Campbell, Archibald (1739-1791) (DNB00)

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CAMPBELL, Sir ARCHIBALD (1739–1791), of Inverneil, general and governor of Jamaica and Madras, second son of James Campbell of Inverneil, commissioner of the Western Isles of Scotland, chamberlain of Argyllshire, and hereditary usher of the white rod for Scotland, was born at Inverneil on 21 Aug. 1739. He entered the army in 1757 as a captain in the Fraser Highlanders, when Simon Fraser, the only son of Lord Lovat [q. v.], raised that regiment for service in America by special license from the king on the recommendation of Mr. Pitt. With it he served throughout the campaign in North America, and was wounded at Wolfe’s taking of Quebec in 1758. On the conclusion of the war in 1764 the Fraser Highlanders were disbanded, and Campbell was transferred to the 29th regiment, and afterwards promoted major and lieutenant-colonel in the 42nd Highlanders, with which he served in India until 1773, when he returned to Scotland, and he was elected M.P. for the Stirling burghs in 1774. In 1775 Simon Fraser again raised a regiment of highlanders for service in the American war of independence, and Campbell was selected by him as lieutenant-colonel of the 2nd battalion. On his arrival in America, however, the ship which carried him took him unfortunately into Boston harbour while that city was in the hands of the rebels, and he consequently remained a prisoner until the following year, when he was exchanged for Ethan Allen. On securing his exchange he was appointed a brigadier-general, and took command of an expedition against the state of Georgia. The expedition was entirely successful, and Campbell seized Savannah, which contained forty-five guns and a large quantity of stores, with a loss of only four killed and five wounded. He remained as commanding officer in Georgia until the following year, when he was superseded by Major-general Burton; and when the general refused to carry into effect his measures for raising a loyal militia, Campbell returned to England on leave, and married (1779) Amelia, daughter of Allan Ramsay the painter, and granddaughter of Allan Ramsay the poet (d. 8 July 1813). His capture of Savannah had greatly recommended him to the king’s favour. He was promoted colonel on his return, and on 20 Nov. 1782 he was promoted major-general, and in the following month appointed governor of Jamaica. This appointment was at the time of immense importance. Matters were going badly with the British forces in America, and the French had joined the insurgents, with the express purpose of seizing the British West India islands. The Marquis de Bouillé, who commanded the French troops, succeeded in capturing Tobago, St. Eustache, St. Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat; but the dispositions of Campbell were so good, his measure of raising black troops was so successful, and his vigilance so unwearied, that the French did not dare to attack Jamaica without reinforcements. At the same time Campbell did all in his power, by sending good information, reinforcements, and supplies, to assist the British forces in America; and by lending his best troops to serve as marines on board the ships of Admiral Rodney’s fleet, he was largely instrumental in securing that admiral’s great victory over the Comte de Grasse. For his services he was invested a knight of the Bath on 30 Sept. 1785, on his return from Jamaica, and was in the same year appointed, through the influence of his friend, Henry Dundas, the president of the board of control, to be governor and commander-in-chief at Madras. He reached Madras in April 1786, and had at once to occupy himself with the difficult matter of the debts of the Nabob of Arcot, whose territories had been sequestrated by Lord Macartney. The matter was extremely complicated; but eventually, through the instrumentality of Mr. Webbe, the ablest Indian civil servant of his day, a treaty was concluded with the nabob on 24 Feb. 1787, by which he was to pay nine lacs of rupees a year to the East India Company for the maintenance of a force in British pay to defend his dominions, and twelve lacs a year to his creditors, and to surrender the revenues of the Carnatic, to be collected by civil servants, as security. The advantages of this treaty were obvious, and were seen in the next war with Tippoo Sultan. Lord Cornwallis highly approved of it; but both the court of directors and the board of control were inclined to think that sufficiently good terms had not been made for the company, and too good terms for the creditors; while the creditors, on the other hand, and the nabob himself, who had a regular party in his interest in the House of Commons, complained bitterly that they were unfairly treated. Lord Cornwallis, however, the governor-general, who had known the governor in America, supported him with all his might. ‘No governor was ever more popular than Sir Archibald Campbell,’ he wrote to Lord Sydney. ‘I must do Sir Archibald Campbell the justice to say that he seconds me nobly,’ he wrote on another occasion. ‘By his good management and economy we shall be relieved of the heavy burden of paying the king’s troops on the coast;’ and ‘his retirement from the government might be attended with fatal consequences’ (Cornwallis Correspondence, i. 218, 272, 307). After completing the business, Campbell was occupied in issuing new regulations for the discipline of the troops, and on 12 Oct. 1787 he was appointed colonel of the 74th Highlanders, one of the four new regiments raised especially for service in India. In 1789, overcome by ill-health and the abuse of the opponents of his Arcot treaty, he resigned his appointment and returned to England, and was at once re-elected M.P. for the Stirling burghs. He did not long survive his return; for he caught a severe cold in coming up hurriedly from Scotland in 1790, on being sent for to take a command in the Spanish armament, which was got ready on the occasion of the dispute about Nootka Sound; and though a journey to Bath somewhat restored him, he died at his house in Upper Grosvenor Street, on 31 March 1791. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, where a monument was erected to him in Poets’ Corner. He left his fortune to his elder brother, Sir James Campbell, knt., who succeeded him as M.P. for the Stirling burghs, and whose son, Major-general James Campbell (1763-1819) [q. v.], was created a baronet in 1818.

[Stewart’s Sketches of the Manners and Customs of the Highlanders, with an Account of the Highland Regiments; Edwards’s History of the British West Indies; Cornwallis Correspondence; Mill’s History of British India; the Papers on the Arcot Treaty, &c., printed by order of the House of Commons, 1791.]

H. M. S.