Erasmus Gower

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Sir Erasmus Gower (3 December 1742 – 21 June 1814) was a naval officer and colonial governor. He was born at Cilgerran, Wales and died at Hambledon, Hampshire, England.

Gower joined the Royal Navy in 1755 and served under Byron's command on HMS Dolphin from 1764 to 1766. He was promoted to lieutenant, serving with distinction under Commander Philip Carteret from 1766 to 1769. He then served in the Falkland Islands, West Indies, Mediterranean, the East and Newfoundland until 1792, when he declined a baronetcy and was knighted.


In 1792, Gower was named Commander of the first British diplomatic mission to imperial China and sailed in the 64-gun HMS Lion. This expedition was headed by Lord George Macartney. They were also accompanied by East Indiaman Hindostan, chartered from the East India Company for the mission. Although the Macartney Embassy returned to London without obtaining any concession from China, the mission could have been termed a success because it brought back detailed observations.

George Staunton, Secretary to the Embassy, was charged with producing the official account of the expedition after their return. This multi-volume work was taken chiefly from the papers of Lord Maccauley and from the papers of Commander Gower. Sir Joseph Banks, the President of the Royal Society, was responsible for selecting and arranging engraving of the illustrations in this official record.[1]

Admiral and commodore-governor

Gower was promoted rear-admiral of the white in February 1799.

In 1804 he was promoted to vice-admiral of the white and appointed governor of Newfoundland. Gower Street in St. John's is named in his honour.

In late 1804, Gower sent the hired cutter Queen Charlotte, under a Lieutenant Morrison, to Labrador to investigate reports of an influx of American fishing boats. As a result of the report, the Admiralty decided to station a sloop in the fishing waters to chase off the Americans.[2]


  1. Banks, Joseph. Papers of Sir Joseph Banks; Section 12: Lord Macartney’s embassy to China; Series 62: Papers concerning publication of the account of Lord Macartney's Embassy to China, ca 1797. [State Library of New South Wales.]
  2. Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage

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Political offices
Preceded by
James Gambier
Commodore Governor of Newfoundland
Succeeded by
John Holloway