William Draper (British Army officer)

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Sir William Draper
Sir William Draper KB.jpg
Born 1721
Died 8 January 1787
Resting place Bath Abbey
Nationality English
Education Eton College and King's College, Cambridge[1]
Occupation Soldier
Known for rules for cricket
Title Sir William Draper
Spouse(s) 1.Caroline Beauclerk[2]
2.Susanna De Lancey[1]
Children daughters
Military career
Allegiance  Kingdom of Great Britain
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1744–1787
Rank Lieutenant General
Unit 79th Regiment of Foot
Commands held Expedition to Manila
Battles/wars War of Austrian Succession
Seven Years' War
American War of Independence

Lieutenant General Sir William Draper KCB (1721 – 8 January 1787), was a British military officer who conquered Manila in 1762 and was involved in the unsuccessful defence of Menorca in 1782. He was also involved in 1774 with a key meeting that agreed on an early set of cricket rules including the leg before wicket rule.


Draper was born in Bristol, then the second largest city in England, to a young Customs Officer. His father died the following year and the family struggled for money for many years, spending some time in India.[3]

Draper was educated at Eton, to which he won a scholarship in 1733, and King's College, Cambridge.[4]

In 1744, during the War of Austrian succession he became an Ensign in Lord Henry Beauclerk's regiment, adjutant in the 1st Foot Guards in 1746, and a lieutenant and captain in 1749.

In 1756 he married his first wife, Caroline, daughter of Lord William Beauclerk.[2] He was also married with Eliza, she left (forsook) him 1773 in Bombay.[5]

Seven Years' War[edit]

In the Seven Years' War he commanded the 79th Regiment of Foot, raised by himself, at the Siege of Madras in 1758–59.

A colonel in 1762, he had his greatest triumph when he led together with Vice-Admiral Samuel Cornish an expedition against Manila, capturing the city on 6 October 1762. The British occupation lasted until 1764, after which it was returned to Spain. During the capture Draper had signed an agreement, known as the Manila Ransom, by which the Spanish would pay the British a large amount of money. A large amount of plunder had also been taken, as Manila served as a trading base. News of Manila's fall arrived too late to affect the Treaty of Paris, and under its terms the British were compelled to return the city.[6]


Draper returned home expecting to receive commendations for his capture of Manila, but the reaction was more mixed. In 1765 he was colonel of the 16th Regiment of Foot. In December 1765 he became Knight Companion of the Order of the Bath and defended the Marquis of Granby against Junius in 1769.

In 1769 he lost his wife and went on a tour through the American colonies. At New York, he married Susanna De Lancey, daughter of Oliver De Lancey, the head of one of the leading families in the Province of New York. Draper entertained a hope that he might be appointed as a Royal Governor, but this came to nothing.

In 1774, Draper chaired the committee that formulated some early laws of cricket. They were settled and revised at the Star and Garter in Pall Mall on Friday 25 February 1774. The committee included the Duke of Dorset, Charles Bennet, 4th Earl of Tankerville, Harry Peckham and other "Noblemen and Gentlemen of Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Middlesex, and London".[7] This meeting was one of the earlier sets of cricket rules and is acknowledged as being the first where the Leg before wicket rule was introduced.[8]

Sir William Draper's Monuments, Clifton Down, Bristol.[edit]


(ST5673SE CLIFTON DOWN), Clifton 901-1/7/755 (South East side) 08/01/59 Memorial to the 79th Regiment

Sir William Draper's Sarcophagus .jpg

Listed Grade II

War memorial. Erected 1766 by General Draper, moved 1882. Portland stone and purple slate. Rectangular plinth with angle buttresses, surmounted by a sarcophagus with scrolled brackets at the corners, and an urn with a flame. (Historic England.org.uk)

Rare collective war memorial. Others include: Edgehill Tower part of the Radway Grange Estate built by Sanderson Miller in 1747 to commemorate the Civil War. The Battle of Edge Hill 1642 and the Rhual Obelisk (Alleluia Monument) built by Nehemiah Griffiths in the gardens of Rhual, Wales in 1736 commemorating the ancient battle between St Germanus and the Picts and Saxons in 5th century and All Souls College Oxford 1452 A Lancastrian war monument.


