Arthur Dillon (1750–1794)
|Born||3 September 1750|
Bray Wick, England
|Died||13 April 1794 (aged 43)|
Paris, French First Republic
|Allegiance||Kingdom of France|
Arthur Dillon (1750–1794) was an Irish Catholic aristocrat born in England who inherited the ownership of a regiment that served France under the Ancien Régime during the American Revolutionary War and then the French First Republic during the War of the First Coalition. After serving in political positions during the early years of the revolution, he was executed in Paris as a royalist during the Reign of Terror in 1794.
Birth and origins
Arthur was born on 3 September 1750 at Bray Wick in Berkshire, England. He was the third child and second son of Henry Dillon and his wife Charlotte Lee. His father was the 11th Viscount Dillon. Arthur's mother was a daughter of George Lee, 2nd Earl of Lichfield.
Arthur appears below among his siblings as the third child:
- Charles (1745–1813), became the 12th Viscount Dillon;
- Frances (1747–1825), married Sir William Jerningham, 6th Baronet Jerningham;
- Arthur (1750–1794);
- Catherine (1752–1797);
- Laura (born 1754);
- Charlotte (1755–1782), married Valentine, 1st Earl of Kenmare (1754–1812); and
- Henry (1759–1837), became the last colonel of Dillon's Regiment and married Frances Trant.
On 25 August 1767, at the age of 16, he became colonel of Dillon's Regiment taking over from his father who had been absentee colonel for twenty years from 1747 to 1767 after the death of his uncle Edward at Lauffeld in 1747.
Marriage and children
At eighteen, Colonel Dillon married a second cousin, Therese-Lucy de Rothe (1751–1782).
The couple had two children:
- George (who died at the age o two) and
- Henriette-Lucy, or Lucie (by marriage, Henriette-Lucy, Marquise de La Tour du Pin Gouvernet), a memoiriste of the Revolutionary period and the Napoleonic era.
He was to become the grandfather of Arthur Dillon, also a military officer.
American Revolutionary War
In 1778 France entered the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) on the American side. Colonel Dillon sailed with his regiment to the Caribbean to campaign against Britain under the command of D'Estaing. In 1779 he and his regiment fought at the Capture of Grenada against British forces under George Macartney. They landed on 2 July, and stormed the Hospital Hill which the British had chosen as the centre of their resistance. Arthur personally led one of the storm parties, his brother Henry led another. Macartney surrendered on 5 July. On 6 July 1779 a British fleet under appeared off the coast of the island and the naval engagement of the Battle of Grenada was fought. In September and October 1779 Dillon fought at the Siege of Savannah where he was promoted brigadier. After the Treaty of Paris, he became governor of Tobago.
Later life, death, and timeline
His first wife having died, he married a wealthy French Creole widow from Martinique, Laure de Girardin de Montgérald, the Comtesse de la Touche, by whom he had six children, including Élisabeth Françoise 'Fanny' Dillon, later wife of Henri Gatien Bertrand.
Dillon assumed military duties at a very difficult time for noble officers of the old army. On 29 April 1792 his cousin Théobald Dillon was lynched by his own troops after a minor skirmish. After the Battle of Valmy, when Charles Dumouriez returned to the Belgian frontier with the greater part of the army, he detached Dillon with 16,000 troops to form the rump of the Army of the Ardennes around 1 October 1792. Two weeks later Dillon was called to Paris for questioning and was ultimately arrested on 1 July 1793 despite being stoutly defended by his aide-de-camp François Séverin Marceau-Desgraviers. He was condemned for alleged participation in a prison conspiracy and executed by guillotine on 13 April 1794. In his final moments he mounted the scaffold shouting, "Vive le roi!" (Long live the king).
|0||1750, 3 Sep||Born at Bray Wick in Berkshire, England.|
|16||1767, 25 Aug||Became colonel and owner of Dillon's regiment.|
|37||1787, 3 Nov||His father died.|
|43||1794, 13 April||Died under the guillotine.|
- Compte-rendu au ministre de la guerre (Paris, 1792) ;
- Exposition des principaux événements qui ont eu le plus d'influence sur la révolution française (Paris, 1792).
