Robert Fanshawe

RolesNaval Sailor 
Date of Birth4.1.1740ref:676
First Known Service11.9.1759ref:676
Father Charles Fanshawe (d.1757)ref:676
MotherElizabeth Rogersref:676
WifeChristiana Gennysref:676
Son-in-Law William Bedfordref:676
Son Robert Fanshawe (d.1804)ref:676
Son-in-LawSir John Chambers White (1770-1845)ref:676
Son-in-LawSir Thomas Byam Martin (1773-1854)ref:676
Son-in-LawSir Robert Stopford (1768-1847)ref:676
SonSir Arthur Fanshawe (1795-1864)ref:676
Last Known Service1.2.1790ref:676
Date of Death4.2.1823 - Stonehall, Stonehouse, Plymouth ref:676

Event History

Date fromDate toEventSource
175311.9.1759Salisbury (50), MidshipmanRNB1823
11.1.175614.1.1756Capture of Geriah 
7.3.17571.4.1757Expedition against Chandernagore 
29.4.1758 Battle of Cuddalore 
3.8.1758 Battle of Negapatam 
10.9.1759 Battle of Pondicherry 
11.9.1759 Lieutenant ADM 6/19/420CSORN
23.8.1762 Commander ADM 6/19/431CSORN
23.8.176217.12.1762Carcass (14), Commander and Commanding Officer ADM 6/19/431BWAS-1714
8.6.176316.9.1766Speedwell (8), Commander and Commanding Officer ADM 6/19/508BWAS-1714
25.5.1768 Captain ADM 6/20/202CSORN
25.5.176827.4.1769Sheerness (24), Captain and Commanding Officer ADM 6/20/203ADM 6/20
27.4.176910.12.1770Lively (20), Captain and Commanding Officer ADM 6/20/235BWAS-1714
13.11.17758.4.1779Carysfort (28), Captain and Commanding Officer ADM 6/21/135BWAS-1714
8.4.177913.11.1779Monmouth (64), Captain and Commanding Officer ADM 6/22/70
Issued by John Byron (1723-1786), North America
Confirmed 24.12.1779
6.7.1779 Battle of Grenada 
13.11.177931.12.1779Included in the list of captains receiving half-pay.ADM 104
8.3.178022.8.1781Egmont (74), Captain and Commanding Officer ADM 6/22/96BWAS-1714
18.12.17816.6.1783Namur (90), Captain and Commanding Officer ADM 6/22/386BWAS-1714
12.4.1782 Battle of the Saintes 
7.4.17841.2.1790Elected a Member of Parliament for PlymouthHPO
26.1.17853.2.1785Bombay Castle (74), Captain and Commanding Officer ADM 6/23/265BWAS-1714
28.2.17873.2.1789Bombay Castle (74), Captain and Commanding Officer ADM 6/23/384ADM 6/23
13.11.178912.12.1815Appointed Resident Commissioner at Plymouth Dockyardref:676

Notes on Officer


This officer, a son of the late Captain Fanshawe, R.N., was born in America, about the month of Jan. 1740; entered the naval service as a Midshipman on board the Salisbury of 50 guns, in 1753; and proceeded in that ship to the East Indies, in company with a small squadron commanded by the late Vice-Admiral Charles Watson, under whom he served at the reduction of Geriah, a strong fortress, the residence of the piratical chief Angria; the recapture of Calcutta; and the taking of Chandernagor, the principal French settlement in the province of Bengal He also bore a part in the three general actions between Vice-Admiral Pocock and the Count d’Ache, in 1758 and 1759. His commission as Lieutenant bears date Sept. 11, in the latter year.

The Tiger of 60 guns, into which ship Mr. Fanshawe had been promoted, being found unserviceable, he returned to England in a merchant-vessel; and a few months after his arrival, was made a Commander, by commission dated Aug. 23, 1762. Towards the close of that war he commanded the Carcass bomb; and subsequently, the Speedwell sloop of war, in which he was employed, principally on the American station, for a period of three years. His advancement to the rank of Post-Captain took place May 26, 1768, one day previous to a grand promotion.

Early in 1769, Captain Fanshawe obtained the command of the Lively, a small frigate, in which he continued until the autumn of 1770. From that time he does not appear to have been again afloat till 1775; when, in consequence of the dispute which had then reached a most serious height between Great Britain and her trans-atlantic colonies, he was appointed to the Carysfort of 28 guns, and ordered to America, where he fully established his character as a brave, skilful, and vigilant officer.

