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James Gambier (Royal Navy officer)

Vice-Admiral James Gambier (1723–1789) was a Royal Navy officer who went on to be Commander-in-Chief, North American Station. The historian David Syrett presented a study of Gambier, which presented him as corrupt and largely disliked by his fellow officers.

James Gambier
Died1789 (aged 65–66)
Allegiance Great Britain
Service/branchRoyal Navy
Activec. 1740–1784
Commands heldJamaica Station
WarsSeven Years' War

Naval careerEdit

Gambier joined the Royal Navy in about 1740 being promoted to Lieutenant in 1743.[1] Promoted to Captain, he commanded HMS Flamborough and HMS Squirrel.[1] Later he commanded HMS Burford and took part in the capture of Louisbourg and the capture of Guadeloupe.[1]

In 1770 he was appointed Commander-in-Chief, North American Station;[1] this appointment had been predictable because of his connections with the Vice Admiral Sir Samuel Cornish.[2] He was subsequently removed from control of the North American Station, following the rise of Lord Sandwich as First Lord of the Admiralty.[2] In 1773 he was made Commissioner of Victualling Accounts on the Navy Board in an attempt to make amends to him for his political removal from his command in North America.[1][2] In September of that same year Gambier was appointed commissioner of Portsmouth. However, Gambier was not very successful or content with this position, as he was completely unprepared for managing a large civilian organization such as that at Portsmouth.[2] After becoming rear-admiral of the red from seniority in 1778, he returned to North America and was briefly Commander-in-Chief of the North American Station again after resigning from the commissionership at Portsmouth.[1][2] During his time in the post, Gambier was repeatedly accused of corruption and he was despised by many of his contemporaries.[2]

In October 1783 he became Commander-in-Chief in the Jamaica Station.[3] He was not well liked by his men and was once described as "this penurious old reptile".[2] He retired in 1784.[1]


Gambier's nephew also became an admiral and later 1st Baron Gambier. It has been established that James Fitzjames was Gambier's grandson.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g James Gambier at Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Syrett, David (February 2001). "'This penurious old reptile': Rear-Admiral James Gambier and the American War". Historical Research. Wiley-Blackwell. 74 (183): 63–76. doi:10.1111/1468-2281.00116.
  3. ^ Cundall, p. xx
  4. ^ Battersby, William (2010). James Fitzjames: The Mystery Man of the Franklin Expedition. Dundurn. ISBN 9781459710733.


Military offices
Preceded by
Samuel Hood
Commander-in-Chief, North American Station
Succeeded by
John Montagu
Preceded by
Richard Howe
Commander-in-Chief, North American Station
Succeeded by
John Byron
Preceded by
Joshua Rowley
Commander-in-Chief, Jamaica Station
Succeeded by
John Pakenham