Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Johnson, Henry (1748-1835)

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JOHNSON, Sir HENRY (1748–1835), general, born on 1 Jan. 1748, was second son of Allen Johnson of Kilternan, co. Dublin, and his wife Olivia, daughter of John Walsh of Ballykilcavan, Queen's County. His elder brother, John Allen Johnson-Walsh, was created a baronet in 1809. He was appointed ensign on 19 Feb. 1761 in the 28th foot, in which he became lieutenant in 1762, and captain in 1763, and is stated to have served with the regiment (probably in the West Indies) during that time. He became major in the 28th in 1775, went to America, and was posted by Sir William Howe to one of the provisional battalions of light infantry, which he commanded in the campaigns of 1776–8. He was appointed lieutenant-colonel 17th foot on 8 Oct. 1778, and commanded that regiment in the operations in the Jerseys, and afterwards in Virginia and Carolina, under Lord Cornwallis. On the surrender at York Town in October 1781, he returned home and remained unemployed until the peace. He subsequently commanded the 17th foot in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. At the commencement of the war with France he was appointed inspector-general of recruiting for the English establishment in Ireland, and held the post until 1798. During the rebellion in that year he was detached with three thousand men to occupy New Ross, and defeated the rebels when they attacked the place on 5 June 1798. It was the hardest fight during the rebellion (see Lecky, Hist. of England, vol. viii.) Lord Cornwallis had an indifferent opinion of Johnson, and wrote of him as ‘a wrong-headed blockhead’ (Cornwallis Corresp. iii. 116). Johnson was made colonel 81st foot in 1798, became a lieutenant-general in 1799, and governor of Ross Castle in 1801. He held a major-general's command in Ireland from 1798 to 1803, became a full general in 1809, was created a baronet on 1 Dec. 1818, and in 1819 was transferred to the colonelcy of the 5th foot. He died on 18 March 1835, at the age of eighty-seven, at Bath, where there is a masonic monument to him in the Abbey Church.

Johnson married in 1782 Rebecca, daughter of David Franks of Philadelphia, and sister of John Franks of Isleworth, Middlesex, by whom he had a family. She died in 1823. The eldest son, Henry Allen Johnson (1785–1860), who was student of Christ Church, Oxford, from 1804 to 1817, and afterwards aide-de-camp to the Prince of Orange, succeeded as second baronet.

[Foster's Baronetage under ‘Johnson-Walsh’ and ‘Johnson of Bath;’ Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Philippart's Roy. Mil. Calendar, 1820, vol. i. under ‘Johnson, Sir Henry,’ and under ‘Steuart, Sir John,’ for particulars of operations in Ireland in 1798.]

H. M. C.