Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 14.djvu/416
[Royal Military Calendar; Gent. Mag., October 1829.]
ral to the force sent to South Carolina, and after serving at the capture of Charleston, he acted in that capacity throughout the campaigns of Lord Cornwallis until the capitulation of York Town. In July 1782 he was released on parole, and in the following year rejoined the fusiliers as captain and brevet major. He was promoted major in the fusiliers in June 1788, lieutenant-colonel in July 1791, and colonel on 21 Aug. 1796, and commanded his regiment at Quebec from 1793 to 1798. In May 1798 he was made a brigadier-general on the staff of the Severn district, and on 18 June 1798 he was promoted major-general. He remained on the staff in England until August 1799, when he was appointed commandant of the troops in the island of Cape Breton, where he remained until August 1807, when he finally returned to England. He was promoted lieutenant-general on 30 Oct. 1806, made colonel of the 6th West India regiment on 29 Dec. 1809, and promoted general on 4 June 1814, and he died at Swan Hill, Oswestry, on 3 Sept. 1829. Despard was a distinguished soldier; he was present at twenty-four engagements, had two horses killed under him, was three times shipwrecked, and twice taken prisoner, but he never had any opportunity after the American war of showing whether he had any talents for command.
DESPENSER or SPENCER, HENRY le (d. 1406), bishop of Norwich, was the fourth son of Edward, second son to Hugh le Despenser 'the younger,' who was executed in 1326. Edward married Anne, daughter of Sir Ralph Ferrers of Groby, and died five years later at the siege of Vannes in 1342 (Kervyn de Lettenhove, notes to Froissart, iv. 442, xxii. 79). As Froissart, who was intimately acquainted with the family, states expressly (ii. 106, iv. 162) that Henry was the fourth son of this marriage, it is plain that he must have been born in 1341 or 1342. Of his early life Capgrave tells us that he spent some time in Italy fighting for the pope, and it is certain that his elder brother Edward was active in the support of Urban V in his war against Milan in 1369 (Froissart, vii. 251: Chron. Angl. p. 64; Walsingham, Hist. Angl. i.309). We may conclude with Godwin (De Præsul. ii. 15) that Henry served with his brother; his career throughout is that of a soldier rather than of a churchman, and the probability that he was engaged in Urban's war is increased by the fact that early in the following year (3 April 1370) he was at Rome and was nominated by the pope's special provision to the bishopric of Norwich (Wharton, Anglia Sacra, i. 415n.). At this time he held the dignity of canon of Salisbury. He was consecrated at Rome 20 April (Le Neve, Fasti. Eccl. Angl. ii. 465, ed. Hardy; cont. of Bartholomew Cotton, ap. Wharton, l.c.), and returned to England. He received back the spiritualities of his see from the Archbishop of Canterbury 12 July (Wharton, l.c.), and the temporalities from the king 14 Aug. (Rymer, Fœdera, vol. iii. pt. ii. p.900, Record ed.)
Young as he was at the time of his appointment, Despenser retained the character of the young bishop for many years; in 1381 he is described by Walsingham as 'iuvenis' (Hist. Angl. ii. 7); and he had all the faults of an arrogant and headstrong noble: 'Vir nec literis nec discretione præditus, iuvenis effrenis et insolens, amicitias nec servare doctus nec locare' (Chron, Angl. p.258). An illustration of his temper is afforded by the attempt he made in 1377 to have a mace carried before him at Lynn, a mark of honour which custom reserved for the mayor of the town. In spite of the protest and warning of the townsmen he insisted on his claim; he did not heed the people—'ribaldos' he called them—or what they thought. However, so soon as he set out with his mace-bearer, the townsmen closed the gates and fell upon him with arrows and other missiles. The bishop himself was wounded (Chron. Angl. p. 139 et seq.), and a royal order had to be sent to the sheriffs of Norfolk and Cambridgeshire to take measures to appease the quarrel (Rymer, iv. 4).
It is possible that Despenser's faults have been exaggerated by the St. Albans chroniclers through the fact of their abbot having once come into hostile collision with him in a matter affecting the privileges of the house (Chron, Angl. pp. 258-61). At least his energy and practical ability were early appreciated at court, He was constantly placed on committees of parliament, and in 1370 he was appointed one of the committee of lords to confer with the commons of the 'good' parliament (Rot. Parliam. ii. 322; Chron, Angl. p. 69). When the peasants' revolt of 1381 broke out in Norfolk, the bishop seized the opportunity of resuming his military character. He was absent at his manor of Burley in Rutland when he first received news of the rising in his diocese. Himself fully armed with sword and helmet and coat of mail, he hastened back with a company of only eight lances and a small body of bowmen. His followers increased on the way, and by the time he reached North Walsham, near the coast, he had a considerable force under his