Edward Leveson-Gower

1776-1853. He was born on 8 May 1776, the second son of Rear-Admiral Hon. John Leveson-Gower and of his wife Frances Boscawen, the daughter of the famous Admiral Hon. Edward Boscawen. He was the brother of Captain Augustus Leveson-Gower who died in command of the Santa Margarita 36 at Port Royal, Jamaica, on 3 August 1802.

Joining the Navy in 1791, Leveson-Gower was commissioned lieutenant on 19 March 1793, and he was present aboard the Pegasus 28, Captain Robert Barlow, at the Battle of the Glorious First of June in 1794.

On 8 October 1794 he was promoted commander of the Peterel 16, in which he recaptured a British merchantman off Ostend before arriving at Portsmouth on 30 December. On 9 March 1795 he departed the Downs with Rear-Admiral Henry Harvey’s squadron and a fleet of transports to embark British troops at Emden, and on 9 May arrived back off Deal from the North Sea.

Edward Leveson-Gower came from a prominent naval family, his father being Rear-Admiral Hon. John Leveson-Gower, here portrayed.

On 1 June 1795, and whilst still a teenager, Leveson-Gower was posted captain of the Prompte 22, which joined the escort of an emigree troop convoy that departed Portsmouth in early July to support the Royalist uprising at Quiberon. She returned to the Downs on 27 July and was at Portsmouth in early August. During December the Prompte sailed from St. Helens with Rear-Admiral Hugh Cloberry Christian’s fleet for the Leeward Islands, but along with most of that force was obliged by appalling weather to return to Spithead at the end of January 1796.

In early February 1796 he was appointed to the Active 32, which on 19 April raised the signal for the Newfoundland convoy at Portsmouth. Shortly after commencing the return voyage from Quebec with Lord and Lady Dorchester as passengers, the Active was wrecked off Anticosti Island in the St. Lawrence River on 17 July. All of the crew and passengers managed to get ashore, and they were conveyed to Halifax after she was abandoned thirteen days later.

In December 1798 Leveson-Gower recommissioned the frigate Castor 32, going out to Newfoundland in April 1799, and after returning to Europe he captured the privateer Santa Levivate y Aninimus 2 off Oporto on Christmas Day. During the spring of 1800 the Castor was off Le Havre before returning to Portsmouth at the end of April, and in August she formed part of the escort that took a convoy out to Lisbon, prior to returning with a thirty-five-ship convoy from Oporto to Plymouth at the beginning of September. After going around to Portsmouth, the Castor went out to the coast of France before returning to the Hampshire port on 16 November.

In January 1801 he was appointed to the newly converted eighteen-pounder French-built Pomone 44, initially serving with the North Sea Fleet at Yarmouth. Following a brief visit to Sheerness in April, his command sailed around to Portsmouth to arrive on the 22nd and collect a convoy for the Mediterranean. Thereafter departing on the penultimate day of the month for Plymouth, she sailed from that port on 2 May and arrived at Gibraltar in the following month. Joining a small frigate squadron otherwise consisting of the Phoenix 36, Captain Lawrence Halstead, and Pearl 32, Captain Samuel Ballard, she captured the French frigate Carrère 40 off Porto Ferrajo, Elba, on 3 August 1801 in ten minutes, with the loss of two men killed and four wounded, one of whom, the lieutenant of marines, later died. The Phoenix and Phoebe were in sight but not involved in the action. During August the Pomone engaged three batteries near Barcelona, and she was present on 2 September with the Phoenix when the French frigates Succès 32 and Bravoure 40 were attacked and driven ashore by the Minerve 38, Captain George Cockburn.

Remaining in the Mediterranean, the Pomone was at Minorca on 2 June 1802 under the orders of Rear-Admiral Sir James Saumarez, and on 16 July she arrived at Portsmouth from Gibraltar to enter quarantine, having given passage home to Major-General William Douglas MacLean Clephane, the governor of Minorca. Her arrival coincided with Leveson-Gower’s election to Parliament as the M.P for Truro under the patronage of his uncle, George, Viscount Falmouth.

Despite peace with France having been declared earlier in 1802, the Pomone remained in commission, and she was sent to Lymington to collect Dutch troops which she carried around to Deal at the end of August, prior to sailing on the 30th for Helvoetsluys to return to the Downs on 5 September. Three days later she struck a rock and broke her back when entering St, Aubin’s Bay on the southern coast of Jersey. Having been hauled off by her consorts, the Révolutionnaire 38, Captain Walter Locke, and the Alonzo 16, Commander William Falconer, she was towed inshore for rudimentary repairs, and on 24 October she returned to Portsmouth under the watchful eye of the Révolutionnaire to enter dock. A subsequent court martial found the pilot guilty of negligence, and in addition to being mulcted his pay and allowances he was imprisoned in the Marshalsea for three months. In the meantime, the Pomone was paid off.

In September 1803 Leveson-Gower was appointed to the new eighteen-pounder frigate Shannon 36 at Chatham, and on 6 November he departed Portsmouth on a cruise. Just a month later, on 10 December, the Shannon fell victim to stormy weather near La Hogue on the Cherbourg Peninsula and had to be run on shore under the fire of the land batteries. Three men were killed and eight wounded during this incident, whilst Leveson-Gower suffered the ignominy of surrendering his command to a number of French fishing boats and the French military. The Shannon did not remain long in French possession, for boats from the sloop Merlin 16, Commander Edward Brenton, burned the wreck a week later.

Marched with his officers to Verdun, Leveson-Gower remained a prisoner with other notables for the next two and a half years, during which period his belief in the unlikely prospects of a release led him to seek the position of agent for prisoners. Eventually returning home on parole in June 1806, he was acquitted of any blame for the loss of the Shannon at a court martial on 20 March 1807. Meanwhile he had been returned to Parliament for Truro in November 1806, and he became the member for the rotten Cornish borough of Mitchell in 1807 before resigning the seat in July of that year.

In early January 1811 he returned to active service upon his appointment to the Elizabeth 74 at Spithead, going out of the harbour on 13 March, and departing for Portugal two weeks later with a number of senior army officers. After depositing her passengers, the Elizabeth was dispatched on a cruise off the Azores with a small squadron, and on 30 January 1812 she arrived at Portsmouth from Lisbon. Six weeks later, on 11 March, she dropped down to St. Helens, and shortly afterwards put to sea with a squadron of four sail of the line under the orders of Rear-Admiral Philip Durham upon news that the Lorient squadron had put to sea. She was back at Plymouth by 21 April, whereupon she sailed for Portsmouth and remained in dock until coming out of the harbour in the middle of July.

On 4 August 1812 the Elizabeth sailed for the Mediterranean where she saw employment in Italian waters and in the Adriatic campaign from January – October 1813, being present at the blockades of Venice, Ragusa, and Trieste. Leveson-Gower left her upon being promoted rear-admiral on 4 June 1814.

In June 1819 it was reported that he was to succeed Rear-Admiral Robert Plampin as the commander-in-chief at the Cape and St. Helena, with the Emperor Napoleon being under imprisonment at the latter island, but in the event this posting did not transpire, and he apparently resigned from the Navy in 1821.Thereafter he appears to have lived his life in obscurity.

Leveson-Gower, no longer enjoying the title of admiral, died at Grosvenor Square, Southampton on 6 December 1853.

He married Charlotte Elizabeth Mount of Wasing Place, Berkshire, on 13 November 1822, and had issue two daughters, Elizabeth, 1824-75, and Frances Charlotte, 1825-1915.

Leveson-Gower was not a frequent attendee of parliament, but in 1807 he did join the minority who voted against the abolition of the slave trade.