Monckton, Robert

views updated

Monckton, Robert

MONCKTON, ROBERT. (1726–1782). British army officer and colonial governor. Second son of the first viscount Galway and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Manners, who was the daughter of the second duke of Rutland, Monckton was educated at Westminster School from 1737. He entered the Third Foot Guards as an ensign in 1741. He fought in Germany and the Netherlands during the War of the Austrian Succession, including the battles of Dettingen (1743) and Fontenoy (1745). He became a captain in the Thirty-fourth Foot in 1744, major in 1747, and lieutenant colonel in the Forty-seventh Foot in 1751. In the latter year he was also elected to Parliament.

In 1752 he joined the Forty-seventh in Nova Scotia. He was commander of Fort Lawrence on the Bay of Fundy before becoming a member of the provincial council at Halifax in August 1753. A little later he pacified some rioting German settlers without bloodshed. On 21 August 1754 he became lieutenant governor of Annapolis Royal, and in Boston that winter he helped to plan the northern prong of the British offensive for 1755: a surprise attack on the French forts dominating the isthmus between the peninsula of Nova Scotia and the mainland. While Edward Braddock was defeated and William Shirley and William Johnson failed, Monckton at the head of 2,000 Massachusetts volunteers and 280 regulars, took Forts Beauséjour and Gaspereau with hardly a shot fired. The success emboldened Governor Charles Lawrence to demand an oath of allegiance from the French Acadians, who had passively or actively resisted British rule since 1713. Monckton had the still controversial duty of rounding up 1,100 of those who refused and deporting them for dispersal among the mainland colonies. In December he became lieutenant governor at Halifax and on 20 December 1757 colonel commandant of the Second Battalion of the Sixtieth Foot, the Royal Americans. Toward the end of 1758 he destroyed French settlements on the St. Johns River, and in 1759 he was James Wolfe's second in command during the Quebec campaign. Badly wounded in the battle on the Plains of Abraham, he became colonel of the Seventeenth Foot on 24 October. In 1760 he was sent to Philadelphia to command the troops in the south; in February 1761 he was promoted major general, and in March he became governor of New York. In 1762 he led the successful assault on Martinique before returning to New York in June. Twelve months later he sailed for England, where in 1770 he was promoted lieutenant general. In 1769 he lost heavily on East India Company stock, making him desperate for further military employment. In 1773 his application to be commander in chief in India was refused, but his sympathies obliged him to decline a consolation offer of the same post in America. He died in London on 21 May 1782.

SEE ALSO Abraham, Plains of (Quebec);Austrian Succession, War of the; Braddock, Edward; Shirley, William; Wolfe, James.

                            revised by John Oliphant

More From