John Carnac

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

John Carnac
Died29 November 1800
Mangalore, British India
Allegiance Kingdom of Great Britain
Service/branchBritish Army
RankBrigadier General
Commands heldIndian Army

Brigadier-General John Carnac (1716 – 29 November 1800) was a British officer who served three times as Commander-in-Chief of India.

Military career[edit]

Educated at Trinity College, Dublin,[1] John Carnac voyaged to India as a lieutenant in the 39th Regiment in 1754[1] and served at Madras as secretary and aide-de-camp to the colonel of the regiment, John Adlercron.[1] He joined the service of the East India Company as Captain in 1758 after transferring from the 39th foot.[1] After his arrival in Bengal he became secretary and aide-de-camp to Robert Clive, governor of Bengal, and joined him in an expedition against the Prince Ali Gauhar, son of the Mughal emperor Alamgir II.[1]

In 1761 he engaged with and defeated Shah Alam II.[1] He became Brigadier-General in 1764[1] and participated with Clive in the negotiations with Shuja-ud-Daula and the Mughal emperor Shah Alam II in 1765.[1]

In 1767, Carnac resigned from the company's service in January and returned to England.[1] He purchased an estate near Ringwood in Hampshire and also participated in a largely unsuccessful housing development in Southampton.[1] From 1768 to 1773 he served as M.P. for Leominster. In 1772 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.[2]

By 1773 Carnac was short of money and he returned to India as a member of the Council at Bombay.[1] He was dismissed from the East India Company for his involvement in the Convention of Wadgaon in 1779[1][3] and died at Mangalore in November 1800.[1]


Smith mrs carnac

In 1765 John Carnac married Elizabeth Woollaston.[1] Then in 1769 he married Elizabeth Catherine Rivett[1] (1751–80), daughter of Thomas Rivett (1713-1763),[4] who had been an MP and Mayor of Derby. A 1775-76 portrait of Mrs. Carnac by Sir Joshua Reynolds hangs in the Wallace Collection in London;[4] a 1778 mezzotint engraving by John Raphael Smith after Reynolds' painting is at the Art Museum of Estonia,[5] with a proof impression at the British Museum.[6]

Success undergoing repairs after running aground on Carnac Reef, 1829-30

John Carnac's last will and testament made his brother-in-law James Rivett his heir, provided that he assumed the additional name of Carnac, which he did in 1801.[1] Two of James's sons became famous: Sir James Rivett-Carnac, 1st Bt, became a Governor of Bombay Presidency, while Admiral John Rivett-Carnac became an early explorer of Australia, where Carnac Island was named in his honor by Captain James Stirling when Rivett-Carnac was first lieutenant on HMS Success (1825) on the Swan River expedition of 1827.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p John Carnac at Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  2. ^ "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  3. ^ "Convention of Wadgaon". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  4. ^ a b "Joshua Reynolds, Mrs Elizabeth Carnac". Wallace Collection Online. Retrieved 2013-09-07.
  5. ^ "John Raphael Smith, Mrs. Elizabeth Carnac". Art Museum of Estonia Digital Collection. Retrieved 2013-09-07.
  6. ^ "John Raphael Smith, Mrs Carnac, a mezzotint after a painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds". British Museum. Retrieved 2013-09-07.

External links[edit]

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Edward Willes
Jenison Shafto
Member of Parliament for Leominster
With: Jenison Shafto to March 1768
The Viscount Bateman from March 1768
Succeeded by
The Viscount Bateman
Thomas Hill