Alan Gardner 1st Baron

1742-1809. Born on 12 April 1742 at Uttoxeter, he was the third surviving son and the eighth of eleven children of Lieutenant-Colonel William Gardner of the 11th regiment of the Dragoon Guards, and of his wife Elizabeth Farrington, who originated from Preston. He was the father of Vice-Admiral Lord Alan Hyde Gardner, Major-General Hon. William Henry Gardner, and Rear-Admiral Francis Farrington Gardner, and was the uncle of Rear-Admiral Sir Robert Barrie.

On 1 May 1755 Gardner joined the Medway 60, Captain Peter Denis, attached to the Western Squadron, this ship later being commanded by Captain Charles Proby, and in January 1758 he moved to the Dorsetshire 70, once more commanded by Captain Denis. He fought at the Battle of Quiberon Bay on 20 November 1759, and after being commissioned lieutenant on 7 March 1760 he rejoined Denis aboard the Bellona 74, which ship was still attached to Admiral Sir Edward Hawke’s fleet. He was present at the capture of the French sail of the line Courageux 74 in August 1761 after Captain Robert Faulknor had succeeded to the command.

On his twentieth birthday, 12 April 1762, he was promoted commander of the fireship Raven 10, which he recommissioned for service in the Basque Roads. With the end of the Seven Years War approaching, she was at Spithead in December, and she later sailed from Portsmouth for the Downs before being paid off in March 1763.

Gardner was posted captain on 19 May 1766 and joined the Preston 50, which he recommissioned at Portsmouth as the elected flagship of Rear-Admiral William Parry, who had been appointed the commander-in-chief at Jamaica. He sailed for the West Indies from St. Helens on 20 July, only to be forced back by adverse winds before setting off again. In May 1769 he exchanged with Captain Basil Keith into the frigate Levant 28, and later in the same month he married a Jamaican heiress. During June the Levant’s crew suffered greatly from a petechial fever after visiting Porto Bello in the Spanish West Indies, and Gardner was one of those taken ill amidst this epidemic. The Levant arrived back in Europe at the end of April 1770 laden with treasure valued at sixty thousand guineas which was delivered to the Bank of England on two wagons, and she was paid off at the end of May.

In January 1774, after nearly four years on the beach, Gardner was appointed to the frigate Maidstone 28, in which he departed for Jamaica three months later. During May 1776 he detained an American vessel under French colours that was laden with gunpowder and arms, and on 9 August he sailed in the company of the Pallas 36, Captain Hon. William Cornwallis, to escort a convoy of some one hundred and eighteen ships through the Gulf of Mexico before leaving his consort to proceed to England. In the course of returning to Jamaica from this duty he reportedly captured four American privateers, one being of 19 guns, another 14, and the other two 16. The Maidstone eventually left the Jamaican station with a convoy of some forty vessels for England on 4 April 1777, and after arriving off Portsmouth on 10 June she was sent with a convoy of transports to the Thames later that month prior to being refitted and coppered at Sheerness.

392px-Vice-Admiral_Lord_Alan_Gardner_(1742-1809),_by_William_Beechey (1)

Admiral Lord Gardner

In October 1777 the Maidstone left Portsmouth with a convoy of some sixteen vessels for New York, and whilst off Point Judith, Rhode Island she drove the rebel privateer Columbus 16 ashore on 27 March 1778 to be set on fire by the boats of Gardner’s squadron. In the summer the frigate was sent to cruise off Virginia to watch for the approach of the Comte d’Estaing’s Toulon fleet, and when the French came in sight Lieutenant James Vashon was despatched to inform the commander-in-chief, Vice-Admiral Lord Howe, who was therefore enabled to prepare the defence of New York in July. Thereafter the Maidstone was despatched on a cruise in which she added to the capture of the rebel privateer Greenwich on 20 April by taking the Fly on 6 September and the General Glover on 19 September. On 4 November off Cape Henry she captured a large French private ship, the Lyon 40, during which action Gardner was wounded. Struggling against the weather, he nevertheless earned much praise for sailing the Maidstone and her prize to Antigua rather than settling for the easier option of deserting his station and taking advantage of a fair wind for England.

