General Sir Fitzroy Jeffreys Grafton Maclean, 8th Baronet of Morvern,1 4th Lord Maclean5 became the 24th Chief of the Clan Maclean1 on the 2nd of November in 18188 upon the death of his elder half-brother, who died without issue.9
Like his elder brother who succeeded to the baronetcy after the death of a distant cousin, Sir Fitzroy never imagined that he might one day inherit the chiefship of his clan; rather his life was devoted to the military service of his country. The government of the islands of St. Thomas and St. John were entrusted to him by the Crown until a treaty returned them to Denmark.1 Sir Fitzroy rose to the rank of General in the British Army; with over 50 years8 of military service, Sir Fitzroy never formally retired. He was appointed the Colonel of the Regiment for the 84th and 45th Regiments of Foot.
Sir Fitzroy was a man of standing, politically connected,9 a trusted agent of the Crown,1 and a Freemason.3 His children followed his example in military and governmental service. Though a life abroad never allowed him to return to the home of his ancestors he imparted to his son, Charles, a passion for the history of his clan.
- Ensign, British Army, 29th Regiment of Foot17
- Lieutenant, British Army, 29th Regiment of Foot18
Lieutenant, British Army, 60th Regiment of Foot19
- Captain, British Army, 60th Regiment of Foot20
- Major, British Army, 110th Regiment of Foot21
Major, British Army, 79th Regiment of Foot22
Lt-Colonel, British Army, 82nd Regiment of Foot23
- Lt-Colonel, British Army, 60th Regiment of Foot24
- Colonel, British Army, 37th Regiment of Foot25
- Bg-General, British Army, 37th Regiment of Foot
Commanding Leeward Caribian Islands32
- Mj-General, British Army, 37th Regiment of Foot26
- Lt-General, British Army27
- General, British Army28
Sir Fitzroy was born in 17707 to Donald Maclean, esq. and Margaret Wall.9 Margaret, Donald’s second wife,8 was the daughter of James Wall, esq.9 of Clonea Castle in Waterford.8 James Wall, Sir Fitzroy’s maternal grandfather, was a Secretary to the King of Spain.9
In 1794, Sir Fitzroy married Elizabeth Kidd,2 the only daughter of Charles Kidd8 and widow of John Bishop, esq. of Barbadoes.9 Elizabeth’s first marriage produced no children. Though Sir Fitzroy and Elizabeth had several children, only two, Charles and Donald,2 survived early childhood abroad.1 Elizabeth, was descended from the ancient families of Woodhill and Cragie in Fife,8 died in 1832.1
Sir Fitzroy’s eldest son, Charles Fitzroy, was born in 1798.9 Charles Fitzroy enjoyed a successful military career and would succeed him in the Baronetcy. Donald, Sir Fitzroy’s younger son, was born in 1800. Donald graduated from Oxford,2 became a barrister at law1 and was elected to the House of Commons for Oxford in 1847.2
Six years after his first wife’s death, Sir Fitzroy married Frances Watkins on the 17th of September in 1838.1 Frances was the daughter of the Reverend H. Watkins and widow of Henry Campion, esq. of Mailing Deanery Sussex.8 Sir Fitzroy and Frances were married late in life and had no children together. Frances died on the 12th of June in 1843.9
The international political climate approaching the beginning of the 19th century was heavily influenced by revolution and French empirialism. The French Revolutionary Wars, the Napoleonic Wars, and the American Revolutionary War all of which Sir Fitzroy served in, This period not only challenged global territorial boundaries but changed the face of war itself. During this period the French introduced total war, a class of unrestricted warfare which makes no distinction between military and civilian resources, infrastructure, and targets, that has defined virtually every conflict since the end of the 18th century.
