Shaw, Charles (DNB00)
|←Shaw, Alexander||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 51
SHAW, Sir CHARLES (1795–1871), soldier, third son of Charles Shaw of Ayr, by his wife Barbara Wright, was born at Ayr in 1795. Alexander Shaw [q. v.], John Shaw (1792–1827) [q. v.], and Patrick Shaw [q. v.], were his brothers. He was educated in his native town and at the universities of St. Andrews and Edinburgh. He entered the army by purchase as ensign in the 52nd light infantry on 23 Jan. 1813, and joined the second battalion at Shorncliffe in March. From Shorncliffe Shaw went to Hythe, and at the end of November he accompanied his regiment to Ramsgate, where they embarked for Holland, landing at Tholenland on 19 Dec. He was engaged in the attack on, and capture of, the village of Merxem, near Antwerp, on 31 Jan. 1814, and, after serving through the campaign, was employed with his regiment to do garrison duty at Antwerp. On the escape of Napoleon from Elba, Shaw was sent to Courtrai towards the end of March and to Ath in April, in the middle of which month he was drafted into the first battalion of his regiment, commanded by Sir John Colborne (afterwards first baron Seaton) [q. v.] During the battle of Waterloo Shaw was on baggage-guard duty at Brussels. He took part in the march to Paris and occupation of that city.
In March 1816 Shaw joined the second battalion of his regiment at Canterbury, and on its disbandment in July he was placed upon half-pay. After spending six months in Scotland, Shaw travelled in Holland in 1817. In July he was brought back to full pay in the 90th regiment. Obtaining leave of absence, he made a tour in the Hartz mountains, and in September entered as a student in the military department of the Carolinum College at Brunswick to improve his qualifications for a military career. He left Brunswick in January 1818 for Berlin to see something of the Prussian army, and, after a tour in Prussia, joined the 90th regiment at Plymouth on 10 March 1818. From Plymouth the regiment went to Chatham, and, on a reduction of the army taking place shortly after, Shaw again found himself on half-pay.
After attending a course of lectures at the Edinburgh University, he accepted an offer of partnership in an old-established wine business in Leith. He became captain and commander of the volunteer corps of Leith sharpshooters, and brought them into a high state of efficiency. On the disbandment of this corps Shaw was presented by its members, on 19 July 1822, with a handsome piece of plate. He established the first military club in Edinburgh, called the Caledonian United Service Club, for which he acted as honorary secretary until 1830. In that year, finding that he had no taste for mercantile pursuits, he disposed of his business and travelled on the continent. Shaw returned to England in September 1831.
In November, after some negotiations, he was appointed captain of a light company of marines in the liberating army of Portugal against Don Miguel. He embarked with recruits on 15 Dec., joined the fleet of Admiral (afterwards Sir) George Sartorius [q. v.] at Belleisle, arrived at the rendezvous at Terceira in the Azores towards the end of February 1832, and in May proceeded to Fayal and St. Michael's. In June the expedition left the Azores for Portugal and disembarked on the morning of 5 July at Mindella, about ten miles from Oporto, which city was entered the same afternoon, the Miguelites having evacuated it.
Shaw, who in August was made a major of one of the battalions of British volunteers, saw a good deal of fighting around Oporto, and was in every action and sortie during the siege of the city by Dom Miguel. He was twice wounded in the attack on his position on 29 Sept., when after a severe fight the Miguelites were repulsed. He was also severely wounded in the sortie of 17 Nov. He was made a knight of the Tower and Sword of Portugal.
In 1833 he commanded the Scottish contingent at Lordello, an outpost of the defences of Oporto. In July 1833 he was appointed colonel and given the command of an English battalion. He took part at the head of his battalion in the repulse of Bourmont's attack on 25 July. At the end of September he embarked with his battalion for Lisbon, landing at St. Martinho and marching thence to Torres Vedras to operate on the rear of the Miguelite army on its withdrawal from the attack on Lisbon. Shaw and his battalion did a great deal of marching during the next eight months, but not much fighting. On 26 May 1834, two days after Shaw entered Estremoz, the war ended.
On 1 June Shaw marched to Lisbon in command of a brigade of 2,500 men, which he there handed over to a Portuguese officer. From this time to February 1835 Shaw's time was mainly occupied in attempts to effect a pecuniary settlement between the officers and men of the British contingent under his command and the Portuguese government in accordance with the latter's engagement, but his efforts were only partially successful. Shaw left Portugal in June and arrived at Falmouth on 12 July 1835. He did not remain long idle. On 17 July he was gazetted a brigadier-general to command a Scottish brigade of the auxiliary legion then being raised in England by Sir George de Lacy Evans [q. v.] for service in Spain against the Carlists, and at once went to Glasgow to assist in raising recruits. He went to Spain in September, landing on the 10th at Santander and marching with some sixteen hundred men, whom he brought out with him, to Portugalette. Here he was disappointed to find that his rank would only be that of colonel in command of a brigade of two regiments. In February 1836 he was given command of a brigade of three fine Irish regiments, but not the rank of brigadier-general. Until April 1836 he was quartered principally at Vittoria or in its neighbourhood. On 13 April he marched for San Sebastian, embarking at Santander and arriving on the 24th at San Sebastian, which was then besieged by Don Carlos. On 5 May an attack was made on the Carlist position on the heights above San Sebastian, and after a protracted fight the day was won. Shaw was struck by a spent ball, and another struck his watch. He was now made a brigadier-general and decorated with the third class of the order of San Fernando. On 31 May Shaw repulsed an attack on his lines with great success. At the end of August, owing to a misunderstanding with Evans, Shaw sent in his resignation, which Evans accepted, regretting that the legion thereby lost the services of so efficient, gallant, and zealous an officer.
Shaw arrived in England at the end of September 1836, and for a time resided at Richmond, Surrey. In September 1839 he was appointed chief commissioner of police at Manchester, a post which he held until September 1842. During the latter part of his life he lived at Homburg-von-der-Hohe, where he died in February 1871, and was buried with military honours.
Shaw married, in 1841, Louisa Hannah, only daughter of Major Martin Curry of the 67th regiment, by whom he had a son Charles Martin, who with his mother survived him. Shaw published his rambling and egotistical ‘Personal Memoirs and Correspondence. … Comprising a Narrative of the War for Constitutional Liberty in Portugal and in Spain from its Commencement in 1831 to the Dissolution of the British Legion in 1837,’ 2 vols. 8vo, London, 1837.[Times, 28 Feb. 1871; Annual Register, 1871; Shaw's Personal Memoirs, 1837; Badcock's Journal in Spain and Portugal, 1832–4; Bacon's Six Years in Biscay, 1830–7; Duncan's English in Spain, 1834–40; A Concise Review of the Campaigns of the British Legion in Spain, by Colonel J. H. Humfrey, with plan, London, 8vo, 1838.]