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Charles Watson (Royal Navy officer)

Vice Admiral Charles Watson (1714 – 16 August 1757) was an officer of the Royal Navy, who served briefly as colonial governor of Newfoundland, and died at Calcutta, India.

Charles Watson
Admiral Charles Watson.png
Died16 August 1757
Calcutta, India
Allegiance Kingdom of Great Britain
Service/branch Royal Navy
Commands heldHMS Garland
HMS Plymouth
HMS Dragon
HMS Princess Louisa
Newfoundland and North American station
East Indies Station
Battles/warsWar of the Austrian Succession
Seven Years' War



He was the son of John Watson by his wife the sister of Sir Charles Wager (1666-1743),[1] First Lord of the Admiralty. The armorials used by his son the 1st baronet (Argent, on a chevron engrailled azure between three martlets sable as many crescents or[2]) are a differenced version of the arms of the Watson family, Marquess of Rockingham, and thus the family may have been a cadet branch of the latter.

Naval careerEdit

Watson entered the navy as a volunteer per order on HMS Romney in 1728.[3] He was promoted lieutenant in 1734 and promoted captain and given command of HMS Garland in 1738.[3] He transferred to HMS Plymouth in May 1741 and to HMS Dragon in November 1742 which he commanded in the Battle of Toulon.[3]

In 1746 he transferred to HMS Princess Louisa which he commanded at the First Battle of Cape Finisterre in May 1747 and in the Second Battle of Cape Finisterre in October 1747.[3] In January 1748 he was appointed commander-in-chief of the Newfoundland and North American station with his flag in HMS Lion.[3] He became governor of Newfoundland and commander-in-chief of Cape Breton.[1] The position of governor of the colony had temporarily lapsed after the departure of Richard Edwards and therefore his successor, James Douglas, was not a governor of the island but commodore. No commodore nor governor was sent in 1747, but Charles Watson became the governor on arrival in 1748. As governor of Newfoundland he set about deporting Irish and Scots Catholics from the colony.[1]

The tomb of Charles Watson at St. John's Churchyard, Kolkata, India.

In 1754 he became Commander-in-Chief of the East Indies Station.[3] The English settlement at Fort William, India sought assistance from the Presidency of Fort St. George at Madras, which sent Colonel Robert Clive and Admiral Charles Watson.[3] They re-captured Calcutta on 2 January 1757, but the Nawab marched again on Calcutta on 5 February 1757, and was surprised by a dawn attack by the English. This resulted in the Treaty of Alinagar on 7 February 1757.[3] However the Nawab was subsequently bolstered by French support, and the Battle of Chandannagar in March, and then the Battle of Plassey in June 1757, followed.[3] Watson was promoted to Vice-Admiral of the White in 1757.

Watson's quick rise through the ranks is thought to be attributed from his uncle, Sir Charles Wager, who was first lord of the admiralty. There is a memorial to Watson in Westminster Abbey, London.

Marriage & progenyEdit

He married in 1741 Rebecca Buller,[1] a daughter of John Francis Buller (1695-1751) of Morval in Cornwall.[4] She was co-heiress of the manor of Combe Martin, inherited jointly with her brother Francis Buller of Antony House in Cornwall from her father.[5] Their son and heir was:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Little, C. H. (1974). "Watson, Charles". In Halpenny, Francess G (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. III (1741–1770) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  2. ^ Burke's General & Heraldic Dictionary
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Laughton, J. K. "Charles Watson". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/28831.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ Rebecca Buller omitted from: Leased out jointly with her brother Francis Buller of Antony lands in Combe Martin in 1764
  5. ^ Combe Martin Archives, North Devon Record Office, ref: Combe Martin 787M

External linksEdit