Sir Fitzroy was commissioned an Ensign17 in the 29th Regiment of Foot9 on the 24th of September in 1787.8 Within a year he purchased a commission as a Lieutenant,19 exchanged to the 4th Battalion14 of the 60th Regiment of Foot, and was on his way to the West Indies.2
American Revolutionary War
From 1775 through 1783 the British colonies in North America struggled to separate from the British Empire, and declared their independence in 1776. The newly formed United States of America quickly allied with France who was also in the mist of its own revolution. Britain desperately wanted to prevent France from being able to supply the American Colonies from the West Indies. The French wanted to extend its revolutionary concepts of self-rule to the New World.
French Revolutionary Wars
For the decade after the French Revolution the National Convention, the government of the first French Republic, sought to defend and spread its revolutionary ideals through both aggressive diplomacy and military action. France was successful in expanding its empire from the Italian Peninsula and the Low Countries of Europe to the Louisiana Territory in North America. These wars, collectively remembered as the French Revolutionary Wars, ended with the signing of the Treaty of Amiens in 1804 shortly after Napeleon Bonaparte seized power.
By the 1790’s roughly four-fiths of all British overseas capital investments were tied to the West Indies.11 Though the primary source of wealth in the British West Indies colonies was sugar, other small crops such as indigo and coffee were also significant.11 The taxes and duties directly from these exports provided approximately one-eighth of the British Government’s £31.5 million annual revenue,11 not including the additional indirect taxes generated by commercial trade activity once the West Indies goods had been imported.11 When Britain felt the threat French expansion reach the West Indies from its neighboring colonies it took steps to protect its investments in the region.11 Britain sent 93 Line Infantry regiments to overwhelm enemy colonies in the West Indies.11
In 1793 Sir Fitzroy commanded a company in the 60th Regiment of Foot9 that took part in the capture of the Island of Tobago1 from the French on April 15th in 1793.11 On September 3rd of the same year, Sir Fitzroy was given a brevet promotion to Captain22 in the same regiment.22 From Tobago, the British troops set their sights on driving the French off the Island of Martinique. After nearly two months of intense fighting, the French surrendered the island on the 23rd of March in 1794.11
Immediatly following the capture of Martinique, Sir Fitzroy was entrusted with the command of the island;10 he was promoted to Major and transferred to the 110th Regiment of Foot9; the regiment disbanded and on July 21st of 1795 Sir Fitzroy exchanged to the 79th Regiment of Foot.10 Four months later he purchased a commission as Lieutenant-Colonel with the 82nd Regiment of Foot with whom he remained until 18017 when he exchanged back to the 60th Regiment of Foot.9 During the British Occupation, he briefly visited the Island of St Vincent.10
In 1802 the French Revolutionary Wars came to and end with the Treat of Amiens. The peace proved fragile and lasted only a year. Though the West Indies had essentially been restored, the struggle to control colonial resources resumed.
On the 9th of November, 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte seized power in France. Shortly thereafter began an aggressive series of wars to expand the French Republic, and later the French Empire across the globe. Napoleon undermined the neutrality of Malta, which Britian felt was an essential port due to its central location in the Mediterranean Sea. When Britain demanded the withdraw of French troops from the Dutch Republic and a new agreement to keep a British military prescnce in Malta, France refused. The United Kingdom declared war on the French Republic on the 18th of May in 1803.13
In response to French disregard for the terms of the Treaty of Amiens, Britain sought to make it's presence felt in the The Guianas and limit the French footprint on the South American continent. To this end Britain sent an expedition to capture Surinam, a Dutch colony protected by a sizable garrison of Batavian troops.
Sir Fitzroy participated in the Surinam Expidition.1 Admiral Samuel Hood commanded the ships of the British Fleet and overall operation, while General Sir Charles Green commanded the British Army invading the mainland.9 Under Green's command Sir Fitzroy, having been awarded the Brevet rank of Colonel on the 25th of September 1803,7 commanded the advance infantry corps that composed the flank companies10 in the Battle of Surinam.8
On the 5th of May in 1804, Surinam's defenses fell to the British Expeditionary Force.15 The colony and a sizable flotilla were captured15; among the ships was an 18-gun15 British corvette16 that had been captured with her 39-man crew29 a year earlier29 named the HMS Surinam. The capture of Surinam doubled Britain's interest in The Guianas, and captured territory that bordered half of French Guiana.
