George Bingham, 3rd Earl of Lucan
|The Earl of Lucan|
The 3rd Earl of Lucan. Engraving by D J Pound, c. 1860
|Born||16 April 1800
|Died||10 November 1888 (aged 88)
|Years of service||1816 – 1877|
|Commands held||Cavalry Division|
|Awards||Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath|
Field Marshal George Charles Bingham, 3rd Earl of Lucan GCB (16 April 1800 – 10 November 1888), styled Lord Bingham before 1839, was a British Army officer. He was hated by the Irish because of his intolerant behaviour as a land owner during the Great Famine in the late 1840s. He was responsible for giving the fateful order during the Battle of Balaclava in October 1854 which led to the Light division commander, the Earl of Cardigan, leading the fateful Charge of the Light Brigade. He also made an important contribution in Parliament when he came up with a solution which allowed Jews to sit there. He was subsequently promoted to field marshal despite the debacle at Balaclava.
Born the first son of the 2nd Earl of Lucan and Elizabeth Bingham (née Belasyse), Bingham attended Westminster School but left formal education to be commissioned as an ensign in the 6th Regiment of Foot on 29 August 1816. He transferred to the 11th Light Dragoons on 24 December 1818.
Bingham became a lieutenant in the 8th Regiment of Foot on 20 January 1820, a captain in the 74th Regiment of Foot on 16 May 1822 and was promoted to major, unattached, on 23 June 1825. He transferred to the 17th Lancers on 1 December 1825 and became commanding officer of the regiment with the rank of lieutenant colonel on 9 November 1826; he lavished such expense on his officers' uniforms and horses that the officers became known as "Bingham's Dandies." He was also elected as MP for County Mayo in 1826 and held that seat until 1830. During the Russo-Turkish War, which began in 1828, he acted observer with the Imperial Russian Army.
Bingham succeeded his father as 3rd Earl of Lucan on 30 June 1839 and, having become an Irish Representative Peer in June 1840 and having been promoted to colonel on 23 November 1841, he became Lord Lieutenant of Mayo in 1845. During the Great Famine in the late 1840s he acted in a sufficiently clumsy and insensitive manner, by introducing mass evictions from villages such as Ballinrobe, that he earned the hatred of many of the local people and became known as "The Exterminator". He was promoted to major-general on 11 November 1851.
At the outbreak of the Crimean War Lucan applied for a post and was made commander of the cavalry division. His brother-in-law, the Earl of Cardigan, was one of his subordinates, commanding the Light Brigade – an unfortunate choice as the two men heartily detested each other. Promoted to brevet lieutenant general on 18 August 1854, he was present at the Battle of Alma in September 1854 but, on the orders of the Army commander, Lord Raglan, he held his division in reserve. At the Battle of Balaclava in October 1854, Lucan received an order from Raglan and in turn ordered Cardigan to lead the fateful Charge of the Light Brigade leading to some 278 British casualties. As Lucan brought the Heavy Brigade forward in support he was lightly wounded in the leg. Raglan blamed Lucan for the loss, "you have lost the light brigade", and censured him in dispatches. Although Lucan complained against this censure, as the relationship between the army commander and the cavalry commander had clearly broken down, he was recalled to England, where he returned at the beginning of March 1855.
On his arrival Lucan's demand for a court-martial was declined and instead he defended himself with a speech to the House of Lords on 19 March 1855, blaming Raglan and his deceased aide-de-camp, Captain Louis Nolan. This tactic appears to have been successful as he was subsequently appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath on 5 July 1855 and Colonel of the 8th Light Dragoons, who had charged with the Light Brigade, on 17 November 1855.
A significant contribution was made by Lucan to Parliament when he produced an ingenious solution to the problem of admitting Jews to Parliament. Prior to this, distinguished Jews had declined to take the oath "on the true faith of a Christian" and having not been sworn in as required by statute, were refused voting rights although having been elected an MP. Lucan proposed, by way of a compromise, that each House could decide and modify its own oath. The House of Lords, who had long opposed the admission of Jews, agreed to this. A prominent Jew, Lionel Nathan Rothschild, was thus allowed to enter the House of Commons and was sworn in on 26 July 1858.
Although Lucan never again saw active duty he was promoted to lieutenant-general on 24 December 1858, and having become colonel of the 1st Regiment of Life Guards on 27 February 1865, he was to promoted to general on 28 August 1865. He formally retired in October 1877 but after some lobbying he was promoted to field marshal on 21 June 1887. He died at 13 South Street, Park Lane, London on 10 November 1888 and was buried at Laleham in Middlesex.
Lucan's honours included:
- Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) - 2 June 1869 (KCB - 5 July 1855)
- Order of the Medjidie, 1st Class (Ottoman Empire) - 2 March 1858
- Legion of Honour, 3rd Class (France) - 2 August 1856
- "George Bingham, 3rd Earl of Lucan". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- The London Gazette: . 27 February 1818. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- Heathcote, p. 41
- The London Gazette: . 22 September 1826. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- The London Gazette: . 30 June 1840. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- "Lord Lucan and the Irish potato famine". The Victorian Web. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- The London Gazette: . 11 November 1851. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- The London Gazette: . 18 August 1854. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- Heathcote, p. 42
- Calthorpe, p. 132
- The London Gazette: . 12 November 1854. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- The London Gazette: . 12 November 1854. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- The London Gazette: . 10 July 1855. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- The London Gazette: . 4 December 1855. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- "Journey Bank to Westminster: Lionel de Rothschild's journey to parliament, 1847-1858". Rothschold Archive. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- The London Gazette: . 11 January 1859. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- The London Gazette: . 3 March 1865. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- The London Gazette: . 12 September 1865. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- The London Gazette: . 2 October 1877. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- The London Gazette: . 5 January 1888. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- The London Gazette: . 2 June 1869. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- The London Gazette: . 2 March 1858. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- The London Gazette: . 4 August 1856. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- Calthorpe, Somerset John Gough (1857). Letters from Headquarters: Or, The Realities of the War in the Crimea, by an Officer on the Staff. London: John Murray.
- Heathcote, Tony (1999). The British Field Marshals 1736–1997. Leo Cooper. ISBN 0-85052-696-5.
- Adkin, Mark (1996). The Charge: The Real Reason Why The Light Brigade Was Lost. Leo Cooper. ISBN 978-0850524697.
- Brighton, Terry (2005). Hell Riders: the Truth about the Charge of the Light Brigade. Penguin. ISBN 978-0670915286.
- Woodham-Smith, Cecil (1953). The Reason Why: The True Story of the Fatal Charge of the Light Brigade. Penguin Group. ISBN 978-0140012781.
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|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Mayo
With: James Browne
Sir John Brown
|Colonel of the 8th (The King's Royal Irish) Hussars
The Viscount Combermere
|Colonel of the 1st Regiment of Life Guards
Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar
The Marquess of Sligo
|Lord Lieutenant of Mayo
The Earl of Arran
|Peerage of Ireland|
|Earl of Lucan
The Earl of Enniskillen
|Representative peer for Ireland