Sir Robert Harland 1st Baronet
1715-1784. He was the son of Captain Robert Harland and his wife Frances Clyatt.
On 10 February 1729 Harland entered the service aboard the Falkland 50, Captain Samuel Atkins. He was promoted lieutenant of the Weymouth 60, Captain Charles Knowles, on 5 February 1742, and served thereafter in the Princess 70, Captain Robert Pett, being present at the Battle of Toulon on 11 February 1744. Shortly afterwards he removed to the Namur 90, Captain William Dilke, flagship of Vice-Admiral Thomas Mathews.
He was promoted commander of the fireship Scipio 8 in January 1745, and posted captain of the Tilbury 60 on 19 March 1746, in which he was present at Rear-Admiral Edward Hawke’s action with the French on 14 October 1747 off Cape Finisterre. Upon commanding the Nottingham 60 in succession to the slain Captain Philip Saumarez after the Battle of Finisterre he enjoyed a share in the proceeds of the capture of the Magnanime 74 on 31 January 1748.
Following the end of the Austrian War of Succession in 1748 he commanded the French-built Monarch 74 at Portsmouth as a guardship, being her first British commander and retaining the position for three years.
From 1755 Harland commanded the Essex 70 in the Channel and Bay of Biscay, capturing the privateers Sainte-Barbe on 30 December 1756, Puisieux on 16 July 1757, Comte de Herouville six days later, and Comte de Florentine 18 on 3 August. In May 1758 he commissioned the new Conqueror 70, seeing service in the Mediterranean from the spring of 1759 under Admiral Hon. Edward Boscawen. In the rush to sail out from Gibraltar on news of the French being at sea he exchanged with Captain William Lloyd of the Princess Louisa 60 on 15 August, and he fought at the Battle of Lagos three days later.
On 18 October 1770 he was promoted rear-admiral, and having been created Baronet of Sproughton on 5 March 1771 he sailed that month to serve as the commander-in-chief in the East Indies with his flag aboard the Northumberland 68, Captain John Symons. He returned home in 1774, and on 3 February 1776 became a vice-admiral.
Raising his flag aboard the Queen 90, Captain Isaac Prescott, he was present at Spithead during the King’s review of the fleet in the first week of May 1778. He then commanded the van as second-in-command to Admiral Hon. Augustus Keppel at the Battle of Ushant on 27 July 1778, and displayed great initiative in tacking without orders to renew the attack on the French. During the political fall-out that followed the battle he showed great loyalty to his commander. After serving throughout the remainder of the season with his flag in the Royal George 100, Captain John Colpoys, he resigned on 10 May 1779, ‘objecting to serve with or command men high in rank who differ so much in opinion with me on the great points of naval discipline.’
Although Harland initially refused to see any further service under Lord Sandwich, the first lord of the Admiralty did convince him to take command of a squadron destined for the Cape, but in the event political expediency required that Sandwich give the command to Commodore George Johnstone instead.
On the fall of Lord North’s administration Harland became a lord of the Admiralty under Keppel on 30 March 1782, resigning with him on 28 January 1783 upon the change of government. During this term of office he became an admiral on 8 April 1782.
Harland died at his residence at Sproughton, near Ipswich in Suffolk, on 21 February 1784.
He married Susanna, the daughter of Colonel Rowland Reynold, on 12 October 1749 at St. George’s Chapel, Mayfair, and had issue three daughters and one son. His daughter Marianne married Major-General William Dalrymple.
Harland was well regarded by Admiral Earl of St. Vincent, who did not convey such praise lightly.