Halkett, Colin (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

HALKETT, Sir COLIN (1774–1856), general, governor of Chelsea Hospital, eldest son of Major-general Frederick or Frederick Godar Halkett [q. v.], by his wife, Georgina Robina Seton, was born on 7 Sept. 1774, at Venlo, his father being then a major in the regiment of Gordon of the Scots brigade. On 2 March 1792, having previously served seven months as a regimental cadet, he was nominated ensign with the rank of lieutenant in Lieutenant-general Van Aerssens van Royeren van Vorhol's company of the 2nd battalion Dutch foot-guards (Archives of the Councils of the States of Holland: ‘Register of Subaltern Officers taking the Oath,’ 1784–1795, p. 197; ‘Status of Officers Dutch Foot-guards,’ 1 Jan. 1794); became effective ensign in Lieutenant-colonel Pagniet's company 14 July 1792 (ib. p. 209), and subsequently lieutenant with the rank of captain in General-major Schmid's company 1st battalion of Dutch foot-guards. By a resolution of the committee of land affairs of the confederacy he was permitted to retire at his own request 27 April 1795. On 3 Jan. 1799 he was appointed ensign 3rd Buffs, which he never joined, resigning his commission in February 1800, when the Dutch levies, which had been serving on the continent under the Prince of Orange, were taken into British pay (Aa's Biog. Woordenboek, xx. 264, and references there given). Halkett became captain in the 2nd Dutch light infantry, commanded by Lieutenant-colonel T. Sprecher van Bernegg, and quartered in Guernsey (Muster-Rolls Dutch Troops, 1800–2, in Public Record Office, London). These troops never appeared in the Army List. They were stationed in the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands until the peace of Amiens, when they were sent to certain towns in Holland to be disbanded, Halkett and the other officers receiving special gratuities on discharge (War Office Correspondence with Inspectors of Foreign Corps, ii. 94 et seq., and iii. 160 et seq., in Public Record Office). In August 1803, on the dissolution of the Hanoverian army after the convention of Lauenburg, when many discharged soldiers were looking to England for employment, Halkett, described as a major in the Dutch service, which by that time he seems to have left, was authorised by the English government to raise a battalion of light infantry in Hanover, to consist of 489 men, Halkett having rank as major-commandant, with the promise of a lieutenant-colonelcy when the numbers reached eight hundred men. German recruits offering in England in great numbers, the formation of a German legion, under command of the Duke of Cambridge, was decided on soon after. Recruiting for the independent levies of Baron von der Decken and Major Halkett in Germany then ceased, and these two corps became respectively the 1st and 2nd light battalions of the new King's German Legion. They were dressed as riflemen, and stationed at first in the New Forest, and afterwards at Bexhill, Sussex. Halkett was appointed lieutenant-colonel on 17 Nov. 1803 (Beamish, i. 80). At the head of the 2nd light battalion King's German Legion, Halkett served under Lord Cathcart, in the north of Germany in 1805–6, and in Ireland in 1806; was shipwrecked with part of the battalion in the Northumberland transport on Rundle Stone rock off the Land's End in May 1807 (ib. i. 104); was afterwards at the Isle of Rugen and in the Copenhagen expedition of the same year. He was in Sweden and Portugal in 1808; in Moore's retreat through Spain, when the German light battalions were among the troops that retired on Vigo; and in the Walcheren expedition, where these battalions repeatedly distinguished themselves. In command of his battalion in the German light brigade of Charles Alten [q. v.] Halkett joined Beresford's army before Badajoz, in April 1811, a few days before the fall of Olivença (ib. i. 331), and commanded the brigade at the battle of Albuera. He became brevet-colonel 1 Jan. 1812, was with his battalion at Salamanca and in the operations against Burgos; and commanded the German light brigade with the 7th division in the Burgos retreat, where he won the special approbation of Lord Wellington; in the affair at Venta de Pozo, where the 2nd light battalion was commanded by his brother, Hugh Halkett [q. v.]; and at the bridge of Simancas (ib. ii. 114–16; Gurwood, Well. Desp. vi. 136, 142). He commanded the German light brigade during the succeeding campaigns, including the battle of Vittoria, occupation of Tolosa, passage of the Bidassoa, and the battles on the Nive and at Toulouse. He became a major-general 4 June 1814. In the Waterloo campaign Halkett commanded a British brigade composed of the 30th, 33rd, 69th, and 73rd regiments, in the 3rd division, which was very hotly engaged at Quatre Bras and Waterloo, where Halkett himself received four severe wounds. The duke refers to him in a despatch as ‘a very gallant and deserving officer’ (Well. Suppl. Desp. x. 752). Halkett remained in the British service; he was for some years lieutenant-governor of Jersey, became a lieutenant-general in 1830, and general in 1841, and was commander-in-chief at Bombay from July 1831 to January 1832. He was appointed colonel in succession of the 71st highland light infantry, 31st and 45th regiments. He was a G.C.B. and G.C.H., and knight of numerous foreign orders, and honorary general in the Hanoverian service. He was appointed lieu- tenant-governor of Chelsea Hospital in 1848 and became governor on the death of Sir George Anson in 1849. Halkett married Letitia (Crickett), widow of Captain Tyler, royal artillery, and by her had issue. He died at Chelsea 24 Sept. 1856.

[Burke's Landed Gentry, 1886 ed., under ‘Craigie-Halkett;’ information from the Dutch State Archives (Gecommitteerde Raden van de Staten van Holland, or Delegated Councils of the States of Holland, 1784–95, and Committé over de algemeene zaken van het Bondgenootschap te Lande, or Committee of Land Affairs of the Confederacy, 1795, which at that time was entrusted with the military administration), supplied by the courtesy of Rev. Edward Brine, M.A., British chaplain at the Hague; War Office Records in Public Record Office, London; Beamish's Hist. King's German Legion, with the various authorities therein cited; Napier's Peninsular War; Philippart's Roy. Mil. Cal. 1820, iii. 380; Siborne's Waterloo; Gurwood's Well. Desp. vi. 136, 142, viii. 147, 150; Well. Suppl. Desp. viii. 9, 29, 419, x. 3, 535, 551, 604, 659, 661, 752, xiii. 670, xiv. 203, 209; Gent. Mag. new ser. i. 649.]

H. M. C.