Remaining in the Leeward Islands, Gardner joined the Sultan 74 in May 1779, and on 6 July he commanded this vessel at the Battle of Grenada with great distinction, his being one of three ships in the van that were exposed to the fire of the whole French fleet, and in so doing sustaining casualties of sixteen men killed and thirty-nine wounded. On 1 August he sailed from Jamaica with the homeward-bound convoy which he saw through the Gulf of Mexico before returning to his station, and in March 1780 he brought the London convoy into Port Royal. The Sultan then served under Commodore Cornwallis in his brief and inconclusive action with Commodore de Ternay on 20 June, after which she returned to Portsmouth with a convoy of six merchant ships on 20 November. At the end of the month she sailed for Plymouth where she remained fitting out for Channel service over the winter, and by the time she returned to duty in May 1781 Gardner had been succeeded in command by Captain James Watt.

After a short period of unemployment Gardner was appointed to the Duke 98 at the end of 1781 in succession to Captain Sir Walter Stirling, whose health precluded him from serving in the West Indies. She sailed out to the Leeward Islands from Portsmouth on 31 January 1782 to join Admiral Sir George Rodney’s fleet, and she fought well at the Battle of the Saintes on 12 April, suffering seventy-three casualties after passing through the rear of the enemy’s line. Gardner later sailed with the fleet under Admiral Hugh Pigot for North America, and after returning to Jamaica he remained there until the peace. The Sultan eventually departed for England from St. Lucia on 12 April 1783 with the flag of Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Drake to arrive at Portsmouth with that officer’s squadron on 18 May after a five-week passage, and she was paid off in June.

At the end of April 1786 Gardner took leave of the King at St. James Palace to assume the position of commander-in-chief on his wife’s home island of Jamaica, going out with a commodore’s broad pennant aboard the Expedition 44, Captain James Vashon. At the end of June he arrived at Kingston, Jamaica after a passage of forty-nine days, and he transferred in September to the Europa 50 with Captain Vashon. During November the home newspapers were reporting that Gardner had requested to come home, but in the event he remained on the station where he was soon obliged to deal with a dispute between Prince William and his first lieutenant, Isaac Schomberg after the two officers had fallen out when employed aboard the Pegasus 28. Gardner returned to Portsmouth on 23 August 1789 aboard the Europa and in the company of the Expedition 44, Captain John Brown, to be received by the King at a levee a month later.

On 19 January 1790 Gardner took up a position as a lord commissioner of the Admiralty under the Earl of Chatham, being elected an M.P for Plymouth on 1 February and holding a grand celebratory ball two days later. In March he presented Captain William Bligh, late of the mutinous Bounty, to the King, and this was an honour he would undertake several times over the succeeding years with other officers and notables. During the Spanish Armament of 1790 he took command of the Courageux 74, which ship was recommissioned for him by Commander George Countess, and in his role at the Admiralty he was heavily involved in the planning of the Vancouver Expedition that left England in April 1791, carrying many officers who had served with him in the West Indies. He temporarily left his seat at the Admiralty to set off from London for Portsmouth on 15 June 1791 to rejoin the Courageux during the Russian Armament, prior to her being paid off in September.

With war against revolutionary France looming in January 1793, the Queen 98 was prepared for Gardner’s broad pennant, and on the day that war was declared, 1 February, he was promoted rear-admiral. Having been appointed commander-in-chief of the Leeward Islands, he sailed out aboard the Queen, Captain John Hutt, on 26 March with seven men of war and troops under the command of Major-General Hon. Thomas Bruce. In June the two commanders launched an attack on Martinique, but with eight hundred royalists joining eleven hundred British troops the former farcically managed to attack their own men when landing, forcing a retreat. Nothing else was achieved bar the evacuation of some royalist islanders who were facing execution, and having insufficient resources with which to do anything substantial Gardner returned to England in October.

640px-Loutherbourg-La_Victoire_de_Lord_Howe (3)

The Battle of the Glorious First of June 1794

It was next reported that Gardner was to take up the position of commander-in-chief in the East Indies, and on 22 November he arrived at Portsmouth from London to monitor the preparations of an expeditionary force. During the first two months of 1794 he was in the House of Commons defending the Admiralty’s protection of the country’s trade by the convoy system, and in early February orders were sent down to Portsmouth for his squadron to be made ready for sea at short notice. Eventually, at the beginning of March, it was reported that the East Indies mission had been aborted and that the embarked stores had been brought back on land.

