Charles Fremantle

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Sir Charles Fremantle
Sir Charles Fremantle
Born1 June 1800 (1800-06)
Died25 May 1869 (1869-05-26) (aged 68)
AllegianceUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Navy
Commands heldHMS Challenger
HMS Inconstant
HMS Albion
HMS Juno
Channel Squadron
Plymouth Command
Battles/warsCrimean War
AwardsKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
The grave of Charles Howe Fremantle, Brompton Cemetery, London

Admiral Sir Charles Howe Fremantle GCB RN (1 June 1800 – 25 May 1869) was a British Royal Navy officer. The city of Fremantle, Western Australia, is named after him.

Early life[edit]

Fremantle was the second son of Thomas Fremantle,[1] an associate of Horatio Nelson, and of Fremantle's wife Elizabeth, the diarist. His middle name, Howe, is derived from his date of birth: the anniversary of Lord Howe's victory over the French on the Glorious First of June, 1794.


Fremantle joined the Royal Navy in 1812 and worked his way up the ranks on a number of vessels. From 1818 to 1819 he served on his father's flagship in the Mediterranean Fleet.[1][2]

In 1824 Fremantle received the first gold gallantry medal of the new Royal National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck, later the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, for an attempted rescue at Whitepit near Christchurch, Dorset.[3][4]

In April 1826 Fremantle was charged with raping a 15-year-old girl. His family is said to have paid off witnesses and leant on the judiciary to avoid scandal.[5][6][7][8]

Swan River Colony[edit]

In August 1826 Fremantle was promoted to captain and in 1828 took command of the 26-gun frigate Challenger,[1] and sent to claim the west coast of Australia for the United Kingdom. Challenger was dispatched by the Admiralty from the Cape of Good Hope on 20 March 1829,[9]: p11  anchored in Cockburn Sound on 27 April and landing on Garden Island on 2 May. A week later he hoisted the British flag on the south head of the mouth of the Swan River and took formal possession in the name of His Majesty King George IV of "all that part of New Holland (Australia) which is not included within the territory of New South Wales."[9]: p11 [10]

The appointed Lieutenant Governor James Stirling arrived in Cockburn Sound, Western Australia, on 31 May, aboard the hired transport barque Parmelia. He brought his family and other intending settlers, numbering 69, to found a colony at the Swan River. On 8 June they were joined by a military detachment of some 56 officers and men who disembarked from the consort ship Sulphur. On 17 June, a proxy proclamation was read by Stirling confirming Fremantle's earlier one. These immigrants began the history of Western Australia as a British colony, then as a state of federal Australia.


Fremantle left the Swan River Colony on 25 August 1829, heading for the British base at Trincomalee, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), where he was based for a couple of years. While there he visited many locations, including Kowloon in China, which he recommended as a good site for a British settlement. The British government agreed and Hong Kong Island was settled in 1841.

On his way back to England from Ceylon, Fremantle in September 1832 visited the Swan River Colony for a week, but never returned. In 1833 he stopped at Pitcairn Island, where he tried to resolve a leadership dispute between Joshua Hill and George Hunn Nobbs.[11] He was given command of Inconstant in the Mediterranean Fleet in 1843 and of Albion, also in the Mediterranean, in 1847.[1] Then in 1853 he became Captain of Juno on the Australia Station.[1]


Fremantle served as Rear-Admiral controlling the naval transport service from Balaclava during the Crimean War.[1] He went on to be Commander-in-Chief of the Channel Squadron in July 1858 and Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth in 1863.[1]

Family life[edit]

Fremantle married Isabella Wedderburn on 8 October 1836. They had three children:

  • Emily Caroline Alexander (14 April 1838 – 10 February 1929), who married Reverend C. L. Alexander, Rector of Sturton-by-Bridge, Derbyshire
  • Celia Elizabeth McNeil (8 October 1840 – 15 February 1929), who married Canon E. A. McNeile, Vicar of St Paul's, Princes Park, Liverpool
  • Louisa Frances Fremantle (23 February 1843 – 20 March 1909)

Fremantle died in 1869 and is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London. The grave lies against the east wall, near a more prominent monument to the politician David Lyon.

See also[edit]

  • O'Byrne, William Richard (1849). "Fremantle, Charles Howe" . A Naval Biographical Dictionary . John Murray – via Wikisource.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Charles Howe Fremantle R. N." The Mid-Victorian Royal Navy. Archived from the original on 2 June 2019. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  2. ^ "Charles Howe Fremantle - The Second Admiral". 18 January 2014. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  3. ^ Cox, Barry, ed. (1998). Lifeboat Gallantry: The Complete Record of Royal National Lifeboat Institution Gallantry Medals and how They Were Won, 1824–1996 (1st ed.). London: Spink & Son. ISBN 9780907605898.
  4. ^ "1824: First Gold Medal for Gallantry". Royal National Lifeboat Institution. 2020. Archived from the original on 25 March 2019. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  5. ^ Fisher, D. R., ed. (2009). "Freemantle, William Henry (1766–1850), of Englefield Green, Egham, Surrey and Stanhope Street, Middlesex". The House of Commons, 1820–1832. The History of Parliament – British Political, Social & Local History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521193146. Archived from the original on 15 March 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020 – via The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820–1832. At the same time he reported his 25-year-old naval officer nephew Charles Fremantle's commitment on a capital charge of the aggravated rape of a female servant at his Portsmouth lodgings. As if he had never issued his ultimatum, Buckingham set about getting the young man 'out of the sad scrape', offering 'bail to any amount' and advising Fremantle 'at all hazards to buy off the evidence' and keep the scandal out of the press. Bail was granted and on Buckingham's advice a dubious attorney was employed to 'get rid of the evidence'. The 'unpleasant business' was successfully covered up, and in the course of time Charles Fremantle became an admiral.
  6. ^ d'Anger, Jenny (25 August 2007). "Captain Cad: Fremantle a 'sadistic rapist'". Fremantle Herald. Vol. 18, no. 34. p. 1.
  7. ^ Reece, Bob (July 2013). "Captain Charles Howe Fremantle" (PDF). Newsletter. Friends of Battye Library (Inc.). pp. 13–16. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 March 2020. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  8. ^ "How WA honours one rapist". Dodgy Perth – Sordid tales from Western Australia. 8 June 2015. Archived from the original on 15 March 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020. Every now and again, someone claims Fremantle was only 'charged' with rape, never convicted. But simply read the correspondence between Buckingham and William Fremantle. There is no question about his guilt.
  9. ^ a b "The Western Australian Year Book No. 17, 1979". Western Australian Year Book. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Western Australian Office, 1979. ISSN 0083-8772.
  10. ^ Stathem-Drew, Pamela (2003). James Stirling: admiral and founding governor of Western Australia. Crawley, Western Australia 6009: University of Western Australia Press. p. 131. ISBN 9781876268947.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  11. ^ Silverman, David (1967). Pitcairn Island. Cleveland: World Publishing Company. p. 119. OCLC 644121128. Retrieved 15 March 2020.

Further reading[edit]

  • R. T. Appleyard and Toby Manford, The Beginning: European Discovery and Early Settlement of Swan River Western Australia, University of Western Australia Press. ISBN 0-85564-146-0.
  • Amalfi, Carmelo (7 January 2013). "New statue campaign". Fremantle Herald Interactive. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
Military offices
Preceded by
New Post
Commander-in-Chief, Channel Fleet
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth
Succeeded by