Grave Clean: Admiral Sir Charles Burrard
The NRWGC is delighted to unveil the results of our latest grave cleaning project: The forgotten grave of Admiral Charles Burrard, who at one time served on HMS Victory.
In November 2022 our Chair, Zack, was pottering around the churchyard of St Michael & All Angels in Lyndhurst, Hampshire. On his list were a series of Peninsular War and Waterloo veterans buried in the churchyard, some of whose graves we believe have been lost, others of which we have begun the process of restoring.
In the process, he stumbled across a non-descript cross bearing the inscription ‘Admiral Sir Charles Burrard, 1793-1870’.
At the time of discovery, the NRWGC knew nothing about Charles Burrard. The key source of information for charity grave searches has generally been Wellington’s Men Remembered, which, as the name implies, focuses exclusively on those who served in the British Army during the Peninsular War and Waterloo campaigns. Nonetheless, the rank and dates of birth and death were intriguing: Burrard would have been 22 by the end of the Napoleonic Wars and clearly had a long career in the Royal Navy in order to reach the rank of Admiral. The team immediately began trying to find out more.
After some digging, we were able to confirm that Charles Burrard did indeed fit the NRWGC’s criteria, with a long and varied service that even included time aboard HMS Victory.
Born on 2nd March 1793, Charles was the son of Sir Harry Burrard, 1st Baronet of Lymington, and his wife, Hannah. Having married in February 1789, they had five sons and two daughters, with all the boys serving in the army. Sir Harry was not a man without controversy, given his role in the signing of the controversial Convention of Cintra in August 1808, which ended the first French invasion of Portugal, but offered very lenient terms to the French. Harry would lose three of his sons to the Peninsular War before he died, one of whom was killed at the Battle of Corunna, serving as Sir John Moore’s aide-de-camp, whilst another was killed in 1813 at the Siege of San Sebastian. The news of this last loss is said to have broken Harry’s health. He passed away at Calshot Castle in October 1813 and is buried in Lymington Churchyard, in a grave which the NRWGC has not been able to definitively find, despite a strenuous search.
Charles started out on his naval career at the age of 12, joining as a Volunteer on the Diamond (a 38 gun vessel). Six months later he become a Midshipman and was appointed to the London (90 guns), and would go on to serve on HMS Victory from April 1808 to May 1812 when he became a Lieutenant. Now serving on the 74 gun Milford, he saw action at Fiume, Rogoznica and the siege of Trieste.
Upon his father’s death in October 1813, he became the 2nd Baronet of Lymington, a title which fell out of use following Charles’s death in 1870. In the meantime, his promotion continued. In June 1814 he was made Commander, and given his first command, the Grasshopper (16 guns).
Charles was not one of those who ended up on half pay after the war. In April 1819, he was ordered to take command of the Hind (20 guns) until 1822, when he received a further promotion to Captain and was given command of the Revenge a 74 gun vessel. The last record we could find for Charles Burrard is of him being a superannuated Captain in October 1846.
As you can see from the above photo, Charles’s grave, which also remembers his wife Lady Lisa Burrard, was in a structurally stable, but grimy state. The board of trustees therefore allocated funds for the cleaning of the grave. At a cost of £500, the charity commissioned Steve Davies (aka Military Grave Restorer) to clean the grave, which was carried out earlier this year. Following further inspection, the NRWGC’s chair then removed the overgrowth of grass and soil, cleaning down the pedestal on which the cross is built.
Once again, therefore, NRWGC member’s support has empowered the charity to tell the story of a serviceman who’s resting place had been largely forgotten. This grave is now far more befitting Burrard’s service.
The board of trustees are not finished yet though. Two more graves in the churchyard are undergoing work to improve their condition, and the team will fill members in on this in due course. We also hope to work with local records to search for the grave of a veteran in the churchyard which has since been lost. Once the charity is satisfied that all its efforts within St Michael & All Angels Church have reached their completion, we hope to hold a memorial service, remembering all the Napoleonic veterans buried in the grounds.
The charity would like to thank Revered Potterton of St Michael & All Angels, for his support with the ongoing restoration work that the NRWGC is undertaking within his parish.
If you would like to visit Admiral Burrard’s grave for yourself, the ‘What. Three. Words.’ marker is ‘Grabs. Awoke. Unscathed.’
If you would like to support the NRWGC’s work, you can donate at www.nrwgc.com/donate
or, become a member for £25 a year at www.nrwgc.com/membership