Charles Wolseley

1741-1808. He was born on 25 October 1741, the second son of William Wolseley, 5th Baronet, and of his first wife, Anne Fieldhouse. The family emanated from Staffordshire. His elder brother, Charles, succeeded to the baronetcy, whilst the third and youngest brother, James, was killed in a duel in Ireland.

Educated at Winchester School, Wolseley was promoted commander on 21 November 1760, and he went out to Jamaica with the newly commissioned sloop Ferret 14 in March 1761. He was posted captain of the Alarm 32 on 9 November 1761, this frigate being brought out to Jamaica for him by Commander James Alms who enjoyed a great measure of success in the seven months prior to handing her over to Wolseley at Havana in the following summer. By July 1763 the Alarm was back at Woolwich where Wolseley paid her off.

In 1774 he was elected the M.P. for Milborne Port, a seat he held for the duration of the parliament until 1780, initially standing as a fierce opponent of the war with the American colonies. Despite being sponsored by the wealthy Luttrell family he later reneged on this patronage and transferred his allegiance to the government.

Wolseley played a prominent part n the Battle of Negapatam in 1782

In the late summer of 1780 Wolseley was appointed to the St. Albans 64, which ship had undergone a major overhaul, but a couple of months later he moved to commission the new Magnanime 64. Although he was due to serve at the relief of Gibraltar with Vice-Admiral George Darby’s fleet his ship was not ready to sail, so instead he briefly served under the orders of Vice-Admiral Hyde Parker in the North Sea before joining the Channel fleet.

In June 1781 the Magnanime sailed for the East Indies in convoy with the Sultan 74, Captain James Watt, and eight company vessels, and they joined Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Hughes in the following March. The long voyage had a detrimental effect on his crew, who by the time of their arrival in India were suffering from scurvy and other ailments. Nevertheless the Magnanime participated in the Battle of Providien on 12 April 1782, where she was barely engaged and suffered only eight men wounded. She next took an active part in the Battle of Negapatam on 6 July, suffering casualties of nineteen men killed and wounded, and at that of Trincomale on 3 September, receiving twenty casualties. Wolseley retained her until July 1783 when he arrived home to pay her off.

Following the peace he found himself in straitened circumstances after apparently failing to secure a diplomatic post that had been promised him, and for which he had already been receiving a £500 pension. Neither did he see any further service thereafter in the navy.

Wolseley was promoted rear-admiral on 21 September 1790, vice-admiral on 12 April 1794, and admiral on 14 February 1799. He died, unmarried, on 10 April 1808 at Clifton of ‘a mortification of the foot’.

In his early days as a member of parliament Wolseley was regarded as a fortune hunter.