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Admiral Sir James Hanway Plumridge KCB MP (1787 – 29 November 1863) was a British naval officer whose career extended from Trafalgar to the Crimean War, and a Liberal Party Member of Parliament (MP).

Sir James Hanway Plumridge
Mayfair, London, England
Died29 November 1863 (aged 76)
Hopton-on-Sea, Norfolk, England
St. Margaret's Church, Hopton-on-Sea, Norfolk
AllegianceGreat Britain
United Kingdom
Service/branchRoyal Navy
Years of service1799–1854
Commands held
AwardsKnight Commander of the Order of the Bath


Early life and educationEdit

There are contradictory accounts of Plumridge's origins. He was born at Hertford Street, Mayfair, either the illegitimate son of a man named Preston and a daughter of James Plumridge,[2] or, the son of architect James Plumridge of Littleworth, Berkshire, and the daughter of a man called Hanway of Hertford Street.[3]

According to a biography of Jonas Hanway, James Hanway Plumridge was his great-great-nephew, and the son of his great-niece, who was the sister of a man called Hanway Hanway.[4][5]

He was educated at the Naval Academy in Chelsea.[6]

Wars against FranceEdit

He entered the Navy on 6 September 1799 as a first-class volunteer aboard the sloop Osprey, employed in home waters under Commander John Watts. From December 1800 he served in the Mediterranean, as midshipman, master's mate, and for a short time as acting-lieutenant; firstly aboard the frigate Leda, under Captains George Johnstone Hope and Robert Honyman, seeing action in the Egyptian campaign under the former. He then followed Captain Hope into the 74s Defence, taking part in the battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805, and Theseus. Finally, he served aboard Melpomene, under Captain Peter Parker, from where he was promoted to lieutenant on 20 August 1806.[7]

For the next seven years Plumridge served as a lieutenant; aboard the Repulse under Captain the Honourable Arthur Kaye Legge, in Zealous under Captains John Giffard and William Pierrepont, and then Melpomene again, under Captain Peter Parker. There, on 1 May 1809, during the Gunboat War, he commanded the boats of Melpomene in an attack on a Danish cutter of 6 guns and several merchantmen, which were lying under the protection of gun batteries in the harbour of Huilbo, Jutland. The cutter was destroyed, but with the loss of Lieutenant George Rennie, and five men severely wounded. Soon after Melpomene fought off an attack by a flotilla of 20 gun-boats, suffering considerable damage, and losing 34 men killed and wounded.[7][8] He then served aboard the frigate Tartar, Captain Joseph Baker, in the Baltic.[7]

By December 1810 Plumridge was serving aboard the frigate Menelaus under Captain Peter Parker again, and taking part in the capture of Isle de France. He then served aboard the 80-gun ship Tonnant, Captain Sir John Gore; in Tremendous and Hibernia, the flag-ships of Sir William Sidney Smith in 1812; and the frigate Resistance, Captain Fleetwood Pellew. On 5 October 1813 he commanded the boats of Resistance at the destruction of batteries and the capture of a convoy in Porto d'Anzo. He then served aboard Royal Sovereign, Captain Thomas Gordon Caulfeild, and Caledonia, the flagship of Sir Edward Pellew. In April 1814 he served as Pellew's aide-de-camp during the capture of Genoa.[7]

Peacetime serviceEdit

On 7 June 1814 Plumridge was promoted to commander in the sloop Crocus, but within a month was transferred to command of Philomel and ordered to the East Indies. There on 29 April 1816, he was appointed acting-captain of the Bombay-built frigate Amphitrite, in which he returned to England by February 1817.[7]

He then commanded the 18-gun brig-sloop Sappho from February 1818 until March 1821, visiting Saint Helena, and in 1820, while on the Irish station, capturing three American smugglers;[7] Clinton on 13 August,[9] Liberty on 14 August,[10] and Maria on 12 October.[11] Plumridge was finally promoted to post-captain on 9 October 1822, but had to wait until July 1831 before being appointed to command of the frigate Magicienne, serving in the East Indies until early 1835. From April 1837 until 1841 he was the Superintendent of the Packet Service at Falmouth.