On 15 April Gardner 1794 re-hoisted his flag aboard the Queen at Portsmouth, and after joining the Channel Fleet he commanded the second division of the central squadron at the Battle of the Glorious First of June, instructing his crew not to fire until they were close enough ‘to scorch the Frenchmen’s beards’. The Queen was badly mauled in forcing the surrender of the Jemmapes 74, but Gardner was unable to take possession because eleven French vessels came to her rescue. In total the Queen suffered casualties of thirty-six men killed and sixty-seven wounded in the days preceding the battle and in the fleet engagement itself, the former figure including Captain Hutt, who fell on the 29th when the flagship was constantly in action. As a reward for his part in the victory Gardner was created a baronet on 9 September, and at the beginning of July he was appointed a major-general of marines. In the meantime he had been promoted vice-admiral in accordance with seniority on 4 July 1794.

In mid- August 1794, after a few weeks in London during which he had attended the King with Admiral Lord Howe and other senior officers, Gardner arrived in Portsmouth to re-hoist his flag aboard the Queen. By now Captain William Bedford had assumed the role of his flag captain following Captain Hutt’s death, and this officer would remain in this position until Gardner left the Channel Fleet in August 1800. During the autumn Gardner was at sea with a dozen sail of the line before he returned to his house at the Admiralty in early December.

Throughout January 1795 Gardner spoke for the Admiralty in the House of Commons, but on 23 February he was advised by the first lord, Earl Spencer, that a position had not been found for him on the new board. That month he was with the Channel Fleet under Howe which put to sea from Torbay, and on 23 March the Queen went into Portsmouth for a refit. At the end of April he left London to give evidence at the court-martial of Captain Anthony James Pye Molloy in connection with that officer’s conduct at the Battle of the First of June, but on 2 May he received permission from the court to return to London where he had urgent business. Rejoining the Queen, he was present at the Battle of Lorient on 23 June, although his flagship did not suffer any casualties, and he continued at sea throughout the summer on what he described as the longest cruise he had ever experienced. Whilst the Queen was in port in October he presided on a court martial at Portsmouth, and at the beginning of November he was again presented to the King by Howe whilst also attending the House of Commons throughout that month.

On 28 December 1795 Gardner arrived at Portsmouth from London, and on New Year’s Eve it was reported that his squadron of seven sail of the line was to put to sea to protect Rear-Admiral Hugh Cloberry Christian’s outgoing Leeward Islands fleet; however, although Gardner, his officers and his men remained aboard their ships for several weeks the wind remained obstinately foul and they could not sail. On 9 February 1796 his squadron finally did get under way from St. Helens in escort of the West Indies convoy, but it was then obliged to return when the wind veered before getting away again on the 23rd with the Africa and Mediterranean convoys also under escort. Prior to his departure he received instructions from the Admiralty to watch out for a Dutch fleet which was supposedly bound for the Cape or the West Indies, and to also ensure the safety of the homeward-bound Jamaica convoy. Having seen the various outward-bound convoys to the south of the Bay of Biscay he parted from them on 1 March, but his force of eight sail of the line and two frigates was obliged to return to Portsmouth at the end of the month following an accident on the 8th that had seen the Sans Pareil 80, Captain William Browell, and Triumph 74, Captain Sir Erasmus Gower, crippled by damage to their lower masts..

During April 1796 Gardner sat upon the court martial of Vice-Admiral Hon. William Cornwallis conversant with that officer’s refusal to take passage upon a frigate to Jamaica, and at the end of the month he was instructed that his squadron of ten ships of the line should be ready to sail at an hour’s notice. With a general election looming he intended to sit once more for Plymouth, but at the last minute he was prevailed upon by prime minister William Pitt to contest the borough of Westminster in place of Admiral Lord Hood, who had been elevated to the peerage. Traditionally this was the most radical of boroughs, being the constituency of the Whig favourite, Charles James Fox, and during a typically violent campaign throughout May and June Gardner was subjected to a torrent of abuse and a number of personal threats on the Hustings at Covent Garden. On one occasion he even had to leap out of his coach to confront a group of ruffians who had attacked it, nevertheless he came second to Fox and ahead of the reformist John Horne-Tooke in the poll, which meant that he and Fox were elected to represent the borough in parliament.

