Admiral Thomas Mathews (1676-1751)

British admiral with a Welsh father from a long establish Glamorgan family and an English mother. Mathews entered the navy in 1690, and rose to be captain of his own ship in 1703. By 1722 he had risen to command of a squadron against pirates in the East Indies, but in 1724 he retired from active service, aged 48. In 1736 he was appointed commissioner of the navy at Chatham, and in 1742 he was created vice-admiral of the red. His return to active service during the War of the Austrian Succession was not a success. In 1742 he was plenipotentiary to the king of Sardinia and the Italian states, and when the admiral in command in the Mediterranean retired, Mathews, then aged 66 he was appointed commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean with orders to prevent the French and Spanish fleets leave Toulon. Unfortunately, he was barely on speaking terms with his second in command, Richard Lestock. In 1744, the combined fleet left Toulon. Mathews, with a slightly larger fleet quickly caught them, but the ensuing battle of Toulon (11 February 1744) was a failure. Lestock refused to obey Mathews' orders, claiming not to have understood them, and the French and Spanish were able to escape without suffering serious damage. After the battle, Mathews resigned, but public outrage lead to a court martial, which lasted from 1745-7. Both Mathews and Lestock, along with nine of their captains and four lieutenants were on trial. Despite being most to blame, Lestock was honourably aquitted (although he died in 1746), while Mathews was dismissed, although as he had already resigned this was of little personal conseqence, and he considered the result to have be due to parliamentary faction rather than the facts of the case.
How to cite this article: Rickard, J. (8 January 2001), Admiral Thomas Mathews,

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