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Captain John Croft Hawkins, 1798 - 1851


Object connections:

Collection Miniatures, Fine art
Gallery locationNot on display
PeopleDepiction: Hawkins, John Croft

Object details:

Object ID MNT0003
Description (Updated, January 2016) Oval miniature in tempera on ivory in a rectangular moulded wooden frame, partly gilded and with a gilded oval window mount. It has an accompanying black leather case with an integral stand. The sitter is a young man, shown head and shoulders, slightly turned to his left but facing out to the viewer, against a background of a landscape horizon (to the right) and sky. He has grey eyes and curly mouse-brown hair centrally parted, and wears the uniform of a lieutenant in the Honourable East India Company marine service (the Bombay Marine, later Indian Navy), with a single epaulette on the right shoulder. Hawkins was born on 6 April 1798 in St James's, Westminster, London, the sixth child (of ten) and second son (of five) of Samuel Hawkins, a solicitor, and his wife Sarah (nee Calland). He attended Midhurst School, Findon, West Sussex (where the family partly lived) and on 14 October 1811 entered the Royal Navy. He served as a midshipman in the 'Denmark' but caught typhus and, after recovering, transferred to the East India marine service as a midshipman on 20 October 1812. In this he became a lieutenant on 23 May 1824 and proved a very effective officer, eventually receiving the thanks of the British government twice and that of the Bombay ministry seven times. In 1829 commanding the Company vessel 'Clive' he visited the Persian Gulf, and the Museum has a scimitar presented to him by the Imaum of Muscat for his efforts in saving the town from fire that year (WPN1116). In 1830, in a sensational court-martial in Bombay, he was found guilty on a technical charge of piracy and -despite great public protest there - was sentenced to seven years transportation to Australia. He however obtained a royal pardon in London on 21 May 1831, by a means that showed the strength of local objection against his conviction: in the Sunda Strait, the Bombay Marine vessel taking him to Australia encounted another ship bearing an important homeward dispatch from China and its captain (Commander Pepper) used this as a pretext to divert to England, landing Hawkins at Cowes, Isle of Wight. On obtaining his pardon, he was promoted commander and In this rank, in 1838, he conducted a survey of the River Euphrates. Hawkins was promoted to captain on 21 January 1839, serving as Commodore in the Persian Gulf , 1845-47, and from August 1848 to 27 January 1849 was Acting Superintendent and Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Navy (see BHC2756 for a portrait of him at this period). On 25 August 1851 he died prematurely in a carriage accident when he was 'thrown out of his curricle and killed on the spot near his house in Colaba, Bombay' (Boase, 'Modern English Biography', vol.1, p. 1339). He appears to have been unmarried and to have been buried at St Thomas's Church, Bombay. The previous Museum record states this item shows Hawkins aged 30 in 1822 (when he was in fact 24). Given his movments as now known, this appears to be an error for 1832 (when he was 34). Hayter (1761-1835) worked largely in London and probably painted it just after just after he was pardoned. We are grateful to Nicholas Balmer, a descendant of Hawkins's sister, Eliza Georgina, for supplying further information on him incorporated here (January 2016). The Museum also has a later oil portrait of Hawkins (BHC2756) from a different source.
Date made 1824-1828

Artist/Maker Hayter, Charles
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials gilt; leather; tempera; ivory
Measurements Overall: 83 x 65 mm
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