1755-1840. He was born at Hutton-in-the-Forest, Cumberland, the third of four sons of the impoverished vicar of St. Laurence, Appleby, the Rev. Sandford Tatham, and of his wife, Elizabeth Marsden. Five years after his birth his parents divorced on account of his mother’s adultery, and he was brought up by his father.
Tatham was educated at Bampton, Cumberland, and joined the Navy on 7 September 1769 aboard the Stag 32, Captain Joseph Deane, flying the broad pennant of Commodore Sir John Lindsay, which frigate sailed that month for the East Indies and returned to Portsmouth at the end of March 1772.
He was commissioned lieutenant on 6 December 1776 and joined the Belleisle 64, Captain John Brookes, which was fitting out at Plymouth for guardship duties, thereby allowing him the time to visit his Cumbrian relatives. In September 1777 he was appointed first lieutenant of the Boston 28, Captain William Dudddingston, which was fitting out at Woolwich and saw service in the Irish Channel. He later obtained a transfer to the Oiseau 32, Captain Henry Lloyd, which frigate began her active service out of Plymouth in March 1780 by sailing for Newfoundland.
Tatham was promoted commander of the fireship Comet 8 on 21 September 1790, and he retained her until 12 February 1791. He then joined the Argo 22, which completed her fitting at Chatham in April and sailed from Cork for Halifax with troops in August before returning to Portsmouth on 6 December with the homeward-bound regiment from Nova Scotia. She was paid off in January 1792.
From March 1793 he commanded the storeship Dromedary 24, entering Portsmouth from the Downs on 22 June and leaving dock for Spithead on 19 October. Departing Portsmouth for the West Indies with Vice-Admiral Sir John Jervis’s fleet in November, Tatham served in the Leeward Islands campaign of 1794, but on 8 February he was one of four men wounded, with another man killed, when the Dromedary worked in too close to the batteries at Cas de Navires, Martinique whilst landing troops. The Dromedary returned to Portsmouth with a huge convoy under the command of Captain John Brown of the Asia 64 on 1 July before proceeding to the Downs. During her voyage home from the West Indies she reportedly lost up to forty men to yellow fever, and such was her short-handedness that the troops she was carrying were required to do the work of the seamen.
Tatham was posted captain on 4 November and having left the Dromedary he did not see any further active service.
During 1798-9 he was the captain of the Impress Service at Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, and from 1803-8 was the regulating officer in Greenock, Scotland. In May 1809 he was appointed to the command of the sea fencibles at Malahide in County Dublin, Ireland where he remained until his property was put up for auction in April 1810 on his departure. He became a superannuated rear-admiral on 7 December 1813.
From 1830-8 he fought a protracted and famous campaign for the inheritance of Hornby Castle in Lancashire after his mentally retarded distant cousin had effectively left it to his steward, the matter eventually being resolved in Tatham’s favour by the House of Lords, but not before questions had arisen as to the legitimacy of his parents’ marriage. On 3 April 1838, watched by thousands of admiring spectators, he finally entered the castle.
Tatham died at Hornby Castle on 24 January 1840 and the property was inherited by a kinsman, Pudsey Dawson.
He married Anne Davison from Durham. His residence prior to inheriting Hornby Castle was at Armitage near Rugeley, Staffordshire, and in the late 1810’s he appears to have been living in York.