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HARDY, Sir CHARLES, naval officer, colonial administrator, and office-holder; b. c. 1714, son of Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Hardy and Elizabeth Burchett; m. July 1749 Mary Tate; m. secondly 4 Jan. 1759 Catherine Stanyan, and they had three sons and two daughters; d. 18 May 1780 at Portsmouth, England.
Charles Hardy entered the Royal Navy in 1731 under his father’s patronage; he was promoted lieutenant six years later and captain in 1741. His early years at sea were spent in American waters; from 1741 to 1743 he served off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia. Appointed governor of Newfoundland on the outbreak of war with France in 1744, Hardy failed to take up his post and was tried by court martial for neglect of duty. He was exonerated, however, after it was shown that he had unsuccessfully battled contrary winds for 63 days before returning to port. The following year, in command of the Torrington, he helped convoy reinforcements from Gibraltar to the newly captured fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island. He served off the coasts of Spain and Portugal from 1746 until the peace in 1748, when he was placed on half-pay.
In 1755 Hardy was knighted and appointed governor of New York. The post became one of considerable importance since, in preparation for war with France, London decided that year to make New York City the arsenal of British arms in North America. A rather self-effacing man, Hardy proved to be an effective governor. He was especially useful to Lord Loudoun, commander-in-chief in North America, who expressed his gratitude for “the assistance and friendship I have met with from him on every occasion.” In the spring of 1757 Hardy suggested that a trade embargo be laid on the British colonies in order to ensure an adequate supply of transports for Loudoun’s planned attack upon Louisbourg and to prevent the French learning of the British plan from captured ships. The embargo affected shipping from Nova Scotia to Virginia and was the cause of many complaints from the business community, probably because it was enforced more effectively than any other embargo in colonial America.
In June Hardy convoyed the transports intended for the siege of Louisbourg to Halifax, Nova Scotia. He had been promoted rear-admiral in 1756, and at Halifax he became second in command to Vice-Admiral Francis Holburne. The presence in Louisbourg harbour of a large French naval force under Comte Dubois de La Motte [Cahideuc*], intelligence about which came in part from Hardy’s observations, led to the cancellation of the expedition. Hardy had advised against it in any case, arguing that the season was too advanced for British ships to keep their stations off Île Royale. His opinion was well founded since in September a hurricane wreaked havoc in Holburne’s fleet cruising off Louisbourg.
In July 1758, as second in command to Vice-Admiral Edward Boscawen*, Hardy took part in the successful siege of Louisbourg and the following month convoyed three regiments under Wolfe* to the Baie de Gaspé and the lower St Lawrence River. The force did considerable damage, burning about 200 fishing boats and numerous stages, storehouses, lines, and nets; the hamlet of Mont-Louis, taken by surprise, was razed. Hardy, however, did not agree with Wolfe’s proposal to sail farther up the river, and he turned back off he du Bic. He was probably fearful of the dangerous navigation and anxious to return to Louisbourg in case he had received orders to sail to England.
From 1759 to 1762 Hardy served in home waters as second in command to Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Hawke and to Boscawen; in November 1759 he participated in Hawke’s celebrated success off Quiberon Bay, France. He was promoted vice-admiral in 1762 and two years later was elected to parliament from Rochester, a seat he held until 1768. In 1771 he was returned for Plymouth and was appointed governor of Greenwich Hospital at £1,000 per annum. Seven years later he became, through seniority, admiral of the fleet.
When Admiral Augustus Keppel resigned the command of the Channel fleet in 1779, no active officer would agree to succeed him, and Hardy was drawn out of his long retirement. His ships were greatly outnumbered by a Franco-Spanish fleet which appeared in the Channel in August and he was forced to retreat, but the enemy neither attacked nor attempted to capture a bridgehead for the 40,000 troops waiting in France to invade England. The following May, on the very day Hardy resumed the command, he was seized “with an inflamation of the bowels (a disorder to which he was much subject) and expired on Thursday (18 May) morning at three o’clock.” In his will he left an annuity of £1,000 to his wife, and his seat at Rawlins, Oxfordshire, to his eldest son.
Huntington Library, Abercromby papers, AB 705; Loudoun papers, LO 3545, LO 4035, LO 4298, LO 5361. N.Y. Hist. Soc. (New York), Sir Charles Hardy papers. PRO, Adm. 1/480, 1/1882–86, 1/5284, 6/15–16; PRO 30/8/95, ff.290–92, 294; Prob. 11/1066, ff.241–46. Horace Walpole’s correspondence . . . , ed. W. S. Lewis et al. (39v. to date, New Haven, Conn., and London, 1937– ), XXV, 48. Johnson papers (Sullivan et al.). The letters and papers of Cadwallader Colden [1711–75] (9v., New York, 1918–37). NYCD (O’Callaghan and Fernow), VI, VII. The private papers of John, Earl of Sandwich, first lord of the Admiralty, 1771–1782, ed. G. R. Barnes and J. H. Owen (4v., London, 1932–38), III, 3–115. DNB. Namier and Brooke, House of Commons, II, 583–84. Pargellis, Lord Loudoun, 265.