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Sir Richard Bickerton, 2nd Baronet

Admiral Sir Richard Hussey Bickerton, 2nd Baronet, KCB, (11 October 1759 – 9 February 1832) was a British naval officer. He was born in Southampton, the son of Vice-admiral Sir Richard Bickerton and first served aboard HMS Medway in June 1774, in the Mediterranean. His first command came in March 1779 when he was given HM Sloop Swallow as a reward for his part in an engagement with a much larger opponent. Bickerton later joined Rodney's squadron in the West Indies where he took part in the capture of Sint Eustatius in 1781. Making post captain on 8 February 1781, he took temporary command of HMS Invincible and fought in her at the Battle of Fort Royal on 29 April 1781.

Sir Richard Bickerton
Sir Richard Bickerton.jpg
Born11 October 1759 (1759-10-11)
Southampton, Hampshire
Died9 February 1832 (1832-02-10) (aged 72)
Bath, Somerset
AllegianceUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Years of service1771–1815
Commands heldHMS Invincible
HMS Russell
HMS Terrible
HMS Amazon
HMS Brune
HMS Sibyl
HMS Ruby
HMS Ramillies
HMS Terrible
Portsmouth Command
Battles/warsFourth Anglo-Dutch War
French Revolutionary Wars
AwardsKnight Commander of the Order of the Bath

When Britain entered the French Revolutionary War in 1793, Bickerton joined the Channel Fleet before, in October 1794, being ordered to transport General Sir John Vaughan to the West Indies, to take command of British land forces there. After another spell in home waters, Bickerton was sent to the Mediterranean where he spent much of the war on blockade duty and, after their surrender, oversaw the evacuation of French forces from Alexandria. He remained in the Mediterranean during the short-lived peace and when hostilities renewed was second in command to Lord Nelson there.

Forced ashore by illness in 1805, Bickerton first served as a Lord of the Admiralty and First Naval Lord before finishing his naval career as Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth, having attained the rank of full admiral in 1812.

Personal lifeEdit

Richard Bickerton was born in Southampton on 11 October 1759, the son of Vice-admiral Sir Richard Bickerton and Mary Anne Hussey.[1] On 25 September 1788, he married Anne, daughter of Dr James Athill of Antigua. Bickerton succeeded as 2nd Baronet in 1792 when his father died.[1] He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1810 and served as Member of Parliament for Poole from 1808 until 1812.[2][3] On 2 January 1815, Bickerton was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath then later, in May 1823, he inherited the estate of Wood Walton and on doing so began using his mother's maiden name before his own surname.[4]

Naval careerEdit

Bickerton joined the Royal Navy, aged 12, on 14 December 1771, although this was in name only: He was entered in the muster of his father's ships, Marlborough and later Princess Augusta, but did not actually serve until June 1774, when he joined HMS Medway as a captain's servant.[1][5] Subsequently, promoted to midshipman, he served under Captain William Affleck in the Mediterranean, returning home in 1777 on board Invincible, commanded by Hyde Parker.[1]

Master and CommanderEdit

Bickerton was promoted to lieutenant on 16 December 1777 and served under Charles Middleton first on board the 90-gun HMS Prince George, then the seventy-four, Royal Oak in March 1778.[6] In May, Bickerton joined HMS Jupiter in the Bay of Biscay, under the command of Francis Reynolds. On 20 October Jupiter attacked the much larger French ship-of-the-line Triton, forcing her to retire; as a reward for his conduct, Bickerton, on Middleton's recommendation, was in March 1779, promoted master and given command of HM Sloop Swallow.[3] Swallow spent just under two years in The Channel, cruising and undertaking escort duties.[7] While on convoy duty during the Summer of 1779, Bickerton gave the order to disperse, having heard of the arrival of the combined Franco-Spanish fleet in The Channel. His prompt action allowed the convoy to escape.[3] After assisting in the capture of a Dutch convoy, on 2 January 1780, Bickerton and his vessel were sent to the West Indies to join Rodney's squadron and subsequently take part in the capture of Sint Eustatius in 1781.[3][5]

