Lieutenant General Thomas Bligh (1685–1775) was a British soldier, best known for his service during the Seven Years' War when he led a series of amphibious raids, known as "descents" on the French coastline. Despite initial success in these operations, they came to an end following the disastrous Battle of St Cast.
Bligh was born in 1685, the son of Irish politician, Thomas Bligh and his wife Elizabeth née Napier. During his long service in the British army, he rose to the rank of Lieutenant General. In 1745, during the War of the Austrian Succession, as a Brigadier, he took over command of allied troops at the battle of Melle and led part of the defeated force to safety. He fought at Dettingen, Val, Fontneay, and Melle. He was also commander of the British troops at Cherbourg. In 1758 he was appointed to command the descents, at the age of seventy-three. He led an initial successful Raid on Cherbourg in August September 1758, capturing and destroying the town's fortifications. He then re-embarked and moved along the coast to St Malo. There, confronted with adverse weather conditions, they were able only to land some of their force, which was soon confronted by a larger French force with had hurriedly marched there from Brest. In the scramble to get his men back onto the ships, Bligh fought a confused rearguard action, the Battle of Saint Cast suffering between 750–1000 casualties before he was finally able to re-embark his men. They then sailed for England.
Bligh was poorly treated when he returned home. King George II refused to receive him, considered an enormous slight, and he came under fierce criticism from all sides. One of the few to stand up for Bligh was the young Prince of Wales, later George III, who chastised both the Prime Minister Duke of Newcastle and his ally William Pitt for not defending Bligh.
He was buried at Rathmore Church, Ireland.
- Collins, Arthur (5 February 1779). "Vol. 7: The peerage of England : containing a genealogical and historical account of all the peers of that kingdom, now existing, either by tenure, summons, or creation, their descents and collateral lines, their births, marriages and issues, famous actions both in war and peaces, religious and charitable donations, deaths, places of burial, monuments, epitaphs, and many valuable memoirs never before printed : also their paternal coats of arms, crests, supporters and mottoes, curiously engraved on copper-plates / collected from records, old wills, authentic manuscripts, our most approved historians, and other authorities, which are cited by Arthur Collins, esq. ; in eight volumes". Printed for W. Strahan, J.F. and C. Rivington, J. Hinton, T. Payne, W. Owen, S. Crowder, T. Caslon, T. Longman, C. Rivington, C. Dilly, J. Robson, T. Lowndes, G. Robinson, T. Cadell, H.L. Gardner, W. Davis, J. Nichols, T. Evans, J. Bew, R. Baldwin, J. Almon, J. Murray, W. Fox, J. White, Fielding and Walker, T. Beecroft, J. Donaldson, M. Folingsby – via Internet Archive.
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- Anderson p.302-03
- Anderson p.304
- Anderson p.477
- Anderson, Fred. Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754–1766. Faber and Faber, 2001
- Met picture
- Thomas Bligh (1685–1775) in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/2649
| Colonel of Bligh's Regiment of Foot
Lord George Sackville
Samuel Walter Whitshed
| Colonel of Bligh's Regiment of Dragoons
| Colonel of the 2nd Regiment of Horse
Hon. John Waldegrave