640px-Delegates_in_council_or_beggars_on_horseback

Admiral Gardner could not hold his famed temper when he met the Spithead Mutineers in 1797

In June 1796 Gardner’s flag transferred with Captain Bedford and all of his officers to the Royal Sovereign 110, and on 11 August he returned to sea with a squadron of eight sail of the line and two frigates to replace Vice-Admiral Charles Thompson off Brest. By September he was informing the Admiralty that he was unable to send any ships home for water or provisions as the French in Brest probably outnumbered him. Upon being relieved by Thompson he brought seven sail of the line and a frigate back to Portsmouth on 6 October, and his squadron remained at readiness throughout November to put to sea at short notice. Having then apparently returned to London, he set off for Portsmouth on 19 December to rejoin the Channel fleet that was mobilising under Admiral Lord Bridport to meet the threatened French invasion of Ireland, but on arrival he was so ill that he was unable to go aboard his flagship. By New Year’s Eve he was sufficiently recovered as to be able to take up his role as the second-in-command to Bridport, but when the fleet did finally put to sea on 3 January 1797 the first wave of the French force had already returned home and Bridport and Gardner returned to Spithead on 3 February having achieved nothing.

At the end of February 1797 orders were rushed down to Portsmouth to prevent the sailing of Gardner’s squadron as information had been received that the Spanish fleet was at sea, although by this time the new enemy had already been defeated by Admiral Sir John Jervis at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent on 14 February. At the end of March, following Admiral Lord Howe’s retirement, Gardner officially became the second-in-command of the Channel Fleet to Admiral Lord Bridport.

In the course of the mutiny at Spithead which erupted on 16 April 1797 he famously tried to harangue the men of the Queen Charlotte 100 back to their duty when they were in the midst of negotiations with officials from the Admiralty, but fortunately wiser heads were present to escort him off the ship before his violent outburst could provoke the more militant mutineers into bringing the incident to a regrettable conclusion. After attending the Admiralty with Rear-Admiral Charles Pole he took the Royal Sovereign and five other sail of the line down to St. Helens on 24 April, but with disaffection still raging he and his secretary were sent ashore on the evening of 8 May. Although boats from his flagship were soon sent into Portsmouth seeking his return, Gardner initially refused to go aboard for two days until the emblem of the mutiny, the yard-ropes, were removed. Even then it was only Lord Howe’s intervention on the third day that brought him back to the cheers of his men.

By June 1797 he was at sea once more, cruising off Ushant, and at the beginning of November he brought his squadron into Plymouth where his ships underwent a refit. After going up to London he attended a levee at St. James Palace, sat in parliament through December, and participated in the service of thanksgiving for the naval victories at St. Paul’s Cathedral. In the meantime several of his squadron sailed for Cork, and Gardner himself returned to Portsmouth from London on 25 January 1798, whereupon his flag was raised aboard the Royal Sovereign at Spithead.

At the end of May 1798 he sailed on a cruise with thirteen sail of the line, and amidst growing concerns for the safety of Ireland he was joined off Ushant by Bridport on the 31st. In early July his squadron was detached from Bridport’s fleet to re-victual in Cawsand Bay, and here adverse winds detained him from rejoining the commander-in-chief until the end of the month. As soon as he made his rendezvous off Ushant Bridport sailed for England leaving Gardner in command of what was described as a formidable fleet, prior to his senior returning in mid-August. During October Gardner’s squadron briefly entered Plymouth before rejoining the fleet off Ushant, and back in chief command he had to run for Torbay at the start of November after encountering some extreme gales, and here the fleet remained for a couple of weeks. He then took his own squadron out on a cruise to return to Torbay in early December, and after going out once more to patrol off Brest whilst Bridport remained ashore he was back to water at the Devonshire anchorage on 10 January 1799 with eight sail of the line.

On 14 February 1799 Gardner was promoted admiral, and following the breakout of the Brest Fleet on 25 April he raced down to Portsmouth to hoist his flag once more aboard the Royal Sovereign, and to sail for Plymouth. Reaching the Devonshire port on 5 May, he put out eleven days later to join Admiral Lord Bridport off southern Ireland, from whom he collected sixteen sail of the line to reinforce Admiral the Earl of St. Vincent off Cadiz. Arriving off Cape Finisterre on 4 June, he was then detached with four sail of the line for the Tagus to convey home the prizes taken at the Battle of the Nile, and he departed for Plymouth on 22 June to arrive on 13 July. Shortly afterwards he struck his flag and travelled to Bath to recover his health.

In September 1799 he rejected an offer to take on the chief command at Portsmouth, preferring instead to remain in active service. By December, with Bridport once more residing ashore, he was cruising on the French coast with up to a dozen sail of the line until winter storms drove him well to the west of Ushant, and he returned to Torbay at the beginning of January. He continued to command the Channel fleet at sea for the first three months of 1800, receiving orders on 12 January to proceed to the blockade of Brest from Torbay. By February he had nineteen sail of the line under his command, and four weeks later this total had increased to twenty-seven, although this force was dwarfed by the combined French and Spanish fleet of forty-three sail of the line in Brest. Towards the end of March he was joined by Bridport with reinforcements, whereupon he sailed for Plymouth with seven sail of the line to re-victual.

