Sir Thomas Le Hardy

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Sir Thomas Le Hardy was born in Jersey, and descended from Clement Le Hardy, who removed from France and settled in the island and was made a Jurat in 1381.

Early years

He was the son of Jean Le Hardy, Solicitor-General, and Marie Dumaresq. He was the first cousin of Admiral Sir Charles Le Hardy.

He appears to have dropped the 'Le' from his name while in the Navy, becoming known simply as Hardy, probably because it was not thought appropriate to have a French sounding name at a time when Britain was at war with France.

Thomas entered the Navy under the patronage of Admiral Churchill, who procured for him a Lieutenant's commission. He successively served off Guernsey and Norway, and soon after the accession of Queen Anne, commanded the "Pembroke", of 60 guns.


After the failure of the expedition to Cadiz, whither he accompanied Sir George Rooke, he happily, through the vigilance and tact of his chaplain, Mr Beauvoir, became the principal cause of the important success at Vigo, at which Sir George Rooke was so highly pleased that he chose him to be the bearer of the despatches concerning it to England, and in consequence of which he was knighted, received a reward of one thousand pounds, and was promoted to the "Bedford," of 70 guns, in which he accompanied Sir Cloudesley Shovel to the Mediterranean, and the next year was in the expedition under Sir George Rooke, in which he distinguished himself at the battle off Malaga.

In the early part of 1706, he served under Sir Stafford Fairbarne, whom he attended in his expedition to the River Charente, and afterwards in the more successful one against Ostend. In the latter part of the same year. Sir Thomas was appointed as Commodore in command of a small squadron to protect our Channel trade, where he was fortunate enough to capture a very mischievous privateer, of 20 guns. In the July of the next year, he was ordered to escort to a given latitude, and under certain restrictions, the outward bound Lisbon fleet. His conduct in the execution of these orders excited against him much popular clamour, which, however, did not in the smallest degree affect his reputation.

Abbey monument

He was subsequently employed in various commands, and was promoted, in 1710-11, to be Rear-Admiral of the Blue, and continued in active service until 1715, after which he does not appear to have been in command, but died in retirement in 1732. A monument to his memory exists on the south side of the great entrance in Westminster Abbey, and is here engraved by gift of the Rev Clement Le Hardy, Rector of St Peter. The Right-Hon Sir Charles Hardy commenced his Naval career with services in the German Ocean, the West Indies, and the Baltic. After which, he was stationed in the Mediterranean, in command of the "Stirling Castle," under Admiral Hopson and Sir Charles Wager.

He returned to England with the latter, in April 1728, and was, in the same month, in 1742, promoted to be Rear-Admiral of the Blue, just before which promotion he received the honour of knighthood. In December 1743, he was further promoted to be Vice-Admiral of the Blue, and, in the same month, was appointed one of the Commissioners of the Admiralty. Early in 1744, he was sent to command a squadron of eleven ships of the line, ordered to the Mediterranean, to convoy a considerable number of victuallers and store ships for the relief of the fleet in that sea.

From contrary winds, however, they were detained at Lisbon, where they were blockaded by the French, until relieved in July by Admiral Batchen, who proceeded with him to Gibraltar. During his absence, in June 1744, he was advanced to the rank of Vice-Admiral of the Red, which promotion he did not long survive, dying in November in the same year, with the universal reputation of being a truly honourable and just man.

From the Westminster Abbey website

At the west end of the nave of Westminster Abbey is a monument to Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy. The Admiral is shown in Roman armour reclining on a sarcophagus and at his feet are putto weeping beside an urn. The cartouche of arms was lowered when the present traceried niche was created above the monument. It was designed by Sir Henry Cheere in 1737 as a match for that to John Conduitt, which is on the other side of the west door.

