HARDY, Sir Thomas (1666-1732).
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. 13 Sept. 1666, s. of John le Hardy, solicitor-gen. of Jersey. m. Constance (d. 1720), da. of Col. Henry Hook, lt.-gov. of Plymouth, Devon, 1s. 2da. Kntd. 31 Oct. 1702.1
Lt. RN by May 1692, capt. 1693, r.-adm. 1711.
Sheriff, Dorset 1695–6.
Elder bro. Trinity House 1710–d., warden 1713, master 1729–31.2
Hardy was descended from an old Jersey family, both his father and grandfather having served as solicitors-general of the island. He entered the navy under the patronage of George Churchill*, brother of the future Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†). In May 1692 Hardy was first lieutenant of Churchill’s ship at the battle of Barfleur, and the following year was given his own command. In 1702, his Jersey contacts were instrumental in providing Sir George Rooke* with the intelligence which led to the destruction of the Franco-Spanish fleet anchored off Vigo. Hardy was selected to carry the news to England and on his arrival was knighted and presented with £1,000. He remained on active service, mainly in the Mediterranean, and took part in the battle of Malaga.3
On 27 Aug. 1707 Hardy, while on escort duty off Land’s End, sighted six French ships. In accordance with his instructions he abandoned the convoy under his protection and gave pursuit. But after several hours he called a council of war, which decided unanimously to leave the chase and rejoin the convoy. On his return to England Hardy was court-martialled for failure to engage the enemy. Although he was acquitted, the charge was taken up by Parliament as part of the Junto-inspired attack on the Admiralty. Hardy, as the protégé of George Churchill, made a particularly tempting target. On 22 Nov. the Commons ordered the papers of his court martial to be laid before the committee of the whole on the state of the navy, but Hardy’s accusers found this material unsuitable for their purposes and allowed the debate to be adjourned and then dropped. The Lords pursued the matter more searchingly (adding the charge that he had refused convoy to a merchant ship from Plymouth to Portsmouth), but he was still exonerated. Meanwhile, the patronage of Churchill had brought about Hardy’s appointment as first captain of the Mediterranean squadron under Sir John Leake*. He served in this capacity, mainly in the Mediterranean, until promoted rear-admiral in January 1711.4
Hardy entered Parliament at a by-election for Weymouth in April 1711, being seated on petition in May. His naval duties prevented him taking much part in the proceedings of the House. He was considered but passed over for the command of the expedition to Quebec. Hardy’s last notable action was the capture of several French ships off Ushant in August 1712, but because this took place during a cessation of hostilities before the conclusion of peace, the vessels were released on payment of a nominal sum. On 18 June Hardy voted for the French commerce bill. He was defeated at Weymouth in the 1713 election, but again seated on petition. His only significant committee nomination was on a matter of professional interest: the drafting of a bill to offer a reward for the discovery of an accurate method for determining longitude. The Worsley list classified him as a Tory. In 1715 he was second-in-command to Sir John Norris* in the Baltic fleet, but on his return was dismissed, perhaps, like several other officers removed at this time, on suspicion of Jacobitism. Hardy died on 16 Aug. 1732 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.5
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Paula Watson
- 1. DNB; Westminster Abbey Reg. (Harl. Soc. x), 299.
- 2. W. R. Chaplin, Trinity House, 18, 64; HMC 8th Rep. i. 236.
- 3. DNB; Charnock, Biog. Navalis, iii. 17–32; Navy Recs. Soc. ix. 227–8, 235; Cal. Treas. Bks. xviii. 522–3; Dalrymple, Mems. iii(3), p. 276; Boyer, Anne Annals, i. 127–9, 137.
- 4. Charnock, 17–32; HMC Lords, n.s. vii. 100, 103, 105–7, 110, 178, 196–8, 221–2, 225–6; Boyer, vi. 301, 317–22, app. 86.
- 5. Navy Recs. Soc. xciv. 14, 16; Bolingbroke Corresp. iii. 125.