Hotham, Sir Charles
b. 1806-01-14
d. 1855-12-13
Charles Hotham was born 14 January 1806 in Norfolk, England. The Hotham family held a distinguished position in the Royal Navy, after Vice Admiral Henry Hotham, Charles' uncle, had helped stop Napoleon escape to America following his defeat at Waterloo.1 Hotham entered the naval college at Portsmouth in 1818, entering naval service at 14, and achieving the rank of lieutenant at 19.2
Hotham was made a captain in 1833, but due to peacetime measures, was not assigned until 1842. In 1842, Hotham was assigned to the Gorgon, tasked with keeping British citizens safe against Portuguese attacks in South America. In 1845, Hotham led British ships, aided by the French navy, against a Spanish blockade at the Parana River. He was knighted the following year for his achievement.3 In 1846, Hotham was assigned to the West Coast of Africa to stop slave ships travelling to the Americas. Over two years, Hotham was able to set 15000 slaves free.4
Hotham had hoped for naval advancement in return for his achievements, but was instead offered the position of Lieutenant Governor of Victoria, Australia.5 In 1854, Hotham married Jane Sarah Holbech, and moved to the Victoria colony. Hotham faced serious bureaucratic issues as the colony had recently experienced a gold rush. Hotham was tasked with reforming political institutions, but would face serious opposition. For example, in November 1854, diggers burnt their licenses in a show of resistance and barricaded the area known as Eureka, after a police raid, thirty diggers died.6
The following year, Hotham was promoted to Governor. Hotham's public perception suffered significantly as a result of his reforms and the Eureka Crisis.7 Nonetheless, Hotham continued work on producing a responsible government; however, he wrote to England, requesting that he be relieved of his position as Governor. Hotham died of pneumonia on 13 December 1855.8
  • 1. Shirely Roberts, Hotham, Sir Charles, Oxford Dictionary Of National Biography.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. Ibid.
  • 7. Ibid.
  • 8. Ibid.
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Victoria, Australia