D'Aguilar, George Charles (DNB00)

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D'AGUILAR, Sir GEORGE CHARLES (1784–1855), lieutenant-general, second son of Joseph D'Aguilar, formerly captain 2nd dragoon guards (queen's bays), and later of Liverpool, was born at Winchester in January 1784. He entered the army as an ensign in the 86th regiment on 24 Sept. 1799, and joined his regiment in India, where he remained for eight years. He was promoted lieutenant on 1 Dec. 1802, and acted as adjutant to his regiment from 1803 to 1806, and as brigade-major from 1806 to 1808. During these years he saw plenty of service, principally against the Maráthás, and was present at the reduction of Broach in 1803, of Powendar in 1804, and Oojein in 1805. In 1806 he served in the siege of Bhurtpore by Lord Lake, and was severely wounded in the last unsuccessful assault; and in 1808 he was promoted captain into the 81st regiment, which he joined in England in May 1809. In the following month he accompanied Brigadier-general the Hon. Stephen Mahon, afterwards Lord Hartland, in command of the 2nd cavalry brigade, in the Walcheren expedition as aide-de-camp, and on his return he was sent as assistant adjutant-general to Sicily. There he attracted the favourable notice of Lord William Bentinck, the general commanding in the Mediterranean, and was sent by him on a special military mission to Ali Pacha, the famous pacha of Yanina, and to Constantinople. He was then selected by Major-general William Clinton to accompany him to the east coast of Spain as military secretary, and acted in the same capacity to Sir John Murray when he superseded Clinton. He carried home the despatches announcing the victory of Castalla over Marshal Suchet on 13 April 1813, and as he had luckily been promoted major on 1 April 1813, he received the additional step to the rank of lieutenant-colonel for his news on 20 May 1813. He was also made a substantive major in the Greek light infantry raised by Richard Church, and remained with that corps until its reduction in 1815. He then joined the Duke of Wellington in Flanders, just too late for the battle of Waterloo, and was gazetted major in the rifle brigade on 6 March 1817. In 1823 he went on the staff again as assistant adjutant-general at the Horse Guards, and was afterwards made deputy adjutant-general at Dublin, a post which he held for eleven years. While there he published his well-known ‘ Practice and Forms of District and Regimental Courts-martial,’ which passed through numerous editions, and remained the official authority on the subject until 1878. He also published in 1831 a little book called ‘The Officers' Manual,’ being a translation of the ‘Military Maxims of Napoleon,’ which has passed through three editions. He was made a C.B. in 1834, and major-general on 23 Nov. 1841, when he left Dublin, and was appointed to the command of the northern district in Ireland at Belfast, which he held till 1843, when he was selected for the command of the troops in China, and proceeded to Hongkong to take command of the division left in that island on its annexation at the close of the first Chinese war, and also of the troops at Chusan and Amoy. The situation of the English in China was at that time very critical owing to the ill-feeling raised by the war, and on 1 April 1847 he was informed by Sir John Davis, the English commissioner, that in consequence of the ill-treatment of the English residents by the Chinese of Canton, an expedition must be sent out to punish that city. D'Aguilar accordingly started the next day with the 18th regiment and the 42nd Madras native infantry, accompanied by the commissioner in person. He proceeded to the Bocca Tigris, and in two days his force captured all the forts and batteries on the Canton river, spiking no less than 879 guns. He then made preparations to attack Canton itself, but the assault was prevented by the prompt submission of the Chinese authorities. Lord Palmerston expressed the greatest satisfaction at the vigour of these operations, and he returned to England in 1848. He was appointed colonel of the 58th regiment in 1848, and transferred to the 23rd regiment in 1851, in which year he became a lieutenant-general, and was made K.C.B. (1852). He held the command of the southern district at Portsmouth 1851–2, and died in Lower Brook Street, London, on 21 May 1855. Sir George married Eliza, daughter of Peter Drinkwater of Irwell House, Manchester, by whom he had issue, including General Sir Charles Lawrence D'Aguilar, K.C.B., a distinguished officer in the Crimean war.

[Royal Military Calendar; Gent. Mag. for July 1855; for the Chinese expedition his despatch in Colburn's United Service Magazine for August 1847; information contributed by General Sir C. L. D'Aguilar.]

H. M. S.