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Hotham, William Hotham, 1st Baron

HOTHAM, WILLIAM HOTHAM, 1ST BARON ( 17 36-i8i 3 ), British Admiral, son of Sir Beaumont Hotham (d. 1771), a lineal descendant of the above Sir John Hotham, was educated at Westminster School and at the Royal Naval Academy, Portsmouth. He entered the navy in 1751, and spent most of his midshipman's time in American waters. In 1755 he became lieutenant in Sir Edward Hawke's flagship the " St George," and he soon received a small command, which led gradually to higher posts. In the " Syren " (20) he fought a sharp action with the French " Telemaque " of superior force, and in the " Fortune " sloop he carried, by boarding, a 26-gun privateer. For this service he was rewarded with a more powerful ship, and from 1757 onwards commanded various frigates. In 1759 his ship the " Melampe," with H.M.S. " Southampton," fought a spirited action with two hostile frigates of similar force, one of which became their prize. The " Melampe " was attached to Keppel's squadron in 1761, but was in the main employed in detached duty and made many captures. In 1776, as a commodore, Hotham served in North American waters, and he had a great share in the brilliant action in the Cul de Sac of St Lucia (Dec. iSth, 1778). Here he continued till the spring of 1781, when he was sent home in charge of a large convoy of merchantmen. Off Scilly Hotham fell in with a powerful French squadron, against which he could effect nothing, and many of the merchantmen went to France as prizes. In 1782 Commodore Hotham was with Howe at the relief of Gibraltar, and at the time of the Spanish armament of 1790 he flew his flag as rear-admiral of the red. Some time later he was made vice-admiral. As Hood's second-in-command in the Mediterranean he was engaged against the French Revolutionary navy, and when his chief retired to England the command devolved upon him. On March 12th, 1794 he fought an indecisive fleet action, in which the brunt of the fighting was borne by Captain Horatio Nelson, and some months later, now a full admiral, he again engaged, this time under conditions which might have permitted a decisive victory; of this affair Nelson wrote home that it was a " miserable action." A little later he returned to England, and in 1797 he was made a peer of Ireland under the title of Baron Hotham of South Dalton, near Hull. He died in 1813. Hotham lacked the fiery energy and genius of a Nelson or a Jervis, but in subordinate positions he was a brave and capable officer.

As Hotham died unmarried his barony passed to his brother, Sir Beaumont Hotham (1737-1814), who became 2nd Baron Hotham in May 1813. Beaumont, who was a baron of the exchequer for thirty years, died on the 4th of March 1814, and was succeeded as 3rd baron by his grandson Beaumont Hotham (1794-1870), who was present at the battle of Waterloo, being afterwards a member of parliament for forty-eight years. He died unmarried in December 1870 and was succeeded by his nephew, Charles (1836-1872), and then by another nephew, John (1838- 1907). In 1907 his cousin Frederick William (b. 1863) became the 6th baron.

Other distinguished members of this family were the 2nd baron's son, Sir Henry Hotham (1777-1833), a vice-admiral, who saw a great deal of service during the Napoleonic wars; and Sir William Hotham (1772-1848), a nephew of the 1st baron, who served with Duncan in 1797 off Camperdown and elsewhere.

See Charnock, Biographic, navalis, vi. 236.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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