The Twickenham Museum
People : Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen

Admiral Francis Holburne
Naval officer
1704 - 1771

Admiral Sir Francis Holburne with his son

According to R S Cobbett (Memorials of Twickenham, 1872), Admiral Holburne spent time in the house later rebuilt as Laurel Lodge, on the north side of Heath Lane. Twickenham. He does not give dates nor does Holburne ever appear as a ratepayer so he might have made only a short visit as a sub-tenant of the owner or leaseholder. In fact, his adult life was spent in various places, in ships, Barbados, at Richmond, perhaps briefly at Cranford, Middlesex, Portsmouth and for his last months, Governor of Greenwich Hospital.

Francis Holborne was the second son of Sir James Holburne of Menstrie, created a baronet of Nova Scotia in 1706. He entered the navy in 1720, rising to the rank of Rear-Admiral prior to the start of the 7 years war in 1756. Before this he divided his time between naval service and running a Barbadan plantation. Here he married in 1749, a widow, Frances Lascelles, daughter of Guy Ball a Barbados planter of a family from Richmond, Surrey. Frances had married Edward Lascelles and there were six children. Of the three surviving, Edward (1739-1820) became the first Earl of Harewood.

The Holburnes came back to England in 1752 to live in Richmond, then possibly moving over to Twickenham. They had three children, Francis, later the 4th baronet, Jean and Catherine. Frances died at Bristol in 1761 and was buried in the church of St Mary Magdalene in Richmond. She has a memorial on the west wall.

Holburne is recorded as a tenant of the Manor of Isleworth Syon, being in possession of a 1/2 acre piece of land and tenement at Heston, on Hounslow Heath, in 1774. He apparently had inherited this from his father, being admitted in 1766.

Following service in the Atlantic Holburne, now a Vice-Admiral, was appointed Commander-in-Chief at Portsmouth at the end of 1757, holding this post for eight years. In January 1771, he accepted the post of governor of Greenwich Hospital. He died at the hospital on 15 July that year and was brought back to Richmond for burial beside his wife.

The Holburne Museum in Bath

Francis's grandson, Sir Thomas William Holburne of Menstrie (1793-1884) 5th Baronet has lent his name to the museum in Bath which contains his art collection.

Other Naval Officers at Twickenham

Twickenham might have acted as a magnet for naval officers: the place accommodated a series of retired admirals who must have known each other, during the century. The first to come, was Sir Chaloner Ogle in 1747, then, in 1748, Admiral Thomas Fox who was closely followed by Admiral Martin in 1749. Admiral Sir George Pocock took Orleans House in 1764 and then, in 1786, Admiral John (“foul-weather Jack") Byron was buried in the Berkeley vault in St Mary's Church. Lower down the scale Captain John Gray, took time out as a property developer between the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 and the resumption of hostilities with Spain in 1726. Montpelier and Sion Rows are his memorials in Twickenham.

Commodore Digby Dent made a short visit in 1749/51 marrying at St Mary's Church.

further reading:

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

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