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Thomas Graves, 1st Baron Graves

Thomas Graves, 1st Baron Graves
Born October 23, 1725
Died February 9, 1802(1802-02-09) (aged 76)
Allegiance  Kingdom of Great Britain
Service/branch  Royal Navy
Rank Admiral
Commands held North American Station
Plymouth Command
Battles/wars Seven Years' War
American War of Independence
French Revolutionary Wars

Thomas Graves, 1st Baron Graves KB (23 October 1725 – 9 February 1802) was a British Admiral and colonial official.[1]


  • Naval career 1
  • Family 2
  • See also 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Naval career

Graves was the second son of Rear-Admiral Thomas Graves of Thanckes in Cornwall.[2]

In the first year of the Seven Years' War, Graves failed to confront a French ship which gave challenge.[1] He was tried by court-martial for not engaging his ship, and reprimanded.[1] Graves became Commodore-Governor of Newfoundland in 1761[1] and given the duty of convoying the seasonal fishing fleet from England to the island. In 1762 he learned that French ships had captured St. John's, Newfoundland. Graves, Admiral Alexander Colville and Colonel William Amherst retook the port city.[1]

With the end of the Seven Years' War, Labrador came under his responsibility as French fishing fleets returned to the French Shore and St. Pierre and Miquelon. Graves strictly enforced the treaties to the extent that the French government protested. Graves' governorship ended in 1764. He returned to active service during the American War of Independence and became commander-in-chief of the North American Squadron in 1781[1] when Mariot Arbuthnot returned home.

During the American War of Independence, his fleet was defeated by the Comte de Grasse in the Battle of the Chesapeake at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay on 5 September 1781 leading to the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown. In September 1782, a fleet under his command was caught in a violent storm off the banks of Newfoundland. The captured French ships, Ville de Paris (110 guns) and HMS Glorieux (74 guns) and the British ships HMS Ramillies (74 guns) and HMS Centaur (74 guns) foundered, along with other merchant ships, with the loss of 3,500 lives. In 1786 he became Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth.[1][3]

With the French Revolutionary Wars, Graves was second in command to Admiral Richard Howe at the British victory over the French at the Battle of the Glorious First of June 1794. Graves became a full admiral and was awarded an Irish peerage as Baron Graves, of Gravesend in the County of Londonderry.[4]

He died in February 1802, aged 76, and was succeeded in the barony by his son Thomas.


Lord Graves married Elizabeth, daughter of William Peere Williams, in 1771.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Article by Kenneth Breen, ‘Graves, Thomas, first Baron Graves (1725–1802)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008; accessed 4 June 2008.
  2. ^ Historic Cornwall website: Thanckes estate near Torpoint.
  3. ^ ""Admiral Graves, we hear, will succeed Admiral Milbanke in the Station of Port Admiral at Plymouth"". The Public Advertiser. 22 February 1786. p. 2. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  4. ^ London Gazette no. 13727. p. 1178


  • Kidd, Charles, Williamson, David (editors). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage (1990 edition). New York: St Martin's Press, 1990,
  • Leigh Rayment's Peerage Pages

External links

  • The Governorship of Newfoundland and LabradorBiography at Government House
  • "Thomas Graves, 1st Baron Graves".  
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
John Buller
Sir Charles Whitworth
Member of Parliament for East Looe
With: John Buller
Succeeded by
John Buller
William Graves
Political offices
Preceded by
James Webb
Governor of Newfoundland
Succeeded by
Sir Hugh Palliser
Military offices
Preceded by
Mariot Arbuthnot
Commander-in-Chief, North American Station
Succeeded by
Robert Digby
Preceded by
Mark Milbanke
Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth
Succeeded by
Sir Richard Bickerton
Peerage of Ireland
New creation Baron Graves
Succeeded by
Thomas North Graves
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