James Malcolm (Royal Marines officer)

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Sir James Malcolm
Lieutenant Colonel Sir James Malcolm, KCB, Royal Marines.jpg
Born (1767-01-13)13 January 1767
Dumfriesshire, Scotland
Died 27 December 1849(1849-12-27) (aged 82)
Minholm, Dumfriesshire, Scotland
Allegiance Great Britain
United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Marines
Years of service 1779–1827
Rank Lieutenant Colonel
Commands held 2nd Royal Marine Battalion

Lieutenant-Colonel Sir James Malcolm, KCB, was a Scottish officer of the British Royal Marines who served in the American Revolutionary War, in the Napoleonic Wars, and with noteworthy distinction in the Americas during the War of 1812.[1]

Early life and background[edit]

James Malcolm was born in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, on 13 January 1767, and died in Minholm, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, on 27 December 1849.[2] James was the second son of George Malcolm of Burnfoot, and his wife, the former Margaret Pasley. James was thus the older brother of Admiral Sir Pulteney Malcolm RN; Major-General Sir John Malcolm, Madras Army; and Vice Admiral Sir Charles Malcolm, RN.[3][4] The boys' maternal uncle was Admiral Sir Thomas Pasley, 1st Baronet.[4]

Royal Marine officer[edit]

Malcolm was commissioned in what would later become known as the Royal Marines in 1779 at the age of twelve. During the American Revolutionary War he was assigned to the Channel Fleet. In October, 1782, the fifteen-year-old Marine Lieutenant participated in Howe's final relief of the British forces in the Great Siege of Gibraltar, and the subsequent Battle of Cape Spartel, under the orders of Admiral Lord Richard Howe, 1st Earl Howe. Royal Marine Captain James Malcolm fought at sea under the command of Vice Admiral Sir John Duckworth, 1st Baronet in the Battle of San Domingo. In the course of the fighting, in which Royal Marines played an important role, all of the enemy's ships of the line were either captured or destroyed. For his valour in that action, Captain Malcolm was brevetted a Major on the Army List with seniority in that grade dating 6 February 1806.[1]

Seaborne, shore, and amphibious operations[edit]

In July 1812 Brevet Major Malcolm was named to command the 2nd of the two Royal Marines Battalions which were then in service. He led the battalion in Spain until January 1813. In the spring of 1813 he sailed with his command to the North American and West Indies Station. Participating in operations on the Chesapeake in the summer of 1813, he was rewarded by a second brevet promotion, this time to Lieutenant Colonel, on the British Army List.

In October 1813 he accompanied his battalion to Canada. Together with a 200-man detachment of the Canadian Fencibles, the Marines formed a corps of observation and reconnaissance watching the American forces under Major General James Wilkinson.

In May 1814, Malcolm's 2nd battalion of Royal Marines served together with a mixed British expeditionary force of veteran Scotsmen, Swiss, Canadian militiamen, and armed sailors, which probed American outposts on Lake Ontario in the Battle of Fort Oswego. Malcolm's Royal Marines battalion made up about half of the actual landing force under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Karl Victor Fischer (1766–1821) of the De Watteville regiment, (a veteran Swiss regiment in British pay), which assaulted and carried the American positions. Both Fischer and Malcolm were praised for their active role in the action.[5]

Lieutenant Colonel Malcolm commanded another battalion on the Chesapeake in the Battle of Bladensburg; the burning of Washington; and the Battle of Baltimore. Malcolm and his Marines continued to operate on the Atlantic coast, as far south as Georgia's Sea Islands and Spanish Florida, until the peace was established in May 1815.[1] In addition to the brevet promotions on the Army List, Sir James Malcolm was knighted in 1815 as a Knight Commander of the Bath (KCB) for his valour and merit on the North American Station.[6]

Later career and retirement[edit]

Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Sir James Malcolm continued to serve in the peace establishment until 1827.He advanced to the substantive rank of Major in the Royal Marines in 1821. In 1826 he was confirmed in the substantive rank of Lieutenant Colonel of the Corps of Royal Marines.[7][8]

Sir James then retired to Dumfriesshire, Scotland, where he figured among members of his household on the 1841 Scotland Census.[9]

Military promotions and distinctions[edit]

Note: H.M. Marine Forces redesignated as Royal Marines 29 April 1802.

Sir James Malcolm disposed of his commission and left the Royal Marines on 6 November 1827. He was allowed to retain his rank and his name was carried (in italics) on the annual British Army Lists from 1828 until 1850, (the year following his death,) as a Lieutenant Colonel with seniority dating from June 1813.[11]

Together which such names as Sir Richard Williams, George Lewis, Sir Edward Nicolls, John Robyns, and Thomas Benjamin Adair, Sir James Malcolm figures prominently in the second volume of the still authoritative history of the British Royal Marines, Paul Harris Nicolas's Historical Record of the Royal Marine Forces in two volumes (London, 1845).


Lieutenant-Colonel Sir James Malcolm (1767–1849) of the Royal Marines sat for a portrait by the Scottish artist Sir Henry Raeburn. The mid 19th century lithograph was donated to the Reference Collection of the National Portrait Gallery in 1985 by Mrs Carey.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Hart, H.G. (1850). Hart's Annual Army List, Militia List, and Imperial Yeomanry List. London: J. Murray. p. 74. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  2. ^ "Genealogy, Family Trees & Family History Records at Ancestry.com". ancestry.com. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  3. ^ Burke, J. Bernard (1884). The general armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. London: Harrison. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Journal of the Ethnological Society of London, 1848–1856". 1854. pp. 112–114. 
  5. ^ http://www.napoleon-series/military/Warof1812/2006/Issue3/c_oswego.html[dead link]
  6. ^ A List of the Officers of the Army and of the Royal Marines on Full, Retired, And Half Pay, With an Index. London: War Office. 12 February 1827. p. 102. 
  7. ^ A List of the Officers of the Army and of the Royal Marines on Full, Retired, And Half Pay, With an Index. London: War Office. 5 February 1824. p. 346. 
  8. ^ A List of the Officers of the Army and of the Royal Marines on Full, Retired, And Half Pay, With an Index. London: War Office. 12 February 1827. p. 347. 
  9. ^ Parish:Langholm;ED:1;Page: 5;Line:520; Roll:; Year: 1841./
  10. ^ "Steel's original and correct list of the Royal Navy...corrected to March 1798". London. 1798. p. 34. 
  11. ^ 27 March 2011 electronic communication from author Ron McGuigan of Ontario, Canada, citing the London Gazette of November, 1827, and the British War Office Lists with Harts Annual Army Lists as mentioned above.
  12. ^ "NPG D38160; Sir James Malcolm". National Portrait Gallery. 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013.