1902 Encyclopedia > Edward Hawke, 1st Baron Hawke

Edward Hawke, 1st Baron Hawke
English sailor

EDWARD HAWKE, BARON HAWKE, (1705-1781), an English admiral, was the son of a barrister and was born in 1705. He entered the navy at an early age, and in 1733 became commander of the " Wolf." In the engagement off Toulon in 1744, he broke from the line of battle in order to engage the "Poder," and although he succeeded in causing her to strike her colours, his breach of discipline was punished by dismissal from the service. He was, however, almost immediately restored by the king's commands, and in 1747 was promoted to the rank of rear-admiral of the white. In October of the same year he was sent in command of a squadron intended to intercept a fleet of merchant vessels bound for the West Indies under a convoy of nine men-of-war, and coming up with them on the 14th of the month near the isle of Aix, he succeeded after a severe struggle in capturing six of the men-of-war, but darkness coming on before the close of the contest the whole of the merchant vessels escaped. For his victory Hawke was created a knight companion of the Bath. In December of the same year he was chosen member of parliament for Bristol. In May 1748 he became vice-admiral of the blue, and in January 1755 admiral of the white. In the following year he succeeded Admiral Byng as commander of the fleet in the Mediterranean, but arrived too late to succour Minorca; and in none of the commands which he subsequently held did he have an opportunity of distinguishing himself till 1759, when he took charge of a squadron sent to cruise off Brest. On the morning of the 20th November he sighted the French fleet under Admiral Conflans off Belleisle, and notwithstanding that the French, trusting to their knowledge of the rocks and shallows, retired towards the shore, he determined to engage them, which be did with such impetuosity that their fleet was only saved from total destruction by the approach of nightfall. As it was, more than half their vessels were either disabled, captured, or driven on shore. For this brilliant victory, gained in such circumstances of difficulty and danger, with the loss of only two vessels, Hawke received the thanks of the House of Commons and a pension of £2000 per annum. In 1765 he was appointed vice-admiral of Great Britain and first lord of the admiralty. In 1776 he was raised to the peer-age by the title of Baron Hawke of Towton. He died at Shepperton, Middlesex, 17th October 1781.

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