George Nicholas Hardinge entered the navy in 1793. He served on a succession of vessels, namely the Meleager, the San Fiorenzo (under Capt. C. Tyler), the Diomede, the Aigle, the Tiger, the Terror, the Scorpion, the Salsette and again the San Fiorenzo, the latter four being under his command.
Hardinge was appointed to the sloop Scorpion (18 guns) early in 1804, in which he distinguished himself by the cutting-out of the Dutch brig-corvette Atalante. For this gallant action Lt. Hardinge received post rank and was awarded a sword of £100 value by the committee of the Lloyd's Patriotic Fund.
On 4 March 1808 the frigate San Fiorenzo (36 guns), on her passage from Ceylon to Bombay, discovered the Frenchman La Piedmontaise (50 guns) in pursuit of three East India Company vessels. Captain Hardinge gave chase and over the course of the next four days an intermittent running action took place in which the San Fiorenzo was for a time severely disabled by enemy fire. On the 8th, at 4 pm, the two frigates re-opened fire at a distance of eighty yards. At the second broadside Captain Hardinge fell. After a severe action of an hour and a half the Frenchman struck her colours and was captured. For his role in the action Lt. Dawson was promoted to Post-Captain and was awarded a sword of £100 value by the committee of the Lloyd's Patriotic fund. A monument to Captain Hardinge was erected by the Government in St Paul's Cathedral. For a further account of the action see W.H. Long, op.cit.