Sir Thomas was buried with his wife in the middle aisle of the nave near the Quire door but there was no room near it for the monument. Nicholas Hawksmoor, the Abbey's Surveyor, had objected to its position and recommended it be placed in the south transept instead. The Dean and Chapter had objected to a paragraph in the original inscription so it is assumed that was not put on the monument. The inscription reads:

"Near the west door of the Choir lieth interr'd the body of Sr Thomas Hardy Knt who died the 16 of August 1732 in the 67 year of his life and according to the directions of his will was buried in the same grave with his wife, who died the 28 of April 1720. He was born in Jersey and descended from Clement Le Hardy who removed from France and settled in that island, and was made a Justice (commonly call'd there a Jurat) in 1381, and was succeeded in the same office by his son and grandson: his great grandson Clement was made a Leiutenant Governor, and had the office of Bailiff (or cheif magistrate) of the island, with the Seigneurie de Meleche confer'd upon him for life by Henry the 7, as a reward for the most important service he had rendered him when Earl of Richmond, after the disappointment he had met with in his first attempt upon England, where being separated from the rest of his fleet by a storm he landed privately in Jersey, intending to stay there till he could obtain leave from the French king to come into his dominions, and was shelter'd at the house of the said Clement, who protected him and convey'd him safely to Normandy at the hazard of his own life, notwithstanding a proclamation from Richard the 3 for apprehending the said Earl, had been publish'd in the island; his descendants have on all occasions distinguish'd themselves to the utmost of their power by thier loyalty and fidelity to the Crown.
"Sir Thomas Hardy, to whose memory this monument is erected, was bred in the Royal Navy from his youth, and was made a Captain in 1693. In the expedition to Cadiz under Sir George Rook he commanded the Pembrook, and when the fleet left the coast of Spain to return to England, he was order'd to Lagos bay, where he got intelligence of the Spanish galeons being arriv'd in the harbour of Vigo under convoy of 17 French men of war, commanded by Mons.Chateau Renaud, upon which he sail'd immediately in quest of the English fleet and notwithstanding he had been several days separated from it, by his great diligence and judgment he joyn'd it and gave the Admiral that intelligence which engag'd him to make the best of his way to Vigo, where all the forementioned galeons and men of war were either taken or destroy'd. After the success of that action, the Admiral sent him with an account of it to the Queen who order'd him a considerable present and knighted him; some years afterwards he was made a Rear Admiral and receeiv'd several other marks of favour and esteem from Her Majesty, and from Her Royal Consort Prince George of Denmark, Lord High Admiral of England.
"He married Constance, daughter of Colonel Hook, Leiutenant Governor of Plymouth, a lady of great virtue and merit, by whom he had several children, three of which surviv'd him, a son and two daughters; the eldest married to George Chamberlayne of Wardington in the county of Oxford, the son and youngest daughter unmarried".

From A Biographical Dictionary of Jersey, George Balleine

Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Le Hardy (1666-1732) was the son of Jean Le Hardy, Solicitor-General, and Marie, daughter of Richard Dumaresq. He was born in St Martin in 1666, and baptised in St Martin's Church, Sir Thomas Morgan, Governor. and Thomas Jermyn, Lieut-Governor, being his godfathers.

He entered the Navy, says Charnock, "under the patronage of Admiral Churchill, to whom he is said to have been cleric, who procured him to be appointed a Lieutenant". At the Battle of Cape Barfleur in 1692 he was First Lieutenant on the St Andrew, commanded by George Churchill. In the following year he was given command of the Charles, fireship, from which he was transferred to the Swallow Prize, stationed at Guernsey to protect the Channel Islands.

In September 1695 he was appointed commander of the Pendennis. In the great naval reductions that followed the Peace of Ryswick (1697) he escaped being put on half pay, and in 1698 was given the Deal Castle, in 1701 the Coventry, and in 1702 the Pembroke.

Property sale

In 1700 he sold all his Jersey property to Charles Le Hardy and Charles Dumaresq.

