Hawke, Sir Edward

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Hawke, Sir Edward (1710–81). The son of a barrister. His early naval career was in time of peace but he was captain at 24 and rear-admiral at 37. His chance came towards the end of the War of the Austrian Succession when the commander of the Channel fleet, Sir Peter Warren, fell ill and Hawke took over. Off Cape Finisterre in October 1747 he won a decisive victory, taking seven out of nine enemy vessels. He was created KB and returned as MP for Portsmouth. Hawke was again employed in the Seven Years War. An expedition against Rochefort in 1757 was a dismal failure but in 1759 he blockaded Brest and in November his brilliant victory at Quiberon Bay ended all chance of a French invasion: Newcastle described it as ‘the most glorious event at sea this century’. After the war, Hawke was promoted admiral of the fleet and served as 1st lord of the Admiralty 1766–71, though his health was giving way. His barony in 1776 was somewhat belated and not excessive compared with honours given to others.

J. A. Cannon