John Ligonier, 1st Earl Ligonier

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"Lord Ligonier" redirects here. See also Lord Ligonier (slave ship).
The Earl Ligonier
1st Earl Ligonier.jpg
John Ligonier
Born 7 November 1680
Castres, France
Died 28 April 1770(1770-04-28) (aged 89)
Cobham, Surrey
Allegiance  Kingdom of England
 Kingdom of Great Britain
Service/branch  English Army
 British Army
Years of service 1702 - 1770
Rank Field Marshal
Battles/wars War of the Spanish Succession
War of the Austrian Succession
Jacobite rising of 1745
Seven Years' War
Awards Knight of the Bath

Field Marshal John (Jean Louis) Ligonier, 1st Earl Ligonier, KB, PC (7 November 1680 – 28 April 1770) was a French-born British soldier. He enjoyed a distinguished career as an active officer, and later became a leading official of the Pitt-Newcastle Ministry that led Britain during the Seven Years' War exercising extensive control over Britain's army as Commander-in-Chief of the Forces.

Military career[edit]

The son of Louis de Ligonier, a member of a Huguenot family of Castres in the south of France that had emigrated to England in 1697,[1] and Louise Ligonier (née du Poncet), John Ligonier was educated in France and Switzerland.[2] He joined a Regiment in Flanders commanded by Lord Cutts in 1702.[2]

He fought, with distinction, in the War of the Spanish Succession and was one of the first to mount the breach at the siege of Liège in October 1702.[3] After becoming a captain in the 10th Foot on 10 February 1703,[3] he commanded a company at the battles of Schellenberg in July 1704[3] and Blenheim in August 1704,[3] and was present at Menen[4] (where he led the storming of the covered way) as well as Ramillies in May 1706,[3] Oudenarde in July 1708[2] and Malplaquet in September 1709[3] (where he received twenty three bullets through his clothing yet remained unhurt).[5] In 1712, he became governor of Fort St. Philip, Minorca.[2] During the War of the Quadruple Alliance in 1719 he was adjutant-general of the troops employed in the Vigo expedition, where he led the stormers of Pontevedra.[3]

Two years later he became colonel of the Black Horse.[2] He was made a brigadier general in 1735,[1] major general in 1739,[2] and accompanied Lord Stair in the Rhine Campaign of 1742 to 1743.[3] He was promoted to lieutenant general on 26 February 1742[6] and George II made him a Knight of the Bath on the field of Dettingen in June 1743.[3] At Fontenoy in May 1745, Ligonier commanded the British, Hanoverian, and Hessian infantry.[2]

During the Jacobite rising of 1745 he was called home to command the British army in the Midlands.[7] In November 1745 he led a column of troops sent to Lancashire to oppose the rebels.[8] Having been promoted to the rank of general of horse on 3 January 1746,[9] he was placed at the head of the British and British-paid contingents of the Allied army in the Low Countries in June 1746.[10]

He was present at Rocoux in October 1746[11] and, having been made Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance on 19 March 1747,[12] he fought at Lauffeld in July 1747, where he led the charge of the British cavalry.[11] He did this with such vigour that he overthrew the whole line of French cavalry.[13] In this encounter his horse was killed and he was taken prisoner by Louis XV, but was exchanged within a few days.[14] The official despatch reported:

"it is impossible to commend too much the conduct of the generals both horse and foot. Sir John Legonier, who charged at the head of the British dragoons with that skill and spirit that he has shown on so many occasions, and in which he was so well seconded..."[14]

Equestrian portrait of Lord Ligonier by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1760.

