Monckton, Robert (DNB00)

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MONCKTON, ROBERT (1726–1782), lieutenant-general, born on 24 June 1726, was second son of John Monckton of Cavil and Hodroyd in Yorkshire, who was created Viscount Galway in 1727. Lady Elizabeth, daughter of John Manners, second duke of Rutland, was his mother. Monckton received a commission in the 3rd (Earl of Dunmore's) regiment of guards in 1741, and on 17 May 1742 sailed with that regiment for Flanders to co-operate with the Dutch in the cause of Maria Theresa. He remained at Ghent until 1743, when the army advanced into Germany. At Dettingen he is stated to have served on the king's guard (note in manuscript order book at Fineshade Abbey, and Aikin, Nova Scotia, p. 391 n.) On 27 June 1744 he received a captain's commission in Cholmondeley's (34th) regiment of foot (Mil. Entry Book, vol. xviii., in Record Office). Through the campaign of 1745 in Flanders he served with the Duke of Cumberland, was present at Fontenoy (11 May 1745), and on 19 May was appointed one of the aides-de-camp to Lord Dunmore, who had command of the foot. His regiment was recalled to aid in the suppression of the rebellion in Scotland in 1745, but Monckton remained in Flanders some months longer, and it is doubtful whether he took part in the war in the north. On 15 Feb. 1747 he became a major in the 34th, and on 28 Feb. 1751 lieutenant-colonel of the 47th, Lascelles's regiment of foot (Ledger of Comm. 1742-8, and Mil. Entry Book, vol. xxii. f. 181, in Record Office).

In November 1751 Monckton was elected M.P. for Pontefract on the death of his father. In 1752 he was sent to Nova Scotia, and was nominated a member of the council at Halifax on 28 Aug. 1753 (Underwood Papers; Minutes of Council in Record Office, p. 44). Soon afterwards he, with two hundred men, quelled an insurrection of the German settlers in the province at Lunenberg, and on 21 Aug. 1754 he was appointed lieutenant-governor of Annapolis Royal, in the place of Charles Lawrence [q. v.], who became lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia (Minutes of Council; manuscript at Serlby Hall ; Mil. Entry Book, vol. xxiii.)

Lawrence soon decided to attack the French, who occupied the isthmus connecting Nova Scotia with the mainland, and Monckton was sent to Shirley, the governor of Massachusetts, in order to raise two thousand auxiliaries. Meanwhile an attack on the French in Nova Scotia was included in the plan of campaign for 1755, which Braddock arrived from England to carry out (cf. Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe ; Bancroft, Hist.; Wilson, Diary, in Coll. Nova Scotia Hist. Soc. i. 119-40). On 22 May Monckton set sail from Boston with a force of about three hundred regular troops and fifteen hundred provincials. He reached Annapolis 25 May; on 1 June sailed up the Bay of Fundy, and, landing on the 2nd, opened fire (14 June) on the French fort of Beausejour, which was garrisoned by 160 regulars and some three hundred Acadians. On the 16th the fort capitulated (Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, i. 249 ; Beatson, Nav. and Mil. Memoirs, vol. ii. App. p. 7 ; Letters from Lawrence, Record Office ; Wilson, Journal). A small fort named Gaspereau, on the Baye Verte, surrendered on the 18th, and was renamed Fort Monckton. Beausejour was renamed Fort Cumberland. Another of the enemy's forts at the mouth of the St. John's River was at the same time abandoned. Thus the whole of Nova Scotia was in the possession of the British, and Monckton was ordered by Lawrence to expel all French settlers from the province (manuscripts at Fineshade Abbey). In December, when Lawrence was appointed governor, Monckton took his place as lieutenant-governor. Both were at Halifax during the greater part of 1756-7, and had no small trouble in protecting the outlying settlements from French and Indians. On 20 Dec. 1757 Monckton was appointed fourth colonel-commandant of the 60th royal American regiment. Monckton reluctantly remained at Halifax in 1758, while Lawrence was engaged with General Amherst in capturing Louisbourg. In September Monckton, acting under orders from Amherst, destroyed some French settlements up the St. John's River, and early in 1759 he was summoned to New York to take command in the south in the event of General Forbes's death. Forbes died on 11 March, but Pitt had in the meantime appointed Monckton second in command of the famous expedition under General Wolfe destined for Quebec. On 4 June Wolfe sailed from Louisbourg, and by the 25th all the transports had surmounted the difficulties of the St. Lawrence, and disembarked off the Isle of Orleans.

