George Higginson

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Sir George Higginson
George WA Higginson, Vanity Fair, 1884-04-12.jpg
A cartoon of George Higginson from an 1884 edition of Vanity Fair
Born 21 June 1826
Died 1 February 1927 (aged 100)
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Rank General
Commands held Home District
Battles/wars Crimean War
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order

General Sir George Wentworth Alexander Higginson, GCB, GCVO (21 June 1826 – 1 February 1927) was a British general and Crimean War hero who served more than 30 years in the Grenadier Guards.

Military career[edit]

Higginson was born in 1826 in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, England. He was the son of General George Powell Higginson, Grenadier Guards, who distinguished himself at the Battle of Corunna, and Lady Frances Elizabeth Needham, daughter of the 1st Earl of Kilmorey. He spent his childhood in West London, which at that time consisted of villages and fields, and was educated at Eton College.

Higginson was commissioned into the Grenadier Guards in 1845 and, as Adjutant of the 3rd Battalion, he served throughout the Crimean War. He participated in the battles of Alma, Balaklava and Inkerman, having his horse shot from under him at Inkerman. He was also present at the siege and fall of Sebastopol, following which he served as Brigade-Major of his regiment, until the end of the war.

Higginson, throughout his career, travelled extensively on military affairs, to Ireland, Canada, France, Italy and Russia. He also spent time in the United States during the American Civil War, where he had family ties. From 1879 to 1884 he was Major General commanding the Brigade of Guards and General Officer Commanding the Home District.[1] As Commanding Officer of the Brigade of Guards, he was asked in 1882 to assist in the (now defunct) Royal Tournament.[2]

Higginson served as Lieutenant Governor of the Tower of London from 1888 to 1893.

Higginson wrote an autobiography in 1916, entitled 71 Years of a Guardsman's Life.

Higginson was knighted on 18 July 1903[3] and his 100th birthday was celebrated with great splendour in his native Marlow. He was a personal friend of the Royal Family, and had close ties with King Edward VII. King George V and Queen Mary were regular visitors to Gyldernscroft, his home in Marlow. In 1923, aged 96, he became a godfather to George Lascelles, later 7th Earl of Harewood, the first grandson of King George V and Queen Mary, and elder son of HRH Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles.

Higginson was associated for many years with the Gordon Boys' Home (now Gordon's School) at West End near Woking, Surrey, which was founded as the national memorial to General Charles Gordon, who was killed at Khartoum, Sudan, in 1885.

To mark his 100th birthday, the inhabitants of Marlow organised a public collection and, with its proceeds, purchased Higginson Park, alongside the River Thames, as a memorial to their town's most famous son. Higginson himself contributed generously to the collection. At a ceremony in the town, HRH Princess Mary, the Princess Royal, presented the deeds of the park to Higginson.

Higginson died in February 1927, and his funeral, with full military honours, was described by observers as the grandest Marlow had seen, with hundreds lining the streets.

References[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Frederick Stephenson
GOC Home District
1879–1884
Succeeded by
Sir Reginald Gipps