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Bullen, Sir Charles (1769–1853), naval officer, was born on 10 September 1769 at Newcastle upon Tyne, the son of John Bullen (surgeon-general on the coast of North America, 1779–81) and his wife, Ruth, daughter of Charles Liddell and cousin of Lord High Chancellor Eldon. He entered the navy in February 1779 on board the Europe, the flagship of Vice-Admiral Arbuthnot, on the North American station. During the peace after the peace of Versailles (1783) he was mostly in the Mediterranean, and was promoted lieutenant on 9 August 1791. In the same year he married a distant relative, Miss Wood (d. 10 July 1842); they had children. In 1794 he was a lieutenant of the Ramillies, one of the fleet with Lord Howe in the battle of the ‘Glorious First of June’. In 1797 he was first lieutenant of the Monmouth, one of the ships implicated in the Nore mutiny; she was afterwards at Camperdown, on 11 October, when Bullen, having been sent to take possession of the Dutch ship Delft, found her in a sinking state and remained trying to save the wounded until she went down. Bullen was rescued and, in recognition of his exertions, was promoted commander on 2 January 1798.

In 1801 Bullen commanded the sloop Wasp on the west coast of Africa; he was promoted captain on 29 April 1802. In 1804 he was appointed flag-captain to Lord Northesk in the Britannia, which he commanded at Trafalgar. The Britannia was the fourth ship in the weather line led by Nelson himself, and was thus early in action, continuing closely engaged until the end, with a loss of ten killed and forty-two wounded.

During the years 1807–11 Bullen commanded successively the frigates Volontaire and Cambrian in the Mediterranean, off Toulon, and on the coast of Spain; from 1814 to 1817 he commanded the Akbar (50 guns) on the North American station; and from 1824 to 1827 he was commodore on the west coast of Africa, on the Maidstone. In July 1830 Bullen was appointed superintendent of Pembroke dockyard, and also captain of the yacht Royal Sovereign, both of which offices he held until he became rear-admiral on 10 January 1837. He had no further employment afloat, but was advanced by seniority to the rank of vice-admiral on 9 November 1846 and that of admiral on 30 July 1852. He was created CB on 4 June 1815; KCH on 13 January 1835; KCB on 18 April 1839; and GCB on 7 April 1852. He also received the gold medal for Trafalgar, and a £300 good-service pension (1843). He died at Shirley, near Southampton, on 2 July 1853.

J. K. Laughton, rev. Roger Morriss


O'Byrne, Naval biog. dict. · GM, 2nd ser., 40 (1853), 309 · Boase, Mod. Eng. biog.


oils, 1843–6, NMM · A. Grant, oils, 1849, NMM · portrait, Greenwich, painted hall