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Henry Belasyse (died 1717)

Sir Henry Belasyse (1648 – 14 December 1717), also spelt Bellasis, was an English military officer and Member of Parliament. An effective soldier who held a number of senior commands, he was held responsible for the looting that followed the Battle of Cádiz in 1702 which severely damaged the Habsburg cause in the War of the Spanish Succession. He was dismissed from the army in 1703 and while later reinstated, never held active command again

Sir Henry Belasyse
Born1648
Biddick House, Durham
Died14 December 1717 (aged 68–69)
London
Buried
AllegianceDutch Republic Dutch Republic 1674-1688
 England 1688-1702
Service/branchInfantry
Years of service1674 - 1702
RankLieutenant-general
Unit6th Foot, later the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, in the Dutch Scots Brigade 1674-1688
Belasyse's Regiment, later 22nd Foot, 1689-1701
The Queen Dowager's Regiment, later 2nd Foot 1701 - 1703
Battles/warsFranco-Dutch War
Cassel 1677
Saint-Denis 1678
Williamite War in Ireland
The Boyne 1690
Aughrim 1691
Nine Years' War
Landen 1693
Namur 1695
War of the Spanish Succession
Battle of Cádiz (1702)
AwardsGovernor of Galway 1691-1692
MP for Galway Borough, Parliament of Ireland 1692-1693
MP for Morpeth 1695 - 1701
MP for City of Durham 1701 - 1708
MP for City of Durham 1710 - 1712
MP for Mitchell 1713 - 1715
Governor of Berwick-upon-Tweed 1713-1715

He sat as Member of Parliament for a number of constituencies and was Governor of Berwick-upon-Tweed from 1713-1715. He died in London on 14 December 1717.

LifeEdit

 
Biddick Hall; Sir Henry's birthplace was demolished and replaced by this in 1701

Henry Belasyse was born in 1648, at Biddick House in Durham, son of Sir Richard Belasyse (1612-1651) of Potto, North Yorkshire, and his second wife, Margaret (d. after 1670), daughter of Sir William Lambton. He had an elder half brother from Sir Richard's first marriage, William, who died in 1681 and a sister Catherine.[1]

The Belasyse were a prolific and long-established Durham family; his paternal grandfather, Sir William, was High Sheriff of Durham from 1625-1640. Many of his relatives were Catholics who backed Charles I of England in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, including Viscount Fauconberg (1577-1653) and Lord John Belasyse (1614-1689). His maternal grandfather, Sir William Lambton, was also a Royalist, killed at the Battle of Marston Moor in 1644.[2] Sir Richard himself seems to have favoured Parliament and unlike his relatives, emerged from the wars with his estates largely intact.

Henry was educated at the Kepyer school in Houghton-le-Spring and after graduating from Christ's College, Cambridge in 1667, trained as a lawyer in the Middle Temple. However, in 1674 he changed careers and raised a company of men for the Scots Brigade, a mercenary unit in the Dutch States Army; in the absence of a professional standing army, this was a common choice for English or Scots gentry who wanted to pursue a military career.

In 1680, he married Dorothy Benson, a widow and mother of the politician Robert Benson, Baron Bingley; they had three children, Mary, Thomas and Elizabeth, none of whom survived to adulthood. After Dorothy's death, he married Fleetwood Shuttleworth (1676-1732); they had two children, Margaret, who died young and William (1697-1769).

CareerEdit

 
Battle of Saint-Denis (1678); Henry was wounded during this inconclusive battle

The Scots Brigade was a mercenary unit in the service of the Dutch Republic, whose origins went back to the 1580s; despite the name, by 1672 this normally contained three Scots and three English regiments. The latter were withdrawn when England allied with France in the 1672-1678 Franco-Dutch War but restored after the 1674 Treaty of Westminster ended their involvement. By 1674, the remaining regiments had lost much of their national identity and a deliberate policy was adopted to re-establish them as English and Scottish units.[3] Henry raised a company for one of the restored English regiments, which eventually became the 6th Foot or the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.[4]

