Pilkington, Robert (DNB00)

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PILKINGTON, ROBERT (1765–1834), major-general and inspector-general of fortifications, was born at Chelsfield, Kent, on 7 Nov. 1765. He passed through the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, and obtained a commission as second lieutenant in the royal artillery on 27 Aug. 1787. He was transferred to the royal engineers on 5 June 1789, embarked for Canada in July 1790, and was stationed at Quebec. He was promoted first lieutenant on 16 Jan. 1793, captain-lieutenant on 3 June 1797, and captain on 18 April 1801. In 1794 he established a fortified post on the river Miamis in North America. He returned to England in January 1803, and was again stationed in the southern district, whence, in May, he was transferred for special service to the government gunpowder factory at Waltham Abbey.

Pilkington was promoted regimental lieutenant-colonel on 24 June 1809. In this year he accompanied the expedition to Walcheren, as commanding royal engineer of one of the divisions under the Earl of Chatham, and took part in the siege and capture of Flushing, where he was wounded, and in the operations under Lieutenant-generals Sir Eyre Coote (1762–1824) [q. v.] and Sir George Don [q. v.] In November and December he had charge of the work for the destruction of the basin, arsenal, and sea defences of Flushing, previous to the departure of the army, when Captain Moore and six hundred men of the royal navy were employed under his orders. Great credit was given to Pilkington in the despatch of Sir George Don for the skill with which the operations were carried out.

Pilkington returned to England in January 1810, and was stationed first at Woolwich and later at Weedon, where he superintended the erection of the large ordnance store establishment, gunpowder magazines, and barracks. In May 1815 he was appointed commanding royal engineer of the north-western district; and he was promoted regimental colonel on 1 Dec. 1815. In October 1818 he was appointed commanding royal engineer at Gibraltar, and he remained at that fortress for twelve years, having been promoted major-general on 27 May 1825. He was appointed a colonel commandant of the corps of royal engineers on 28 March 1830, when he returned to England. He succeeded General Sir A. Bryce as inspector-general of fortifications on 24 Oct. 1832, and died in London on 6 July 1834.

Pilkington married, in 1810, at Devizes, Wiltshire, Hannah, daughter of John Tylie, by whom he had four daughters and one son.

[Despatches; Royal Engineer Corps Records; War Office Records.]

R. H. V.