HOTHAM, WILLIAM. (1736–1813). British naval officer. Son of the seventh baronet Hotham, William Hotham was born on 8 April 1736 and educated at Westminster School and the Royal Naval College at Portsmouth (1748–1751). After service in the West Indies and North America, he passed for lieutenant on 7 August 1754. A post captain from 1757, he served with some distinction throughout the Seven Years' War. In 1776, flying a commodore's broad pennant in the Preston, (50 guns), he escorted a large troop convoy to America and joined the North American squadron under Lord Howe, supporting the landing at Kips Bay on 15 September. During the Philadelphia expedition, he remained at New York as senior naval officer and supported Clinton's offensive into the Hudson Highlands in October 1777, though he had reservations about capturing forts that were not to be held. In July 1778 he took part in the preparations to defend Sandy Hook against Estaing's expected attack. Off Newport on 12 August, he engaged the storm-crippled Tonnant (seventy-four guns) until other French ships came to her aid. He was then sent with a reinforcement for Barrington in the West Indies, where on 15 December he played a distinguished part in the battle off St. Lucia. In the summer of 1779 Hotham was at Barbados, and in 1780 he moved his pennant to the Vengeance (seventy-four guns). In it he took part in engagements on 17 April and on 15 and 19 May. He was selected to escort the homeward-bound convoy from St. Eustatius but was unable to save the merchant ships from a powerful French squadron off the Scilly Isles on 2 May 1781.
In 1782 Hotham, with his pennant in the Edgar, took part in Howe's relief of Gibraltar. He was promoted to rear admiral in 1787 and vice admiral in 1790. In 1795, while in temporary command in the Mediterranean, he won two minor engagements off Leghorn before being relieved by Jervis in November. It was the last active service for this outstanding junior commander and indifferent commander in chief. He became Baron Hotham in 1797, succeeded to his nephew's baronetcy in 1811, and died on 2 May 1813.