Philippe Carteret RN

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HMS Royal James catches fire at Solebay in 1672, taking the life of Lieut Carteret

Sir Philippe Carteret 1642-1672 Lieutenant RN


This member of the distinguished de Carteret family, the son of Sir George Carteret and his wife Elizabeth, is renowned for the manner of his death and his appearances in the famous diary of Samuel Pepys.

Born in Jersey in 1642 and baptised at Elizabeth Castle, Philippe married Jemima Montagu, daughter of Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich, in an arranged marriage on 31 July 1665. Samuel Pepys had a hand in the marriage and wrote of it at some length in his diary. Jemima had only known of Philip some 14 days before their marriage. They had four children, including George Carteret, 1st Baron Carteret; Philip, a Captain in the Royal Marines, and Edward, Postmaster General.

Knighted in 1667, he became Gentleman of the Kings Chamber in 1670. Philip was elected Fellow of the Royal Society on the 15th February 1665. He died, aged 30, along with his father-in-law the Earl of Sandwich when their ship, the Prince Royal, was grappeled by a Dutch fire ship in the Battle of Solebay.


Philippe entered the Navy after the Restoration in 1660 and was Lieutenant on the Dover, Plymouth, 'Foresight and Royal Oak.

Samuel Pepys

Diarist Samuel Pepys played matchmaker to bring Carteret and his wife together. He was very friendly with the Earl of Sandwich's household and had acted as a benevolent 'uncle' to his 19-year-old daughter Jemimah. As Clerk of the Acts of the Navy, Pepys' superior was Treasurer of the Navy Sir George Carteret.

Pepys wrote of his visit to Lady Sandwich on 3 February 1665:

"She discoursed largely to me of a match, if it could be thought fit by my Lord, for my Lady Jemimah with Sir G Carteret's eldest son. I doubt he hath yet no settled estate in land; but I will inform myself, and give her my opinion".

After meeting Lord Sandwich on 23 June, Pepys wrote:

"He did tell me how much concerned he was to dispose of his children, and would have my advice and help. He propounded to match my Lady Jamimah to Sir G Carteret's eldest son, which I approved of, and did undertake the speaking with him about it as from myself."

The following day he recorded:

"To Sir G Carteret, and in the best manner I could I moved the business. He received it with great content and thanks to me, and promised he would do what he possibly could for his son to render him fit for my Lord's daughter."

And the next day:

"I again visited Sir G Carteret, and received his (and now his lady's) full consent to my proposal. My Lord Sandwich did direct me to return to Sir George, and give him thanks for his acceptance of the offer, and that he would next day be willing to discourse with him about the business. My Lord, I perceive, intends to give £5,000 with her, and expects about £800 jointure".

On 2 July he returned to the subject:

"Sir George did send me word that the business is fully agreed on, and is mightily liked by the King and the Duke of York."

The intended marriage partners had not met at this stage. Pepys wrote of his meeting with Philippe Carteret:

"I took occasion to have much discourse with Mr Ph Carteret, and find him a very modest man, and I think verily of mighty good nature and pretty understanding. Mr Carteret is to go to visit her tomorrow. My proposal of waiting on him (he being to go alone to persons all strangers to him) was well accepted. So I go with him".

The saga continued on 15 July:

"Mr Carteret and I to the ferry at Greenwich. Lord! what silly discourse we had as to love-matters, he being the most awkward man I ever met in my life as to that business. To supper, and after supper to talk again, he taking no notice of the lady. So they led him to his chamber, where I stayed a little to know how he liked the lady, which he told me he did mightily, but, Lord, in the dullest insipid manner ever lover did. Having trimmed myself , down to Mr Carteret. I taught him what to do, to take the lady always by the hand to lead her, and that he should make these and these compliments. Before we went, I took my Lady Jem apart, and would hnow how she liked this gentleman. She blushed, and answered that she could readily obey what her father and mother had done".

They were married on 31 July in Deptford Church. Pepys was late for the ceremony but caught up with events afterwards:

"I got into the bridegroom's chamber, while he underessed, till he was called to the bride's chamber, and into bed they went. I kissed the bride in bed, and so the curtains drawn with the greatest gravity".

On 13 April 1667 Philippe was knighted by the King at Whitehall and the two families bought him and his wife a fine house at Hawnes in Bedfordshire for £25,000. It was from this estate that Philippe's son George later took the title Baron Carteret of Hawnes.

To war

In 1672 war again broke out with Holland and Carteret rejoined the fleet as Lieutenant on his father-in-law's flagship Royal James . The two fleets clashed on 28 May and during the battle the Royal James was grappled by a fireship, caught fire from stem to stern, and Carteret and Earl Sandwich last their lives.

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