William Carnegie, 7th Earl of Northesk

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About William Carnegie, 7th Earl of Northesk


Admiral William Carnegie GCB, 7th Earl of Northesk (10 April 1756 – 28 May 1831) was born in Hampshire to Admiral George Carnegie, 6th Earl of Northesk and Anne Melville.

Naval career

Early career

Following his father into the navy in 1771, Carnegie served in the American War of Independence on the frigate HMS Beaulieu and the ship of the line HMS Sandwich, being involved in the Battle of Martinique in 1780 under Admiral Rodney. His good conduct during the engagement was recognised by Rodney, who promoted Carnegie to commander and then aided his rise to Post captain in 1782, whereupon he was given command of the frigate HMS Enterprise.

Ten years later at the outbreak of the French Revolutionary War, on 22 January 1792, Carnegie had acceded to the earldom and became the Earl of Northesk. He was given a new ship of the line HMS Monmouth to command in 1796 and having as his first lieutenant Charles Bullen, the start of an excellent professional partnership and close personal friendship. The following year he was caught up in the Nore mutiny but was released by the mutineers to take their demands to London. Like many in the fleet, Northesk had some sympathy with the initial stages of the mutiny, and so when the demands were refused, he resigned his position as untenable following his failure to restore order on his ship or gain concessions from the government.

Reinstated by the Admiralty in 1803 with full seniority as a rear-admiral, Northesk was given the 100 gun first rate HMS Britannia as his flagship, and after a brief period in the Channel Fleet, was sent south with Sir Robert Calder to join the blockading squadrons off Spain. With him went Captain Bullen. He missed the Calder's action in 1805, and joined Nelson's fleet off Cadiz that same year.

Battle of Trafalgar

As the inevitable Battle off Cape Trafalgar came closer, Northesk was largely left out of the planning of the encounter, partly because he was the third most senior admiral present behind Nelson and Collingwood and partly because unlike most of the captains at the battle, Northesk had never worked with Nelson before and was not a member of the famous Band of Brothers.

Nonetheless, when battle came Northesk was ready and although his slow ship took sometime to reach the fighting, he was heavily engaged with the enormous Spanish 130 gun ship Santissima Trinidad, the Britannia suffering 52 casualties in the battle. He was greatly rewarded for his service in action, but like many Trafalgar captains, never served at sea again as sufficiently senior posts could not be found abroad. He was however initiated into the Order of the Bath, eventually reaching the position of Knight Grand Cross. He also reached the rank of full admiral, the ceremonial post of Rear-Admiral of Great Britain and was made Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth later in his career.


He died in 1831 in London[6] and was buried alongside Nelson and Collingwood in the crypt at St Paul's Cathedral, where his tomb can still be seen.


He married Mary Ricketts, daughter of William Henry Ricketts, on 9 December 1788 and had nine children:

Mary Carnegie (3 October 1789–7 March 1875) married Walter Long of Preshaw in 1810
George Carnegie, Lord Rosehill (c. 1790 – February 1807), lost in HMS Blenheim
William Hopetoun Carnegie, 8th Earl of Northesk (6 October 1794–5 December 1878)
Anne Letitia Carnegie (c. 1796–25 February 1870)
Elizabeth Margaret Carnegie (c. 1798–12 April 1886)
Jane Christian Carnegie (c. 1800–1 October 1840)
John Jervis Carnegie (8 July 1807–18 January 1892)
Georgina Henrietta Carnegie (2 August 1811–7 November 1827)
Admiral Swynfen Thomas Carnegie (8 March 1813–20 November 1879)
view all 13

William Carnegie, 7th Earl of Northesk's Timeline

April 10, 1756
Age 32
Winchester, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom
Age 34
October 16, 1794
Age 38
Age 41
July 8, 1807
Age 51
August 2, 1811
Age 55
March 8, 1813
Age 56
May 28, 1831
Age 75
London, Greater London, United Kingdom