Field Marshal Jeffery Amherst, 1st Lord Amherst KCB

He was born in Sevenoaks, Kent, the son of a lawyer. He was an ADC to General Ligonier and later ADC to the Duke of Cumberland. He was at Dettingen, Fontenoy, Rocoux and Lauffeld. At the battle of Hastenbeck in 1757 he commanded the Hessian troops in Cumberland's army. In the Seven Years War Amherst gained a high reputation in North America. He led the attack on Louisbourg in June 1758 and was then appointed Commander-in-Chief of the army in North America. He led the army against the French at Lake Champlain in July 1759 and captured Fort Ticonderoga. In Sep 1760 he took the army down the St Lawrence River and captured Montreal. This ended French rule in Canada and Amherst was appointed Governor-General of British North America.

When an outbreak of smallpox occurred at Fort Pitt Amherst was in favour of a plan to give infected blankets to the Indians who he regarded as an 'execrable race'. On being recalled to England, instead of being feted as a national hero, he was forced to defend himself against severe criticism. However he was promoted to lieutenant-general. When William Howe resigned from command in the War of American Independence, Amherst was earmarked to replace him but his demand for 75.000 extra troops was unacceptable. However he did advise on an overall strategy which was carried out.

In June 1780 the Gordon Riots broke out and Amherst was in charge of the troop deployment in London but he was hindered by dithering magistrates. He was so shocked at the lack of government resolve on this matter that he resigned as C-in-C in Feb 1782. When the French Revolutionary War started he was reinstated, but he was regarded as being past his best and was censured for allowing the army to decline. He was replaced by the Duke of York in 1795 and promoted to Field Marshal in 1796. He died at his home, Montreal Park, Sevenoaks, on 3rd Aug 1797. The portrait is by Joshua Reynolds dated 1768 and hangs in the National Gallery of Canada.

1717 Born on 29th Jan
1735 Ensign in Grenadier Guards
1745 Lieutenant-Colonel
1753 Married first wife, Jane Dalison (died 1767)
1756 Appointed Commissars to the Hessian forces in Hanover
1756 Colonel of 15th Foot 22 May 1756 - 20 Sept 1768
1758 Louisbourg
1758 Colonel of 60th Rifles 21 Sept 1758 - 20 Sept 1768
1759 Captured Fort Ticonderoga
1759 Crown Governor of Virginia, from 12th Sept.
1760 Capture of Montreal, 8th Sept.
1760 Governor-General of British North America, Sept.
1761 Knight of the order of the Bath
1763 The Smallpox Scandal at Fort Pitt
1765 Promoted to Lieutenant-General 26 Mar.
1767 Married second wife, Elizabeth Cary
1768 Colonel of the 3rd Foot (Buffs) 7 Nov 1768 - 20 April 1779
1772 Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance, 22 Oct.
1772 Member of Privy Council
1776 Created Baron Amherst of Holmesdale, 14th May.
1778 Promoted to General, 24 Mar
1778 Commander-in-Chief of the Forces.
1778 King George III and the Queen visit him at his home, Montreal Park in Kent
1779 Colonel of 2nd Troop Horse Grenadier Guards, 21 Apr 1779 - 22 Mar 1782
1780 Gordon Riots
1782 Resigned as Commander-in-Chief, February
1782 Colonel of 2nd Troop of Horse Guards, 20 Mar 1782 - 8 June 1788
1788 Colonel of 2nd Life Guards, 25 June 1788 - 6 Aug 1797
1788 Created Baron Amherst of Montreal, 30 Aug.
1793 Reinstated as Commander-in-Chief, Jan.
1795 Retired in February
1796 Promoted to Field Marshal, 2 Aug.
1797 Died on 3rd Aug at Montreal Park.

Canada | Individuals


Armed Forces | Art and Culture | Articles | Biographies | Colonies | Discussion | Glossary | Home | Library | Links | Map Room | Sources and Media | Science and Technology | Search | Student Zone | Timelines | TV & Film | Wargames |

by Stephen Luscombe