In mid-April 1800 it was announced that Bridport had resigned the command of the Channel fleet and that Gardner would temporarily assume his position with Rear-Admiral Sir Charles Cotton acting as his captain of the fleet. Gardner immediately sailed for Torbay from Plymouth in the Royal Sovereign and on the 25th he set out with the fleet of some thirty sail of the line for Brest. On the next day, 26 April, the newly installed commander-in-chief, the Earl of St. Vincent, arrived at Portsmouth to hoist his flag. The latter’s appointment was much to Gardner’s resentment, and the scant respect he paid his new senior caused St. Vincent to surmise, probably correctly, that the conspiratorial attitude of the Hood brothers towards him had also been instilled in Gardner, Unfortunately the King, who had wished that his gratitude be expressed to Gardner for his long service under Howe and Bridport, had mistakenly thought that Gardner’s inclination was not to command the fleet, and that he would have been better placed to have accepted the command at Portsmouth.

Somewhat as compensation for being denied the Channel fleet, Gardner was summoned to Weymouth from Plymouth on 20 August 1800 to attend the King at Gloucester Lodge, and to receive an invitation to replace Vice-Admiral Robert Kingsmill as the commander-in-chief of the Irish station. On 21 November he arrived at Cork from Plymouth aboard the frigate Phoebe 36, Captain Robert Barlow, and as an additional mollification he was ennobled as Baron Gardner in the Irish peerage on 23 December. Whilst residing at Cork his flag flew aboard the Princess Charlotte 38 commanded by his son, Captain Francis Farrington Gardner, who was one of only two captains on his station in what was to prove a particularly quiet tenure. After leaving the post in June 1802 upon the cessation of hostilities he returned to England from Cork aboard the Dryad 36, Captain Robert Williams.

Concurrent with his naval career Gardner enjoyed a career in politics, and he served as the MP for Westminster with the leading Whig, Charles James Fox, here portrayed.

Back in England, Gardner rushed up to London to present himself to the electors of Westminster at the beginning of July, thereby putting a lie to speculation that he was to retire from the parliamentary seat. Once again it proved to be a bitter contest, and he was often interrupted by Charles James Fox’s supporters when attempting to speak. By 14 July what was reported to be a ‘ridiculous and disgraceful contest’ had concluded with Fox and Gardner again being elected to Parliament, whereupon the Hustings was demolished by the angry mob. He then undertook a thousand mile tour of the North and Midlands, including a visit to his mother’s hometown of Preston, but was back in London by December to attend parliament. In January 1803 he, Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson, and other notables attended a dinner given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and in February he was present at a levee in St. James’ Palace.

With the return of war against France imminent, Gardner presented himself at the Admiralty in early March 1803 to offer his services, and he was sent with some reluctance to Portsmouth to oversee naval preparations prior to rejoining the Irish station, which was a position he cherished. Arriving at Portsmouth on 22 March, he hoisted his flag the next day aboard the Neptune 98, Captain William O’Brien Drury, and as a sign of his success in getting the men of war out to sea he transferred it regularly thereafter, moving on 31 March to the Dreadnought 98, Captain James Bowen, on 16 April to the Grampus 50, Captain Thomas Gordon Caulfield, and when that vessel was ordered around to the Downs in mid-May to the Endymion 44, Captain Hon Charles Paget, and at the end of the month the Prince of Wales 98, Captain John Giffard. In early June he gave a celebratory dinner for all the admirals and captains still at Portsmouth, and on 27 June he departed in the Dryad 36, Captain Giffard, for Cork where in due course he shifted into the Trent 36, Commander Walter Grossett. By the end of the year he had six sail of the line and several frigates under his command, but other than installing a number of signal posts around the coast of Ireland he had little to occupy him.

