Sir Charles Edmund Nugent
1758-1844. He was born on 19 July 1758, the son of Lieutenant-Colonel Hon. Edmund Nugent, and grandson of Earl Nugent. Following his father’s death in 1771 his marriage was declared illegal, and as such Nugent and his elder brother, who became Field-Marshal Sir George Nugent, were stigmatised as illegitimate.
In 1771 he entered the service aboard the sloop Scorpion, Captain George Keith Elphinstone, removing to the Trident 64, flagship of Rear-Admiral Sir Peter Denis in the Mediterranean a year later. He then joined the frigate Cerberus 32, Captain James Chads, in which he went out to North America in 1775. After returning to England he joined the Bristol 50, bearing the broad pennant of Commodore Sir Peter Parker, and was an acting-lieutenant at the unsuccessful attack on Charleston on 28 June 1776, being wounded in the action, and promoted lieutenant with seniority from 3 June 1776. He served with Parker in the New York campaign during July – October and followed this officer to the Chatham 50 in September for his subsequent transfer to the Jamaican station as commander-in-chief.
Nugent was promoted to the rank of commander on 26 May 1778, even though his lieutenancy had never been confirmed by the Admiralty, and he was posted to the Pomona 28 on 2 May 1779. Remaining on the Jamaican station he served in the Omoa campaign from 19 September-19 October under the orders of Captain John Luttrell. Prior to the commencement of that expedition he was dispatched to St George’s Key in the Bay of Honduras aboard the schooner Racehorse to procure pilots for the assault, but following a skirmish with some Spanish gunboats was taken prisoner, handcuffed, stripped, threatened with execution and thrown into a dungeon. On the following day the Pomona arrived after being sought out by the Racehorse, whereupon the Spanish scattered and Nugent and the crew of the schooner’s boat were able to make good their escape.
The Pomona fell in with Captain Hon. William Cornwallis’s squadron which had a running engagement with a superior French force in the Windward Passage on 20-22 March 1780, although the French eventually shied away from an engagement, and Nugent remained on the Jamaican station until 1782 when he returned home with Rear-Admiral Sir Peter Parker aboard the Sandwich 90. In 1784 he was elected M.P for Buckingham, and he sat in the interest of the government until 1790 when he was obliged to resign his seat to his elder brother on account of his ill-health.
At the start of the French Revolutionary War Nugent was appointed to commission the new Veteran 64, taking part in the Channel fleet cruises of 14 July- 10 August and October-December 1793, including the chase of Rear-Admiral Vanstabel’s squadron on 18 November. His command then formed part of Vice-Admiral Sir John Jervis’ expedition to the West Indies from 10 January 1794 where Nugent spent some time ashore in command of naval battalions at the reductions of Martinique, St Lucia and Guadeloupe, and also led a division of boats in the attack on Fort Louis where he was one of the first to scale the ramparts. He returned home with despatches following the capture of Guadeloupe, arriving on 25 May 1794.
In the spring of 1795 Nugent was appointed to the Gibraltar 80, in succession to Captain John Pakenham who was expected to die but was walking aboard the ship two weeks later, so instead took command of the Caesar 80 whilst Captain Anthony Molloy was court-martialled for his conduct at the Battle of the Glorious First of June. He also fitted out the new Pompée 80 in the Channel fleet in June before returning to the Caesar some weeks later.
He remained with the Caesar until his promotion to rear admiral on 20 February 1797, following which he became a vice-admiral on 1 January 1801. In 1805 he became captain of the fleet to Admiral Hon. William Cornwallis in the Channel, and after relinquishing this appointment he saw no further service, although he did officiate at Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson’s funeral on 9 January 1806.
He was promoted admiral on 28 April 1808, became admiral of the fleet on 24 April 1833, was nominated a G.C.H. on 12 March 1834 and died on 7 January 1844 at the home of his son in law, George Bankes MP in Studland, Dorset, being buried in the local graveyard.
On 2 July 1790 he married Deborah Charlotte Dee, the widow of Commodore George Johnstone, and had issue one daughter.
He was a boyish looking officer with an aquiline nose, small mouth and slim features. His residence was at Gosfield, Essex. Ostensibly a supporter of William Pitt, he nevertheless voted against the government if his conscience dictated. However, he never spoke in Parliament.