TROUBRIDGE, Sir Thomas, 1st. Bt. (c.1758-1807), of Asher, nr. Plymouth, Devon.
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Family and Education
b. c.1758, o.s. of Richard Troubridge, baker, of Temple Bar, London and Cavendish Street, Mdx. by Elizabeth (?née Squinch of Marylebone), afterwards successively Mrs Smith and Mrs Freame. educ. St. Paul’s sch. 1768-73. m. 20 Dec. 1787, Frances, da. of Capt. John Northall, wid. of ‘Governor’ Richardson of Marylebone, 1s. 1da. surv. cr. Bt. 23 Nov. 1799.
Able seaman RN 1773, midshipman 1774, master’s mate 1776, lt. 1781, capt. 1783; col. marines 1801-4; r-adm. 1804; jt. c.-in-c. E. Indies 1805; c.-in-c. Cape of Good Hope 1807.
Ld. of Admiralty Feb. 1801-May 1804.
Troubridge was ‘a true sailor ... risen merely by dint of his own merits’.1 He was a shipmate, on entering the navy, of Horatio Nelson.2 He served in the East Indies until 1785 and again from 1790. Taken prisoner by the French in 1794 while serving with the Channel fleet, he was recaptured and served in the Mediterranean under Sir John Jervis, who commended him for his gallantry at Cape St. Vincent in 1797. He subsequently served under Nelson, not without misfortune until in 1799 he drove the French from Naples. For this, on Nelson’s recommendation for ‘some mark of his Majesty’s favour’, he received a baronetcy. He was serving in the Channel fleet under Lord St. Vincent when in 1801 he became an Admiralty commissioner in Addington’s administration. St. Vincent described him as ‘the best officer we have’ and undertook to find a seat in Parliament for him.3
St. Vincent sent Troubridge to canvass Yarmouth as second string to his own kinsman Thomas Jervis in October 1801. As his aim was a compromise, rather than a contest, Troubridge kept his options open and there were reports of his standing at Plymouth, where he was sent in December 1801 to deal with mutinous sailors, or even at Westminster. When St. Vincent found a compromise at Yarmouth out of the question, it was too late to withdraw Troubridge, and Addington was left to make what arrangements he could to avert a contest. There was none.4
On 10 Mar. 1803 with the ‘ghost of war’ looming, Thomas Grenville reported:
The town is full this morning of a report that Troubridge was in the City early on Monday morning, and sold out £40,000. His knowledge of the intended press, makes this so disgraceful a charge, that I heartily wish it were not true, but I have heard it so strongly asserted by those who say they know it of their own knowledge, that I fear it is too true.5
Oblique reference was made to the charge in debate by John Dent, and on 16 Mar. Troubridge’s colleague Markham got up on his behalf to refute it. He cited a letter published by Troubridge’s broker to the effect that he had absolute discretion to dispose of his client’s holdings in the stock on any fall, as Troubridge’s investment was destined for the purchase of an estate, though he had not so far completed a purchase. Markham insisted that Troubridge was ‘spotless’ and moved for a committee of inquiry: after explanations from Dent and Addington, the matter was dropped.
Troubridge was promoted to rear-admiral during the last week of Addington’s ministry. He had spoken only once in the House (29 Feb. 1804). He was listed Addingtonian in May and September 1804, having opposed Pitt’s additional force bill in June. Thereafter he made no mark at Westminster. In April 1805 he was appointed to the command of the East Indies and went out there, but Sir Edward Pellew objected to their sharing the station and Troubridge was awarded the command at the Cape instead. Leaving Madras in high dudgeon, against the advice that his ship the Blenheim was no longer seaworthy, he was lost at sea in a cyclone off Madagascar, 1 Feb. 1807.
Asked by Lord Eldon how he could pick out a mutinous sailor, Troubridge replied, ‘whenever I see a fellow look as if he was thinking, I say that’s mutiny’. His rival complained to Lord Chatham of Troubridge’s, ‘violence of party, and scurrilous abuse of persons of the highest rank’ and claimed that he embarked on his fateful voyage ‘saying he should return in six months to supersede me’.6
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: R. G. Thorne
- 1. J. Wilson, Biog. Index (1806), 551; Ralphe, Naval Biog. iv. 397; DNB .
- 2. For their corresp., see Add. 34902, 34906-17.
- 3. Geo. III Corresp. iii. 2357; Spencer Pprs. (Navy Recs. Soc. lviii), iii. 90; D. M. Stuart, Dearest Bess, 90.
- 4. St. Vincent Letters (Navy Recs. Soc. lv), 374; (lxi), 93-96; Geo. III Corresp. iii. 2570; R. Cornw. Gazette, 19 June 1802.
- 5. Buckingham, Court and Cabinets, iii. 254.
- 6. Lord Eldon’s Anecdote Bk. 26; PRO 30/8/366, ff. 222, 224.