HAMOND, Sir Andrew Snape, 1st Bt. (1738-1828), of Holly Grove, Berks.
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Family and Education
b. 28 Dec. 1738, o.s. of Robert Hamond, shipowner, of Blackheath, Kent by Susanna, da. and h. of Robert Snape of Limekilns, nr. Blackheath, niece of Dr Andrew Snape, provost of King’s Coll. Camb. m. (1) ?; (2) 8 Mar. 1779, Anne, da. and h. of Henry Graeme of Hanwell Heath, Mdx., former gov. St. Helena, 1s. 1da. cr. Bt. 10 Dec. 1783 for services as capt. of the Roebuck in 1778.
Entered RN 1753, lt. 1759, cdr. 1765, capt. 1770; gov. Nova Scotia and c.-in-c. Halifax 1780-3; c.-in-c. Nore 1785-88.
Commr. resident, Halifax Dec. 1780-Dec. 1784; commr. navy board Feb. 1793-Mar. 1794, dep. comptroller Mar.-Sept. 1794, comptroller Sept. 1794-Mar. 1806.
Lt.-col. Somerset Place vols. 1803, commdt. 1804-7.
Hamond came to the navy board after a long and successful career at sea. He first applied for this position to Lord North in February 1789, a political miscalculation; but his practical experience and contacts in both government and naval circles augured well for his eventual success,1 just as they facilitated his return to Parliament for Ipswich in 1796. Recommended by the Treasury, he headed the poll. He subscribed £1,500 to the loyalty loan for 1797 and voted for the bonus to subscribers, 1 June, as also for Pitt’s assessed taxes, 4 Jan. 1798. In February 1799 he was a commissioner in the joint conference of the Houses on the Irish union. St. Vincent acknowledged his ‘knowledge and experience’ and Pitt, in the financial crisis of 1797, accepted his plan to reform the naval estimate system, which he himself explained to the House on 10 June 1801.2 But Hamond was at the head of a department already under criticism. The relations between the civil departments of the navy and the Admiralty had been strained before the French revolutionary war, and wartime demands only exacerbated the situation. St. Vincent complained in 1797 that the ‘civil branch of the navy is rotten to the very core’ and a year later the finance committee declared that an inquiry was urgent.3 The Peace of Amiens and the Addington government, with St. Vincent at the Admiralty, gave the necessary opportunity.
Initially relations between Hamond and St. Vincent were cordial. St. Vincent rented Hamond’s house in Fulham, they dined together and were agreed on the need for reform. A revolt in the Plymouth dockyards in 1801 and subsequent accusations of fraud provided the opportunity for first a local, then a general inquiry. This was begun by the navy board but taken over by the Admiralty on the grounds that the junior board was too partial. A paper war ensued between the two boards, but relations between St. Vincent and Hamond remained friendly until December 1802 when the extent of the frauds revealed by the inquiry compelled Hamond to defend the integrity of the navy board against attacks in the Commons. George Rose*, an old friend, considered Hamond to be ‘acting with coolness, discretion and judgment’, but St. Vincent, much incensed, quickly found an excuse for closing his private correspondence with the comptroller. The rift between the boards caused comment in the House, which on 16 June 1803 drove Hamond to declare that ‘it was impossible to go on as things now stood’; an indiscretion which he modified in a later speech to ‘the navy board was not thought so well of by the present Admiralty as by their predecessors’.4
The personal animosity of the two men and the official differences between the boards were brought to a crisis by the fiasco known as the stone ships expedition, an ill-organized attempt to block the entrance to Boulogne harbour.5 Hamond, on the instructions of Lord Hobart, supplied the necessary funds from the naval moneys on the understanding that these would ultimately be reimbursed by the Treasury. St. Vincent, then a sick man living in the country, was fully informed of the scheme without apparently understanding its financial aspect. The internal dissensions in the naval administration prevented any full discussion until the 11th report of the commission of naval inquiry dealing with the money ‘impressed by the navy board for secret naval services’ revealed that the expedition had cost over £16,000. The report implied that the fault lay with the comptroller, who had neglected to inform the first lord of the Admiralty of the transaction. The storm arose in Parliament just at the time when Addington’s government was falling and the opposition took full advantage of it. St Vincent, fearing that his reforms might be jeopardized, disingenuously denied all knowledge of the financial side of the question. Hamond, in speeches of 29 Apr. and 2 May 1805 laid before the House correspondence which disproved this, although he admitted that ‘there might be some irregularities under a department so wide and extensive as that over which the navy board presided’ and asked for a further inquiry.
If Hamond in the Commons carefully avoided any direct reflection on St. Vincent’s character, the first lord in the Upper House had no such qualms. He referred, 24 May 1805, to the ‘gross abuse’ that Hamond had permitted and hoped for his ‘ignominious dismissal’ along with his companions since, except for Markham, ‘there is not one member who does his duty to the public or is competent to his office’. That very day Hamond was being examined in committee about another naval scandal implicating Lord Melville. (He had voted against the censure on him, 8 Apr.) With all hope of exculpating himself dashed by the prorogation, 12 July 1805, and subsequently by the death of Pitt, Hamond resigned office on the advent of the Grenville ministry. Writing to Grey, 3 Feb. 1806, he explained that he had notified Lord Barham of his ‘anxious desire for retirement’ a fortnight before, but Pitt’s illness prevented him from sending in his ‘final resignation’. He now did so and asked for £500 p.a. of his pension to be continued to Lady Hamond if she survived him.6
It was thought that he might remain in the running at Ipswich at the next election but he was secretly prepared to cede his interest to George Canning. A canvass in July was followed by his withdrawal before the poll. He had voted against the Grenville ministry on their repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr., and against their American intercourse bill, 17 June 1806, the day after Viscount Howick had ironically observed in the House that as Hamond had resigned office from indisposition, he was glad to see that he was well enough to attend. In the same debate it emerged that Hamond had been granted three-quarters of his salary for his long service. (His salary had been raised to £2,000 in 1801.)
Hamond’s character seems to have survived the attacks on it and long before his death at the age of 90 he was considered a venerable counsellor by younger statesmen and something of a popular hero by a public who remembered him chiefly as the gallant captain of the American war.7 He died 12 Oct. 1828.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: Winifred Stokes
- 1. Wentworth Woodhouse mun. F115/43-5.
- 2. St. Vincent Letters (Navy Recs. Soc. lxi), 187; PRO 30/8/141, ff. 227-33.
- 3. W. Laird Clowes, The Royal Navy, v. 5.
- 4. J. S. Tucker, Mems. of Adm. St. Vincent, ii. 141 seq.; Debrett (ser. 4), i. 375-6; Add. 42772, f. 159; St. Vincent Letters (lxi), 202-3, 39.
- 5. T. McGuffie, EHR, lxiv. (Oct 1949), pp. 489 seq.; PRO, WO 1/184, Stone ships expedition.
- 6. Grey mss.
- 7. Rose Diaries, ii. 356, 418; Add. 38751, f. 142; Annual Biog. (1828), 444-5.