Sir William Draper's Obelisk .jpg

Obelisk dedicated to William Pitt, Earl of Chatham

(ST5673SE CLIFTON DOWN), Clifton 901-1/7/756 (South East side) 08/01/59 Monument to William Pitt, Earl of Chatham

Listed Grade II

Obelisk memorial. Erected 1766 by General Draper to commemorate William Pitt. Limestone ashlar with purple slate panels. Obelisk on plinth.

(Historic England.org.uk)

Monument's Context

Sir William Draper (1721 - 1787 ) was born and educated in Bristol before being sent to Eton then Cambridge. In 1744 he was an Ensign in Henry Beauclerk’s regiment, in 1746 he became Adjutant in 1St Foot Guards followed by the appointments to Lieutenant and Captain in 1749. (. Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 16)Draper, William by Henry Manners Chichester)

In 1756 he married Caroline Beauclerk daughter of Lord William Beauclerk a relation of the Commander of his first regiment . In 1757 William Pitt arranged for a new regiment known as the 79th Foot to be raised under Draper who was commissioned as Lieutenant Colonel which went to Madras in September 1758.(Source The Whig Supremacy 1714-1760 by Basil Williams) and he returned triumphant and was then sent to Manilla as Brigadier General returning victorious in 1762. His claim of £25,000 as part of the Manilla ransom was reduced to £5000 which he accepted. In 1765 he was knighted (Knight Companion of the Order of the Bath) .Draper was appointed Curator of the Downs by the Merchant Venturers Society of Bristol and given the Freedom of the City (along with William Pitt, Earl Chatham) in 1766. He built Manilla Hall in Clifton , Bristol - a 9 bay three storey house with tetra style portico and ionic columns possibly by Paty . Thomas Paty was part of a family of well-known builders and stonemasons of Bristol who worked alongside the architects James Bridges and John Wallis as well as with Isaac Ware on Clifton Hill House. Paty, Bridges and Wallis had collaborated on Royal Fort House and the Patys were responsible for many other buildings and monuments in Bristol and the New World.( Priest, Gordon, The Paty Family : Makers of Eighteenth-Century Bristol (Bristol: Redcliffe, 2003), Portrait of a Woman in Silk: Hidden Histories of the British Atlantic World by Zara Anishanslin Draper erected the monuments in 1766 and they were possibly by James Paty 111 who had done a lot of work in the Redland Chapel.

Matthew’s New Bristol Directory and New History of 1793-94 (p108)refers as follows

“Farther on fronting Clifton Down is a house that belonged to the later Sir William Draper who erected to the western end of the garden before the front an obelisk of freestone with a short Latin inscription on its base to the late Earl of Chatham: and at the eastern side a cenotaph with Latin verses, and an English inscription to the memory of those departed warriors who fell in various battles and sieges of the East-Indies at Madras, Arcot, Pondicherry and Manilla with names of the officers and list of the battles”

Draper’s wife Caroline died 1769 and then he travelled to America where he married Susannah de Lancey in New York 1770. They returned to England where she died 1773. In 1779 Draper was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Minorca under Lieutenant General the Hon James Murray who had served with Gen Sir James Wolf at the Battle of Quebec 1759 where they defeated the French. Relations between Draper and Murray deteriorated and Murray relieved Draper of his command in 1782 . Draper subsequently had Murray court marshalled although Murray was acquitted and surprise expressed that a junior officer (Draper) should have taken such action. Although Sir William Draper is well known for his defence of the Marquis of Granby in the Junius letters, an interesting poem purporting to be by Draper has come to light in the New Foundling Magazine. General James Wolfe had been an exceptional and fearless soldier and was close to Murray before dying at the Battle of Quebec, He had been much honoured by Pitt even to the extent of a memorial in Westminster Abbey and others throughout the country notably an obelisk erected 1759 at Stowe Park, home of Pitt’s brother in law, Lord Temple.

