About Thomas Graves
Thomas Graves, 1st Baron Graves KB (23 October 1725 – 9 February 1802) was a British Admiral and colonial official.
Graves was the second son of Rear-Admiral Thomas Graves of Thanckes in Cornwall.
In the first year of the Seven Years' War, Graves failed to confront a French ship which gave challenge. He was tried by court-martial for not engaging his ship, and reprimanded. Graves became Commodore-Governor of Newfoundland in 1761 and given the duty of convoying the seasonal fishing fleet from England to the island. In 1762 he learned that French ships had captured St. John's, Newfoundland. Graves, Admiral Alexander Colville and Colonel William Amherst retook the port city.
With the end of the Seven Years' War, Labrador came under his responsibility as French fishing fleets returned to the French Shore and St. Pierre and Miquelon. Graves strictly enforced the treaties to the extent that the French government protested. Graves' governorship ended in 1764. He returned to active service during the American War of Independence and became commander-in-chief of the North American Squadron in 1781 when Mariot Arbuthnot returned home.
During the American War of Independence, his fleet was defeated by the Comte de Grasse in the Battle of the Chesapeake at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay on 5 September 1781 leading to the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown. In September 1782, a fleet under his command was caught in a violent storm off the banks of Newfoundland. The captured French ships, Ville de Paris (110 guns) and Glorieux (74 guns) and the British ships HMS Ramillies (74 guns) and HMS Centaur (74 guns) foundered, along with other merchant ships, with the loss of 3,500 lives. In 1788 he became Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth.
With the French Revolutionary Wars, Graves was second in command to Admiral Richard Howe at the British victory over the French at the Battle of the Glorious First of June 1794. Graves became a full admiral and was awarded an Irish peerage as Baron Graves, of Gravesend in the County of Londonderry.
He died in February 1802, aged 76, and was succeeded in the barony by his son Thomas.
Lord Graves married Elizabeth, daughter of William Peere Williams, in 1771.