Post CaptainEdit

Rodney promoted Bickerton to the rank of post captain on 8 February 1781 and gave him temporary command of HMS Invincible. It was in her that Bickerton took part in the Battle of Fort Royal, an action fought on 29 April 1781, off the coast of Martinique. Bickerton acquired his own ship, HMS Russell, in May, before briefly transferring to Terrible but, finding her unfit, moved to the frigate, HMS Amazon, in July.[5][7][Note 1] After service in the Leeward Islands and North American waters, Bickerton returned to England in Amazon, arriving in Portsmouth in February 1782.[3] In September, Bickerton was given the newly repaired HMS Brune; she was decommissioned in May the following year and Bickerton was without a ship until January 1787, when he commissioned HMS Sibyl and in her sailed for the Leeward Islands once more.[5][8]

French Revolutionary WarEdit

When France declared war in 1793, Bickerton was given command of HMS Ruby and served in her in The Channel until September 1794 when he moved to HMS Ramillies and joined Lord Howe in the Bay of Biscay.[3][5] In October 1794 he transported General Sir John Vaughan to the West Indies, to succeed Lieutenant-general Sir Charles Grey as the Commander-in-chief of British land forces there.[5][9] Bickerton remained on this station until July 1795, when he was sent to Newfoundland.[5] Bickerton returned home in November 1795 where he joined Admiral Adam Duncan's fleet on blockade duty in the North Sea. Bickerton served under Duncan for the whole of the following year, then in 1797, he and his ship transferred to the Channel Fleet under Admiral Alexander Hood.[3][5] In 1798, Bickerton took command of the new HMS Terrible, built in 1785 to replace the old Terrible, scuttled after the Battle of Chesapeake. Later in 1798, Bickerton was given the title of Colonel of Marines, then on 14 February 1799, Bickerton attained the rank of rear-admiral[10] and, towards the end of the year, took up the position of Assistant Port Admiral at Portsmouth.[3][5][Note 2]

Service in the MediterraneanEdit

Jacques-François Menou whose respect was earned by Bickerton during the evacuation of Alexandria

Bickerton hoisted his flag in Seahorse on 13 May 1800 and was ordered to transport generals Abercromby, Moore and Hutchinson to the Mediterranean; after which he spent the rest of the war under Lord Keith, on blockade duty.[5] On 10 June, Bickerton transferred his flag to the 74-gun Swiftsure and began a five-month command of a squadron off Cádiz before maintaining a blockade on the port of Alexandria until its capitulation on 27 August.[3][5] Left to oversee the French withdrawal, Bickerton conducted this duty with such efficiency that he earned the respect of the French general, Jacques-François Menou, who also acknowledged that, " ...the vigilance of Sir Richard's squadron had accelerated the reduction of that place, as it cut them off from all supply". For his part in the British victory, the grateful Turks awarded Bickerton with the Order of the Crescent on 8 October 1801. Following the Treaty of Amiens, Bickerton, with his flag in HMS Kent, was left behind in command of the Mediterranean Fleet.[5]

Napoleonic WarsEdit

By 1804, still in the Mediterranean and having transferred to Sovereign, Bickerton was serving as Second-in-Command to Admiral Lord Nelson, maintaining a close blockade on the French port of Toulon and when Nelson received the thanks of the Corporation of London, he insisted that Bickerton received equal recognition.[5][7] Bickerton was elevated to Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean when Nelson left to pursue the French Fleet across the Atlantic.[5][11]

Later careerEdit

In spring 1805, a liver complaint forced Bickerton to return to England. He was promoted to vice-admiral on 9 November 1805[12] and then appointed to the Board of Admiralty in April 1807.[5][7][13] He became First Naval Lord in the second Portland ministry in May 1808.[14] On 31 July 1810 Bickerton attained the rank of full admiral[15] and in March 1812 he left the Admiralty Board[13] and, one month later, was appointed Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth[16] with Puissant as his flagship. Bickerton still held this post in 1814 when the Treaty of Paris was celebrated with a Grand Naval Review at Spithead. The event took place on 24 and 25 June, before the Prince Regent and his allies.[5] Bickerton was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) on 2 January 1815.[17] On 5 January 1818 Bickerton was promoted to Lieutenant-general of the Marines, then General of the Marines in June 1830.[5][Note 3]


Bickerton's memorial in Bath Abbey

Bickerton died at his home, No. 15 The Circus, Bath, at the age of 72 on 9 February 1832. His wife outlived him by several years, dying on 2 March 1850. As the couple had no children, the estate passed to Anne's nephew, Vice-admiral Sir Richard Hussey Moubray.[16] The lack of male issue also meant the baronetcy became extinct with his death.[7] A memorial to Bickerton, by Francis Leggatt Chantrey, was erected in Bath Abbey in 1834.[18][19][20]Bickerton Island off the east coast of Australia's Northern Territory was named for him by the British navigator and cartographer, Matthew Flinders, who was the first to circumnavigate the continent.[21]


