Sir George Nugent, 1st Baronet
Field Marshal Sir George Nugent, 1st Baronet, GCB (10 June 1757 – 11 March 1849) was a British Army officer. After serving as a junior officer in the American Revolutionary War, he fought with the Coldstream Guards under the Duke of York during the Flanders Campaign. He then commanded the Buckinghamshire Volunteers in the actions of St. Andria and Thuyl on the river Waal and participated in the disastrous retreat from the Rhine. He went on to be commander of the northern district of Ireland, in which post he played an important part in placating the people of Belfast during the Irish Rebellion, and then became Adjutant-General in Ireland. He went on to be Governor of Jamaica, commander of the Western District in England, commander of the Kent District in England and finally Commander-in-Chief, India.
Born the illegitimate son of Lieutenant Colonel the Hon. Edmund Nugent (who was the only son of Robert Nugent, 1st Earl Nugent) and a Ms. Fennings. His father had another illegitimate son, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Charles Edmund Nugent. His father's half sister, Mary Elizabeth Nugent, married George Nugent-Temple-Grenville, 1st Marquess of Buckingham. Through his Mary, he inherited the title of Earl Nugent. Lord Buckingham’s aunt, Hester Grenville, had married William Pitt, who became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
He was commissioned as an ensign in the 39th Regiment of Foot on 5 July 1773 and was posted to Gibraltar. He transferred the 7th Regiment of Foot at New York with promotion to lieutenant in September 1777 and saw action at the Battle of Forts Clinton and Montgomery in October 1777 and then took part in the Philadelphia campaign during the American Revolutionary War. He continued to serve in North America and became a captain in the 57th Regiment of Foot on 28 April 1778 and a major in the same regiment on 3 May 1782.
Flanders and IrelandEdit
Promoted to lieutenant colonel in September 1783, Nugent was appointed commanding officer of the 97th Regiment of Foot and returned to England, but in the post-war cost reductions the regiment was disbanded and he instead became commanding officer of the 13th Regiment of Foot in 1787. He became an aide-de-camp to his brother-in-law, the Marquess of Buckingham, who was serving as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, in November 1787. On Buckingham's departure from Ireland, Nugent became commanding officer of the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards in 1789. Nugent became Member of Parliament for Buckingham in 1790. He exchanged into the Coldstream Guards as a company commander in October 1790 and served at the Siege of Valenciennes in May 1793, the Battle of Lincelles in August 1793 and the Siege of Dunkirk also in August 1793 under the Duke of York during the Flanders Campaign.
The War Office recalled Nugent to supervise the raising of the 85th Buckinghamshire Volunteers in March 1794. He commanded the regiment under Sir Ralph Abercromby in the action at Fort St. Andries, and with Major General David Dundas at Tuil on the river Waal and participated in the disastrous retreat from the Rhine. Promoted to major general on 1 May 1796, he became Captain of St Mawes Castle on 5 November 1796 and served in that role until his death. He went on to be commander of the northern district of Ireland in 1798, in which post he played an important part in placating the people of Belfast during the Irish Rebellion that year, and became Adjutant-General in Ireland in August 1799. He also represented Charleville in the last Irish House of Commons before the Acts of Union 1800.
Nugent became Governor of Jamaica in April 1801 with promotion to local lieutenant general on 29 May 1802. While serving there, he strengthened the fort that the Spanish slave agent in Jamaica, James Castillo, had built in 1709 in Harbour View. Named Fort Nugent, the fort guarded the eastern entrance of the city of Kingston Harbour, although all that remains there now is a Martello tower that was added after Nugent's departure. Promoted to the substantive rank of lieutenant general on 25 September 1803, Nugent returned to England in February 1806 and became commander of the Western District in England in August 1806. He was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Aylesbury on 3 November 1806 and created a baronet of Waddesdon in the county of Buckinghamshire on 11 November 1806. He bought Westhorpe House in Buckinghamshire in October 1808 and became commander of the Kent District in England in July 1809.
Nugent stood down from his seat in Parliament to become Commander-in-Chief, India in January 1811 and, having been appointed a Knight of the Order of the Bath on 1 February 1813 and promoted to full general on 4 June 1813, he was replaced as Commander-in-Chief by Lord Moira in October 1813. Nugent was relegated to the role of Commander of the Bengal Army but instead chose to return to England in October 1814. On return he unleashed a "skin-full of venom" against Lord Moira who in turn complained to the Prince Regent about Nugent's hostile behaviour. He was advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath on 2 January 1815 and, having been elected Member of Parliament for Buckingham again in July 1818, he was awarded an honorary DCL by the University of Oxford in 1819. He finally retired from Parliament in 1832.
Nugent also served as honorary colonel of the 85th (Bucks Volunteers) Regiment of Foot, then as honorary colonel of the 62nd Regiment of Foot and later as honorary colonel of the 6th Regiment of Foot. Promoted to field marshal on 9 November 1846.
On 16 November 1797, Nugent was married to Maria Skinner (1771–1834) in Belfast. Maria was a daughter of Cortlandt Skinner, the Attorney-General of New Jersey and a descendant of the Schuyler and Van Cortlandt families of British North America, Together, they had three sons and two daughters, including:
- Sir George Edmund Nugent, 2nd Baronet (1802–1892), who married Maria Charlotte Ridley-Colborne, a daughter of Nicholas Ridley-Colborne, 1st Baron Colborne.
- Louisa Elizabeth Nugent (1803–1875), who married Thomas Fremantle, 1st Baron Cottesloe, the eldest son of Betsey and Adm. Sir Thomas Fremantle.
- Charles Edmund Nugent (1811–1890), who married Louisa Douglas Price, a daughter of Sir Rose Price, 1st Baronet.
- Maria Amelia Nugent, who married Rice Richard Clayton, the fourth son of Sir William Clayton, 4th Baronet.
Lady Nugent, who died in 1834, wrote a journal of her experiences in Jamaica first published in 1907. Sir George died at Westhorpe House on 11 March 1849 and was buried at St John the Baptist Church in Little Marlow.
Through his eldest son, he was a grandfather of Sir Edmund Charles Nugent, 3rd Baronet and through his daughter Louisa, he was a grandfather of Thomas Fremantle, 2nd Baron Cottesloe, Admiral Hon. Edmund Fremantle, and Hon. Augusta Mary Fremantle (wife of William Brodrick, 8th Viscount Midleton).
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- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Sir George Nugent