Sir Edward (1720-94), Admiral of the Blue, had a long and distinguished career, joining the Navy in 1735 and lastly serving as Commander-in-Chief of the East Indies 1783-93. He led numerous important campaigns in Indian waters, notably against his archrival, the French Admiral de Suffren, accumulating considerable wealth along the way, much of which he gave to charity late in his life. In 1773 he was knighted; he became a Knight of the Bath in 1778. Admiral Hughes was painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds 1786-7 in vice-admiral's full-dress uniform with star and ribbon of the Order of the Bath, his right hand holding orders inscribed to him ...KB Commander-in-Chief of His Majesty's Ships ordered to sail (to be ) employed in the East Indies...; in the background his 74-gun flagship, 'Superb'.
About 1780 Admiral Hughes ordered a small famille rose and gilt service with his crest encircled by the Order of the Bath necklace (see D.S. Howard, op. cit., vol. II, p. 496, for a coffee cup from the author's collection); see also Sir Algernon Tudor-Craig's Armorial Porcelain, p. 65, where a Worcester dessert service of the same pattern is also illustrated. Later Hughes ordered the large blue and white dinner service that included the present pair. A vegetable tureen and cover from the later service was sold Christie's New York, 26 January 2006, lot 3.