Admiral Thomas Hardy
05 April 1769 - 20 September 1839
Hardy was born on 5th April 1769 in Portisham, Dorset.
He first entered the navy in 1781 on board the brig, HMS Helena.
He remained with the ship for a short period after which, in 1782,
he left the navy to attend school for three years. He joined the merchant
navy for some years and in 1790, decided to rejoin the Royal Navy. His
first appointment as midshipman was with HMS Hebe. He was later transferred
to the sloop, HMS Tisphone, and followed the Captain, Anthony Hunt, when he
was transferred to HMS Amphitrite in 1793.
In November of that year, he was promoted to Lieutenant and appointed to HMS
Meleager. This ship was part of a squadron off the coast of Genoa under the
command of Captain Horatio Nelson. In August 1796, Hardy transferred to HMS
Minerve with Captain Cockburn. At the end of the year, Nelson transferred to
the Sabina, Hardy, along with Lieutenant Culverhouse, was in charge of a boarding
party sent to claim her as a prize after her capture. They managed to draw off
the rest of the Spanish squadron, but the ship was later re-captured after
one of her masts was destroyed and Hardy was taken prisoner along with the rest
of the boarding party.
He was later repatriated with the Minerve at Gibraltar after an exchange of
prisoners, which included the Captain of the Sabina. Captain Nelson was warm
in praise of the actions of his lieutenants in this action.
Shortly after rejoining his ship, Hardy was nearly captured again by the
Spanish when he jumped overboard to save a seaman who was drowning after
falling out of one of the boats. The current had carried them towards the lead
ship of the Spanish squadron in the Gibraltar Straits. Nelson took instant action
by ordering shorten their sail and stand off. Hardy and the seaman were
rescued. A few days later, the ship had joined the British fleet and took part
in the battle of Cape St Vincent on 14 February 1797.
In the following Maym HMSs Minerve and Lively were patrolling around the bay of
Santa Cruz and found a French brig, the Mutine. On the 29th, longboats
from the two ships were sent to capture it under Hardy's command. It
was successful and Hardy was appointed to command of the prize by Admiral
Jervis. He also was promoted to Commander.
Hardy went to the Mediterranean with Nelson, who had been appointed Commander
in Chief. In July 1803, Nelson transferred to HMS Victory and Hardy joined him to
resume his position as Flag Captain.During the following months and years, the
ship was kept busy with the blockade of Toulon and continuing pursuit of the
Franco-Spanish fleet across the Atlantic. Hardy, along with Captain Blackwood,
witnessed Nelson's last will and during the battle of Trafalgar on
October 21st 1805, was walking along side his Commander in chief when a
French spiner fatally shot Nelson. As Nelson's Chief of Staff, he remained
on duty during the remainder of the battle while keeping his dying friend
and Commabder informed of the proceedings. In recognition for these
services, he was created a baronet. He played a major part in the state
funeral of Nelson on 9 January 1806 at St Paul's Cathedral.
Hardy was decorated as a Knight Commander of the Order of Bath in
January 1815 and returned to Britain in June of that year. On his return,
he was appointed to command the Royal Yacht Princess Augusta. He served
on her for three years. In August 1819, he was promoted to Commodore and
appointed as Commander in Chief for the South American station. He
transferred his flag to HMS Superb and his services during the war of
independence that was being fought in the former Spanish colonies won
him praise from the Admiralty. He eventually returned to Britain in 1824.
In 1830, he was appointed as First Sea Lord at the Admiralty. He
retained this post until 1834. During this period, he was appointed
as Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Bath. At the end of his period
as First Sea Lord, he was appointed as Governor of Greenwich Hospital.
During his time as Governor, he introduced many changes to improve the lives
of the pensioners. He was promoted as Vice Admiral in January 1837.
Hardy died on 20th September 1839 and was buried in the mausoleum in the
grounds of Greenwich Hospital. His wife and daughters survived him, but
as he had no male heirs, his baronetcy became extinct.