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Lieutenant General Roger Peter Handasyd (c. 1689 [d] – 4 January 1763) was an English military officer and a Member of Parliament or MP from 1722 to 1754.

Lieutenant-General Roger Handasyd
Heusden, straatzicht de Vismarkt foto3 2012-10-22 12.24.jpg
Heusden, the Dutch port where Roger was born
Born11 March 1689 (baptismal date)
Heusden, the Netherlands
Died4 January 1763
Hanover Square, Westminster, London
Buried
St Andrews' Church, Great Staughton [1]
Allegiance England 1702-1707
 Great Britain 1707-1754
Service/branchArmy
Years of service1702-1715
August to December 1745 [a]
RankLieutenant General 1743 [b]
UnitColonel;
22nd Foot 1712-1730
16th Foot 1730-1763 [c]
Commands heldCommander-in-Chief, Scotland October–December 1745
Governor Berwick-on-Tweed 1745
Battles/warsWar of the Spanish Succession
Jacobite rising of 1745
RelationsMajor-General Thomas Handasyd (1645-1729) Father
Other workMember of Parliament
Huntingdon 1722-1741
Scarborough 1747-1754

Often cited as one of the longest serving officers in British military history, he saw little active service. First commissioned in 1694 at the age of 5,[2] he was too young for the 1689-1697 Nine Years War and spent most of the 1701 to 1713 War of the Spanish Succession on garrison duties in Jamaica. Appointed colonel of the 22nd Foot in 1712, he transferred to the 16th Foot in 1730, a post he retained until his death in 1763. Colonels often delegated operational command to a subordinate and his primary occupation after 1715 was politics.

Described by a contemporary as a 'bitter Whig', he entered Parliament in 1722 for Huntingdon, a seat he held until 1741. At the outbreak of the 1745 Rising, he was Governor of Berwick-on-Tweed and after the Battle of Prestonpans, succeeded Sir John Cope as Commander-in-Chief, Scotland. In early November, he entered Edinburgh unopposed and was replaced by Henry Hawley in early January 1746.

He re-entered Parliament in 1747 as MP for Scarborough before retiring in 1754. He died in London on 4 January 1763 and was buried in the parish church of Great Staughton.

LifeEdit

 
Modern Gaynes Hall; purchased by Thomas Handasyd in 1717, it remained in the family until 1771

Although the family originally came from Elsdon, Northumberland, his father Thomas Handasyd (ca 1645-1729) was an officer in the Dutch Anglo-Scots Brigade, who married the daughter of a Dutch merchant, Anna Morel (died 1704). Roger was born in 1689 in the Dutch town of Heusden, the eldest survivor of six children; his siblings included Thomas (1692-1729), William (1693-1745), Clifford (1695-1772) and Anne (1697-1777).[3]

In 1710, he married Elizabeth Thorneycroft (1689-1773) but they had no surviving children; he died in London on 4 January 1763 and was buried in St Andrews, parish church of Great Staughton, near the family property of Gaynes Hall, which had been purchased by his father in 1717.[4]

CareerEdit

 
Entrance to Westminster School, where Handasyd was a pupil; his classmates included Sir John Cope

In November 1688, Thomas Handasyd accompanied William III to England during the Glorious Revolution; between 1689-1698, he served in Ireland, Flanders and Newfoundland. Roger attended Westminster School in London, where one of his classmates was Sir John Cope, whom he later replaced as Commander-in-Chief, Scotland in 1745.

In 1694, his father was commissioned as a major in the newly-formed 28th Foot and at the age of five, Roger was appointed ensign in the same unit.[5] Commissions were considered private assets and often used to reward good service or provide pensions for the families of officers killed in action. Although it was becoming less common, there were no age restrictions; his contemporary Henry Hawley was commissioned at the age of nine, after his father was killed at the Battle of Steenkerque in 1692. Holding a commission did not require service, especially at the senior levels; many colonels delegated their duties to a subordinate.[6]

Handasyd was too young for the 1689 to 1697 Nine Years War and spent most of the War of the Spanish Succession on garrison duty in Jamaica, where his father was Governor. After Thomas retired in 1711, Roger took over his position as Colonel of the 22nd Foot before returning to England in 1714. During the 1715 Rising, his unit occupied Oxford, a measure apparently considered necessary because it was the Royalist capital in the First English Civil War.[7] Most of the period between 1714 and 1745 was occupied with politics; in 1730, he transferred to the 16th Foot; between 1741 and 1747, it served in the West Indies, Flanders and Scotland but he did not accompany it. He became Lieutenant General in 1743, a promotion based on time served, making him eligible for command but there were far more generals than positions and many never held an active post.[8]

