John Floyd

John's father was a Captain-Lieutenant in the King's Dragoon Guards who fought and was wounded at Minden. He died of his wounds on 12th October 1759, and John, his eldest son was put into the care of the Earl of Pembroke who was, at the time, second in command of the 15th Light Dragoons. In recognition of his father's services, John was given a cornetcy without purchase, at the age of 12. At the battle of Emsdorf, he was riding a horse lent to him by the Earl of Pembroke but it was killed, leaving young Floyd perilously close to the French infantry. He was saved by Captain Ainslie of the 15th.

After the battle he stayed with the Earl of Pembroke, an expert horseman and author on the subject, at Utrecht where he must have honed his skills as a rider because when he returned to England with the regiment in April 1763 he was appointed riding-Master. When the Earl was made commanding officer of the 1st Royal Dragoons, he arranged for John to come to that regiment to train the men according to Pembroke's methods.

As Lieutenant-Colonel John Floyd, he was given command of a new regiment, the 23rd Light Dragoons, he took it to India as a result of the East India Company's plea to the Government for a British Cavalry regiment to help fight the Mahrattas. Unfortunately, the regiment suffered from lack of horses and were unable to perform as well as expected. But John's teaching methods laid the foundation of horsemanship for many years to come in India.

In 1790 he led the British cavalry against Tippoo in the renewed Mysore War. He fought against Said Sahib's army of 4,000 horsemen and drove them back. He claimed that he had 'established for the first time in India, the infinite superiority of European over Native Horse.' The enemy finally gained the upper hand and Floyd's cavalry was isolated, but fought bravely to rejoin the main force.

At the siege of Bangalore in March 1791, Colonel Floyd led a courageous charge against overwhelming odds. In this action he received a bullet wound in the cheek and neck but was brought back to safety. He was back in action within ten days but the bullet stayed in his neck for the rest of his life.

The painting, shown her, is by David Morier and shows Floyd in the uniform of the 15th Light Dragoons c1768. The uniform has blue facings and silver lace. The other mounted figure is an officer of the Light Troop of the Royal Dragoons. The other figure, on the left, in an unusual costume, is a lady called Kitty Hunter who was the daughter of a Lord of the Admiralty. The Earl of Pembroke eloped with her, although he was already married, in January 1762.

1748 Born on 22nd February.
1759 Father died leaving John in the care of Lord Pembroke.
1760 (5th May) Cornet in the 15th light Dragoons, aged 12
1760 Fought at Battle of Emsdorf
1763 (20th April) Promoted to Lieutenant
1764 Attached to the Royal Dragoons as Riding Instructor
1770 (28th April) Lieutenant-Captain
1772 (27th May) Captain
1779 (5th May) Became a Major in 21st Light Dragoons
1781 (22nd Sept) Lieutenant-Colonel of 23rd (later 19th) Light Dragoons
1782 (6th Feb.) Sailed with his regiment to India
1790 (18th Nov.) became Colonel
1791 (March) Wounded at the Battle of Bangalore
1792 (Feb.) Fought at Seringapatam
1794 (3rd Oct.) Major-General, commanding Southern Division of the Madras Army
1800 (11th Sept) Appointed Colonel of 26th (later 23rd) Light Dragoons
1801 (1st Jan.) Lieutenant-General
1804 (13th Sept.) Appointed Colonel of 8th Light Dragoons
1812 (1st Jan.) General
1813 (23rd Jan.) Appointed Governor of Gravesend and Tilbury Fort
1816 (23rd Jan.) Created Baronet
1818 (10th Jan.) Died.

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by Stephen Luscombe