Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Barclay, John (1741-1823)

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1042071Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 03 — Barclay, John (1741-1823)1885Henry Morse Stephens

BARCLAY, JOHN (1741–1823), one of the oldest and most distinguished officers who ever served in the marines, entered that corps in 1755 as a second lieutenant, and became first lieutenant in 1756. He served throughout the seven years' war, at first in the Mediterranean, then in the expedition to Belle Isle in 1760, and lastly on the coast of Africa; he was promoted captain in 1762. He served with distinction through the American war, particularly at the Red Bank and in the mud forts, and was in command of the marines on board the Augusta, when that frigate answered the fire of the forts, and was deserted on being herself set on fire in the Delaware river. For these services he was promoted major by brevet in 1777. He was one of the commanding officers of marines in Rodney's great action with De Grasse, and was after it promoted lieutenant-colonel by brevet in 1783. He saw no further active service at sea, but was for the next thirty years chiefly employed on the staff of the marines in England. He became major in the marines in 1791, and lieutenant-colonel in the marines, and colonel by brevet in 1794. In 1796 he became major-general, and in 1798 second colonel commandant in his corps. In this capacity he had much to do with the organisation of the marines, and effected many reforms in their uniform and drill. In 1803 he became lieutenant-general and colonel commandant of the marines, and in 1806 resident colonel commandant. He was now practically commander-in-chief of the whole corps under the admiralty, and the universal testimony borne to its good character testifies to the excellence of its organisation, and it must be remembered that not only in the mutinies of Spithead and the Nore, but in all the mutinous manifestations which occurred, the marines proved that they could be depended on to check mutiny among the sailors. In 1813 he became general, and in 1814 retired from the service after continuous employment for fifty-nine years. He went to live at Taunton, where he died in November 1823.

[For Barclay's services see the Royal Military Calendar, and occasional allusions in the common military and naval histories.]

H. M. S.