General Hawley


David Morier painted this study of Henry Hawley as Colonel of the Royal Dragoons c1748. Hawley's date of birth is not known but is somewhere between 1679 and 1685. He was the son of Lieut-Col Francis Hawley of the 4th Dragoons and Judith Hughes. He was apparently commissioned into the army at the age of nine. He was at Almanza in 1707 as a captain in the 19th Foot, and rose to lieutenant-colonel in that regiment. From 1717 to 1730 he was Colonel of the 33rd Foot. In 1739 he was a major-general, and reached lieutenant-general on 30 Mar 1743. He fought at Dettingen, and was second-in-command of the cavalry at Fontenoy. In 1745 he was appointed Commander-in-Chief in Scotland, but made mistakes at Falkirk where the British were humiliated by the Jacobites. He was not sacked for this defeat but instead put in charge of the cavalry at Culloden. After the battle he pursued the rebels and treated captives with great brutality. He was known as Hangman Hawley. James Wolfe was his brigade major and said of him, "The troops dread his severity, hate the man and hold his military knowledge in contempt." Horace Walpole said of Hawley, "Very brave and able, with no small bias to the brutal."

He returned to the Low Countries as commander of the allied cavalry at Lauffeld in July 1747, and in 1752 was appointed governor of Portsmouth. He was Colonel of the 13th Dragoons from 1730 to 1740, and must have been beside himself with fury to see them run from the battlefield at Falkirk in 1746. He was Colonel of the Royal Dragoons from 1740 to his death in 1759. He died at Portsmouth on 24 March 1759


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by Stephen Luscombe