Charles Chamberlayne

1750-1810. He was the youngest of six sons, and the second youngest of fourteen children of Edmund Chamberlayne from Maugersbury, Stow-in-the Wold, Gloucestershire, and of his wife, Elizabeth Atkyns. Through the marriage of his sister he became the brother-in-law of Captain Sir John Hamilton and the uncle of Admiral Sir Charles Hamilton and Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Hamilton.

On 25 June 1773 Chamberlayne was commissioned lieutenant, seeing service in the Rainbow 44, Captain Sir George Collier, and the Romney 50, Captain George Montagu, bearing the flag of Vice-Admiral John Montagu on the Newfoundland station. This officer promoted him to the rank of commander on 9 May 1777 and appointed him in an acting capacity to the sloop Martin, in which he spent some time thereafter cruising on the Banks. He was posted captain of the ex-Indiaman Proteus 26 on 28 October 1778, remaining at Newfoundland until this vessel was paid off to become a prison ship on that station in October 1779.

Chamberlayne commanded the Orion 74 from 1789-91

In 1780 Chamberlayne was appointed to recommission the Garland 24 in which he went out to North America in August, and he assisted the Warwick 50, Captain Hon. George Keith Elphinstone, capture the American privateer Greyhound on 11 August 1781. After following this up with the captures of the American letter-of-marque Fair American on 2 January 1782, and Admiral Zoutman on 12 March he left the vessel in August and reached England from New York aboard the packet Roebuck in the following month.

From September 1786 until February 1788 he commanded the Plymouth guardship Standard 64, although she was at Portsmouth during the Dutch Armament in 1787, and from July 1789 he was captain of the guardship Orion 74 at Plymouth, where on one occasion he hosted Prince William to a dinner, and where he participated in the King’s Naval Review of 18 August 1789. During the Spanish Armament of 1790 the Orion went out to the Leeward Islands with Rear-Admiral Samuel Pitchford Cornish’s squadron, and when in December she took fire at Barbados some four hundred of her crew jumped overboard and swam for the shore, leading to the drowning of three men. Notwithstanding this panic Chamberlayne, his officers, and the crew who had remained aboard, extinguished the fire, and after returning home with Cornish in February the Orion saw duty in the Russian Armament in 1791 and was eventually paid off at Plymouth in September.

In 1794 he was appointed to the Bombay Castle 74, in which ship, on 13 July 1795 he fought in the indecisive Battle of the Hyeres Islands with the French Mediterranean fleet. Having been promoted rear-admiral on 1 June he left the Bombay Castle shortly afterwards and he did not see any further active employment.

Chamberlayne was further promoted vice-admiral on 14 February 1799 and admiral on 9 November 1805. An occasional visitor to Bath, he died at his Plymouth home on 24 April 1810.

He was married and had at least six sons and three daughters. Four of his sons joined the Navy; George died on November 1802 at the age of twenty-two from yellow fever when commander of the sloop Busy 18 at Antigua, Charles died a sixteen year-old midshipman in March 1799, Edwin rose to the rank of captain and died in 1821, and John to that of captain and lived to 1861. Another son, Bickerton, died at the age of 30 in 1822 having seen service in the Army.

Chamberlayne was a good friend of Admiral the Earl of St. Vincent.