He became Member of Parliament for Bath in March 1748[11] and colonel of the 2nd Dragoon Guards in 1749.[11]

On 6 April 1750 he was appointed Governor of Guernsey[15] and on 3 February 1753 he became colonel of the Royal Horse Guards.[16]

Seven Years War[edit]

In September 1757, following the disgrace of the Duke of Cumberland who had signed the Convention of Klosterzeven, Ligonier was made Commander-in-Chief of the Forces.[11] He worked closely with the Pitt-Newcastle Ministry who sought his strategic advice in connection with the Seven Years' War which was underway at this time.[11] Ligonier was also made a field marshal on 3 December 1757,[17] Colonel of the 1st Foot Guards on the same date[17] and a peer of Ireland on 10 December 1757 under the title of Viscount Ligonier of Enniskillen.[18] He was notionally given command of British forces in the event of a planned French invasion in 1759 though it never ultimately occurred.[2] He stood down as commander-in-chief in 1759 and became Master-General of the Ordnance.[2] He was given a further Irish peerage on 1 May 1762 as Viscount Ligonier of Clonmell (with remainder to his nephew) and on 19 April 1763 he became a Baron, and on 6 September 1766 an Earl, in the British peerage.[19]

Retirement[edit]

He spent his later years at Cobham Park in Cobham, Surrey.[20] Ligonier died, still unmarried, on 28 April 1770 and was buried in Cobham Church.[21] There is a monument to him, sculpted by John Francis Moore[22] in Westminster Abbey.[21] His younger brother, Francis, was also a distinguished soldier.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Pilkington p.546
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "John Ligonier, 1st Earl Ligonier". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Heathcote p.202
  4. ^ Clarke p.45
  5. ^ Mayo p.12
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 8200. p. 3. 22 February 1742. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 8484. p. 10. 12 November 1745. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  8. ^ The Scots magazine, Volume 7, p.535. Retrieved 3 May 2012. 
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 8602. p. 1. 1 January 1746. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: no. 8548. p. 5. 24 June 1746. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Heathcote p.203
  12. ^ The London Gazette: no. 8728. p. 1. 15 March 1747. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  13. ^ Browne, p.153
  14. ^ a b Albemarle p.358
  15. ^ The London Gazette: no. 8942. p. 1. 3 April 1750. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  16. ^ The London Gazette: no. 9238. p. 2. 30 January 1753. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  17. ^ a b The London Gazette: no. 9744. p. 1. 3 December 1757. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  18. ^ Walpole p.267
  19. ^ Kimber p.185
  20. ^ "Ancient History of Cobham Park". andywebber.com. Retrieved 6 March 2008. 
  21. ^ a b Heathcote p.204
  22. ^ Dictionary of British Sculptors, 1660-1851 by Rupert Gunnis

Sources[edit]

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
George Wade
Robert Henley
Member of Parliament for Bath
1748–1763
With: Robert Henley 1748–1757
William Pitt 1757–1763
Succeeded by
William Pitt
Sir John Sebright
Military offices
Preceded by
Charles Sybourg
Colonel of Sir John Ligonier's Regiment of Horse
(Black Horse)

1720–1749
Succeeded by
John Mordaunt
Preceded by
George Wade
Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance
1748–1757
Succeeded by
Lord George Sackville
Preceded by
The Duke of Montagu
Colonel of The Queen's Regiment of Dragoon Guards
1749–1753
Succeeded by
William Herbert
Preceded by
The Duke of Somerset
Governor of Guernsey
1750–1752
Succeeded by
The Lord De La Warr
Preceded by
The Earl of Dunmore
Governor of Plymouth
1752–1759
Succeeded by
Richard Onslow
Vacant
Title last held by
The Duke of Richmond
Colonel of the Royal Horse Guards Blue
1753–1758
Succeeded by
Marquess of Granby
Preceded by
The Duke of Cumberland
Commander-in-Chief of the Forces
1757–1759
Vacant
Title next held by
Marquess of Granby
Preceded by
The Duke of Cumberland
Colonel of the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards
1757–1770
Succeeded by
The Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh
Preceded by
Vacant
Master-General of the Ordnance
1759–1763
Succeeded by
Marquess of Granby
Peerage of Great Britain
New creation Earl Ligonier
1766–1770
Extinct
Baron Ligonier
1763–1770
Peerage of Ireland
New creation Viscount Ligonier
1762–1770
Succeeded by
Edward Ligonier
Viscount Ligonier
1757–1770
Extinct