On 17 March 1805, having been requested to assume the temporary command of the Channel Fleet from the weary Admiral Hon. William Cornwallis, Gardner arrived at Plymouth from Cove aboard the Topaze 32, Captain Willoughby Lake, and he went up to London with Lady Gardner to present himself at the Admiralty. He was back at Plymouth by 30 March and arrived off Brest on 3 April with his flag aboard the new Hibernia 110, Captain William Bedford, and with Rear-Admiral Edward Thornbrough assuming the duties of his captain of the fleet. Twelve days later Admiral Ganteaume’s Brest fleet appeared off the Black Rocks, but it quickly retreated when the Channel Fleet entered the Brest approaches, and Gardner never had another opportunity of bringing it to battle. Some accused him of having missed his chance as he was old, out of spirits, and unable to grasp the complexities of the situation, and indeed he was known to be unwell during this period, however until Cornwallis resumed his command on 6 July Gardner kept the French safely bottled up in Brest in what was a particularly dangerous time for his country. Striking his flag aboard the Hibernia at Plymouth on 14 July, he set off for London prior to returning to his Irish command on 1 October, having taken passage on the Topaze from Plymouth, with which ship his flag remained for a short while before reverting to the Trent.

The next eighteen months again gave little opportunity for Gardner to add to his laurels, and during this time he also failed to obtain the sponsorship of Lord Grenville to run again for his parliamentary seat of Westminster, leaving him to demand an English peerage. This was acceded to, and he was ennobled on 27 November 1806 as Baron Gardner of Uttoxeter.

In April 1807 it was announced that he was again to leave Ireland and take command of the Channel fleet in succession to Admiral the Earl of St. Vincent, and he embarked at Cove on 5 May aboard the Diana 38, Captain Thomas Maling, to arrive at Portsmouth after a forty-hour passage, whereupon he went up to London. Shortly afterwards he attended a levee at which his son, Captain Hon. Alan Hyde Gardner, was also present, having been appointed his captain of the fleet. On 20 July Gardner arrived at Plymouth, and he was soon off Brest with his flag aboard the Ville de Paris 110, Captain Bedford. In August he selected Vice-Admiral Sir John Duckworth to replace Vice-Admiral Sir James Saumarez as his second-in-command, and on the 30th of that month he briefly returned to Torbay with eight sail of the line prior to sailing for his station again two days later. He was also briefly at Torbay in mid- November.

On 3 January 1808 he struck his flag from the Ville de Paris at Torbay upon her being sent to Plymouth for an overhaul, and whilst residing ashore he was temporarily succeeded by Vice-Admiral Duckworth. In March it was reported that he had become seriously indisposed whilst residing at Lupton House near Brixham, but he continued to receive dispatches from the Admiralty, and on 19 April Duckworth set off from Plymouth to report to him personally. Within days however it was announced that Gardner was to resign from the command of the Channel Fleet to be succeeded by Admiral Lord Gambier.

Gardner retired to Bath in the autumn of 1808 and he died in the city on New Year’s Day 1809. He was buried in the Abbey Church, Bath following a funeral attended by four of his sons, and with Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Knowles, Vice-Admiral Sir James Saumarez, Rear-Admiral Charles Stirling and Rear-Admiral Francis Pickmore amongst his pall-bearers.

He married Susanna Hyde Gale, daughter and heiress of Francis Gale of Liguania, Jamaica, and widow of Sabine Turner, in Kingston, Jamaica on 20 May 1769. They had nine sons and a daughter, and his eldest son, Vice-Admiral Alan Hyde Gardner, succeeded to his titles. Prior to 1801 he had a residence in Portland Place, London.

Gardner served as the M.P for Plymouth from 1790-6 and for Westminster with his political adversary Charles James Fox from 1796-1806, becoming a candidate for this seat at the request of prime minister William Pitt. He was a friend of Pitt’s father, Lord Chatham. When Gardner spoke, or ‘sounded off’ in the House of Commons the Whigs loved to mimic him.

A patron of Admiral Peter Rainier and of Captain George Vancouver, Gardner was renowned for being pugnacious and irascible, zealous and forceful, exceedingly brave, excitable, nervous and bellicose. Whilst on fleet duty he often stayed awake at night pacing his stern gallery to ensure that the ship astern did not ram his. Collingwood viewed him as the perfect disciplinarian and admirably suited for the command of a fleet, whilst St. Vincent described him as ‘zealous and brave with the worst nerves possible’. He had heavy black eyebrows, flaring nostrils, a strong jaw, and missing upper teeth. The seamen knew him as ‘Old Junk’, as it was said that he kept his ships at sea until they were on salt junk. The wife of the first lord of the admiralty, Lady Spencer, accused him of having a ‘childish fondness for his men’ His flag-lieutenant for much of the time between 1796 and 1804 was Henry Morris, brother of Amherst Morris who was the first lieutenant of the Nymphe at her capture of the Cleopatra in 1793. His Christian name was often spelt ‘Allan’.