SAUNDERS, Sir Charles (c.1713-75), of Hambledon, Hants.
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Family and Education
b. c.1713, s. of James Saunders of Bridgwater, Som. m. 26 Sept. 1751, a da. of James Buck, London banker, s.p. cr. K.B. 16 May 1761.
Entered R.N. 1727; lt. 1734; capt. 1741; r.-adm. 1756; v.-adm. 1759; adm. 1770.
Treasurer of Greenwich Hospital 1754-66; comptroller of the navy 1755-6; ld. of Admiralty July 1765-Aug. 1766; P.C. 10 Sept. 1766; first ld. of Admiralty Aug.-Dec. 1766.
Saunders sailed round the world with Anson 1742-4, and became one of his closest friends and most trusted followers. His most notable naval service was performed in 1759, when he commanded the fleet at the taking of Quebec. His political importance belongs to George III’s reign. After Anson’s death in 1761 he became patron of Hedon, and through his friend Augustus Keppel, was drawn into the Opposition group round the Duke of Cumberland. He voted against the Grenville Administration over general warrants 15 and 18 Feb. 1764, was a member of Wildman’s Club, and was classed by Newcastle as a ‘sure friend’, 10 May 1764. In the Rockingham Administration he was appointed to the Admiralty Board and agreed to serve on under Chatham. In August 1766 Chatham appointed him first lord, over the heads of several senior admirals, some of whom were Members of Parliament. ‘Those who know him think him very unequal to that high station’, wrote Lord Harcourt to Jenkinson on 26 Aug.; while Walpole describes him as ‘a most gallant, but weak man’.1
In December 1766 he resigned, with others of the Rockingham group, over Lord Edgcumbe’s dismissal. He is included in Rockingham’s list, 31 Mar. 1767, of ‘friends without whom he would take no step’;2 and henceforth, with Lord Albemarle and Keppel, remained one of Rockingham’s closest and most faithful followers. He spoke occasionally in the House, mostly on naval matters: on 17 Nov. 1768, he criticized British policy towards Corsica and said ‘it would be better to have gone to war with France than let them have Corsica’;3 and on 13 Nov. and 12 Dec. 1770 complained of British naval unpreparedness against Spain.
In 1774 Saunders was an absentee candidate at Great Yarmouth, nominated by the party opposed to the corporation, but was defeated. He died 7 Dec. 1775. Sir Hugh Palliser was one of his trustees, and to Keppel he bequeathed £5,000 and an annuity of £1,200.