Field Marshal George Townshend, 1st Marquess Townshend

George Townshend was born on 28 Feb 1723, the eldest son of Charles, 3rd Viscount Townshend and his wife Audrey Harrison. The family home was at Raynham Hall, Norfolk. He was educated at Eton and went to St John's College, Cambridge. He was Cumberland's ADC at Laffeldt and brought his dispatches back to England. But he fell out with the Duke and left the army in protest. He attacked him in parliament and published caricatures of him, Townshend being an artist as well as a soldier. When Cumberland was replaced by Lord Ligonier he returned to military service. He was foisted onto Wolfe's command which was bound for Quebec. Wolfe was not keen on the idea and wrote to Townshend to welcome him but also commenting on the aristocrat's lack of experience. This upset Townshend who had been present at several battles. During the expedition he fell out with Wolfe who was a difficult man to work with, and drew caricatures of him (producing Canada's first cartoon). He and the other brigade commanders helped the ailing Wolfe with the plan of battle for Quebec. In the battle on the Plains of Abraham, Wolfe was killed and the second-in-command, Robert Monckton was badly wounded. This left Townshend in command of the army. He managed to bring guns up to besiege Quebec but the city surrendered.

He was married twice; the first marriage was to Chalotte Compton who was Baroness Ferrers of Chartley, daughter of the Earl of Northampton. They had 4 sons and 4 daughters. She died in 1770, and in 1773 he married Anne, daughter of Sir James Montgomery. They had 6 children. In July 1767 Townshend was given a grant of land in Prince Edward Island which amounted to 20,000 acres. He did not use it, and tried to sell it but in the end he gave one quarter of it to American Loyalists and disbanded troops for settlement. In 1767 he was also appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and introduced measures to increase the size of Irish regiments, reduce corruption and improve the Irish ecomony. He also increased the amount of control that Britain had over the country. This of course made him very unpopular in Ireland.

A peculiar tragedy befell Townshend in May 1796: his son, Lord Charles, aged 27, had just been elected MP for Great Yarmouth, and he took a carriage to London with his brother, Rev. Lord Frederick, the Rector of Stiffkey. During the journey, Lord Frederick inexplicably killed his brother with a pistol shot to the head, and was ultimately declared insane. Promoted to field marshal on 30 July 1796, Townshend died at his family home, Raynham Hall in Norfolk on 14 September 1807 and was buried in the family vault there. He was succeed by his eldest son George, Lord Ferrers of Chartley, 2nd Marquess Townshend.

1742 Joined the army in Germany as a staff officer.
1743 Present at Dettingen 16 Jun.
1745 Captain in 7th Dragoons
1746 Present at Culloden 16 Apr.
1747 Transferred in Jan to 20th Regiment of Foot (Bligh's)
1747 At Laffeldt (21 Jun) as ADC to Duke of Cumberland
1747 MP for Norfolk, until 1764
1748 Capt in 1st Foot Guards (25 Feb)
1750 Resigned from the army
1751 Married to Charlotte, Baroness Ferrers of Chartley (died 1770)
1757 Pushed through new militia act in Parliament
1758 Returned to the army as a Colonel
1759 Colonel 64th Regiment of Foot (9 Jun 1759 - 23 Oct 1759)
1759 Served in Wolfe's army at Quebec
1759 Colonel 28th Regiment of Foot (24 Oct 1759 - 14 Jul 1773)
1761 Promoted to major-general
1761 His brigade fought at Vellinghausen, 15-16 July
1762 Served in Portugal as divisional commander
1764 Inherited title of Viscount Townshend
1767 Appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (until 1772)
1770 Promoted to lieutenant-general
1772 Master General of the Ordnance, until 1884
1773 Colonel 2nd Dragoon Guards (15 Jul 1773 - 17 Sep 1807)
1773 Married for the 2nd time, Anne Montgomery
1779 Work begins on Fort Townshend in Newfoundland and Labrador
1782 Promoted to General
1787 Created Marquess Townshend
1792 Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk
1792 Governor of Jersey
1794 Governor of Kingston-upon-Hull
1795 Governor of the Royal Hospital
1796 Promoted to Field Marshal
1807 Died at Raynham Hall on 14 Sep

Regimental details | Colonels


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by Stephen Luscombe