Thomas Stirling


Thomas Stirling was born on 8 Oct 1733, the second son of Sir Henry Stirling, bart. (1688-1753) of Ardoch, Perthshire, by Anne, third daughter of Thomas Gordon, admiral of the Russian fleet and governor of Cronstadt. He received a commission from the Prince of Orange on 11 Oct 1747, and served ten years in the Scots brigade (afterwards the 94th), which was then in the Dutch service. On 24 March 1757 he was made captain in the 42nd highlanders, having raised a company for that regiment. He served with it in the conquest of Canada, the capture of Martinique in 1759, and of the Havannah in 1762. In 1765 he was sent to take possession of the Illinois country ceded to Great Britain by the peace of 1763.

The 42nd returned from North America in 1767, but was sent back in 1776, when the War of Independence had begun. Stirling had become major on 12 Dec 1770, and lieutenant-colonel on 7 Sept 1771, in the regiment; and he raised its strength from 350 to 1,200 men in five months in 1775. Forbes's history says that 'he was indefatigable in training his men to the manner of fighting practiced in the former war with the Indians and French bushmen, which experience had shown to be so well suited for a closely wooded country. Well versed himself in this mode of warfare, Colonel Stirling imparted it to his troops by first training the non-commissioned officers himself, and then superintending their instructions given to the soldiers.'

Under his command it took a very active part in the war, and was especially distinguished at the storming of Fort Washington on 16 Nov 1776. Stirling and his men were thanked in general orders. They were again thanked for the capture of a post at Elizabethtown in February 1779. On the 19th of that month Stirling was appointed ADC to the king and colonel in the army. In the attempt upon Springfield (Massachusetts) in June 1780 he commanded a brigade. His thigh was broken by a shot, but he refused to allow amputation, as it would disable him for active service. Of this, however, he saw no more. He was given the colonelcy of the Fraser Highlanders on 28 April 1782, but it was reduced soon afterwards. On 20 Nov he was promoted major-general, and on 13 Jan 1790 he was made colonel of the 41st foot. He became lieutenant-general on 3 May 1796, and general on 1 Jan 1801. In 1794 he had bought the estate of Strowan, Perthshire, and he was made a baronet for his services. By the death of his brother, Sir William Stirling, on 26 July 1799, he succeeded to the baronetcy of Ardoch, which became extinct at his death. He died unmarried at Strowan on 8 May 1808, leaving his property to his sister's son, Thomas Graham of Airth, with reversion to Graham's second son, who took the additional name of Stirling.


Regimental Details | Commanding Officers




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by Stephen Luscombe