William Charlton, who sailed on Cook’s Third Voyage in Resolution, was listed on the muster roll as having been born in London about 1758. It is probable that he was the William Charlton baptised on 19 March 1758 at St. Botolph, Bishopgate, the son of Thomas and Mary Charlton. Before sailing with Cook, Charlton attended the Naval Academy at Portsmouth from 1772 until 1775. His companions included James Ward and James Trevenen, who also sailed with Cook on the Third Voyage.
Charlton joined Resolution on 10 February 1776 as an AB. He became a midshipman on 2 November. During the voyage, he kept a journal1 in which, among other things, he made the most comprehensive record of all the punishments carried out. Before becoming a lieutenant, Charlton served 15 months in Crocodile.
Charlton received his lieutenant’s commission on 11 May 1782.
He served in HMS Triumph, HMS Egmont, HMS Sheerness and the Prince of Wales transport before taking command of Helena, 14 guns, in Jamaica from 1793 until 1795. From 1799 he commanded the gun brig Hasty, and was in command when he wrote his will in 1800.2 He was made a commander on 22 January 1806 and a captain on 15 June 1810. At the time of his death on 7 August 1810 Charlton was captain of HMS Garland.
William Charlton married Mary Kingsley on 8 April 1795 at St. Peter, Cornhill, London. In his will he left everything to his wife, and there is no mention of any children. Mary Charlton remarried on 1 December 1812 at St. Peter le Poer, London. She was then about 40 and her second husband, Anthony Rucker Lynch Moir, was only 24. Mary Moir was buried on 8 November 1821 aged 50.
Lieutenant’s Certificate for William Charlton
In pursuance of the directions of the Right Honourable the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, signified to us by Mr. Jackson's letter of the 19 December 1781, We have examined Mr. William Charlton who by certificate appears to be more than twenty three years of age, and find he has gone to sea more than six years in the Ships and qualities under-mentioned (viz)
Lion armoured brig
Journals kept by himself in the Resolution to be dispensed with by Admiralty Order of the 17 October 1780. He produceth Certificates from Captains King & Gore of his diligence and sobriety: He can splice, knot, reef a sail, work a ship in sailing, shift his tides, keep a reckoning of a ship's way by plain sailing and Mercator; observe by sun or star, and find variation of the compass, and is qualified to do the duty of an Able Seaman and Midshipman. Dated at the Navy Office the 3 January 1782.
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 29, volume 34, number 3 (2011).
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