Fighting between the Dutch and French continued; Henry fought at Cassel in 1677 and shortly after he replaced Thomas Ashley as Colonel of the regiment.[5] He was wounded at Saint-Denis in 1678, the final battle in the Franco-Dutch War and knighted at some point between 1678 and 1681.[6] William sent the Brigade to England in 1685 to help James II suppress the Monmouth Rebellion, although it returned in August without seeing action. In early 1688, James demanded the repatriation of the entire Brigade; William refused to comply but used the opportunity to remove officers of doubtful loyalty.[7] For reasons that are unclear, Sir Henry returned to England in April and replaced as Colonel by Philip Babington.[8]

 
Sir Henry's relative, the Catholic Stuart loyalist Lord John Belasyse (1614-1689) as a young man in 1636

These events may have been connected, as Sir Henry had family links to the Stuart regime; in 1686, Lord John Belasyse was appointed to the Privy Council of England, despite the Test Act that officially barred Catholics from public office.[9] In June 1688, his Protestant third wife Lady Anne refuted allegations that James' heir James Francis Edward Stuart was smuggled into Mary of Modena's bedchamber.[10] However, Robert Benson, the first husband of Sir Henry's wife Dorothy, had been a close associate of Lord Danbury, moderate Tory and signatory of the Invitation to William, asking him to assume the English throne.[11]

William landed at Torbay on 5 November 1688 and on 22nd, Sir Henry was part of a force under Danby that secured York, the most important city in Northern England, then Hull, its largest port.[12] The outcome was his promotion to Brigadier General in April 1689; in September, he became Colonel of a Regiment of Foot, originally raised by the Duke of Norfolk. In this period, regiments were treated as the personal property of their Colonel, changed names when transferred and disbanded as soon as possible.[13]

 
In January 1691, Sir Henry was badly injured in a duel with Colonel Richard Leveson, a then common practice, despite attempts to ban it.

As 'Belasyse's Regiment of Foot,' the unit took part in the 1689-1691 Williamite War in Ireland under Frederick Schomberg and fought at The Boyne (1690), Aughrim (1691) and the Siege of Limerick in August 1691.[14] When the town of Galway surrendered on 26 July, Sir Henry was appointed military governor and awarded estates in County Kerry confiscated from their previous Jacobite owners. He was also elected in 1692 as MP for Galway Borough in the Parliament of Ireland, although he was on active service in Flanders during his tenure.[15]

When on leave in London in early 1691, Sir Henry was badly injured in a duel with Colonel Richard Leveson, allegedly over an incident in Ireland.[16] While duelling was common in this period, Marlborough described Sir Henry as 'not loved but has good sense and is a good officer.'[17] Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt, who also served in Ireland, later referred to him as 'mediocre and avaricious' but Sir Henry was consistently promoted by William, who was generally reluctant to have English officers in senior commands, regarding them as less trustworthy or competent than the Dutch or Germans.[18]

With the war in Ireland at an end, Henry was given command of a brigade in Flanders; at the Battle of Landen in 1693, he and Thomas Tollemache managed to extract the defeated Allied infantry in good order. In October 1694, he was promoted to Lieutenant-General and his brigade was part of Vaudémont's screening force during the 1695 Allied siege of Namur. The French commander Villeroy achieved superiority over Vaudémont of 90,000 men to 37,000 but their attack on 14 July failed to break his line, allowing the Allies to conduct an orderly withdrawal while Henry helped cover their retreat.[19] After the fall of Namur, he supervised the court-martial of officers who had surrendered Diksmuide and Deinze in July 1695; Ellenberg, commander at Diksmuide, was executed while eight others were dismissed or 'cashiered.'[20] He remained in the Netherlands until the 1697 Treaty of Ryswick brought the Nine Years' War to an end.

The Treaty left unresolved the question of who would succeed the ailing and childless Charles II of Spain, an issue that had dominated European politics for over 30 years; Ryswick was viewed by all sides as being simply a pause in hostilities.[21] Despite this, the Tory majority in Parliament was determined to reduce costs and by 1699, the English military had been cut to less than 7,000 men.[22] England, Ireland and Scotland were then separate entities with their own Parliaments and funding; to mitigate these cuts, William transferred a number of regiments onto the Irish military establishment, one being Belasyse's Regiment of Foot.[23]

In 1693, Sir Henry purchased the estate of Owton in County Durham from his nephew Richard.[24] He was elected Member of Parliament for the nearby constituency of Morpeth in 1695 with support from the Whigs; after 1699, he moved towards the Tories and switched to the City of Durham in 1701. He held this seat until 1712, then between 1713-1715 sat for the rotten borough of Mitchell, in Cornwall.[25]

 
Brancepeth Castle; purchased by Sir Henry in 1701

Just before the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession in July 1701, Sir Henry's unit was assigned to Jamaica, a notoriously unhealthy posting and he exchanged regiments with William Selwyn, taking over as Colonel of the Queen Dowager's Regiment, later 2nd Foot.[26] Selwyn died in Jamaica in April 1702.