- O'Callaghan 1854, p. 50, footnote: "... the latter [Arthur] at Braywick in Berkshire, in September, 1750."
- Debrett 1828b, p. 749: "CHARLES, 12th viscount, whose claim to the viscountcy was established by the house of lords in Ireland, after a solemn hearing, 18 March 1788; b. 6. Nov 1745 ..."
- Debrett 1828a, p. 315: "Sir William [Jerningham], 6th bart., m. June 1767, Frances Dillon, eldest da. of Henry, 11th Viscount Dillon ..."
- Betham 1801, p. 231: "VI. Sir WILLIAM JERNINGHAM, the present baronet, son and heir of Sir George, married in June 1767 Frances, eldest daughter of Henry, 11th Viscount Dillon ..."
- Debrett 1828b, p. 748, line 51: "Catharine, b. 4 June 1752, d. 24 May 1797."
- Debrett 1828b, p. 748, line 52: "Laura, b. 21 April 1754."
- Debrett 1828b, p. 723, line 44: "VALENTINE (called) 5th viscount Kenmare ... m. 1st 7 July 1777, Charlotte Dillon, da. of Henry, 11th Viscount Dillon ... "
- Burke 1949, p. 603, right column, line 28: "Henry, Major-Gen in the French and English services, Col. of the Dillon Regt. (in the English army 1794–8) when on the surrender of the 2nd Bn. at San Domingo it passed to the English Army, b. 28 June 1759; m. 1stly 29 Apr. 1790 Frances, dau. of Dominick Trant ..."
- La Tour du Pin 1913, pp. 14–15: "Note généalogique sur la Maison des Lords Dillon"
- Phipps 1926, p. 78, line 9: "... on the 29th April, his men broke and fled for Lille, which they re-entered in wild confusion, crying out 'Treason', wounding Dupont, and not only killing their general, Théobald Dillon, but venting their fury on his corpse ..."
- Phipps 1926, p. 135: "This troop was now reinforced to 16000, a strength later increased from garrisons ..."
- Phipps 1926, p. 137, line 27: "Arrested on the 1st July 1793, he was included amongst the victims of the alleged çonspiration des prisons' and was guillotined on the 13 April 1794, shouting vigorously 'vive le roi', as he mounted the scaffold."
- Betham, Rev. William (1801), The Baronetage of England: Or The History of the English Baronets, and Such Baronets of Scotland, as are of English Families; with Genealogical Tables, and Engravings of Their Coats of Arms, 1, London: William Miller (for Jerningham)
- Burke, Bernard (1949), A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire (99th ed.), London: Burke's Peerage Ltd.
- Debrett, John (1828a), Peerage of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, 1 (17th ed.), London: F. C. and J. Rivington - England (for Jerningham)
- Debrett, John (1828b), Peerage of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, 2 (17th ed.), London: F. C. and J. Rivington - Scotland and Ireland (for Dillon & Kenmare)
- La Tour du Pin, Henriette-Lucy, Marquise de (1913), Journal d'une femme de cinquante ans (in French), 1 (7th ed.), Paris: Librairie Chapelot
- Morehead, Caroline (2009). Dancing to the Precipice: The Life of Lucie de la Tour du Pin, Eyewitness to an Era. Harper. ISBN 978-0-06-168441-8.
- O'Callaghan, John (1854), History of the Irish Brigade in the service of France, New York: P. O'Shea Publisher
- Phipps, Ramsay Weston (1926), The Armies of the First French Republic and the Rise of the Marshals of Napoleon I, 1 The Armée du Nord, London: Oxford University Press
- Bouillet, Marie-Nicolas; Chassang, Alexis, eds. (1878). Dictionnaire Bouillet (in French). Missing or empty
- Larousse, Pierre (1863–1890). Grand Dictionnaire universel du XIXe siècle. 15 volumes
- Biographie moderne, Paris Eymery Éditeur (1815);
- Six, G. Dictionnaire des généraux.