In the 1722 General election, he was returned as Member of Parliament for Huntingdon, near his home in Great Staugham. This was controlled by the Whig Earls of Sandwich and with their backing, Handasyd held it until 1741; he made only two speeches in that time but was a reliable government supporter.[9] This led to his appointment in 1737 as Lieutenant-Governor, Fort St. Philip, Menorca; a 1741 House of Lords investigation found he never spent any time there, although this was not unusual.[10] Many similar positions were sinecures but Menorca was an important base and absenteeism an ongoing problem. After its loss in 1756, a Parliamentary Committee found over 35 senior officers were absent, including the Governor of Fort St Philip and the colonels of all four regiments in its garrison.[11]

 
19th century engraving of Berwick-upon-Tweed; Handasyd was appointed Governor, shortly before the 1745 Rising

In 1739, Handasyd voted in favour of the Convention of Pardo, an attempt to resolve commercial disputes with Spain; the House of Commons voting records also listed members income and show he officially received £2,500 per annum as colonel and Lieutenant-Governor.[12] The Convention failed to resolve the problem, resulting in the 1739-1748 War of Jenkins' Ear, fought largely in the Caribbean and North America. Handasyd's regiment was sent to the West Indies in January 1741, an area notorious for high mortality rates; it took part in an assault on Cartagena de Indias, in modern Colombia, where losses from yellow fever and disease were estimated as between 80-90%.[13]

These setbacks weakened Robert Walpole, Whig Prime Minister since 1721. When the new Earl of Sandwich withdrew his support for the government, Handasyd lost his seat in the 1741 General election. In 1745, he was appointed Governor of Berwick-upon-Tweed, near the family home in Elsdon, Northumberland. Its role as a border fortress ended after the 1707 Union and its defences had been allowed to decay. The regular army was in Flanders, fighting in the War of the Austrian Succession and so positions like Berwick were held by retired or elderly officers like Handasyd; Edinburgh Castle was commanded by George Preston, who was 87 years old. The 1745 Jacobite Rising unexpectedly restored its importance, especially after the government defeat at Prestonpans in September. When Sir John Cope arrived in Berwick after the battle, he was relieved of command and as senior officer, Handasyd became Commander-in-Chief, Scotland.

 
Hanover Square, ca 1750 where Handasyd rented a house; he died here on 4 January 1763

The Jacobites spent the next month in Edinburgh debating strategy; General Wade, commander at Newcastle, instructed Handasyd to establish a supply base at Berwick and obtain information on rebel movements.[14] After the Jacobite army left Edinburgh on 4 November, Wade ordered Handasyd to re-occupy it; his lack of experience meant it was conducted with what Wade considered excessive caution but he entered the town on 14 November without opposition.[15] The Jacobites reached Derby before returning to Scotland in late December; Handasyd's brief spell in command ended when Henry Hawley arrived in Edinburgh on 5 January and took over as Commander-in-Chief.[16]

Hawley was replaced in July by the Earl of Albemarle, who described Scotland as 'the worst country existing;' Handasyd reportedly complained he should have been appointed instead. The Whigs had split into two factions and in the 1747 General election, he was returned as MP for Scarborough, a seat controlled by the Earl of Carlisle, part of the smaller Patriot Whig grouping.[17] In 1749, he became a Council member of the Free British Fishery Society;[18] this was set up to revive the British deep-sea herring fishery, which was then dominated by the Dutch.[19]

In 1751, Handasyd made a rare speech in Parliament defending the Duke of Cumberland; he later wrote to the Prime Minister, the Duke of Newcastle, asking for a 'better regiment' but his request was rejected. At the 1754 General Election, he stepped down from Parliament, despite having been offered his old seat of Huntingdon.[20] He died at his London residence in Hanover Square on 4 January 1763.

NotesEdit

  1. ^ First commissioned in 1694 at the age of 5, with the exception of August to December 1745, his active service was limited to this period
  2. ^ Promotion to general rank was often based on time served and made the holder eligible for command; there were far more generals than available positions and many never held an active post
  3. ^ Until 1751, most regiments were named after their Colonel; to avoid confusion, their post 1751 numbers are used
  4. ^ The Oxford DNB suggests 1684 but his memorial and other sources give 1689, while his baptismal date was 11 March 1689

