Sir Thomas Hardy, 1st Baronet

Sir Thomas Hardy, 1st Baronet
Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy, Bart
Thomas Hardy - Project Gutenberg eText 16914.jpg
Vice Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy
Born 5 April 1769
Dorset, United Kingdom
Died 20 September 1839 (aged 70)
Greenwich, London
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Years of service 1790 - 1839
Rank Vice-Admiral of the Blue
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Other work Governor of Greenwich Hospital

Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy, 1st Baronet GCB (5 April 1769 – 20 September 1839) was an officer of the Royal Navy. He served as flag captain to Admiral Lord Nelson, and commanded HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. Nelson was shot as he paced the decks with Hardy, and as he lay dying, Nelson's famous remark of "Kiss me, Hardy" was directed at him (although these were not Nelson's last words, as is sometimes claimed). Hardy went on to reach the apex of the naval service, becoming First Naval Lord at the Admiralty in November 1830 and reaching the rank of Vice-Admiral of the Blue in January 1837.


Early life

Hardy was born on 5 April 1769, either at Kingston Russell House in the parish of Long Bredy, three miles west of the family home in Portesham, or in Winterborne St Martin, near Dorchester, Dorset. He was the second son of Joseph and Nanny Hardy (née Masterman). He joined the navy with his entry aboard the brig Somerset.[1] between the years of 1782 and 1785. Despite being at school during this time, his name was carried on the books of the 20-gun edit] Mediterranean and Nelson

Hardy joined the 38-gun Lord Hood. Hardy served off Marseilles and Toulon and was commissioned second lieutenant of the 32-gun HMS Meleager under Captain Charles Tyler on 10 November 1793.[3] Meleager at this time was part of a squadron commanded by Horatio Nelson.

Command of Meleager passed to Captain Sir George Cockburn in June 1794. In August 1796 Cockburn took command of the 38-gun Minerve and Hardy went with him. Under Cockburn, Hardy swiftly rose to the rank of first lieutenant.[4] Nelson, then a commodore, moved his pendant to the Minerve when involved in the evacuation of Elba in December 1796. Nelson's own ship, Captain, was considered too large and slow for this operation.

Santa Sabina

While en route to Gibraltar, Minerve and her consort, the 32-gun HMS Blanche, engaged two Spanish frigates and forced the Santa Sabina to surrender. Lieutenants Hardy and Culverhouse were sent aboard the Santa Sabina with a prize crew, and the three ships continued on towards Gibraltar. Before the night was out, Nelson ran into the Spanish fleet and only managed to get away when Hardy drew the Spanish away from Minerve and fought until being dismasted and captured.[4] Hardy and Culverhouse were almost immediately exchanged for the captain of the Santa Sabina, Don Jacobo Stuart, and were able to rejoin Minerve at Gibraltar on the 9 February 1797. Three days later, Minerve left Gibraltar to join the main fleet off the South East coast of Spain under Sir John Jervis.

"By God, I'll not lose Hardy"

With two enemy ships pursuing him, Cockburn ordered more sail. During this operation, a topman fell overboard. The ship hove to and a boat with Hardy in it was lowered to search for the missing mariner. As the enemy ships were closing fast, Cockburn thought it prudent to withdraw, but Nelson overruled him crying "By God, I'll not lose Hardy, back that mizzen topsail!" This confused the Spaniards who checked their own progress, allowing Hardy to return to his ship and make good his escape. The following day, Nelson returned to HMS Captain in time for the battle of Cape St. Vincent on 14 February 1797. Minerve stood away from the main action with the other frigates.

Command and the Nile

Hardy remained with Minerve until May 1797 when, following a successful cutting out expedition of which he was in charge, he was promoted to master and commander of the newly captured HMS Mutine. In the early part of 1798, Hardy, still commander of Mutine, was serving in a squadron under Captain Thomas Troubridge. In June of that year, the squadron met up with Rear-Admiral Nelson off Toulon. The two forces located Bonaparte in Egypt and destroyed the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile (1–2 August 1798).[5] Afterwards, Nelson's flag captain, Edward Berry was sent home with dispatches and Hardy was promoted to captain of Nelson's flagship, HMS Vanguard, in Troubridge's place on 2 October 1798.[6]

In December 1798, HMS Vanguard carried King Ferdinand IV and the British ambassador Sir William Hamilton and his wife Emma from Naples to safety in Sicily. Hardy did not altogether approve of Lady Hamilton. Once, she tried to intervene on behalf of a boat's crew. Hardy had the crew flogged twice, once for the original offence and again for petitioning the lady.[7] On 8 June 1799, Nelson transferred his flag to the 80-gun HMS Foudroyant, taking Hardy with him. In June 1799, the main fleet, led by Foudroyant, landed marines at Naples to assist with the overthrow of the Parthenopean Republic.

