Rt. Hon. Robert Gambier Middleton
1774-1837. He was born in Edinburgh in November 1774, the second son of George Middleton, the collector of the customs at Leith, and of his wife, Elizabeth Wilson. He was the nephew of Sir Charles Middleton, the future Admiral Lord Barham.
Middleton entered the Navy at the age of 12 and was commissioned lieutenant on 1 January 1793. Serving at the occupation of Toulon from August 1793 aboard Vice-Admiral William Hotham’s flagship Britannia 100, Captain John Holloway, he assisted Captain Sir William Sidney Smith in the attempted destruction of the French fleet when the port was evacuated in December. Remaining in the Mediterranean, and shortly after his uncle had been appointed one of the lord’s commissioners of the Admiralty, he was promoted commander of the Éclair 18 on 18 June 1794, and posted captain of the Ariadne 24 two months later on 11 August.
From 17 to 28 January 1795 he temporarily commanded the Berwick 74 in the Mediterranean fleet whilst her captain, William Smith, was brought to court martial for rolling her masts over the side, and he succeeded Captain Benjamin Hallowell aboard the Lowestoffe 32 on the same station when that officer left the frigate for the Courageux 74 in May. On 24 June the Lowestoffe assisted the Dido 28, Captain George Henry Towry, in the capture of the French frigate Minerve 42, although the Artémise 40 escaped their clutches.
In the autumn of 1795 Middleton removed to the Flora 36, serving under the orders of Captain Horatio Nelson off Genoa in support of the Austrian Army, and during July 1796 at the occupation of Porto Ferrajo. On 3 April 1797 he departed Lisbon for England with the governor and commander-in-chief designate of Newfoundland, Vice-Admiral Hon. William Waldegrave, arriving at Portsmouth twenty-four days later after joining the Pearl 32, Captain Samuel James Ballard, in the capture of the privateer Incroyable 24 on 13 April, which vessel the two frigates brought into Plymouth. The Flora was still at Spithead in July, and she served off the Channel Islands with a strong frigate squadron during September. In November she took Rear-Admiral Thomas Lenox Frederick out to Lisbon before proceeding into the Mediterranean, where for part of 1798 Captain Alexander Wilson temporarily acted for Middleton.
On 13 May 1798 the Flora cut the French brig Mondovi 16 out from under the fire of harbour batteries at Cerigo, the modern-day island of Kythira off Greece, whence she had driven her earlier, losing one man killed and eight wounded, and on 2 June she took the French brig Corcyre 12 off Sardinia. Middleton was rewarded with a cruise off Madeira where he could also help protect the outward bound convoys, and he enjoyed a lucrative six months. Amongst many enemy vessels captured during this period and in the next two years were the Lorient-based cutter Président Parker 12 on 4 October, the Bordeaux-based Intrepide 20 after an eight-hour chase on 25 January 1799, the Bordeaux-based Aventure 14 on 15 February after a seven-hour chase, the lugger Diligente 2 after a three-hour chase twelve days later, the Bayonne-based Légère 14 on 20 April, the Bordeaux-based Rhuiter 14 on 25 July after a twenty-one hour chase, the Spanish privateer Corunesa 16 off Cape Finisterre after an eight-hour chase on 20 March 1800, the Vigo-based Aurora after a chase of five hours on 9 April, and the valuable Spanish packet Cortez 4 off the Portuguese coast on 22 June when she was nearing home after a three-month voyage from the River Plate.
Towards the end of 1800 the Flora was at Lisbon, and she was later attendant at the invasion of Egypt on 8 March 1801, where several of her men became casualties during the disembarkation of the Army. She returned to Malta with the remains of Lieutenant-General Sir Ralph Abercromby, which were interred on 29 April, before sailing for England in the following month with Lieutenant Robert Corbet, who was carrying Admiral Lord Keith’s dispatches. Shortly afterwards Middleton left the frigate.
Following the resumption of hostilities in 1803 he took command of the North Foreland Sea Fencibles, and upon arriving at Whitstable in July he was able to sign up eighty men within the first two hours. On the recommendation of his uncle, who by now was the first lord of the Admiralty, he accepted the position of commissioner of the Navy at Gibraltar on 10 July 1805, and he remained there until September 1808 after his wife had returned home aboard the Illustrious 74, Captain William Robert Broughton, in May.
On 18 November 1808 he took up the office of a commissioner without special function on the Navy Board, and from May 1829 until June 1832 he was the storekeeper-general, on the expiry of which term he left the Navy Board and was placed on the rear-admiral’s retired list.
Middleton died on 21 August 1837 and was buried in Limpsfield, Surrey.
He married Susannah-Maria Leake of Thorpe Hall, Essex, on 11 December 1802 at Mary-la-Bone Church and they had ten children, of whom seven survived infancy. His address was Moor House, Limpsfield.