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Church of St Andrew". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  2. ^ Yonge, Sir William. A List of the Colonels, Lieutenant Colonels, Majors, Captains, Lieutenants and Ensigns of His Majesty's Forces. Thomas Cox. p. 29.
  3. ^ "Major-Gen. Thomas Handasyd". Geneagraphie.com. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  4. ^ "The Manors of Gaynes Hall, alias Gaynes Perry and Dillington". Perry, Cambridgeshire. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  5. ^ Godfrey, Michael (1969). Handasyd, Thomas in The Dictionary of Canadian Biography Volume 2 (Online ed.). Univ of Toronto Pr / Les Presses de L'Universite Laval.
  6. ^ Guy, Alan (1985). Economy and Discipline: Officership and the British Army, 1714–63. Manchester University Press. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-7190-1099-6.
  7. ^ Guy, Alan (1996). Chandler, David (ed.). The Army of the Georges in The Oxford History Of The British Army (2002 ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 92. ISBN 978-0192803115.
  8. ^ Wood, Andrew B (2011). The Limits of Social Mobility: social origins and career patterns of British generals, 1688-1815 (PDF). PHD LSE. pp. 67–68.
  9. ^ Sedgwick, R (1970). HANDASYDE, Roger (c.1684-1763), of Gaines Park, Great Staughton, Hunts (Online ed.). Boydell and Brewer.
  10. ^ House of Lords (1741). The Examination of Maj. Gen. Anstruther, Lieutnt. Governor of Minorca. R West. p. 16.
  11. ^ History, Debates & Proceedings of Parliament 1743-1774; Volume III. Debrett. 1792. p. 295.
  12. ^ The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: 1740. Houses of Parliament. 1742. p. 471.
  13. ^ Harbron, John D (1998). Trafalgar and the Spanish Navy The Spanish Experience of Sea Power (2004 ed.). Conway Maritime Press. p. 108. ISBN 978-0851774770.
  14. ^ "Manuscript of the Month September 2014" (PDF). Hoares Bank. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  15. ^ Royle, Trevor (2016). Culloden; Scotland's Last Battle and the Forging of the British Empire. Little, Brown. p. 33. ISBN 978-1408704011.
  16. ^ Riding, Jacqueline (2016). Jacobites: A New History of the 45 Rebellion. Bloomsbury. p. 201. ISBN 978-1408819128.
  17. ^ Sedgwick, HANDASYDE, Roger (c.1684-1763), of Gaines Park, Great Staughton, Hunts
  18. ^ The London Chronicle, or Universal Evening Post, Volume 12. 1762. p. 533.
  19. ^ Harris, B (1999). "Patriotic commerce and national revival: the Free British Fishery Society and British politics, c. 1749-58". The English Historical Review. 114 (456): 286. doi:10.1093/ehr/114.456.285.
  20. ^ Sedgwick, HANDASYDE, Roger (c.1684-1763), of Gaines Park, Great Staughton, Hunts

SourcesEdit

  • Guy, Alan (1996). Chandler, David (ed.). The Army of the Georges in The Oxford History Of The British Army (2002 ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0192803115.
  • Godfrey, Michael (1969). Handasyd, Thomas in The Dictionary of Canadian Biography Volume 2 (Online ed.). Univ of Toronto Pr / Les Presses de L'Universite Laval.
  • Guy, Alan (1985). Economy and Discipline: Officership and the British Army, 1714–63. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-1099-6.
  • Harbron, John D (1998). Trafalgar and the Spanish Navy The Spanish Experience of Sea Power (2004 ed.). Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 978-0851774770.
  • Harris, B (1999). "Patriotic commerce and national revival: the Free British Fishery Society and British politics, c. 1749-58". The English Historical Review. 114 (456).
  • Riding, Jacqueline (2016). Jacobites: A New History of the 45 Rebellion. Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1408819128.
  • Royle, Trevor (2016). Culloden; Scotland's Last Battle and the Forging of the British Empire. Little, Brown. ISBN 978-1408704011.
  • Sedgwick, R (1970). HANDASYDE, Roger (c.1684-1763), of Gaines Park, Great Staughton, Hunts (Online ed.). Boydell and Brewer.
  • Wood, Andrew B (2011). The Limits of Social Mobility: social origins and career patterns of British generals, 1688-1815 (PDF). PHD LSE.
  • Yonge, Sir William. A List of the Colonels, Lieutenant Colonels, Majors, Captains, Lieutenants and Ensigns of His Majesty's Forces. Thomas Cox.

External linksEdit

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Hon. Sidney Wortley-Montagu
Viscount Hinchingbrooke
Member of Parliament for Huntingdon
17221741
With: Edward Wortley Montagu 1722–1734
Edward Montagu 1734–1741
Succeeded by
Edward Montagu
Hon. Wills Hill
Preceded by
William Osbaldeston
Edwin Lascelles
Member of Parliament for Scarborough
17471754
With: Edwin Lascelles
Succeeded by
Sir Ralph Milbanke
William Osbaldeston
Military offices
Preceded by
Thomas Handasyd
Colonel, 22nd Foot
1712–1730
Succeeded by
William Barrell
Preceded by
The Earl of Deloraine
Colonel, 16th Foot
1730–1763
Succeeded by
Hon. Robert Brudenell
Preceded by
Sir John Cope
Commander-in-Chief, Scotland
1745
Succeeded by
Henry Hawley