Fawcett, Sir William, K.B.

, a brave English officer, the descendant of a very ancient family, was born in 1728 at Shipdenhall, near Halifax, in Yorkshire, which, for many centuries, had been in the possession of his ancestors, and is now the property and residence of their lineal descendant. His father dying when he was very | young, his education was superintended by an uncle, a very worthy clergyman. He was brought up at a free school in Lancashire, where he was well grounded in classical learning, and became also a remarkable proficient in mathematics. He has very frequently been heard to declare, that, from his earliest youth, he always felt the strongest predilection for the army, which his mother and nearest relations constantly^ endeavoured to dissuade him from; but, finding all their arguments ineffectual, they either bought, or he had an ensigncy given him, in general Oglethorpe’s regiment, then in Georgia; but the war being then going on in Flanders, he gave up his ensigncy, and went there as a volunteer, furnished with letters from the late marquis of Rockingham and Mr. Lascelles (afterwards lord Harewood) to the commander and several others of the officers. This step was at the time frequently taken by young men of spirit of the first rank and fortune, fte entered as a volunteer, but messed with the officers, and was very soon presented with a pair of colours. Some time after, he married a lady of good fortune and family, and, at the pressing entreaties df her friends, he most reluctantly resigned his commission; which he had no sooner done, than he felt himself miserable, and his new relations finding that his propensity to a military life was invincible, agreed to his purchasing an ensigncy in the third regiment of guards. Having now obtained the object of his most anxious wishes, he determined to lose no opportunity of qualifying himself for the highest situations in his favourite profession. With this view he paid the most unremitting attention to his duty, and every hour he could command was given up to the study of the French and German languages, in which (by the assistance of his classical learning) he soon became such a proficient as not only to understand and write both, grammatically and elegantly, but to speak them fluently. When he was a lieutenant in the guards, he translated from the French, “The Reveries; Memoirs upon the Art of War, by field-marshal count Saxe,” which was published in 1757, in 4to, and dedicated “To the general officers.” He also translated from the German, “Regulations for the Prussian cavalry,” which was also published in 1757, and dedicated to major-general the earl of Albemarle, colonel of the king’s own regiment of dragoons. And he likewise translated from the German, “llegulations for the Prussian Infantry,” to which | was gelded “The Prussian Tactics,” which was published in 1759, and dedicated to lieutenant-general the earl of Rothes, colonel of the third regiment of foot guards. Having attained the situation of adjutant in the guards, his abilities and unremitting attention soon became conspicuous; and, on the late general Elliot’s being ordered to, Germany in the seven years war, he offered to take him as his aid-de-camp, which he gladly accepted, as it gave him an opportunity of gaining that knowledge which actual service could alone impart. When he served in Germany, his ardour, intrepidity, and attention to all the duties of his situation, were such, that, on the death of general Elliot, he had immediately offers both from the late prince Ferdinand, the commander in chief, and the late marquis of Granby, to be appointed aid-de-camp. By the advice of a noble earl (who hinted to him that the German war would not last for ever) he accepted the offer of the latter, after making due acknowledgements for the honour intended him by the former. In this his new situation his ardour and attention were, if possible, increased, which gained him the friendship of all those attached to lord Granby, particularly of a noble lord who, being fixed upon to bring to England the account of the battle of Warburgh, gave up his appointment to captain Fawcett; an instance of generous friendship which he always spoke of with the most heartfelt gratitude. On his arrival in England, he was introduced by the then great minister to his late majesty king George the Second, who received him most graciously, and not the less so on his giving the whole account in German. Soon after he was promoted to a company in the guards, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the army, and became military secretary to, and the intimate and confidential friend of lord Granby. His manners were formed with equal strength and softness; and to coolness, intrepidity, and extensive military knowledge, he added all the requisite talents of a man of business; and the most persevering assiduity, without the least ostentation. Notwithstanding the most unassuming modesty, his abilities were now so generally known, that he was fixed upon as the most proper person to manage and support the interest of his country, in settling many of the concerns of the war in Germany; and by that means necessarily became known to the great Frederic of Prussia, from whom he afterwards had the most tempting offers, which he | declined without hesitation, preferring the service of his king and country to every other consideration.

Soon after his obtaining a company in the guards, he acted as deputy adjutant-general under generals Harvey and William Amherst; and, in May 1772, he was promoted to the rank of colonel by brevet. At the commencement of the American war, he was sent to Germany, to negociate with Hesse, Hanover, Brunswick, &c. for a body of troops to serve in North America, Gibraltar, and the East-Indies. In August 1777, he was raised to the rank of major-general, and the following year he succeeded to the adjutant-generalship by the death of general William Amherst, and also became colonel of the fifteenth regiment of foot. In Nov. 1782, he was made a lieutenant-general, and in 1786 his majesty honoured him with the order of the Bath. On the death of general Phillipson, in August 1792, that regiment was given to sir William Favvcett. In the same year the “Rules and Regulations for the formations, field exercise, and movements of his majesty’s forces,” were printed, and directed to be followed by the British army, by an order signed by sir William. In May 1796 he obtained the rank of general, and on his resigning the office of adjutant-general, his majesty was so sensible of the value of his services, as to grant him an allowance of five pounds per diem in lieu thereof, and ordered him to be sworn in as one of his most honourable privy-council. His last promotion was to the governorship of Chelsea hospital, where he died March 22, 1804, aged seventy-six, and was interred in the burial-ground of the hospital. A monument has since been erected to his memory, and to that of his lady, wH<5 survived him about a year. 1

1 Gent. Mag. 1804. Faulkner’s Hist, of Chelsea.