The Carysfort formed part of the squadron commanded by Commodore Hotham at the reduction of New York, in Sept. 1776; and was afterwards employed in a variety of active service under Lord Howe. From that frigate Captain Fanshawe was removed into the Monmouth 64, which ship greatly distinguished herself in the action between Byron and d’Estaing, off Grenada, July 6, 1779, and was most dreadfully cut up, in consequence of her bearing away to bring the van of the enemy to close action, and thereby prevent the capture of several British transports. Her loss on this occasion amounted to 25 men killed and 28 wounded.

Early in 1780, Captain Fanshawe removed into the Egmont of 74 guns; and in that ship he experienced a most dreadful hurricane, which spread desolation over the whole of the West India Islands, particularly Barbadoes, Martinique, and Jamaica; several ships of war and merchant-vessels were lost, with the greater part of their crew; the Egmont, however, escaped with the loss of all her masts, and in the following year was ordered to escort a large fleet to England. On approaching the Channel, Captain Fanshawe received intelligence of the combined fleets of France and Spain, amounting to forty-nine sail of the line, being on the look-out for his valuable charge; which induced him to take them north about, and thus prevented the greater part from falling into the hands of the enemy. For his judicious conduct on this critical occasion, he received the thanks of the Admiralty, and was presented with the freedom of Edinburgh.

The Egmont having been paid off soon after her arrival, Captain Fanshawe was for a short time out of employ; but happening fortunately to be at Plymouth when Sir George B. Rodney was about to sail from that port to resume the chief command in the West Indies, and the Captain of the Namur, a 90-gun ship, having desired to be superseded, he was immediately sent for to fill up the vacancy, an appointment as sudden and unexpected as it was complimentary on the part of the Admiral. His conduct as one of Rodney’s supporters, on the glorious 12th April, 1782, is too well known and too highly appreciated to require repetition.

Captain Fanshawe retained the command of the Namur until the termination of the war in 1783, and was afterwards appointed to the Bombay Castle 74, stationed at Plymouth as a guard-ship. In April 1784, he was elected M.P. for that borough, which he represented till the year 1789, when he vacated his seat on receiving a patent as Resident Commissioner of Plymouth DockYard, the duties of which office he performed in the most exemplary manner upwards of twenty-six years. He died at Stonehall, Stonehouse, co. Devon, Feb. 4, 1823; at which period, had he accepted his flag, he would have been the senior Admiral of the Red.

The following is the introduction to a brief notice of Captain Fanshawe’s services, which we have met with in a small volume of naval biography, published in 1788:– “Captain Robert Fanshawe,” says the writer, “is one of the ablest officers the British fleet can boast; – cool, collected, brave, and active; ever ready for service when called upon, and rigidly attentive to the most trivial, as well as the more important duties of his station. It may with truth be observed of him, that his ship is like his mansion, – the ship’s company his family; the former in a constant state of regularity, the latter governed by a rigid but a just hand. A scrupulous observer of the relative duties he owes his country as a citizen and a soldier, Captain Fanshawe exacts a like conduct on the part of all with whom he may have any concern, whether civil or military.”

Captain Fanshawe married Christiana, daughter of John Gennys, Esq., and by that lady had issue three sons and nine daughters. His eldest son, Robert, Captain of the Carysfort frigate, died at Antigua in 1804; although a very young man, he had given repeated proofs of his skill, zeal, and gallantry, in which he was surpassed by few, if any officers, of his age and standing in the profession; of which, had he been spared, he would no doubt have been a great ornament. The second son, Edward, is a Major in the Royal Engineers; and the youngest, Arthur, a Post-Captain, R.N. The names of the daughters are as follow:– Christiana, married the Rev. Francis Haggitt, D.D. Prebendary and Sub-Dean of Durham, died in 1810. Elizabeth, married to F. Glanville, Esq. Susan, married to Vice-Admiral Bedford. Catharine, married to Sir T. Byam Martin, K.C.B., Comptroller of the Navy. Cordelia, married Captain J. C. White, R.N., died about 1809. Anne, unmarried. Mary, married Vice-Admiral the Hon. Sir Robert Stopford, K.C.B. Penelope, widow of Colonel Duckworth, who fell in the battle of Albuera, May 16, 1811; and Harriet, unmarried.

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