Monday, September 28, 2015

Sir Thomas Trowbridge

by Lauren Gilbert

Sir Thomas Trowbridge (Wikimedia Commons)

A snippet of news from 1807 as noted in Jane Austen's Regency World Magazine caught my eye.
Admiral Drury is to proceed immediately to India, in the Monmouth, on which vessel he has hosted his flag.  The Admiral has been appointed to succeed the gallant, but unfortunate Sir Thomas Trowbridge in the command of the East India Station, there being now too much reason to believe that the Blenheim is lost. (1)
I was immediately curious as to who Sir Thomas Trowbridge was and what happened to the Blenheim.

He was the son of Richard Trowbridge, esq, of  Cavendish Street, in Marylebone.  Thomas spent the bulk of his life in the Navy, starting out under the tutelage of Admiral Sir Edward Hughes, K. B. in the East Indies.  He obtained his lieutenancy in 1780 and proceeded to rise steadily through the ranks.  As captain, he was sent to support Lord Nelson and participated in the Battle of the Nile under the Admiral, in which the French navy was destroyed August 1, 1798.  Nelson wrote in praise of Captain Trowbridge's conduct in the battle to the Admiralty.  Thomas subsequently became a commodore, then Rear Admiral of the White and continued to serve.  He was made Sir Thomas Trowbridge, Baronet in November of 1799, because of his action in the Battle of the Nile.  Sir Thomas continued to rise in profession and was appointed a Lord of the Admiralty.

On the personal side, he married Mrs. Frances Richardson (described in one source as "relict" so she appears to have been a widow).  They had a son, Edward-Thomas, who became the 2nd Baronet, and followed his father into the Navy, and a daughter Charlotte, who married Major-General Egerton (brother of Sir Philip-Grey Egerton, Baronet).  Sadly, there appears to be no record of Sir Thomas's date of birth, any additional information about his wife, or their marriage date.There is also no annotation of the birth dates of his children, only their marriage dates.

On April 23, 1804, Sir Thomas was promoted to admiral and was sent in 1805 to the East Indies, where he was assigned to the Cape of Good Hope as commander-in-chief of the east portion of the East India Command.  His ship was the Blenheim, which had 74 guns but had seen much service and was in poor condition following damage in the Straits of Malacca. Although Sir Thomas sailed the Blenheim successfully from Pulo Penang to Madras (after some badly-needed repairs), the ship was still in very bad shape.  Sir Thomas was told of the ship's condition, but would not alter his plan to sail her to the Cape.  The Blenheim was accompanied by the Java and the Harrier.  On February 1, 1806, they were caught in a severe gale, and the last sight of the Blenheim revealed her to be sitting low in the water in obvious distress. The ships were separated, and the Harrier made it to the Cape on February 28, 1806.  The Blenheim and the Java were lost. Captain Edward-Thomas Trowbridge was sent to look for his father, but no trace was found.

Jane Austen's Regency World Magazine.  "What Made the News In Sept and Oct 1807." Compiled by Judy Boyd.  Sep/Oct 2015 Issue 77, p. 34  (Footnote 1)

Google Books.  Debrett, John and Courthope, William.  Debrett's Baronetage of England: with alphabetical lists of such baronetcies as have merged in the peerage, or have become extinct, and also of the existing baronets of Nova Scotia and Ireland, edited. p. 282.  1835: J.G. & F. Rivington, HERE

GoogleBooks. Lysons, Rev. Daniel and Lysons, Samuel.   MAGNA BRITANNIA: Being a Concise, Topical Account of the Several Counties of Great Britain, Volume the Sixth containing Devonshire, p. cxxxi (131).  1822: Thomas Cadell, London,  HERE

GoogleBooks.  The Picture Magazine, Volume 7.  "Portraits." page 74. January -June.  1896: George Newnes Ltd., London., HERE

Image: Wikimedia Commons,  from Thomas Mante's NAVAL AND MILITARY HISTORY OF THE WARS OF ENGLAND, including those of Scotland and Ireland, 1795(?)-1807, Vol. 8, published in London, HERE


Lauren Gilbert is the author of Heyerwood: A Novel. Her second book, A Rational Attachment, is due out this winter. She will attend the Jane Austen Society of North America's Annual General Meeting in Louisville, and will be participating in the author signing. Stop by and say hello! She lives in Florida with her husband. Visit her website at for  more information about her.


  1. Thank you—this was a really interesting post. All those names that appear just briefly are so tantalizing, aren't they?

  2. Hi, Lil! It really whets the curiosity when you see just that little bit. I found it sad that there was so little information about a man who seems to have been quite a hero. Thank you for commenting!


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