KING, Sir Richard, 1st Bt. (1730-1806), of Devonshire Place, Marylebone, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. 10 Aug. 1730, 3rd but 1st surv. s. of Curtis King, master attendant at Woolwich by Mary, da. of Lt. Benjamin Barnett, RN. m. 30 Nov. 1769, Susanna Margaretta, da. of William Coker of Mappowder, Dorset, 1s. 3da. suc. fa. 1745; kntd. 2 June 1784; cr. Bt. 18 July 1792.
Entered RN 1738, lt. 1746, cdr. 1756, capt. 1759, commodore 1779, r.-adm. 1787; gov. Newfoundland 1792-4; v.-adm. 1793; c.-in-c. Plymouth 1794; adm. 1795.
King’s naval career was both distinguished and lucrative.1 In September 1789 he applied to Pitt for a baronetcy ‘in consideration of long and faithful service at sea, and a firm attachment to his Majesty’s person and government’. On 24 June 1790 he applied again from Southampton, adding
My friend Lord Mulgrave has told me you were pleased to approve of my service in India; and my attachment to the present government of this country over which you happily preside, could not be more evident, than appears from my conduct lately, when at the shortest notice of leave of absence from my duty in the Downes, tho’ but a few hours from my bed to which I had been confined by a fever, I repaired to Portsmouth by water for the sole purpose of giving my vote (my interest had been exerted long before) in favour of those candidates, who would support, Sir, your administration; and it being optional in me, which of his Majesty’s vessels I should embark in to carry me to Portsmouth ... I preferred the Wasp, because the captain had a vote for the county, that he might be in a convenient situation to attend the election.2
In 1792 King stood on the Admiralty interest in a by-election at Rochester. He was defeated by Nathaniel Smith, on whose death in 1794 he stepped into the seat unopposed. He had meanwhile obtained the baronetcy. He had spent ‘almost five thousand pounds’ in the two elections and his election address of 1796 referred to his ‘exertions’ for his constituents, but he made no mark in the House. He had repeatedly applied to Pitt for naval promotion or for the government of Greenwich Hospital early in 1796.3 He was a defaulter on 17 Mar. 1801, but attended on 30 Mar. He declined a contest in 1802. An investor in East India Company stock, he died 27 Nov. 1806, worth about £35,000.4