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John Hatley (1760-1832)


John Hatley was born in Ipswich, Suffolk about 1760.  The Hatleys were successful London merchants, originally from Hunton, near Maidstone in Kent, who had developed connections with other families in East Anglia.  A Henry Hatley married Hester Whitaker on 5 August 1664 at St. Antholin, Budge Row, London, and they had several children including George and John.

George Hatley followed his father into the family business as a merchant.  He developed considerable interests in Virginia, especially in the tobacco trade.  George married Mary Flowerdew (née Scott), a widow with a son, Thomas Flowerdew, to her first husband, John Flowerdew.  Thomas Flowerdew would become a partner in the business.  George and Mary Hatley had no children. 

Meanwhile, John Hatley became a merchant and haberdasher.  He married Isabella Reynolds on 10 November 1696 at St. Augustine, Watling Street, London.  She was the daughter of Robert Reynolds and Kesia (née Tyrrell) from the Suffolk area.  Isabella’s brother, James Reynolds, later became a High Court Judge in Ireland.  This John Hatley owned Kirby Hall in Essex.  He and Isabella had several children though only James and Susannah appear to have reached adulthood.

Susannah Hatley, born 30 April 1711, married Sheppard Frere in 1739, the Freres being another East Anglian family.  Cook’s John Hatley would remain very close to the Frere family and many of them featured in his will.  John Hatley, himself, was the son of James Hatley, Susanna’s younger brother, born in February 1718. James married Mary Cornwallis on 22 September 1747 at St. Martin Outwich in London.  Mary (born 1723) was the youngest daughter of Charles Cornwallis and Charlotte (née Butler) of Eye, Suffolk.  One of her brothers, Frederick Cornwallis, was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1768 until 1783.  James and Mary Hatley lived in Suffolk and they had at least four children:

  • Isabella Hatley died in 1784, unmarried.  
  • James Hatley went to India.
  • Judith Hatley married twice.
  • John Hatley sailed with Cook.

In October 1783 Susanna Turner (daughter of Jane Norton, formerly Jane Hatley, sister of the first John Hatley) wrote from Britain to her nephew John Hatley Norton in America:  “Mr Hatley, I am told is in a bad state of health; His eldest son in India; the other son has been round the world with Captain Cook, is a genteel pretty behaved youth, likes the sea & and is going out again - his eldest daughter has made a second marriage with a Scotch Baronet Sir Robert Laurie or some such name, is in high life & is exceeding happy.”1

John Hatley sailed on Cook’s Third Voyage.  He joined Resolution on 17 April 1776 as an AB from the yacht William and Mary.  From 1 September 1777 he spent the remainder of the voyage as a midshipman.

After the voyage, Hatley received his lieutenant’s commission on 4 September 1782 and served in HMS Active.  She sailed to India where she was based for several years.  He joined HMS Hannibal in 1791 under Captain John Colpoys.  She was acting as a guardship at Plymouth.  Hatley was second lieutenant in Captain from February 1793 under Captain Samuel Reeves.  In July 1795 Hatley moved to HMS Britannia under Captain Shuldham Peard and followed him to St. George in 1797 as first lieutenant.

Hatley was in St. George during the mutiny off Cadiz in July 1797, and was promoted to commander on 3 August 1797, largely as a result of his behaviour during the mutiny.  He re-commissioned HMS Winchelsea in early 1800 at Portsmouth, and then took her to the Mediterranean Sea.  He received the Turkish “Order of the Crescent” for his actions. 

Hatley was promoted post-captain on 29 April 1802, and left Winchelsea in July.  He was briefly in command of HMS Leda in early 1805.  In 1808, he was in command of HMS Boadicea when she sailed to the Indian Ocean and took part in the attacks on Reunion and Mauritius.  He was transferred to HMS Raisonable in March 1810 and returned in her to Britain.  His last command was Seine from February 1811 until January 1812.

Hatley’s sister, Judith, married Robert Wollaston in 1770.  He died in 1774.  Judith Wollaston then remarried in 1778, this time to Sir Christian Robert Laurie.  Laurie, who was Knight Marshall of Scotland and Member of Parliament (MP) for Dumfries, was divorced and had two children from his first marriage.  His daughter, Anne Wortley Montague Laurie married John Minet Fector and the couple lived in Dover.  Robert Laurie died in 1804 and Judith Laurie was living with her stepdaughter’s family in Dover when she died in 1824.

John Hatley had a house in Upper Seymour Street in London but he moved to live in Dover, Kent, presumably with the Fectors, shortly before he died.  

He died on 12 December 1832, leaving a will proven on 14 January 1833.2  He does not appear to have married, and he remained very close to his cousins, the Frere family.

My thanks to George H. Yetter of the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, Williamsburg, Virginia for supplying the Turner-Norton letter.

John Robson


  1. John Norton and Sons Papers.  John D. Rockerfeller Library, Williamsburg, Virginia.  MS 36.3; Transcript TR/22-23; Folder 154. 
  2. PROB 11/1810. 

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 21, volume 35, number 4 (2012).

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