In the 1837 election he stood unsuccessfully for Parliament in Penryn and Falmouth, but won the seat in 1841.[12] He did not seek re-election in 1847.[13] In June 1842 he was appointed Storekeeper of the Ordnance, and on 29 June 1847 was awarded the Good Service Pension.[7]

Plumridge returned to sea duty in August 1847, commanding the frigate Cambrian on the East Indies and China Station, and serving as second-in-command with the rank of commodore.[7] Following the death of the Commander-in-Chief, Francis Augustus Collier, on 28 October 1849, Plumridge served as C-in-C pro tem until the arrival of Charles Austen in January 1850.[14] He was raised to the rank of rear admiral on 8 October 1852.[15]

Crimean WarEdit

In 1854, during the Crimean War, he was assigned to the fleet headed by Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Napier for operations in the Baltic, commanding a detached "flying squadron" of steamships. Flying his flag in the frigate Leopard, Plumridge operated in the Gulf of Bothnia, bombarding a number of Finnish settlements to destroy fortifications, telegraph apparatus, and capture enemy shipping. He was afterwards sharply criticized for firing on civilian settlements. Furthermore, the destroyed Finnish commodities were for the greater part actually bought by British customers and often paid in advance, Plumridge effectively pillaging on his own nations's goods.[16] On 21 June his force bombarded the fortress of Bomarsund on the Åland Islands, expending most of their ammunition for little result. It was on this occasion that a midshipman of the gunboat HMS Hecla won the first-ever Victoria Cross. In common with the other commanders of the 1854 Baltic campaign Plumridge's command was not renewed in 1855, but he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath on 5 July 1855.[17]

Plumridge was made a vice admiral on 28 November 1857[18] and admiral on 27 April 1863,[19] but died in November of the same year at Hopton Hall. He is buried at St. Margaret's Church, Hopton-on-Sea, Norfolk.[20]

Personal lifeEdit

His first wife having died on 31 July 1827, he was married for a second time in 1835 to Harriet Agnes, daughter of the Right Honourable Hugh Elliot, by whom he had several children. He was again left a widower on 17 April 1845.[7]

His maternal niece Catherine German married Hermann Philipp Rée,[21] and their great-great-great-grandson is Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP.[22]


  1. ^ "Obituary". Army and Navy Gazette. 5 December 1863. p. 21. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  2. ^ Walford, Edward (1864). The County Families of the United Kingdom, Or Royal Manual of the Titled and Untitled Aristocracy of Great Britain and Ireland. 2. Ed. Greatly Enl. Hardwicke. p. 803. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  3. ^ The Peerage, Baronetage, And Knightage, Of Great Britain And Ireland For. p. 457. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  4. ^ Taylor, James Stephen (1985). Jonas Hanway: Founder of the Marine Society: Charity and Policy in Eighteenth-Century Britain. Scolar Press. ISBN 9780859677004. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  5. ^ Pugh, John (1788). Remarkable occurences in the Life of Jonas Hanway, Esq. comprehending an abstract of his travels in Russia and Persia: ... several anecdotes and an attempt to delineate his character. Davis. p. 256. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  6. ^ "Admiral Sir. J. H. Plumridge, K.C.B." The Gentleman's Magazine. R. Newton: 249. February 1864.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i O'Byrne, William Richard (1849). "Plumridge, James Hanway" . A Naval Biographical Dictionary . John Murray – via Wikisource.
  8. ^ "No. 16257". The London Gazette. 27 April 1822. pp. 689–690.
  9. ^ "No. 17812". The London Gazette. 27 April 1822. p. 698.
  10. ^ "No. 17676". The London Gazette. 3 February 1821. p. 295.
  11. ^ "No. 17788". The London Gazette. 5 February 1822. p. 220.
  12. ^ "No. 20001". The London Gazette. 23 July 1841. p. 1925.
  13. ^ Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1977]. British parliamentary election results 1832–1885 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 235. ISBN 0-900178-26-4.
  14. ^ Rear, Marjorie, ed. (2008). "Letters of Captain Charles Barker RN, 1811-1860". Persona Naval Press. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  15. ^ "No. 21366". The London Gazette. 12 October 1852. p. 2665.
  16. ^ Reagan, Geoffrey (1993). The Guinness Book of Naval Blunders. London. p. 25.
  17. ^ "No. 21743". The London Gazette. 10 July 1855. p. 2654.
  18. ^ "No. 22070". The London Gazette. 8 December 1857. p. 4329.
  19. ^ "No. 22730". The London Gazette. 28 April 1863. p. 2247.
  20. ^ "James Hanway Plumridge". Gravestone Photographic Resource. 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  21. ^ Died 30 Dec. 1877, aged 79; buried at Chorlton-cum-Hardy
  22. ^ Reitwiesner, William Addams (2013). "Ancestry of David Cameron". Retrieved 4 November 2013.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Edward John Hutchins
James William Freshfield
Member of Parliament for Penryn & Falmouth
With: John Vivian
Succeeded by
Howel Gwyn
Francis Mowatt
Military offices
Preceded by
George Anson
Storekeeper of the Ordnance
Succeeded by
Francis Robert Bonham