General Sir Robert Brownrigg Bt GCB

Robert Brownrigg was born in 1759 and commissioned into the 9th East Norfolk Regiment in 1775. In 1795 he was appointed Military Secretary to the Duke of York, accompanying him on the ill-fated campaign on the Helder in 1799. In 1803 he was QMG of the Forces and appointed Colonel of the East Norfolks in Oct 1805. In July 1809 he was in the Expedition to the Schelt. In 1813 he was sent to Ceylon as Governor and in 1815 managed to take control of the troublesome Kingdom of Kandy in the interior of the island. The annexation of this region was the result of a treaty called the Kandyan Convention. For this achievement he was made a baronet in 1816. When the Great Rebellion broke out in 1817 he organised the suppression and by 1818 it was over. He confiscated the property of individuals condemned as traitors, and it wasn’t until 2011 that the President of Sri Lanka declared that Brownrigg’s Gazette notification of these traitors should be declare null and void. The people involved, 16 Kandians of the Uva Freedom Struggle, were declared National Heroes. Sir Robert left Ceylon in 1819 with the rank of General and brought back the gilded bronze statue of Tara captured in Kandy and dating from the 8th century CE. It is now in the British Museum. Sir Robert was married twice; first to Elizabeth Lewis in 1789, with whom he had 6 sons and a daughter. Then in 1810 he married Sophia Bissett. He died near Monmouth on 27 April 1833.

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by Stephen Luscombe