HMS Foudroyant carried the exiled Piedmontese royal family from Sardinia to the neutral Duchy of Tuscany in September 1799. Hardy handed over command of Foudroyant to Sir Edward Berry on 13 October 1799 and transferred to the 38-gun edit] Baltic and Copenhagen

After a year ashore, Hardy went to Plymouth in December 1800 to take command of the 110-gun HMS San Josef, which had just been refitted. In February 1801, he transferred to the 90-gun HMS St George and became Nelson's flag captain once more. Nelson was appointed second in command of the Baltic fleet, which had been sent to force the Danes to withdraw from the League of Armed Neutrality.

On the night of 1 April 1801, Hardy was sent in in a boat to take soundings around the anchored Danish fleet. Hardy's ship drew too much water and so took no part in the Battle of Copenhagen the following day. Hardy's work proved to be of great value. The only two ships that went aground, HMS Agamemnon and HMS Bellona, were taken in by local pilots and did not follow Hardy's recommended route.[8]

The main body of the fleet returned to England in June 1801. Nelson was succeeded in St George by Vice-Admiral Charles Pole. Hardy stayed on as flag captain until August when he transferred to the 50-gun HMS Isis, then flying Commodore John Sutton's broad pennant.

Mediterranean and West Indies Campaign

In the latter half of 1802, Hardy was appointed to the 36-gun HMS Amphion which after taking the new British ambassador to Lisbon, returned to Portsmouth. Nelson was in Portsmouth, as he was due to take command of HMS Victory in May 1803, but on finding the ship not ready for him, transferred his flag to the Amphion and set sail for the Mediterranean. Nelson and Hardy finally transferred to Victory off Toulon on 31 July 1803. Hardy not only served as Nelson's flag captain, but also unofficially as his captain of the fleet.[9]

Nelson's fleet continued to blockade Toulon until April 1805, when the French escaped and were pursued to the West Indies and back. After a brief stop at Spithead between 20 August and 14 September 1805, they set sail for Cadiz arriving on 29 September 1805.


On the morning of 21 October 1805, Hardy was one of the witnesses to Nelson's will. Hardy tried to persuade Nelson to not wear the decorations on his uniform that might identify him.

As Victory approached the enemy line, Hardy urged Nelson to transfer to another ship to avoid the inevitable melee, but Nelson refused. Victory, leading the weather column, came under heavy fire. At one point, a splinter took the buckle from Hardy's shoe, to which Nelson remarked, "This is too warm work Hardy, to last for long". Nelson had earlier told Hardy to cut the line astern of Bucentaure, but in order to protect her, Redoutable closed up. Hardy warned Nelson that they would collide with one of the French ships, to which Nelson replied that it did not matter which. At that point, however, a gap opened and Hardy took Victory through it, passing so close to Bucentaure that they almost touched.

Towards the end of the battle, as Nelson lay below dying, the two had a number of conversations together. In their last conversation, Nelson reminded Hardy to anchor the fleet. Hardy passed this message to Vice-Admiral Collingwood, who had assumed command, but the fleet did not anchor.

Victory was towed to Gibraltar, arriving on 28 October, where she underwent major repairs. On 4 November, Victory set sail for England, arriving at Portsmouth on 5 December 1805 and then on to Sheerness on the 22 December. There Nelson's body was transferred to the Sheerness Commissioner, Sir George Grey, 1st Baronet's yacht Chatham to proceed to Greenwich. Hardy took the Victory up the River Medway to Chatham Dockyard for a refit. Hardy carried one of the banners at Nelson's funeral procession on 9 January 1806. Despite his sympathy for Lady Nelson, Hardy faithfully delivered Nelson's personal effects to Lady Hamilton as Nelson had asked.

Later commands

Hardy was created a baronet on 4 February 1806 and was appointed to the 74-gun HMS Triumph, in which he served on the North American Station until 1809. While in Nova Scotia, he married Anna Louisa Berkley, the daughter of his commander-in-chief, Sir George Cranfield-Berkeley.[10] When Admiral Berkley was sent to Lisbon, Hardy went with him as his flag captain in the 90-gun HMS Barfleur. Hardy was made a commodore in the Portuguese Navy in 1811.

In August 1812, Hardy was given command of the 74-gun HMS Ramillies and was sent back to North America at the outbreak of the War of 1812. On July 11, 1814, Hardy in his flagship, assisted by Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Pilkington, led four other warships and several transports carrying 2,000 men of the 102nd Regiment of Foot and a company of Royal Artillery against Fort Sullivan (Maine), Eastport. The American defending force of 70 regulars and 250 militiamen gave up without a fight. Hardy and Pilkington issued a proclamation making it clear Great Britain considered Eastport and the several nearby islands to be British territory. Townspeople were required to take an oath of allegiance to the crown or leave. Two thirds of the inhabitants took the oath, while 500 departed. For the few weeks he remained at the place, Hardy became a favourite of the locals, gaining great respect and popularity.[11] However, Hardy's next venture, the August 9-11 bombardment of Stonington, Connecticut was a defeat; Royal Navy cannonading set 20 buildings on fire while killing a horse and a goose, while reports indicate the sizeable American defending force killed 21 and wounded 50 British attackers.[12] Hardy was awarded the KCB in January 1815 and returned home in June of that year.