In 1702 war broke out again with France over the succession to the Spanish throne, and the Pembroke was part of the great fleet sent to capture Cadiz. When this attack failed, Le Hardy was ordered to protect some transports which stopped at Lagos for water. Here Beauvoir, Le Hardy's Chaplain, a fellow-Jerseyman, went ashore. The French Consul, mistaking him for Frenchman, boasted to him that the Spanish Plate-fleet, the richest that had ever left the Main, had evaded the British, and slipped safely into Vigo Bay. Beauvoir verified this, and collected further details, and carried the news to Le Hardy, who weighed at once, and, though the main fleet had had two days start, and its destination was unknown, "though the head of his ship was loose, which endangered his mast, his ship leaky, and himself and his men reduced to two biscuits a day, notwithstanding the pressing instances of his men to bear away for England" (Charnock), he overtook it.

Sir George Rooke, the Admiral, steered at once for Vigo, burst the boom, and destroyed the whole treasure fleet. Some of the spoil had been landed, but 13 million pieces-of-eight fell into British hands. After the battle Rooke sent for Le Hardy, and asked him whether he knew that he was liable to be shot for leaving without permission the transports at Lagos. He replied: "I should be unworthy to hold my commission if I held my life as anything, when the interest of my country requires me to hazard it".

Rooke then gave him the honour of carrying the news to Queen Anne, who knighted him, and presented him with 1,000 guineas. In January 1705 he was given command of the Bedford, in which he took part in the drawn Battle of Malaga (1704)- losing 74 killed and wounded. In December he was appointed to the Kent, in which he saw plenty of active service. In July 1707 he was ordered to escort 200 sail outward-bound for Lisbon. They sighted six enemy ships, but Hardy, thinking his duty lay with his convoy, did not attack. For this he was court-martialled, but honourably acquitted, and Sir John Leake, President of the court-martial, selected him to be First Captain of his flagship, the Albemarle.


The jealousy often caused in the Navy by promotion is illustrated by a paragraph in the Life of Captain Stephen Martin, written by his son. Martin had hoped to become First Captain. but was only made Second Captain under Hardy. Whereupon his son wrote:

"Sir Thomas was disagreeable to him and most unqualified for that post. He had been raised by Admiral Churchill from being Captain's Clerk to be a Captain, at which time he was so wholly ignorant he did not know one rope from another. What little experience he got, after he was made Captain, served only to make his ignorance more conspicuous. To these disqualifications were added the most unhappy disposition, wholly composed of pride and ill-nature, which he showed by his outward behaviour and by a inalicious grin ever upon his countenance. It was impossible to live a day with him without observing many ill-natured actions, ever being full of flaring taunts not to be endured by men of spirit. Add to all this he was a coward, having no sense of honour, though he had received the honour of knighthood, not for good behaviour but for being the messenger of our success at Vigo".

His critics were not satisfied. They challenged the verdict of the courtmatial in the House of Commons and in the House of Lords, which appointed a committee of inquiry. This reported that "he had fully justified himself and done his duty in every respect".

In 1708 he was appointed to the Royal Sovereign, from which he was transferred to the Russell. In May 1710 he was elected an Elder Brother of Trinity House. In January 1711 he was promoted Rear-Admiral of the Blue, and given the task of blockading the privateers in Dunkirk. In April he was returned as MP for Weymouth. In 1712, in ignorance of the fact that peace negotiations were in progress, he fought and captured six French vessels off Finisterre, only to find that Marlborough had fallen, a truce had been made, and therefore they could not be reckoned as prizes.


In 1715 he was Second-in-command of the fleet sent to the Baltic to intimidate Sweden. But after the Jacobite rising of 1715 all officers suspected of sympathy with the Pretender were dismissed, and he was one of the victims. It is said that he was reinstated later, and promoted Admiral of the Red; but, if so, it was on a reserved list, for his name does not appear in the list of flag-officers of 1727. He died on 16 August 1732, and was buried in Westminster Abbey, where there is a pretentious monument to his memory on the south side of the west door. He married Constance, daughter of Col Henry Hock (Hook?), Lieut-Governor of Plymouth, and three children survived him, Thomas, Charlotte, and Constance.

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