Royal Navy obituary in the Times newspaper
Royal Navy obituary in the Times newspaper

Royal NavyObituaries

The following obituary for Charles Hotham appeared in the Times newspaper.

Obituary in the Times newspaper
2 April 1856

(From the Melbourne Argus.)

It is with very sincere sorrow that we have to announce the decease of his Excellency Sir Charles Hotham, Governor of this colony, who died at Toorak yesterday (Jan. 31) about a quarter past 1 o’clock. We understand that Sir Charles was seized with a very severe attack of choleraic diarrhoea on the morning of Saturday, the 22d of December. Dr. M'Crea, the colonial surgeon, was called in, and his Excellency's complaint yielded rapidly to the medical treatment that was adopted, though it left him very much debilitated. So far, indeed, did he recover that on the following Monday he was able to leave his room, and during that and the two succeeding days he appeared to be regaining his usual health.

Sir Charles Hotham was a man of an exceedingly excitable temperament, and, whatever may be thought of his success in the management of public affairs, he was deeply anxious about them. During his whole illness he was greatly interested in the Ministerial crisis which was then pending. On Thursday Mr. Nicholson had an interview with his Excellency on public business, and shortly after that gentleman's departure his Excellency complained of headache, and a nervous irritability soon became perceptible. On Saturday Sir Charles received a message from Mr. Nicholson through Dr. M'Crea, to the effect that he (Mr. Nicholson) had abandoned the attempt to form a Ministry. After the receipt of this message the Governor became decidedly worse, serous irritation of the brain having developed itself. Through the whole of Saturday night the symptoms of the disease were becoming more and more alarming, until, on Sunday morning, at 3 o'clock, he was suddenly seized with an attack of epilepsy. Another fit came on at half-past 4 o'clock a.m., and the fits continued to follow each other at intervals of half an hour until about 11 o'clock in the forenoon of yesterday, when he became comatose, with heavy stertorous breathing, in which state he continued until a quarter past 1 o'clock p.m., when he expired.

His Excellency had never previously been subject to epileptic fits, and his medical attendants attribute the attack to the very severe strain upon the mental powers that Sir Charles had undergone during the period of his government of the colony, superadded to a violent cold which he had caught on the occasion of his attending the lighting of the first fire at the Gasworks. This occurred on Monday, the 17th ult., when a violent storm of wind and rain came on, to which his Excellency was exposed for a somewhat protracted period. On the Thursday following Sir Charles felt indisposed, and mentioned to his medical adviser. Dr. M'Crea, that he thought he had eaten something that had disagreed with him. He had taken a little fruit, his ordinary diet being exceedingly simple.

Sir Charles was sensible in the forenoon of Sunday, during the intervals between the fits, but was unable to articulate at that time. He was afterwards under the influence of morphine, administered for his relief, until the fatal symptoms showed themselves.

His Excellency was attended at first by Dr. M'Crea, the colonial surgeon, who, when the epileptic fits came on, called in Drs. Barker and Motherwell, by whom was Excellency was assiduously attended until the hour of his death.

It may be interesting at the present moment to republish the memoir of the late Governor which appeared last year in the Statistical Register of Victoria, compiled by Mr. W.A. Archer, assistant-registrar of this colony, and we accordingly subjoin it:— "Sir Charles Hotham, K.C.B., born in 1806, is eldest son of the Rev. Francis Hotham, Prebendary of Rochester (second son of the second Lord Hotham, one of the Barons of the Court of Exchequer), by Anne Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Thomas Hallett Hodges, of Hampstead-place, Kent, and first cousin of Captain the Hon. George Frederick Hotham, R.N. Sir Charles, who is brother-in-law of Lieutenant-Colonel Grieve, of the 75th Regiment, has also a brother, Augustus Thomas Hotham, in the army.

"This officer entered the navy on the 6th of November, 1818; and on the night of the 23d of May, 1824, when midshipman of the Naiad, 46, Captain the Hon. Robert Cavendish Spencer, served in the boats under Lieutenant Michael Quin at the gallant destruction of a 16-gun brig, moored in a position of extraordinary strength alongside the walls of the fortress of Bona, in which was a garrison of about 400 soldiers, who, from cannon and musket, kept up a tremendous fire, almost perpendicularly, on the deck. He was made Lieutenant on the 17th of September, 1825, into the Revenge, 76, flagship of Sir Harry Burrard Neale, in the Mediterranean; and next appointed — the 15th of May, 1826 — to the Medina, 20, Captains Timothy Curtis and William Burnaby Greene, on the same station, and on the 8th of December, 1827, and the 26th of July, 1828, as First, to the Terror and Meteor bombs, Captains William Fletcher and David Hope. As a reward for his distinguished exertions on the occasion of the wreck of the Terror Mr. Hotham was promoted by the Lord High Admiral to the rank of Commander on the 13th of August, 1828. After an interval of half-pay he obtained an appointment, on the 17th of March, 1830, to the Cordelia, 10, and returned to the Mediterranean, whence he ultimately came home, and was paid off in October, 1833, having been raised to the post rank on the 28th of the preceding June, in compliment to the memory of his uncle, the late Vice-Admiral Hon. Sir Henry Hotham, G.C.B., G.C.M.G. His next appointment was, 25th November, 1842, to the Gorgon steam sloop, stationed on the southeast coast of America. In November, 1845, having assumed command of a small squadron, he ascended the river Parana, in conjunction with a French naval force under Captain Trehouart, and on the 20th of that month, after a hard day's fighting [see these accounts bij W.L. Clowes and H.N. Sulivan], succeeded in effecting the destruction of four heavy batteries belonging to General Rosas, at Punta Obligado, also of a schooner of war carrying six guns, and of 24 vessels chained across the river. Towards the close of the action he landed with 180 seamen and 145 marines, and accomplished the defeat of the enemy, whose numbers had originally consisted of at least 3,500 men, in cavalry, infantry, and artillery, and whose batteries had mounted 22 pieces of ordnance, including 10 brass guns, which latter were taken off to the ships, the remainder being all destroyed. The loss of the British in this very brilliant affair amounted to 9 men killed and 24 wounded. In acknowledgment of the gallantry, zeal, and ability displayed throughout its various details by Captain Hotham he was recommended in the most fervent terms of admiration by his Commander-in-Chief Rear-Admiral Samuel Hood Inglefield, in his despatches to the Admiralty, and he was in consequence nominated a K.C.B. on the 9th of March, 1846. In May in that year he was employed as Commodore on the coast of Africa, with his broad pendant successively flying in the Devastation and Penelope steamers. His subsequent distinguished diplomatic services are so well known as to require no comment.

