Hawke of Towton, Edward Hawke, 1st Baron (touˈtən) [key], 1705–81, British admiral. He entered the navy in 1720 and first saw fighting as commander of a ship in the battle of Toulon (1744). He was promoted (1747) to rear admiral and in the same year inflicted a major defeat on a French squadron off La Rochelle. In the Seven Years War, Hawke relieved (1756) Admiral John Byng as commander in the Mediterranean and was appointed an admiral. In Nov., 1759, after blockading the French ports in the Bay of Biscay for six months, he won a decisive victory over the French fleet in Quiberon Bay. His victory averted the danger of a French invasion of Great Britain. He served (1766–71) as first lord of the admiralty and was raised (1776) to the peerage. During his long career Hawke did much to improve conditions in the fleet.
See biography by R. F. Mackay (1965).