Charles Bethune

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Charles Bethune
Birth name Charles Ramsay Drinkwater Bethune
Born 27 December 1802
Little Ealing, Middlesex
Died 14 February 1884 (aged 81)
Queensberry Place, South Kensington
Buried at Brompton Cemetery, London
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Years of service 1815–1870
Rank Admiral
Commands held HMS Conway
Battles/wars First Opium War
Awards Companion of the Bath

Charles Ramsay Drinkwater Bethune CB (27 December 1802 – 14 February 1884)[1] was a British officer of the Royal Navy. He rose to the rank of Admiral during his career.[2]

Early life

Born at Little Ealing, Middlesex, the son of Colonel John Drinkwater and Eleanor Congalton, he assumed the name of Bethune in 1837, when his mother inherited the estates of her brother, George Congalton-Bethune.

Military career

Bethune served with the Royal Navy from the age of 13 and commanded HMS Conway [3] in Australasia and the Far East from 1836 to 1842. He reported the Conway Reef in 1838. He served in the First Opium War and was appointed a Companion of the Bath in 1841, for his services.

In 1845 he was sent to Borneo by the Admiralty to report on the best location for a British base against piracy. In the course of this mission he painted a number of watercolour views in Sarawak which were published in 1847 in James Augustus St. John's [4] Views in the Eastern Archipelago.

In 1846 he joined the Council of the newly formed Hakluyt Society, for which he subsequently edited two volumes. In 1851, on the death in India of his elder brother John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune, he became 24th Laird of Balfour. He is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London.


In 1846, he married Frances Cecilia (1819-1888), only child of Henry Edward Staples, and they had six children. Of his sons, Edward Cecil Bethune (1855-1930) became a Lieutenant-General in the British Army, Henry Leonard Drinkwater Bethune (1858-1939) became a Captain in the Royal Navy and Francis John Brownlow Bethune (1860-1954) became a King's Counsel in Australia. His eldest daughter, Mary Frances Drinkwater Bethune (1847-1929), in 1867 married John George Frederick Hope-Wallace (1839-1900), son of the Honourable James Hope and his wife Lady Mary Frances Nugent, and had seven children.


  1. The peerage
  2. [1] Naval biography
  3. "HMS Conway". Retrieved 2014-07-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Views in the Eastern Archipelago". Retrieved 2014-07-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

See also