Sir Richard Bickerton
Richard Bickerton was born on June 23, 1727, the third son of Lieutenant Henry Bickerton (died 1746), an officer in the 4th Dragoon Guards and Mary Dowdal (of Carrickfergus, Ireland). He attended Westminster school.
Bickerton entered the navy as a cadet at the outbreak of the War of Jenkin’s Ear with Spain.
He was appointed to the Suffolk of 70 guns under Captain Thomas Davers, and sailed to the West Indies as a captain’s servant.
He was part of the expedition against Cartagena with Admiral Vernon’s fleet. The yellow fever deaths that caused much of the British defeat, did not affect Bickerton’s health.
Bickerton was assigned to the Stirling Castle of 70 guns, again under Captain Davers.
He was rated as a Midshipman.
Aboard the Stirling Castle in the Mediterranean, he was then appointed to the Channel station under the flag of Sir Charles Hardy, first on the St. George of 90 guns, then the Duke of 90 guns, and finally to the Victory of 100 guns.
He was transferred from the Victory to the Cornwall of 80 guns, the flagship of his first captain, now Vice-Admiral Davers, who was sailing out as Commander-in-Chief to the West Indies.
Bickerton was promoted to lieutenant on the Worcester of 60 guns.
He left the Worchester at the end of the war.
He was stationed on the Fougueux of 64 guns.
He was aboard the Fougueux, under Captain Spry in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The Fougueux was still in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
He served on the Royal George of 100 guns, the largest ship in the world, under Captain Matthew Buckle. A fleet assembled at the Isle of Wight under Admiral Hawke and set sail for a raid on Rochefort, France as an invasion force. However the ill-prepared General Mordaunt’s failure to land troops for an attack resulted in the ships returning to England. The general was exonerated in the resulting court martial.
Bickerton married Mary Anne Hussey at St. Margaret’s Church in Westminster, London. She was the eldest daughter (born May 11, 1740) of Thomas Hussey, Esq., of Wrexham, Wales.
He became a second lieutenant of the Namur of 90 guns, Admiral Edward Boscawen’s flagship in the Siege of Louisbourg and its eventual and final surrender. This key action opened up the way for Britain to take Quebec City and all of Canada.
He was made master and commander of the Aetna, an 8-gun fireship.
He commanded the Aetna fireship in the Mediterranean off Gibraltar with Admiral Boscawen.
He was advanced to post captain after the destruction of Admiral de la Clue’s squadron at the Battle of Lagos. He was then appointed to the Culloden of 74 guns for the purpose of obtaining rank and then immediately onto the Glasgow frigate of 20 guns and shipped to the West Indies.
His son Richard Hussey-Bickerton was born.
He sailed on the Glasgow of 20 guns for Jamaica in the West Indies.
Bickerton was transferred back to England and sailed on the Lively of 20 guns in the Channel.
He commanded the Port Mahon of 20 guns siege and surrender of Havana.
He spent a short time on the Devonshire of 66 guns.
He transferred onto the Temeraire of 74 guns before returning to England at the end of the war and was paid off.
He commanded the recommissioned Renown of 30 guns and sailed to the West Indies and the Port Royal station in Jamaica.
He left the Renown and was transferred to the Ferret of 14 guns.
He returned to England commanding the Ferret and was paid off.
He was appointed to the new Marlborough of 74 guns for the Falkland Islands dispute, which he commanded for three years.
He commanded and steered King George III’s royal yacht Princess Augusta at the naval review at Portsmouth.
He received the honor of knighthood on board the Barfleur of 90 guns. But he was rendered incapable of service due to severe rheumatism that confined him at his estate at Upwood for many weeks.
He again commanded the Princess Augusta yacht.
He rejoined active duty and was appointed to the recommissioned Terrible of 74 guns when war with France was imminent.
He captured the Rising States of 16 guns, an American privateer off Ushant. The boatswain of the captured privateer, a deserter from the British Worcester warship, was flogged through the fleet at Spithead.
Bickerton again steered the royal yacht on the occasion of the king’s visit to Portsmouth and was created Baronet Bickerton of Upwood.
He participated in the Battle of Ushant against Comte D’Oivilliers, and was second in the line from the leading ship, and captain of the Terrible that had thirty men killed and wounded.
He heard about a convoy from Martinique in the West Indies from a neutral ship and succeeded in the fleet taking eight of the merchantmen with valuable cargoes worth £21,000 each.
He still commanded the Terrible in the Channel Fleet at Spithead under Admiral Sir Charles Hardy.
He commanded the new Fortitude of 74 guns, still in the Channel under Admirals Geary and Darby.
Bickerton took command of the Invincible of 74 guns.
He participated in the Battle at Martinique under Admiral Hood against de Grasse aboard the Invincible of 74 guns.
He was re-appointed to the Princess Augusta yacht, in which he attended the king and Prince of Wales at Greenwich during his visit to the North Sea squadron and along the Thames.
He was appointed to the Gibraltar of 80 guns, the ex-Spanish Fénix, flagship of Vice-Admiral Hyde Parker. The admiralty promoted Bickerton to Commodore of the First Class.
He sailed as a Commander of the East Indies and commodore aboard the Gibraltar with six other warships and troop convoys under his orders for the East Indies, intended for India as reinforcements.
He stopped at Rio due to illnesses.
The fleet arrived in Bombay.
Bickerton arrived at Madras aboard the Gibraltar but missed Sir Edward Hughes’ fleet and returned to Bombay for the monsoon season with many sick of scurvy.
He joined Sir Edward Hughes’ fleet and took part in the indecisive action off Cuddalore against the celebrated Admiral de Suffrein.
He departed from Bombay for England.
He returned to England and the Gibraltar was laid up in ordinary.
He was appointed Commander-in-Chief (Commodore) of the Leeward Islands, with his broad pennant on board the Jupiter of 50 guns. Shortly afterward he resigned his command over a dispute with the admiralty about expenses on his return voyage from India.
He was promoted to Rear-Admiral of the Blue and after that to Rear-Admiral of the White.
His admiral’s flag flew on the Impregnable of 90 guns in Plymouth and he hosted the king.
He commanded the Impregnable in the Channel Fleet under Lord Howe, and took a command in the channel fleet during the Nookta Sound controversy.
He became a Vice-Admiral of the White and was appointed Plymouth’s Port-Admiral. His admiral’s flag was now on the St. George of 90 guns. He then departed from active sea duty.
He became a member of parliament for Rochester but he seldom attended sessions.
His flag flew on the Cambridge of 80 guns and then again on the St. George.
He died of a stroke in London while on leave from his command at Plymouth. He was buried at Upwood House near Huntingdonshire.
His wife Mary died Aug. 29, 1811. They had two sons and two daughters. His surviving son, Admiral Sir Richard Hussey-Bickerton, second baronet, was born Oct. 11, 1759 and died Feb. 9, 1832. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. Richard became the 2nd Baronet upon his father’s death, and rose even further in the Navy’s ranks to finish as Admiral of the Red.