London, of the gout in his stomach, August 5, 1799. In 1758 his lordship married Mary, daughter of Chiverton Hartop, esq. of Welby, in the county of Leicester. His issue by this lady, is lady Sophia Charlotte, married to the hon. Pen Ashton Curzon, eldest son of lord Cuizon, who died in 1797; lady Mary Indiana, and lady Louisa Catharine, married to earl of Altamont, of Ireland. He was succeeded in his Irish viscounty by his brother, general sir William Howe, who died (1814) while this sheet was passing through the press; and in the English barony by lady Curzon. 1

1 Collins’s Peerage by Sir E. Brydges. Charnock’s Biog. Navalis. Naral Chronicle, &,c. &c.