"On the 3d of December, 1853, Her Majesty was pleased to appoint Sir Charles Hotham Lieutenant-Governor of this colony. His Excellency and Lady Hotham arrived in Hobson's Bay on the 21st of June, 1854. The following day he was escorted from Sandridge to the Government-offices, Melbourne, in much state, amid the acclamations of the assembled thousands, who lined all thoroughfares.”

In addition to the above we may mention that shortly after his appointment to the government of Victoria his Excellency was married to Jane Sarah, third daughter of Samuel Hood, Baron Bridport, by his wife Charlotte Mary, only daughter of the Hon. and Rev. William first Earl Nelson, who was raised to the dignity of Earl in acknowledgment of the services of his brother, the great Lord Nelson. Lady Hotham had been previously married to the late Hugh Holbech, of Farnborough, Warwickshire.

The somewhat unexpected event of his Excellency's decease created a profound impression yesterday. The performances at the various places of amusement were put off, and the grand ball for the benefit of the Benevolent Asylum was indefinitely postponed. The funeral, in accordance with a general wish, will be a public one, and will take place on Thursday. We are informed that the intention is that a procession shall be formed at Prince's-bridge at 8 a.m., to proceed thence to the New Cemetery.

The succession to the Government of Victoria is regulated by the following clause in the Commission recently issued in favour of the late Governor:—
"And in the event of the death or absence of you, the said Sir Charles Hotham, out of our said colony of Victoria, we do hereby provide and declare our pleasure to be that all and every the powers and authorities herein granted to you shall be, and the same are hereby vested in such person as may be appointed by us, by warrant, under our sign-manual and signet, to be the Lieutenant-Governor of our said colony, or in such person or persons as may be appointed by us in like manner to administer the government in such contingency; or, in the event of there being no person or persons within our said colony so commissioned and appointed by us as aforesaid, then our pleasure is, and we do hereby provide and declare, that in any such contingency all the powers and authorities herein granted to you shall be, and the same are hereby granted to the senior military officer for the time being; and such Lieutenant-Governor or such person or persons as aforesaid, or such military officer, as the case may be, shall exercise all and every the powers and authorities herein granted until our further pleasure shall be signified therein.”

In terms of the above provision the chief authority devolves upon Major-General Edward Macarthur, Commander of the Forces in this province, who yesterday assumed the government, and under his direction a supplement to the Government Gazette was issued announcing the decease of his predecessor.

Major-General Macarthur is a member of the well-known Macarthur family, so long and so intimately connected with the adjacent colony, of New South Wales. He is the eldest son of Captain Macarthur, the celebrated introducer of the merino sheep, and the brother of Messrs. William and James Macarthur, of Camden, who have long been before the public, taking an active part in public affairs as members of the legislature and as enthusiastic and skilful developers of the resources of the land of their birth. A most interesting letter from the former of these gentlemen upon the subject of the Australian wines exhibited at Paris appeared last week in these columns, and illustrated strongly the zeal with which colonial advancement is urged on by that enterprising gentleman. Major-General Macarthur entered the army in very early life, and has seen considerable service in the Peninsula and elsewhere. He has not the character for being possessed of great ability, and is understood to be of high Conservative predilections; but as a native of Australia he may, at all events, be expected to possess that most valuable quality for a leading man — some colonial experience, and we may well hope that he also possesses a knowledge of our wants and a disposition to supply them.

The new year opens somewhat portentously upon a colony without a Governor and without a Ministry; but no doubt the acting Governor will be sufficiently guided by the signs of the times to follow up the introduction of responsible now somewhat stormily inaugurated and to take up the negotiations in reference to the formation of a Ministry pretty nearly where Sir Charles Hotham left them. It is the beauty of the constitutional system of government to render nations less dependent upon the accidents of individual existence and the peculiarities of individual character; and therefore, although we commence the year with a deceased Governor and a disbanded Ministry, there is no reason to fear that the public interests will in any way be seriously jeopardized.

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