Charles Hope

Died 1808. He was the son of the Scottish politician Hon. Charles Hope Vere, and of his second wife Lady Anne Vane, the daughter of the 1st Earl of Darlington, and was the brother of Brigadier-General Henry Hope who died in 1789. His parents divorced in 1757 and his step-brother from his father’s third marriage was Admiral Sir George Johnstone-Hope.

Hope was commissioned lieutenant on 10 June 1767 and promoted commander of the armed ship Friendship on 3 June 1776. He was present at the unsuccessful attack on Charleston on 28 June where it was stated that he made his ship ’as useful as he could’, and he was sent home with despatches aboard the sloop Ranger 8, Commander Roger Wills, to arrive at the Admiralty on 21 August.

In the autumn of 1776 he was appointed to the Weazle 16, and in January 1777 set sail from Portsmouth with a convoy for the Guinea Coast. During the summer he left Britain with the West Indies convoy in the company of the Camel 24, Commander William Clement Finch, and Druid 16, Commander Peter Carteret, and he assisted these vessels in the defence of the convoy when it was attacked by the rebel frigate Raleigh to the north-west of the Azores on 4 September. During this action Commander Carteret lost his life.

Hope was posted captain on 29 November 1777 of the small frigate Hind 24, sailing in December for Jamaica before leaving Bluefields with one hundred and eleven ships in convoy on 25 June 1778 in the company of the Southampton 32, Captain William Garnier. After arriving at Plymouth on 18 September Hope left the Hind.

In the summer of 1779 he commissioned the new Crescent 28, which frigate had arrived at Plymouth on 17 May after incurring so much damage in her maiden voyage from the shipyard at Bristol that she had been taken into dock for repairs. During July he cruised unsuccessfully on the coast of France with Commodore George Johnstone’s squadron, but in company with the Jupiter 50, Captain Francis Reynolds, and Apollo 32, Captain Philemon Pownall, he assisted in the capture of the French cutters Mutine 14 and Pilote 14 on 2 October.

At the end of January 1780 the Crescent was at Plymouth before she rejoined Johnstone’s squadron off Portugal. She returned to the Devonshire port from Oporto on 2 September having passed through the Franco-Spanish fleet of over thirty sail of the line, which information she passed on to Rear-Admiral Hon. Robert Digby, whose division of a dozen sail of the line were off the Lizard. Eighteen days later the Crescent departed Plymouth with a number of other men-of-war to join the Channel fleet in Torbay. In early December, having been detached from the main body of the fleet in the company of the Bienfaisant 64, Captain John MacBride, and Cerberus 32, Captain Robert Man, the three ships fell in with the homeward-bound Brest fleet of twenty-five or more sail of the line and a convoy of some ninety vessels off Cape Finisterre. On MacBride’s orders the three British vessels set different courses to deliver this news to Vice-Admiral George Darby’s Channel Fleet, but not finding the commander-in-chief Hope instead rushed for Falmouth and sent his report by express to the Admiralty in London. Shortly afterwards he left the Crescent.

The Commissioner’s house at Chatham

In April 1781 Hope took the new Iphigenia 32 out of dock at Chatham to go down to Blackstakes to take on her ordnance, but during May this frigate was becalmed at the Kent port for want of a fair wind. She eventually left the Nore at the beginning of June with a convoy for Leith, and on 2 July, whilst cruising between Yarmouth and Newcastle for the protection of the trade she captured the Dunkirk privateer American Union 6 off Flamborough Head, this vessel being largely crewed by Englishmen identifying as Americans. Prior to the Battle of the Doggersbank on 5 August the Iphigenia was ordered by Vice-Admiral Hyde Parker to escort the Baltic convoy to safety, and although Hope was appointed to the Spanish prize Leocadia 36 in November 1781 she was not available for service until February 1782, during which time he continued with the Iphigenia in the North Sea.

Having eventually joined the Leocadia Hope left Portsmouth on a cruise in March 1782 to enter Plymouth a fortnight later. He then took a convoy to Newfoundland from Lisbon, and remaining on the former station his frigate captured the rebel privateers Viper 14 on 20 May, Lexington 13 on 29 June, and Junius Brutus 18 on 18 August. At the end of November the Leocadia arrived at Plymouth with thirty sail comprising the Newfoundland convoy, and she remained in the Devonshire port over the winter before sailing for Cork in January 1783. During that month she put out on a cruise with the Artois 40, Captain McBride, but was obliged to turn back for Plymouth. With the war coming to an end the Leocadia was paid off in April.

In the summer of 1783 Captain Hope joined the Plymouth guardship Sampson 64, which later served as the flagship to Vice-Admiral Mark Milbanke at that port from 1785. On 8 August of the latter year an argument between her drunken marine captain, a man by the name of Douglas, and the sailing master ended with the former stabbing the other man to death with a bayonet. Captain Douglas then attempted to drown himself but was pulled from the water and handed over for trial on the charge of wilful murder. At his trial in Launceston on 28 March 1786 Douglas was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to a year in prison and a fine of one shilling. In the meantime the unhappy Sampson had been paid off in June 1786.

During the Dutch Armament in 1787 Hope commanded the Victory 100 at Portsmouth from 1 October until paid off on 5 December, and in the Spanish Armament of 1790 he briefly commanded the Egmont 74 at Plymouth over the course of the summer months.

Hope took his seat as an ‘extra commissioner’ of the Navy towards the end of May 1794, and he later served as the deputy controller of the Navy from 1796 until January 1801. He then assumed the role of commissioner at Chatham, arriving to take up his post on 3 February and retaining it until his death on 10 September 1808.

He married Susan Anne Sawyer, daughter of Admiral Herbert Sawyer, and was the father of Admiral Sir Henry Hope, Major Frederick Hope and Captain George Hope of the Navy who was born in June 1801 at Chatham. His wife died on 10 July 1802 and his eldest of three daughters died at Chatham in August 1803.