On 29 June Monckton was sent with four battalions to drive the enemy from Point Levi on the south shore of the St. Lawrence, and immediately opposite Quebec, and by 1 July he had erected batteries, which played with terrible effect on the lower part of the town of Quebec (Wright, Wolfe, p. 527). The French made futile attempts to dislodge Monckton (Parkman, ii. 215). On 31 July Wolfe made an unsuccessful attack on the French who were established between Quebec and the River Montmorenci. Monckton's boats grounded on a ledge, and thirteen companies of grenadiers, who, together with two hundred of the Royal Americans, were first on shore, rushed on the French lines without waiting for Monckton's men, and were repulsed with great loss. Eventually Monckton's men landed in good order ; Wolfe recalled the grenadiers, and the troops were drawn off unmolested. Next day Wolfe wrote to Monckton: 'This check must not dishearten us ; prepare for another and better attempt' (manuscript at Serlby Hall).

Early in August Brigadier Murray with 1,260 men was sent up the river, and established himself above Quebec. Wolfe's illness caused delay in the further movements of the troops, but the position became so serious that on 29 Aug. he gave written instructions to the three brigadier-generals, Monckton, Townshend, and Murray, to consider plans for an engagement. They met at Monckton's quarters, and advised an attack on the town from the west. Wolfe adopted their advice. On the 13th the attack took place, and the victory was decisive. Wolfe died on the field. Monckton was wounded while leading Lascelles's regiment, and the command therefore devolved on Brigadier Townshend, but Monckton was well enough on the 15th to write a short note to Pitt, and another to Lord Galway (manuscript at Serlby Hall, Record Office). On 18 Sept. Quebec capitulated. The terms were drawn up and signed by Townshend and Admiral Saunders. Monckton to his deep annoyance was not consulted, and Townshend subsequently apologised for the omission. On 24 Oct. Monckton was appointed colonel of the 17th foot. After putting things in order at Quebec for the winter, and leaving Murray in command, Monckton reached New York by 16 Dec. Early in 1760 he was appointed to succeed General Stanwix in the command of the troops at Philadelphia. Later in the year he was engaged in a conference with Indians, who appeared more favourable to the British than formerly, although a great outbreak followed in 1761. He also sought to induce the governments of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland to raise troops. On 20 Feb. (or 21) 1761 he was given the rank of major-general, and on 20 March 1761 he was appointed governor of New York, and commander-in-chief of the province. At the end of 1761 he was placed in command of a force destined for the conquest of Martinique, and on 19 Nov. he sailed with 6,667 men from New York. The naval force was under Rodney, and the total land force under Monckton numbered nearly twelve thousand men. They landed on 16 Jan. 1762. On 4 Feb., after some sharp fighting, Fort Royal capitulated, and this success was followed by the surrender not only of Martinique, but also of Grenada, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent. Monckton and Rodney received the thanks of the House of Commons, and on 12 June the former was back again in New York. On 28 June 1763 he left for England, and on 14 June 1765, when Sir Henry Moore succeeded him in New York, he was appointed governor of Berwick-on-Tweed and Holy Island; on 30 April 1770 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general, and on 31 Feb. 1771 he received the freedom of the city of Edinburgh. He was recommended without result as commander-in-chief for India in 1773. In 1778 he became governor of Portsmouth, and he represented that town in parliament from 1779 till his death on 3 May . He was buried on 26 May at Kensington parish church. He was unmarried. Fort Monckton, near Gosport, was named after him.

His portrait, by Benjamin West, belonging to Viscount Galway, was engraved by J. Watson; a medallion by James Tassie is in the National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh; and two other portraits are mentioned by Bromley.

[Dr. Monckton's Hist, of the Family of Monckton (privately printed), and the authorities cited.]

H. W. M.