Sir Henry was appointed second-in-command to the Duke of Ormonde, commander of the Anglo-Dutch force sent to Spain in 1702 to support the Habsburg candidate, Archduke Charles. He and Major-General Charles O'Hara commanded the force that successfully seized Port St Mary but control was soon lost over the troops and the town was looted and burned.[27] Ormonde arrested both commanders following complaints by their former colleague, Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt, who was representing Archduke Charles.

They were court-martialled on their return to England; O'Hara, a long-time client of the Ormonde family, was acquitted and promoted to Lieutenant-General in 1704.[28] Sir Henry was dismissed from the service and although later reinstated in the army and appointed Governor of Berwick in 1713, this effectively ended his military career. He continued to sit as an MP but when George I became King in 1714, he and other Tories were ejected from government. He died in London in 1717.

LegacyEdit

In 1701 he bought Brancepeth Castle, near the city of Durham, which passed to his granddaughter Bridget (or Mary) who allegedly inspired the song Bobby Shafto. She died unmarried and left it to her cousin, who sold it soon afterwards.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Descendants of John de Belasis; Twenty-Third Generation". Bellasis.net. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
  2. ^ "Sir William Lambton's Regiment of Foot". BCW Project. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
  3. ^ Miggelbrink Joachim (2002). McKilliop, Andrew; Murdoch, Steve (eds.). Fighting for Identity: Scottish Military Experiences c.1550-1900. Brill. pp. 91–92. ISBN 9004128239.
  4. ^ Unknown (1795). An Historical Account of the British Regiments Employed Since the Reign of Queen Elizabeth and King James I In the Formation and Defence of the Dutch Republic Particularly of the Scotch Brigade (2009 ed.). T. Kay. p. 49. ASIN B002IYDVB6.
  5. ^ "Columbine's regiment of foot". The Spanish Succession. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  6. ^ Childs, John (2008). "Belasyse, Sir Henry; 1648-1717". Oxford DNB. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/66560. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
  7. ^ Childs, John (1984). "The Scottish brigade in the service of the Dutch Republic, 1689 to 1782". Documentatieblad werkgroep Achttiende eeuw.: 61. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
  8. ^ "Columbine's regiment of foot". The Spanish Succession. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  9. ^ Harris, Tim (2007). Revolution; the Great Crisis of the British Monarchy 1685-1720. Penguin. p. 195. ISBN 0141016523.
  10. ^ Somerset, Anne (2012). Queen Anne; the Politics of Passion. Harper Press. p. 97. ISBN 0007203764.
  11. ^ Hayton, D(ed), Cruickshanks, E (ed), Handly, S (ed). "Benson, Robert (1676-1731), of Red Hall, nr. Wakefield; Bramham Hall, Yorks.; and Queen Street, Westminster". The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715. Retrieved 26 September 2018.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  12. ^ Harris, Tim (2007). Revolution; the Great Crisis of the British Monarchy 1685-1720. Penguin. p. 285. ISBN 0141016523.
  13. ^ Chandler David, Beckett Ian (1996). The Oxford History Of The British Army (2002 ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 52. ISBN 0-19-280311-5.
  14. ^ Cannon, Richard (1849). Historical Record of the Twenty-Second, or the Cheshire Regiment of Foot (2015 ed.). Andesite Press. pp. 2–4. ISBN 1296561828.
  15. ^ Hayton, D(ed), Cruickshanks, E (ed), Handly, S (ed). "Belasyse, Sir Henry (c.1648-1717), of Potto, Yorks. and Brancepeth Castle, co. Durham". The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715. Retrieved 26 September 2018.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  16. ^ Hayton, D(ed), Cruickshanks, E (ed), Handly, S (ed). "Belasyse, Sir Henry (c.1648-1717), of Potto, Yorks. and Brancepeth Castle, co. Durham". The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715. Retrieved 26 September 2018.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  17. ^ Childs, John (2008). "Belasyse, Sir Henry; 1648-1717". Oxford DNB. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/66560. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
  18. ^ Chandler, David (ed), Beckett, Ian (ed), Childs, John (author) (1994). The Restoration Army 1660-1702 in The Oxford History of the British Army (1996 ed.). OUP. p. 64. ISBN 0192803115.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  19. ^ Childs, John (1991). The Nine Years' War and the British Army, 1688-1697: The Operations in the Low Countries (2013 ed.). Manchester University Press. pp. 276–277. ISBN 0719089964.
  20. ^ Childs, John (1991). The Nine Years' War and the British Army, 1688-1697: The Operations in the Low Countries (2013 ed.). Manchester University Press. p. 288. ISBN 0719089964.
  21. ^ Meerts, Paul Willem (2014). Diplomatic negotiation: Essence and Evolution. http://hdl.handle.net/1887/29596: Leiden University dissertation. p. 168.
  22. ^ Gregg, Edward (1980). Queen Anne (Revised) (The English Monarchs Series) (2001 ed.). Yale University Press. p. 126. ISBN 0300090242.
  23. ^ McGrath, Charles Ivar (2012). Ireland and Empire, 1692-1770 (Empires in Perspective). Routledge. pp. 123–125. ISBN 978-1851968961.
  24. ^ "Belasyse, Richard (c.1670-1729), of Lincoln's Inn and Hampstead, Mdx". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  25. ^ "Belasyse, Sir Henry (c.1648-1717), of Potto, Yorks. and Brancepeth Castle, co. Dur". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  26. ^ Cannon, Richard (1838). Historical Record of the Second, or the Queen's Royal Regiment of Foot (2017 ed.). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. p. 24. ISBN 1977804209.
  27. ^ Francis, Alan David (1975). First Peninsular War, 1702-13. Ernest Benn Ltd. p. 48. ISBN 0510002056.
  28. ^ Childs, John (2004). "O'Hara, Charles, first Baron Tyrawley". Oxford DNB. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/20632. Retrieved 27 September 2018.

