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Marquis of Anglesey

Henry Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey



Field Marshal Henry William Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey KG GCB GCH (17 May 176829 April 1854) was a British military leader and politician, now chiefly remembered for leading the charge of the heavy cavalry against d'Erlon's column during the Battle of Waterloo.

Early life

He was the eldest son of Henry Paget, 1st Earl of Uxbridge (d. 1812), and was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, afterwards entering parliament in 1790 as member for Caernarvon. At the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars, Lord Paget (as he was then styled) raised the regiment of Staffordshire volunteers and was given the temporary rank of lieutenant-colonel in 1793. As the 80th Foot, the corps took part in the Flanders campaign of 1794 under Paget's command.

Military career

In 1795 he was made a lieutenant-colonel of the regular army; in that same year, he married the daughter of the Earl of Jersey. In 1796 he was made a colonel, and by 1801 he had become colonel of the 7th Light Dragoons. In 1802 he was promoted major-general, and six years later lieutenant-general. He commanded the cavalry for Sir John Moore's army during the Corunna campaign, wherein his troopers provided excellent rear-guard defense during the long retreat. The British cavalry showed a distinct superiority over their French counterparts at the action of Sahagun and routed the Chasseurs a Cheval of the Imperial Guard at Benevente. This was his last service in the Peninsular War, because his liaison with the wife of Henry Wellesley, afterwards Lord Cowley, made it impossible subsequently for him to serve with Wellington, Wellesley's brother. His only war service from 1809 to 1815 was in the disastrous Walcheren expedition (1809), in which he commanded a division.

Lead-up to Waterloo

In 1810 he was divorced and then married Lady Charlotte Wellesley, who had about the same time been divorced from her husband.

In 1815, he was appointed cavalry commander in Belgium, under the still resentful eye of Wellington. On the eve of Waterloo, Paget had his command extended by Wellington so as to include the whole of the allied cavalry and horse artillery. He handily covered the retirement of the Anglo-Allies from Quatre Bras to Waterloo on 17 June, and on 18 June led the spectacular cavalry charge of the British centre, which checked and in part routed D'Erlon's corps d'armée (see Waterloo campaign). One of the last cannon shots fired that day hit Paget in the leg, necessitating its amputation. According to anecdote, he was close to Wellington when his leg was hit, and exclaimed, "By God, sir, I've lost my leg!" -- to which Wellington replied, "By God, sir, so you have!" According to his aide-de-camp, Thomas Wildman, during the amputation Paget smiled and said, "I have had a pretty long run. I have been a beau these 47 years and it would not be fair to cut the young men out any longer." Lord Uxbridge's amputated leg had a somewhat macabre after-life.

Ennoblement

Five days later, the Prince Regent created him Marquess of Anglesey and made him a G.C.B., among other decorations from the allied sovereigns. A 27m high monument to his heroism (designed by Thomas Harrison) was erected at Llanfair PG on Anglesey, close to his country retreat at Plas Newydd, in 1816. A separate monument to his leg was apparently erected at Waterloo.

Monument

The monument at Llanfair PG has grown to be recognized under the name 'The Marquis of Anglesey's Column'. At some point during his life, he had a second monument built, a twin to this, built for his wife on the Lindesfarne estates in Ruabon, a Welsh village in the Wrexham area of North Wales. Numerous local stories surround this monument, called only 'the column', including one which suggest the Marquis' wife killed herself after his death by throwing herself from the top of it. This 'column' is traditionally watched over by residents of the 'Bathhouse' a house on the grounds near to the column' However, in recent years, the owners of Lindesfarne, a former college, have paid for security to patrol the area after many years of heavy graffiti. The column was also sealed up after a number accidents around it in recent years.

Later career

In 1818 the marquess was made a Knight of the Garter, in 1819 he became full general, and at the coronation of George IV, he acted as Lord High Steward of England. His support of the proceedings against Queen Caroline made him for a time unpopular, and when he was on one occasion beset by a crowd, who compelled him to shout "The Queen!", he added the wish, "May all your wives be like her." In April 1827, he became a member of the Canning administration, taking the post of Master-General of the Ordnance and becoming a member of the Privy Council. Under the Wellington administration, he accepted the appointment of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (March 1828). In December 1828, he addressed a letter to the Roman Catholic primate of Ireland stating his belief in the need for Catholic emancipation, which led to his recall by the government; on the formation of Earl Grey's administration in November 1830, he again became lord-lieutenant of Ireland. In July 1833, the ministry resigned over the Irish question, he spent thirteen years out of office, then joined Lord John Russell's administration in July 1846 as master-general of the ordnance, finally retiring in March 1852 with the rank of field-marshal and colonel of the Royal Horse Guards.

Marriages and children

He was first married to Lady Caroline Elizabeth Villiers. She was a daughter of George Villiers, 4th Earl of Jersey and Frances Villiers, Countess of Jersey. They had eight children:

He married secondly Lady Charlotte Cadogan (the former Lady Charlotte Wellesley). She was a daughter of Charles Sloane Cadogan, 1st Earl Cadogan and Mary Churchill. Mary was a granddaughter of Lady Maria Walpole, an illegitimate daughter of Robert Walpole and Maria Skerret. They had ten children, of whom six survived infancy:

Literature

  • Marquess of Anglesey, F.S.A.: One-Leg : The Life and Letters of Henry William Paget, First Marquess of Anglesey, KG, 1768–1854. – The Reprint Society : London, 1961

References

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