Calvert, Harry (DNB00)

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CALVERT, Sir HARRY (1763?–1826), baronet, general, was eldest son of Peter Calvert, of Hampton Court, a partner in the brewing firm (d. 1810), by his wife, Mary, daughter of Thomas Reeve, M.D., and grandson of Felix Calvert of Oldbury Park. He was christened in March 1763 (Berry, Hertfordshire Genealogies, p. 21). He was educated at Harrow, and at the age of fifteen was appointed to the 23rd royal Welsh fusiliers, his commission as second lieutenant therein bearing date 24 April 1778. In the following spring he joined his regiment, then at New York, with General Clinton, and became a first lieutenant on 2 Oct. 1779. He served with the regiment at the siege of Charleston, and throughout the subsequent campaigns under Lord Cornwallis, and was present at the surrender at York Town on 17 Oct. 1781. He remained a prisoner of war in America from 1781 until the peace of 1783, and returning home with his corps early in 1784, received permission to spend the remainder of the year on the continent. In October 1785 he purchased a company in the 100th, and reverting to the 23rd as captain en second a month later continued to serve with it at home until 1790, when he exchanged from the 23rd to the Coldstream guards, as lieutenant and captain. In February 1793 he embarked for Holland with his battalion, forming part of the brigade of guards under Lake, and, after the arrival of the troops before Tournay, was appointed aide-de-camp to the Duke of York, in which capacity he was present in the principal engagements during the campaigns of 1793–4. Having returned home with the Duke of York in December 1794, he was despatched in April 1795 on a confidential mission to Brunswick and Berlin, the object of which was to induce the King of Prussia to take the initiative in placing the Duke of Brunswick at the head of the allied armies. In December of the same year Calvert became captain and lieutenant-colonel in the Coldstreams, and in 1796 was appointed deputy adjutant-general at headquarters. He became brevet lieutenant-colonel in 1797, and in 1799 exchanged as lieutenant-colonel to the 63rd foot, retaining his staff appointment. On 8 June 1799 he married the second daughter of Thos. Hammersley of Pall Mall, and niece of Mr. Greenwood, of the firm of Cox & Greenwood, army agents. By this lady, who died in 1806, he had two sons and three daughters. About the time of his marriage, Calvert was advanced to the post of adjutant-general of the forces, in succession to Sir W. Fawcett. He was made colonel of the (old) 5th West India regiment in 1800, and became a major-general in 1803. In 1806 he was transferred to the colonelcy of the 14th foot, which during the latter part of the French war had the unusual number of three battalions, and was thence dubbed ‘Calvert's Entire.’ Its country title was altered from Bedfordshire to Buckinghamshire at his request (Cannon, Hist. Record 14th Foot). In 1818 Calvert, who had attained the rank of lieutenant-general in 1810, and had been made a G.C.B. 1815 and a G.C.H. 1817, received next year a baronetcy in further recognition of his services. He was appointed lieutenant-governor of Chelsea Hospital in 1820, and attained the rank of general in 1821.

Rumour alleged that Calvert's advancement to the post of adjutant-general in January 1799, five months before his marriage, was partly due to heavy obligations which the Duke of York was under to the firm of Cox & Co. However this may have been, the appointment was amply justified by the results, as during his long tenure of the office Calvert proved himself a true soldier's friend, and an able instrument in giving effect to many valuable improvements in the administration and discipline of the army. Among these were the better organisation of the medical department and army hospitals, and of the chaplains' department; the introduction of regimental schools; the development of the military colleges at High Wycombe and Marlow, since united at Sandhurst; the founding of the Royal Military Asylum for Soldiers' Orphans, better known as the Duke of York's School, and various other measures for the benefit of the service. One of his immediate subordinates wrote of him, long afterwards: ‘Such was the kindness of his look and demeanour, and courtesy of his manner, that it was impossible to offer him any disrespect, and with whatever sentiments a gentleman might have approached him, he could only retire with those of regard and esteem.’

Calvert died suddenly of apoplexy on Sunday, 3 Sept. 1826, at Claydon Hall, Middle Claydon, Buckinghamshire, where he was on a visit with his family. He was buried at West or Steeple Claydon, where the church spire was erected as a memorial of him. His son, the second baronet, took the name of Verney instead of Calvert on succeeding to the Verney estates.

Calvert's journals and letters during the Flanders campaigns, together with memoranda relating to his Berlin mission and to the defensive arrangements against invasion at the beginning of the present century, have been published by his son under the title, ‘Journals and Correspondence of Sir H. Calvert, Bart.,’ London, 1853.

[Berry's County Genealogies, Herts; Army Lists; Cannon's Hist. Record 23rd R. W. Fus.; Graham's Life of Gen. S. Graham, 1862; Cannon's Hist. Record 14th (Buckinghamshire) Foot; Sir H. Verney's Journals and Correspondence of Sir H. Calvert, Bart.; Gent. Mag. vol. xcvi. pt. ii. p. 371.]

H. M. C.