Beresford, Lord Charles William de la Poer (1846–1919), admiral and MP, was born 10 February 1846 in Baronstown, Dundalk, Co. Louth, second son of the Rev. John de la Poer Beresford (1814–66), 4th marquis of Waterford, and Christiana Beresford (1820–1905; née Leslie). He was educated in England and entered the Royal Navy as a cadet (December 1859), joining the Marlborough, one of the last wooden battleships. During the period 1882–5, after action in Egypt and the Sudan, he became a captain, a CB, and a British national hero as a result of his command of the little Condor at the bombardment of Alexandria (July 1882), where he also helped to restore order on shore, and for his command of the naval brigade and vessels in the Sudan. Later becoming vice-admiral (1902), commander of the Channel squadron (1903–5), KCB (1903), C-in-C Mediterranean naval forces, admiral (1906), and C-in-C Channel Fleet (1907–9), he was retired in 1911 and given a GCB.
Beresford sat as conservative MP for Waterford county (1874–80), through his family's influence, and for Marylebone East (1885–9), York (1897–1900), Woolwich (1902–3), and Portsmouth (1910–16). His primary political concern was the strength and efficiency of the Royal Navy. He was fourth sea lord (1886–9), but his naval and political careers both suffered from personal antagonisms and his public dissent from many admiralty policies – in particular those of Sir John Fisher (Beresford's superior officer at Alexandria and in later postings). His liaison with Lady Brooke led in 1889–91 to the end of a long friendship with the prince of Wales, who as king (1901–10) supported Fisher's naval policies against those for which Beresford agitated. When Beresford's Channel Fleet command was terminated a year early, he launched a vigorous campaign against Fisher and the government, but failed to put his own case on naval reform to the best effect. He retained, however, great personal popularity. On military defence issues he supported Lord Roberts (qv). While opposing Irish home rule and any attempt to coerce the Ulster loyalists, Beresford wished to see ‘Dublin Castle’ and the lord-lieutenancy replaced, and a royal residence in Ireland set up (a policy put forward in 1885 by the Liberal viceroy, Lord Spencer (qv)). In 1916 he was made Baron Beresford of Metemneh and Curraghmore, Co. Waterford. On his death (of a cerebral haemorrhage in Scotland, 6 September 1919) he was given a state funeral at St Paul's cathedral, London. He was buried in Putney Vale cemetery, and left an estate of £13,122. 11s. 0d.
He married (1878) Ellen Jeromina (‘Mina’) Gardner (d. 1922); they had two daughters. The barony became extinct at his death. His writings include Nelson and his times (1898), The break-up of China (1899), The betrayal: being a record of . . . naval policy . . . (1912), and his memoirs (1914). A portrait (1903) by C. W. Furse is in the National Portrait Gallery, London.