William Thornton (British Army officer)
|Sir William Thornton|
|Lieutenant Governor of Jersey|
|Preceded by||Sir Colin Halkett|
|Succeeded by||Archibald Campbell|
|Died||30 March 1840|
|Awards||Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath|
|Years of service||1796–1835|
War of 1812
Thornton was born around 1779, the eldest of two sons born to William Thornton, Esq. of Muff, near Londonberry, and of Armagh, who died in 1792 at the age of 51, and Anne Thornton, the daughter of Perrott James, Esq. of Magilligan. His younger brother was Robert Innes Thornton (d. 1866), a soldier with the 21st Light Dragoons.
Among Thornton's relatives was aunt, Catherine Thornton, who was married to the Hon. and Rev. John Skeffington, third son of Clotworthy Skeffington, 4th Viscount Massereene and Lady Catherine Chichester (daughter of Arthur Chichester, 3rd Earl of Donegall), and Letitia Thornton, who married Daniel Todd, Esq. (the parents of William Thornton-Todd).
On 31 March 1796, Thornton was commissioned as an ensign in the 89th (The Princess Victoria's) Regiment of Foot. After serving with his regiment in Ireland, he was promoted to lieutenant in the 46th (South Devonshire) Regiment of Foot on 1 March 1797. He became aide-de-camp to Lieutenant-General Sir James Craig early in 1803 and was promoted to captain on 25 June 1803. He accompanied Craig to Malta in July 1805 and to Naples in November 1805 and took part in operations to protect the borders of Naples. He took part in operations to protect the fortress at Messina in February 1806.
Thornton became aide-de-camp to Lieutenant-General Earl Ludlow, commander of the Kent military district in Spring 1806. Promoted to major on 13 November 1806, he transferred to the Royal York Rangers. He served as acting commanding officer of the regiment in Guernsey in Spring 1807 and then became aide-de-camp to Craig in his capacity as Governor General of British North America later in the year. Promoted to be brevet lieutenant-colonel on 28 January 1808, he became inspecting field-officer of militia in Canada in Spring 1808.
Thornton became commanding officer of the 34th (Cumberland) Regiment of Foot in August 1811, commanding officer of the Duke of York's Greek Light Infantry Regiment in January 1812 and assistant military secretary to the commander-in-chief, the Duke of York later that year. In January 1813 he became commanding officer of the 85th Regiment of Foot and saw action during the Peninsular War.
Thornton was then involved in the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815, at which the only British success was on the west bank of the Mississippi River, where Thornton's brigade, comprising the 85th Regiment and a detachment of one hundred sailors from the Royal Navy and one hundred men of the Royal Marines, attacked and overwhelmed the American line.
Thornton committed suicide on 30 March 1840 (or the 6 of April), after having suffered from psychological problems attributed to wounds from the War of 1812. Thornton, who died unmarried, left his estates to his nephew, William Todd, who had already inherited Buncrana Castle, Co. Donegal, from another uncle, Isaac Todd. On inheriting Thornton's estates William Todd took the additional surname of 'Thornton', becoming William Thornton-Todd.
- Burke, C.B., LL.D., Sir Bernard (1886). A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland. London: Harrison and Sons, Pall Mall. p. 1813. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
- "Thornton, Sir William (1779?–1840), army officer | Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/27366. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
- Lee, Sidney (1898). Dictionary of National Biography: Teach - Tollet. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 309–310. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
- Vetch, Robert Hamilton. "Thornton, William (1779?-1840)". Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
- Smith, Henry Stooks (1851). "An Alphabetical List of the officers of the Eighty-fifth, Bucks Volunteers, the King's Light Infantry regiment, from 1800 to 1850". p. 9. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
- Heidler, David Stephen. "Encyclopedia of the War of 1812". p. 511. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
- Patterson, Benton Rains (2008), The Generals, Andrew Jackson, Sir Edward Pakenham, and the road to New Orleans, New York: New York University Press, ISBN 0-8147-6717-6
- Gleig, George (1840). "Recollections of the Expedition to the Chesapeake, and against New Orleans, by an Old Sub". United Service Journal (2).
Gleig, on p340, uses the source document a report from Thornton to Pakenham 'we were unable to proceed across the river until eight hours after the time appointed, and even then with only a third part of the force which you had allotted for the service * viz 298 of the 85th, and 200 Seamen and Marines'
- Patterson, Benton Rain, p.236
- "No. 16991". The London Gazette. 9 March 1815. pp. 440–446.
- "Nineteenth century landlords of Greater Buncrana". The Irish History. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1885–1900 Dictionary of National Biography's article about Thornton, William (1779?-1840).|
Sir Colin Halkett
| Lieutenant Governor of Jersey