Berkeley, James, third Earl of Berkeley 1680-1736, admiral, was the second son of Charles, the second earl. He was appointed captain of the Sorlings frigate, 2 April 1701. He was shortly afterwards promoted to the 50-gun ship Lichfield, in which he cruised successfully in the Channel. On 7 March 1703-4, his father being then alive, he was summoned to the House of Lords as Lord Berkeley of Berkeley, and about the same time was appointed to the Boyne, 80, in which he joined Sir George Rooke in the Mediterranean, and was present at the battle of Malaga, 13 Aug. 1704 (Lediard, 795 n.). In 1706, in command of the St. George, he was again in the Mediterranean with Sir Clowdisley Shovell, was prominently engaged in the siege of Toulon, August 1707, and, coming to England in company with the commander-in-chief, had a very narrow escape of sharing his unhappy fate, 22 Oct. [see Shovell, Sir Clowdisley]. The St. George did indeed strike on the same rocks as the Association, almost at the same moment; but the swell which beat the one to pieces washed the other clear off. On 26 Jan. 1707-8, he was raised to flag rank; possibly, as is said, as vice-admiral of the blue; and presently hoisted his flag on board the Berwick as second in command under Sir George Byng during the operations in the Forth and on the coast of Scotland in 1708. He continued actively employed in the Channel during the rest of that year, and till May 1710, when he struck his flag. By the death of his father on 24 Sept. he became Earl of Berkeley, and was appointed lord-lieutenant of the county of Gloucester. From this office he was removed in 1711, but was reappointed on the accession of George I. On 16 April 1717 he was appointed first lord commissioner of the admiralty, and continued in that post for ten years, till the death of the king. In March 1718-9, during the short war with Spain, he was appointed commander-in-chief of the fleet in the Channel, with Sir John Norris commanding in the second post. Norris was senior on the list of admirals; but they were both lords commissioners of the admiralty, and in that capacity Berkeley was the superior. He was also vice-admiral of the kingdom; Norris was only rear-admiral. These offices have always, except in this one instance, been considered as purely civil, giving no executive command; but on this occasion Berkeley, by a particular warrant from the crown, hoisted the lord high-admiral's flag (the first time it was ever worn in command at sea), and had three captains appointed under him as a lord high-admiral, Littleton, then vice-admiral of the white, being his first captain (Martin-Leake's Life of Sir John Leake (1750), 42); Hosier was the second. On the rare occasions on which a lord high-admiral has actually commanded a fleet, he has always worn the standard as the flag of command; but, except by special order from the crown, the first commissioner, as such, has no executive authority.
After this cruise, on 15 April 1719 Berkeley struck his flag and held no further command at sea, but five times he was one of the lords justices when the king went to Hanover. In April 1718 he was installed as a knight of the Garter, and the number of honorary appointments which he held was very great. He died at Aubigny in France, a seat of the Duke of Richmond, on 17 Aug. 1736, and was buried at Berkeley. He married, in 1714, Lady Louisa Lennox, daughter of the first Duke of Richmond, by whom he had one son, who succeeded him as fourth earl, and a daughter.
Charnock's Biog. Nav. iii. 201
Burchett's Naval History
Lediard's Naval History.
Contributor: J. K. L. [John Knox Laughton]