Amherst, Jeffery, Lord Amherst

, was the second son of Jeffery Amherst, of Riverhead, in Kent, esq. and of Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Kerrill, of Hadlow, in Kent, esq. and was born Jan. 29, 1717. He devoted himself very early to the profession of arms, having received an ensign’s commission in the guards, in 1731, when he was only fourteen years of age; but about ten years afterwards he was aide-de-camp to general, afterwards lord Ligonier, and in that capacity was present with the general at the battles of Roucox, Dettingen, and Fontenoy. He was afterwards admitted on the staff of the duke of Cumberland, with whom he was present at the engagements of Laffeld and Hastenbeck. In 1756, he was appointed to the command of the fifteenth regiment of foot, and in two years more obtained the rank of major-general in the army.

When the war broke out between France and England, | of which North America was the principal theatre, general Amherst was appointed to serve in that country, where he soon had opportunities of displaying his talents. The courage and military skill which entitled him to the trust thus reposed in him, were not long unattested hy the fears of his enemies, and the acclamations of his country. In the summer of 1758, he undertook the expedition against Louisbourg, which, together with the island of Cape Breton, on which it is situated, in the gulph of St. Lawrence, surrendered, wiili all its dependencies, to his victorious arms, July 26 of that year. This conquest not only deprived the enemy of an important place of strength, on which the prosperity of their most valuable possessions in America depended, as it was the guardian and protector of their trade in that part of the world, but it also put Great Britain in possession of the navigation of the river St. Lawrence, cutoff France from the advantages of her fishery, and by that means considerably distressed her West India islands, and finally opened the road for the reduction of Canada. The same campaign was distinguished by another very important atchievement; for in the month of November following, a plan being laid by general Amherst for the capture of Fort du Quesne, one of the keys of Canada, situated on the lakes, and the execution being intrusted to brigadier-general Forbes, the assault proved successful, and the fortress was accordingly taken; measures being adopted at the same time with so much spirit and wisdom, that the Indians were so far detached from the alliance of the enemy, as to give no obstruction to the expedition. In the ensuing campaign another strong station was reduced, under the prudent auspices of general Amherst. Sir William Johnson, to whom the command of the expedition against Niagara devolved, in consequence of the accidental death of brigadier Prideaux, on the 24th July, 1759, having defeated and taken M. D' Aubrey near that place, the fort surrendered the next day. This important victory threw the whole of the Indian fur trade into the hands of the English; and also secured the British dominions in that quarter from all hostile annoyance.

Some time before this, general Abercrornbie had made an unsuccessful attempt on Ticonderoga, in which, together with a considerable number of men, the British army had been deprived of those gallant young officers, lord | Howe, and col. Roger Townsend. On the 26th July 1759, however, the day after the reduction of Niagara, Ticonderoga surrendered, and this paved the way for the subjection of Canada; accordingly, we find that on the 14th of the following month, the long and obstinately disputed post of Crown Point surrendered to the British forces; the 18th of the ensuing September, beheld the chief settlement of the enemy in this part of the globe, the ever-to-be-remembered Quebec, surrendered upon capitulation to our commanders; and in the month of August, 1760, the French army evacuating Isle au Noix, abandoning the Isle Gallot, and Picquet’s island, at the approach of general Amherst, Isle Royale being taken by him, and Montreal, the last remaining port of the foe, surrendering on the 8th September following, the whole province became subject to the British government. In the mean time, the island of Newfoundland having been reduced by the French, general Amherst projected an expedition for its recovery. The command of this was intrusted to the late major-general William Amherst (then lieutenant colonel), who, giving effect and action to his brother’s plan, happily restored the island to its British owners, and captured the various garrisons which had been stationed by the enemy in the respective posts.

General Amherst now seeing that the whole continent qf North America was reduced in subjection to Great Britain, returned to New tfork, the capital of the British empire, and was received with all the respect due to his public services. The thanks of the House of Commons had already been transmitted to him; and, among other honourable testimonies of approbation, in 1761, he was created a knight of the Bath. He had also some time before been appointed commander in chief of all the forces in America, and governor-general of the British provinces there. But shortly after the peace was concluded, he resigned his command, and returned to England, arriving in London December 1763. His Majesty received him with most gracious respect and approbation, and the government of the province of Virginia was conferred upon him, as the first mark of royal favour. In 1768, there appears to have been a temporary misunderstanding between him and his royal master, which, however, soon terminated, as in the end of that year he was appointed colonel of the third regiment of foot, with permission to | continue his command of the sixtieth, or royal American regiment, of four battalions; and in Oct. 1770, he was appointed governor of the island of Guernsey, and the castle of Cornet, with all its dependencies. To these promotions was added the office of lieutenant-general of the ordnance, in Oct. 1772, at which time he was sworn of the privy council. From this period, also, to the beginning of 1782, he officiated as commander in chief of the English forces, though he was not promoted to the rank of general in the army till March 1778, from which period to the time of his resignation, in March 1782, he acted as eldest general on the staff of England. Until his military promotion in 1778, he had no higher appointment in the army than that of eldest lieutenant-general on the English staff. In 1780, he resigned the command of the third regiment of foot, and was promoted to the second troop of horse grenadiers. Besides these military honours, he received the dignity of the British peerage on the 20th May, 1776, by the title of baron Amherst, of Holmesdale, in the county of Kent. His last public services were the means he adopted in quelling the dreadful riots in London in the month of June, 1780. The regulations and instructions of his lordship on this occasion were not less distinguished by wisdom and promptitude than by humanity.

In 1732, on the change of the administration usually called that of lord North, the command of the army, and the lieutenant-generalship of ordnance, were put into other hands. In 1787, he received another patent of peerage, as baron Amherst, of Montreal, with remainder to his nephew, William Pitt Amherst. On the staff being reestablished, he was, Jan. 22, 1793, again appointed to the command of the army in Great Britain, although at that time, general Conway, the duke of Gloucester, sir George Howard, the duke of Argyle, the hon. John Fitz-­william, and sir Charles Montagu, were his seniors. On the 10th of February 1795, the command of the army being given to the duke of York, an offer of earldom, and the rank of field marshal, were made to lord Amherst, who then declined accepting them, but on the 30th July 1796, accepted the rank of field-marshal. His increasing age and infirmities, had, however, rendered him unfit for public business nearly two years before this period, and he now retired to his seat at Montreal in Kent, where he August 3, 1797, in the eighty-first year of his age. | and was interred in the family vault in Seven Oaks church, on the 10th. Lord Amherst had been twice married; first, to Jane, only daughter of Thomas Dallison, of Manton, in Lincolnshire, esq. who died Jan. 7, 1765; and secondly, to Elizabeth, eldest daughter of general George Gary, brother to viscount Falkland, who survived him; but by neither had he any issue. His two brothers had distinguished themselves in the service of their country; John, an admiral of the blue, died Feb. 12, 1778 and William, already mentioned, a lieutenant-general in the army, died May 13, 1781. His son inherits lord Amherst’s title and estate.

The character of lord Amherst may be collected from the particulars of his life. His personal merits, however, have been universally acknowledged. He was a firm disciplinarian, but ever the soldier’s friend; a man of strict ceconomy, and of a collected and temperate mind, and ready at all times to hear and redress the complaints of the army in general. No ostentation of heroism marked any of his actions but the whole of his conduct evinced the firm simplicity of a brave mind, animated by the consciousness of what was due to himself and to his country. In private life, his character has been represented as truly amiable. 1

1 Gent. Mag. 1797.—Smollett’s Continuation.—Annual Register; and contemporary periodical publications.