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National Maritime Museum

Graves, Thomas, Admiral 1st Baron Graves (1725-1802)


Reference code(s): GB 0064 GRV/101-120

Held at: National Maritime Museum

Title: Graves, Thomas, Admiral 1st Baron Graves (1725-1802)

Date(s): [1742-1804]

Level of description: sub-fonds

Extent: 2ft; 62cm

Name of creator(s): Graves | Thomas | 1725-1802 | 1st Baron Graves | Admiral


Administrative/Biographical history:

Graves was the second son of Rear-Admiral Thomas Graves and first cousin to Admiral Samuel Graves (1713-1787) He was with his father in the NORFOLK at the attack on Cartagena in 1741 and went with him to the Mediterranean and transferred into the MARLBOROUGH in 1742. In 1743 he was appointed Lieutenant of the ROMNEY and was present at the action off Toulon in February 1744. In 1746 he was in the PRINCESSA at the attack on L'Orient and he then served in the MONMOUTH under Anson and Hawke in the Channel. Between 1751 and 1754 he made two voyages to Africa. In 1754 he was given command of the HAZARD in home waters. He was made a captain in 1755 and appointed to the Sheerness, but in 1757 was court-martialled for refusing an engagement with an enemy ship, which appeared to be of superior force, and sentenced to be reprimanded. Graves was appointed to the UNICORN in 1758 and served in the Channel under Anson and Rodney. In 1761, as Captain of the ANTELOPE, he was Governor and Commander-in-Chief, Newfoundland. On his arrival he found there had been a French invasion and he organized a relief expedition which drove them from the island. On his return home he was made Captain of the TEMERAIRE in 1764 and in 1765 was sent to the west coast of Africa to investigate charges of maladministration in the British forts. He served as Member of Parliament for East Looe, January to May, 1775. In 1778 he commanded the CONQUEROR in North America and the West Indies, returning home the next year on his promotion to rear-admiral when he served as second-in-command of the Channel Fleet. He was sent to America as Commander-in-Chief in 1780 and led the British fleet at the action off the Chesapeake in March 1781 which resulted in the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. Graves sailed for home from the West Indies in 1782 but lost several ships in a storm He was made a vice-admiral in 1787 and in 1788 Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth. He hoisted his flag in the CAMBRIDGE in 1790. In 1793 he was appointed second-in-command of the Channel Fleet under Lord Howe. He was promoted to admiral in 1794. He was raised to the Irish peerage for his part in the battle of the First of June 1794 but received a wound which forced him to give up his command and he saw no further service.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Adml Thomas Graves including logs, 1742 to 1744, 1746 to 1748 and 1779 to 1782; a letterbook, 1793 to 1794; order books, 1788 to 1793; a book of sailing directions with some orders, 1755 to 1756; letters and a volume on courts martial, 1771 to 1780 and 1786 to 1787. There are some loose papers which relate to Graves' court martial and to his Governorship of Newfoundland. The latter contain some documents on hydrographic surveys, among which is a letter of 1764 to Graves from Captain James Cook (1728-1779). There are also some commissions, official letters and drafts, 1764 to 1767, 1777 to 1782, a few private letters, 1782 to 1797 and a biography of Graves up to 1790. Some papers of Admiral Sir Thomas Graves (c 1747-1814), another cousin of Lord Graves, are also in the collection. They are orders received as Captain of the Savage, North American Station, 1779 to 1781, and official letters received, 1800 to 1804.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Finding aids:

Detailed catalogue online at the: National Maritime Museum website .


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The papers were purchased from the family in 1931 and 1932.



Archivist's note: Edited by Sarah Drewery, Jun 2011.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: 2010-08-26

Hydrographic surveying | Surveying
Naval operations | Military operations | Military engineering
Ships | Vehicles | Transport
Ships logs | Primary documents | Documents | Information sources
Administration of justice

Personal names
Cook | James | 1728-1779 | Captain RN | Explorer
Graves | Sir | Thomas | c 1747-1814 | Knight | Admiral
Graves | Thomas | 1725-1802 | 1st Baron Graves | Admiral

Corporate names
Royal Navy

Newfoundland | Canada | North America