|Date of Birth:|
Admiral Croft was a tall man, striking in appearance, with a raking scar across his face and a false hand attached to the stump of his left arm, with iron fingers operated by springs and catches. He had lost the limb shortly before his promotion to flag rank and had afterwards put on a great deal of weight.
Croft was in command of William Laurence's home squadron in early 1805. His flagship, the HMS Commendable, was at the port of Funchal on Madeira when the HMS Reliant arrived, bearing Temeraire, who had been hatched about three weeks before. Croft was impatient and petty, apparently concerned mainly with his admiral's share of the French prizes (i.e., the French frigate Amitie and Temeraire's egg) and with keeping either the Amitie or the Reliant as a plum for one of his own favourites rather than giving them to Gibbs and Riley, respectively, who had brought them in to Madeira.
It was Croft's dispatch to the Gibraltar covert that brought Captain Portland and Laetificat to Madeira. Croft's tactless - almost offensive - remark about Laurence being "lucky" to be relieved of the necessity of joining the Aerial Corps, made in Portland's presence, illustrated the attitude among naval officers that led aviators to keep to themselves.
It is not known whether or not this is the same Admiral Croft who married Sophia Wentworth, spent time in the East Indies after the Battle of Trafalgar and later rented Kellynch Hall from Sir Walter Elliot. The two Admirals Croft seem to be of quite different characters.