Hardy commanded the royal yacht commodore, and served as Commander-in-Chief on the South American Station until 1824, where he prevented the Spanish interfering in the newly emerging republics of Mexico, Colombia and Argentina.

Flag rank

Hardy was promoted to rear admiral on 27 May 1825. In December 1826, with his flag aboard the third rate HMS Wellesley, Hardy escorted 4,000 British troops to Lisbon, where they helped to quell a revolution by the eight-year-old queen's uncle. Hardy subsequently was given command of a squadron in the channel, moving his flag from the 38-gun Sybille to the 28-gun Greenwich Hospital in April 1834. Hardy was promoted to vice admiral on 10 January 1837.[14]

He died on 20 September 1839, aged 70. He was buried in the mausoleum of the hospital, later the Royal Naval College. He left three daughters but no sons, so the title of baronet became extinct on his death.[13]


There is a monument to him (the Hardy Monument) within walking distance of his home at Portesham House in the village. Hardy Bay and the District of Port Hardy, on northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and Hardy Island on the Sunshine Coast, British Columbia, Canada are named after him.


Hardy married on 17 November 1807 to Louisa Emily Anns Berkeley, daughter of Admiral Sir George Cranfield Berkely and had three daughters[15][16]:

1. Louisa Georgina Hardy born 7 December 1808, died 1875.

2. Emily Georgina Hardy born 30 December 1809, married in 1850 William Pollett Brown Chatteris,[17] died 1887.

3. Mary Charlotte Hardy born 20 March 1813, married in 1833 Sir John Atholl Murray Macgregor Bt whose descendants include Earl Cawdor of Castlemartin, Earl of Mansfield and Baron Hindlip,[18] died 1896.

John McCabe's biography of Laurel and Hardy, Mr Laurel and Mr Hardy, contains a statement by Oliver Hardy that he was a direct descendant of Sir Thomas Hardy; the relationship has not been otherwise documented.

His current closest living relative is James Smith (Hardy), who attended Trafalgar 200 and has campaigned to protect HMS Victory and the role of the Royal Navy.[19]

Further reading

  • The Three Dorset Captains at Trafalgar, A.M. Broadley R.G. Bartelot, Published by J. Murray, 1906,

See also


  1. ^ Crewkerne grammar school no longer exists, but the school building does. It can be found in Abbey Street and is currently used as the Hall for St Bartholomew's Church.[citation needed] A blue plaque records the building's association with Hardy.[citation needed] A later building for the grammar school now called De Combe House at Mount Pleasant was completed in 1899.[citation needed] Estate Agent's advertisement for 4 De Combe House
  2. ^ Nelson's Trafalgar Captains and their Battles - T. A. Heathcotte p77
  3. ^ Nelsons Trafalgar Captains and Their Battles - T. A. Heathcotte p77
  4. ^ a b Nelson's Trafalgar Captains and Their Battles - T. A. Heathcotte p78
  5. ^ Nelson's Trafalgar Captains and Their Battles - T. A. Heathcote p79
  6. ^ The Commissioned Sea Officers Of The Royal Navy 1660-1815 Volume 2
  7. ^ Nelson's Trafalgar Captains and Their Battles - T. A. Heathcote p80
  8. ^ Nelson's Trafalgar Captains and Their Battles - T. A. Heathcote p81
  9. ^ Nelson's Trafalgar Captains and Their Battles - T. A. Heathcotte p81
  10. ^ Nelson's Trafalgar Captains and Their Battles - T. A. Heathcotte p86
  11. ^ Ellis, James H. "A Ruinous and Unhappy War: New England and the War of 1812". New York: Algora Publishing, 2009, pp. 181-183.
  12. ^ Ellis, pp. 186-189
  13. ^ a b Nelson's Trafalgar Captains and Their Battles - T. A. Heathcotte p87
  14. ^ Royal Naval Museum Biography of Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy
  15. ^ Burke's Extinct Baronetcies 1841
  16. ^ Debrett's Baronetage of England 1838
  17. ^ Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle etc (Portsmouth, England), Saturday, August 31, 1850; Issue 2656
  18. ^
  19. ^ Sell the Victory? I could Hardy believe it

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Sir George Cockburn
First Naval Lord
Succeeded by
George Dundas
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
New creation
(of the Navy)
Succeeded by

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