  1. ^ Bickerton's entries in The Gentleman's Magazine, and Historical Chronicle, and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, have him in command of HMS Terrible at some point between Russell and Amazon. The latter was reviewed by Nicholas Tracy but Tracy's own book, Who's Who in Nelson's Navy, however, does not mention this brief command.
  2. ^ Colonel of Marines was a ceremonial rank in the Royal Navy, usually bestowed upon Post Captains for good service. It carried an increase in salary with no extra duties or responsibilities. Not to be confused with a colonel in the marines.
  3. ^ The ranks Lieutenant-general of the Marines and General of the Marines, like Colonel of the Marines, were ceremonial.


  1. ^ a b c d Tracy, Nicholas (2006). Who's Who in Nelson's Navy. London: Chatham Publishing. p. 38. ISBN 1-86176-244-5.
  2. ^ Leigh Rayment Members of Parliament
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Tracy, Nicholas (2006). Who's Who in Nelson's Navy. London: Chatham Publishing. p. 39. ISBN 1-86176-244-5.
  4. ^ Tracy, Nicholas (2006). Who's Who in Nelson's Navy. London: Chatham Publishing. pp. 39–40. ISBN 1-86176-244-5.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q The Gentleman's magazine, Volume 102, Part 1, p. 175 - 176
  6. ^ Tracy, Nicholas (2006). Who's Who in Nelson's Navy. London: Chatham Publishing. pp. 38–39. ISBN 1-86176-244-5.
  7. ^ a b c d e J. K. Laughton, ‘Bickerton, Sir Richard Hussey, second baronet (1759–1832)’, rev. Nicholas Tracy, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2006 accessed 25 Oct 2015
  8. ^ Winfield, Rif (2007). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1714–1792: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth Publishing. p. 202. ISBN 978-1-84415-700-6.
  9. ^ Willyams, Rev. Cooper (1796). An Account of the Campaign in the West Indies in the year 1794. London: G. Nicol, Bookseller to His Majesty, Pall Mall; B. and J. White, Fleet Street; and J. Robson, New Bond Street. p. 145.
  10. ^ "No. 15107". The London Gazette. 12 February 1799. p. 148.
  11. ^ Lord Nelson's letter detailing naval strategy against French to be sold Daily Telegraph, 24 November 2008
  12. ^ "No. 15859". The London Gazette. 5 November 1805. p. 1374.
  13. ^ a b "Sainty, JC, Lord High Admiral and Commissioners of the Admiralty 1660-1870, Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 4: Admiralty Officials 1660-1870 (1975), pp. 18-31". Retrieved 4 September 2009.
  14. ^ Rodger, p. 69
  15. ^ "No. 16391". The London Gazette. 28 July 1810. p. 1118.
  16. ^ a b Tracy, Nicholas (2006). Who's Who in Nelson's Navy. London: Chatham Publishing. p. 40. ISBN 1-86176-244-5.
  17. ^ "No. 16972". The London Gazette. 4 January 1815. p. 19.
  18. ^ "Neoclassical Church Monuments in Britain". Church Monuments Society. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  19. ^ Forsyth, Michael (2003). Pevsner Architectural Guides: Bath. Yale University Press. p. 65. ISBN 978-0300101775.
  20. ^ Harris, Brian L. (2006). Harris's Guide to Churches and Cathedrals: Discovering the Unique and Unusual in Over 500 Churches and Cathedrals. Random House. p. 20. ISBN 9780091912512.
  21. ^ Scott, Ernest (2011) [1914]. The Life of Captain Matthew Flinders, R.N. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 472. ISBN 978-1-108-04061-7.


  • Rodger, N.A.M. (1979). The Admiralty. Offices of State. Lavenham: T. Dalton Ltd. ISBN 0900963948.

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Jeffery
George Garland
Member of Parliament for Poole
With: John Jeffery 1808–1809
Benjamin Lester Lester 1809–1812
Succeeded by
Benjamin Lester Lester
Michael Angelo Taylor
Military offices
Preceded by
James Gambier
First Naval Lord
Succeeded by
William Domett
Preceded by
Sir Roger Curtis
Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth
Succeeded by
Sir Edward Thornbrough
Baronetage of Great Britain
Preceded by
Richard Bickerton
(of Upwood)