The Party's Concerned:
George William Frederick; (1738–1820) King of Great Britain and
King of Ireland
George III's long reign was marked by a series of military conflicts
involving his kingdoms, much of the rest of Europe, and places farther
afield in Africa, the Americas and Asia. Early in his reign, Great
Britain defeated France in the Seven Years' War, becoming the dominant
European power in North America and India. A series of wars against
revolutionary and Napoleonic France, over a 20-year period, finally
concluded in the defeat of Napoleon in 1815.
In the later part of his life, George III suffered from a recurrent and
eventually permanent, mental illness. After a final relapse in 1810, a
regency was established, and George III's eldest son, George, Prince of
Wales, ruled as Prince Regent.
During 1796, one of France's most successful and charismatic
revolutionaries, General Hoche, hatched a grand and complex plan for the
coordinated invasion of England, Wales and Ireland. He was aided in this
by Irish patriot Theobald Wolfe Tone, who was in France promoting the
invasion of Ireland by a French army of liberation. The Irishman
promised popular support if the French invaded, with the expectation
being that an uprising in Ireland would draw British troops and
resources away from Continental Europe and might even lead to an
independent and anti-British Ireland. The plan was approved and a French
invasion fleet of around 50 ships carrying 15,000 veteran troops began
to gather at Brest to sail to Bantry Bay, County Cork in south-west
Prince Frederick, Duke of York, was the second son of King George III.
As an inexperienced young military officer, he presided over an
unsuccessful campaign against the French in the Low Countries in 1793.
Two years later he was appointed commander-in-chief of the British army,
and in that post he made amends for his initial military setbacks by
brilliantly re-organizing the nation's forces and putting in place
administrative reforms that were a critical factor in enabling the
British to prevail over Napoleon. He also founded the renowned military
college, Sandhurst. Word reached him of the French designs and he sought
his father’s permission to send troops to Ireland to meet the threat.
The King responded with this letter, which is
cited in The War in Wexford, H.F.B. Wheeler
and A.M. Broadley, 1910, John Lane the Bodley Head.
The invasion fleet sailed in December 1796 but the weather was so
violent that no troops could be put ashore, and by the first week of
January 1797 the French invasion fleet, battered and dispersed, crept
back to Brest. In 1798, the Irish did rise and the French did invade,
but the British defeated both.
Here is the transcript of the letter Frederick wrote to the King which
elicited this reply:
Horse Guards August 17th 1796
I have the Honor to lay
before Your Majesty the Weekly
States as likewise the different Memoranda
for Your Majesty's Approbation.
I have likewise to report to
Your Majesty that Mr Pitt came to
Me this Morning, and in the name of Your Majesty's Ministers acquainted
Me, that in consequence of some very pressing Intelligence from the Lord
Lieutenant of Ireland, it was deemed absolutely necessary that a
Reinforcement should be sent from hence to Ireland as soon as possible.
The only Reinforcement which it is in Our power to send at present is
the 6th Dragoon Guards, and 12th Light Dragoons,
and the Manx and Loyal Tay Fencible Infantry.
Your Majesty might likewise
approve of the three Foreign Corps of Lowenstein, Hompesch, and
Waldstein, which are at present at the Isle of Wight, waiting to be sent
to the West Indies, being ordered to proceed immediately to Cork, and to
remain there till an Opportunity offers to send them on to their
Destination; Should Your Majesty sanction these different Arrangements,
the Troops may be ordered to proceed to Ireland immediately.
Mr Dundas has likewise
acquainted Me that a Representation has been made both by M. General
Gordon and Major-General Sir Hew Dalrymple, that in case of any Accident
happening to them, the Command in both the Islands of Jersey and
Guernsey, would fall upon the
Colonels of Fencibles, and begging therefore that a Brig. General might
be appointed to each Island under Them, I beg leave therefore to mention
to Your Majesty the Names of Colonels Burton and Monson to be appointed
Brigadiers General in those Islands.
I mean to pay My Duty to Your
Majesty at Weymouth next Sunday, and hope to be able to lay before You
Sir, different Papers concerning the interior Arrangements in case of an
Invasion, as likewise concerning the Reduction of most of the French
I have &c.
Napier Christie Burton, who assumed command of the forces on Guernsey
pursuant to this letter, later in 1798 became commander-in-chief of
Napier Christie, only son of General Gabriel Christie, was born in the
city of Albany, on the 31st August 1758. In early life he
attended the burgh school of Stirling, when under the charge of his
paternal grandmother, who resided at that place. When subsequently
studying at Eton, he was, in compliment to his father, invited to
Windsor Castle by George III., and introduced to the young princes, his
sons. On the 15th August 1775, he was commissioned an ensign
of the 22nd Foot. In February 1776 he exchanged into the 3rd
Foot Guards, of which, on the 18th September 1779, he became captain.
From April 1779 to October 1781, he served in America under Lord
Captain Napier Christie married, in 1784, Mary,
daughter and heiress of General Ralph Burton of Hull Bank, Beverley, and
Hotham Hall, Yorkshire, an officer who bore a distinguished part in the
conquest of Canada. As Colonel Burton he was second in command of the
force that left Louisbourg after its capture, under General Amherst, to
reinforce General Abercrombie at Albany, subsequent to his reverse at
Ticonderoga. He commanded the right wing of General the Hon. James
Murray's army in an engagement before Quebec, on the 28th
April 1760, and in the same year was appointed Governor of the Three
Rivers. On the 12th November 1764, he was appointed Colonel of the 3rd
Foot. Under command of Major-General Wolfe, he executed the military
operation which resulted in the capture of Quebec.
On his marriage, Captain Napier Christie assumed the
name and arms of Burton in conjunction with his own. On the 13th
October 1789, he obtained the brevet rank of Lieutenant Colonel; he was,
on the 26th February 1795, gazetted as brevet-colonel. In
1796 he commanded the troops at Guernsey; he was, on the 1st January
1798, promoted as Major General. In 1799 he succeeded his father,
General Gabriel Christie, as commander-in-chief of the troops in Canada,
and held this office till 1st January 1805, when he was advanced as
Lieutenant General. He subsequently commanded the northern division of
the troops in England. In January 1806 he was appointed Colonel of the
60th Rifles, and on the 4th June 1814, was advanced as General. He was
many years the Member of Parliament for Beverley. He died at London in
Burton Battery (Fort Les Landes in Guernsey
French) on Guernsey is a Napoleonic War gun platform/battery (now
renovated), which held three or four 24-pound cannon and would have
protected part of Vazon Bay from French invasion. The battery was likely
named after General Napier Christie Burton.