The New Foundling Hospital was a satirical magazine published from 1768 - 1773 and in this magazine is the following poem attributed to Sir William Draper commenting on General James Wolfe

“Immortal Wolfe!

Sculptor thy laurel bust faintly attempts to grace his sacred dusk (death)

Such mighty acts demand a nobler plan

Brittania seeks the hero not the man

Quebec's his monument (he died at the Battle of Quebec in Canda thus putting English interests in North America firmly on the map)

Add to thy theme the indignant river's strong opposing stream

On Abrams loft summit place the bier (coffin)

Let conduct, valour, discipline be there

In conquest view their darling son expire

So future time shall hear it and admire

Virtue and fame shall join his tomb to raise

Nor envy's self be silent in his praise.”

Draper’s request to William Pitt to put a forty line inscription lauding Pitt on his own monument was curtailed to only four lines at Pitt’s own request (Correspondence of Lord Pitt, Earl of Chatham Correspondence of William Pitt, Earl of Chatham - Internet Archive https://archive.org/details/correspondence03pitt)

“In a letter to Lord Carmarthen, dated in 1784 (Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 28060, f. 153), Draper urges his claims, stating that his lieutenant-governorship, his wife's fortune in America, and his just claims to the Manilla ransom have all been sacrificed to save the country further effusion of blood and treasure. During the remainder of his life Draper lived chiefly at Bath, where he died 8 Jan. 1787.” La Mere de Dieu Convent (French Catholic nuns) bought Manilla Hall in 1882 from the Mayor J.D.Weston and the monuments were moved to their current position by Dr John Beddoe (1826-1911) physician and renowned anthropologist who raised money to do so by subscription. Whether the nuns objected to the monuments because they were war monuments and also glorified an English victory against the French is not known

Dr John Beddoe, Anthropologist (who was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1873.In 1887 he was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society and was a founder of the Ethnological Society and president of the Anthropological Institute from 1889 to 1891) raised a public subscription to move them and did so in 1882 to its present location, Christchurch Green, Bristol.

American War of Independence[edit]

A lieutenant-general in 1777, he became lieutenant-governor of Menorca, 1779–1782, until the island was lost to the French and Spanish in the Battle of Menorca. He preferred unsubstantiated charges of misconduct against Lieutenant General James Murray, who had suspended him. He was reprimanded by a general court martial in 1783.

He died on 8 January 1787 and was buried in the old Abbey Church in Bath, where a monument has been erected to his memory.


  1. ^ a b Pitt's 'Gallant Conqueror': The Turbulent Life of Lieutenant-General Sir William Draper, James Dreaper, 2006, ISBN 1-84511-177-X
  2. ^ a b When Britain Ruled the Philippines 1762-1764: The Story of the 18th Century British Invasion of the Philippines during the Seven Years War, Shirley Fish, 2003, ISBN 1-4107-1069-6
  3. ^ Dreaper pp. 3–6
  4. ^ "Draper, William (DRPR740W)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  5. ^ Linda COLLEY: Leben und Schicksale der Elizabeth Marsh - Eine Frau zwischen den Welten des 18. Jahrhunderts, Aus dem Englischen von Ulrike Bishoff, (Zweitausendeins, 1. Auflage 2008), S. 243, 245, ISBN 978-3-86150-881-6
  6. ^ Tracy, Nicholas (1995). Manila Ransomed. University of Exeter Press. pp. 109–115. ISBN 0859894266. 
  7. ^ Cricketana by James Mycroft, 1865
  8. ^ Pall Mall, South Side, Past Buildings: Nos 94-95 Pall Mall: The Star and Garter, Survey of London: volumes 29 and 30: St James Westminster, Part 1 (1960), pp. 351–352. Date accessed: 8 June 2008.