External linksEdit

Military offices
Preceded by
Thomas Ashley
Colonel of Belasyse's Regiment of Foot
1678–1689
Succeeded by
William Babington
Preceded by
The Duke of Norfolk
Colonel of The Duke of Norfolk's Regiment of Foot
1689–1701
Succeeded by
William Selwyn
Preceded by
William Selwyn
Colonel of the Queen Dowager's Regiment of Foot
1701–1703
Succeeded by
The Earl of Portmore
Civic offices
Preceded by
Arthur French
Mayor of Galway
1691–1692
Succeeded by
Thomas Revett
Parliament of Ireland
Preceded by
Oliver Martin
John Kirwan
Member of Parliament for Galway
1692–1693
With: Nehemiah Donnellan
Succeeded by
Richard St George
Robert Ormsby
Parliament of England
Preceded by
George Nicholas
Roger Fenwick
Member of Parliament for Morpeth
1695–1701
With: George Nicholas 1695–1698
Philip Howard 1698–1700
Sir Richard Sandford 1701
Succeeded by
Emanuel Scrope Howe
Sir John Delaval
Preceded by
Charles Montagu
Thomas Conyers
Member of Parliament for Durham
1701–1707
With: Charles Montagu 1701–1702
Thomas Conyers 1702–1707
Succeeded by
Parliament of Great Britain
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Parliament of England
Member of Parliament for Durham
1707–1708
With: Thomas Conyers
Succeeded by
Thomas Conyers
James Nicolson
Preceded by
Thomas Conyers
James Nicolson
Member of Parliament for Durham
1710–1712
With: Thomas Conyers
Succeeded by
Thomas Conyers
Robert Shafto
Preceded by
Abraham Blackmore
Richard Belasyse
Member of Parliament for Mitchell
1713–1715
With: John Statham
Succeeded by
Nathaniel Blakiston
Robert Molesworth