Bentinck, John Albert 1737-1775, captain, was a member of the younger line of the house of Bentinck. His father, William, Count Bentinck, was a younger son of the first Earl of Portland, and married the daughter of the last Count of Aldenburg. John Albert, the second son of this marriage, was born in 1737, and at an early age entered the British navy. In August 1752 he was serving as a volunteer on board the Centurion, in which vessel he visited Lisbon, but returned in the same year to Leyden, where he remained for some time. In 1753 he was appointed midshipman to the Penzance, a fifth-rate of 44 guns, commanded by Captain Bonfoy (or Bonnefoy), and joined his ship at Plymouth in June of that year to make a voyage in the following July to Newfoundland.
In 1758 Bentinck was present at an engagement in which the British captured the French vessel Raisonnable. In the same month he was appointed to the command of H.M. sloop Fly, and in that vessel took part later in the expedition under Lord Anson to cover the landing of Marlborough at St. Malo. He was then for some time stationed with his sloop off Emden, and while there he became involved in an unfortunate misunderstanding, in the course of which he took the extreme step of placing a Captain Angell, his superior officer, under arrest. The affair, however, was cleared up, the accusations against Captain Angell which had prompted his arrest were fully withdrawn, and on 17 Oct. 1758 Bentinck was promoted to be captain of the Dover frigate. In January 1759, being then still on board the Fly, he had to aid in the transport of troops to England, and in March of that year took up his new command. He did not remain long on the Dover, but was soon removed into the Niger frigate. In this vessel he was employed in 1760 as a cruiser, and distinguished himself highly in an engagement with a French ship of war of very superior weight and armament—the Diadem, of 74 guns. About a week after this action, in returning from Plymouth, where he had gone to repair damages, he fell in with and captured the Jason, a French privateer carrying 8 guns and 52 men. In the following November he captured off Morlaix the French corvette Epreuve, carrying 14 guns and 136 men. He remained in the Niger till the end of the war (1762). Quitting the Niger on the conclusion of peace, he remained without a commission till 1766. In that year he was commissioned to the Dragon, of 74 guns, at Portsmouth, and retained that command for three years. In 1770 he was appointed successor to Captain Robert Hughes in command of the Centaur, 74 guns, a guardship at Portsmouth, and held this, his last command, for three years. He ndied two years later on 23 Sept. 1775.
Bentinck had great ingenuity in mechanical pursuits, and effected many useful nautical improvements, especially with regard to ships' pumps. He introduced such important additions and improvements into the chain pump used on board ship as to have gained the credit of its invention. At the general election of 1761 he was elected to parliament for the town of Rye, one of the cinque ports, and retained his seat till the dissolution in 1768.
Bentinck was a count of the empire. He married in 1763 Renira, daughter of Baron de Serooskerken, and by her became the founder of a second English line of Bentincks. He left a son, William, Count Bentinck (1764-1813), who entered the navy, and rose to the rank of vice-admiral.
MS. correspondence of William, Count Bentinck, Brit. Mus. Egerton, 1727
Charnock's Biographia Navalis, vols. v. and vi.
Gent. Mag. 1775
Contributor: R. H. [Robert Harrison]