Chichester, Charles (DNB00)

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CHICHESTER, Sir CHARLES (1795–1817), lieutenant-colonel, belonged to the Calverleigh branch of that ancient house, of which some interesting particulars will be found in Sir A. P. Bruce Chichester's ‘Hist. of the Chichester Family’ (London, 1872), pp. 117 et seq. He was second son of Charles Joseph Chichester of Calverleigh Court, Devonsshire, by his wife Honoria, daughter of Thomas French of Rahasane, co. Galway, and was born 16 March 1795. After receiving his education at the Roman catholic seminary, Stonyhurst, he was appointed ensign in the 14th foot in March 1811, and became lieutenant. therein the year after. He served with the second battalion of that regiment in Malta, Sicily, Genoa, and Marseilles, and, after it was disbanded at Chichester in December 1817, was transferred with most of the other effectives to the 1st battalion, with which he served some years in India, exchanging in 1821, as lieutenant, to the 2nd (then light infantry) battalion of the 60th, in America, in which corps he became captain in 1823 and major in 1826. After commanding the depot of the 2nd battalion, at the time lately transformed into a rifle corps, for several years, he obtained a lieutenant-colonelcy, unattached, 12 July 1831.

In 1835, Chichester was appointed brigadier-general in the British auxiliary legion in Spain, commanded by General De Lacy Evans, with which he fought at Ernani on 30 Aug., where he received two wounds,and at the relief of Bilbao in the same year. He commanded a brigade at Mendigur and at Azua in January 1836, and in the action on the heights above St. Sebastian on 5 May and the passage of the Urmia on 28 May following (medal). He commanded at Alza when that place was attacked by the Carlists in June 1836, and the legion behaved with distinguished Chichester was also engaged at Ametza in October the same year, an in the operations of 10–15 March 1837, where his horse was killed under him, and in the general action of 16 March, where he had two horses killed and was himself wounded. In the absence of General Evans through illness, he commanded the whole legion, then reduced to a division of two brigades, in the action of 14 May 1837, and in the attack and capture of Irun on 16–17 May (medal), upon which occasion he received the Carlist commandant's sword and the keys of the town, which are now in the possession of the family. Owing to the expiration of its engagements, the original legion was disbanded in 1838, and Chichester, whose services to the queen of Spain were recognised with the cross of San Fernando, and the third and first class decorations of Isabella the Catholic and Charles III, returned home.

He was appointed lieutenant-colonel 81st foot on 25 Oct. 1839, and was knighted at St. James's Palace in 1840. He commanded the 81st for several years in the West Indies and America, during which time he acted as lieutenant-governor of Trinidad from 8 Aug. 1842 to 3 May 1843. In 1826 Chichester married his cousin, Mary Barbara, eldest daughter of Sir Clifford Constable, bart., by whom he had a numerous family. He died at Toronto, Upper Canada, after a few days’ illness, on 4 April 1847. A fine soldier, in every sense, a genial, large-hearted man, ever ready and unselfish in encouraging merit in any grade, and with ideas of tactical instruction far in advance of the practice of his day, Chichester was reputed one of the best regimental commanding officers in the British army. That his system was a good one was proved by the fact, remarked by a shrewd observer, that there was no desertion from his regiment, even in that hotbed of desertion, the Canadian frontier.

[Burke's Landed Gentry, under ‘Chichester-Nagle;’ Sir A. P. Bruce Chichester's Hist. of the Chichester Family (London, 1872); Hart's Army Lists; A. Somervil1e's Hist. British Auxiliary Legion (Loudon. 1839); Sir J. E. Alexander's Passages in the Life of a Soldier, i. 96–7; Gent. Mag. new ser. xxviii. 208.]

H. M. C.