Sir Fitzroy was given command of the Batavian troops who were received into the British service upon the surrender of Surinam and other Dutch West Indies colonies in the region.9 The capture of Surinam was so significant that on March 1808 the Crown awarded a prize of £32,000 to those who participated in the battle.30
The month after the capture of Surinam, Sir Fitzroy was promoted to Colonel on the 30th of June in 180425 and given command of the 37th Regiment of Foot.7 Seven months later, January 12th of 1805 he was given a brevet promotion to Brigadier-General in West Indies.8 Sir Fitzroy served under General Boyer9, who’s successful campaign to re-take of the Danish West Indies islands of Saint Thomas,8 Saint John10, and Saint Croix13 ended in December of 1807.8 By the Crown’s commission, the government of islands of Saint Thomas and Saint John were conferred upon Sir Fitzroy in 1808.9 Sir Fitzroy continued as Govonor General4 of Saint Thomas and Saint John until they were returned to Dutch in 1815.1
By 1809, the only remaining French foothold in the Americas was the Island of Guadeloupe. The French used the island to resupply privateers who preyed on British trade routes. Britain began the Invadion of Guadeloupe on the 28th of January, 1810.11 The French held the island for ten days before falling to the British.11 Sir Fitzroy participated in the invasion,10 led by Gen Sir George Beckwith,9 which drove the French out of the West Indies for the duration of the war; and was awarded the Military General Service Medal with clasp for Guadeloupe.2
With the West Indies firmly under British control, Sir Fitzroy returned to the business of governing Saint Thomas and Saint John. While Govonor General Sir Fitzroy was promoted twice, to Major-General on July 25th in 18107 and to Lieutenant-General on June 4th in 1814.9 Sir Fitzroy’s administration of those islands was marked not only by his impartial judgement1 but more so by his kind disposition to all people regardless of rank, class, or status.9 He is warmly remembered for working tirelessly to improve living conditions and happiness of all those who lived on the islands, especially those of humbler means.8 When the Treaty of Parris returned the islands to Denmark on November 20th of 1815,8 the islanders expressed their great appreciation to him for his kindness, generosity, fairness, and philanthropic policies as they bid him farewell.9
After twenty-eight years1 of active service in the hot climate of the West Indies,9 Sir Fitzroy returned to Great Britain in 1815.2 The wars that kept Europe in turmoil for three decades were over and there was peace at home. The wars Britain fought during the later half of Sir Fitzroy’s career were small and abroad ensuring he would never again need to deploy. Sir Fitzroy made his home in London1 at Cadogan Place,9 where he remained the rest of his life.2
Sir Fitzroy was appointed Colonel of the 84th Regiment of Foot9 on the 28th of July in 1823.7 A coveted appointment that allows senior-ranking officers to continue their military careers into retirement, Colonels of the Regiment work closely with a regiment and its regimental association while also maintaining communication with the monarchy for the regiment. Colonel of the Regiment is an office, as such the term, Colonel, has no bearing on the office holder’s actual rank. On the 10th of January in 183710 Sir Fitzroy was promoted to the rank of General.9 In late December of 18409 Sir Fitzroy was appointed Colonel of the 45th Regiment of Foot.31
On the 5th of July in 18472 Sir Fitzroy died peacefully at Cadogan Place, his home in London.8 During his 77 years he fought in three wars, travelled to two continents and all the islands of the West Indies, and attained the highest rank in the British Army. Upon his death, the chiefship and baronetancy fell to his eldest son, Sir Charles Fitzroy Maclean.10
- * Lord Maclean of the Jacobite Peerage
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Article by Kane McLean, 21 February, 2015; released under the Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) Unported License.