Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lanier, John

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LANIER, Sir JOHN (d. 1692), military commander, distinguished himself in the troop of English auxiliaries which served some time in France under the Duke of Monmouth, and he lost an eye while engaged in that service. He succeeded Sir Thomas Morgan as governor of Jersey, and was knighted. His rule is said to have been despotic. At the accession of James II he was recalled, and put in command of a regiment of horse; he was colonel of the queen's regiment of horse, now the 1st dragoon guards, in 1687 (Harl. MS. 4847, f. 5), and he became lieutenant-general in 1688. He declared for William III, and was despatched to Scotland to take Edinburgh Castle, which surrendered to him on 12 June 1689 (Luttrell, Brief Historical Relation, i. 479, 533, 547). He subsequently did excellent service in the reduction of Ireland, but he had much trouble with the majority of his regiment, who inclined to James II, and frequently disagreed with his brother officers (ib. i. 597, 613, ii. 170). On the evening of 15 Feb. 1689–90 he marched from Newry towards Dundalk, then strongly garrisoned by the Irish, with a thousand troops. The next morning, deeming it useless to make an attack on the town, he burnt a great part of the suburbs on the west side. At the same time a party of Leviston's dragoons, under his direction, took Bedloe Castle, and a prize of about fifteen hundred cows and horses (Harris, Life of William III, p. 249). At the battle of the Boyne, on 1 July 1690, Lanier was at the head of his regiment. He was also present at the siege of Limerick in the following August (ib. ii. 210), at Lanesborough Pass in December 1690 with Kirke (Story, Impartial History, p. 48), and at the battle of Aughrim on 12 July 1691 (Boyer, ii. 264). Lanier was to have had a command under the Duke of Leinster; but on 26 Dec. William offered him a pension of 1,500l. a year on condition that he resigned his commission (Luttrell, ii. 190, 239, 323). Lanier refused to retire, and in April 1692 the king appointed him one of his generals of horse in Flanders, though his health was fast failing. He was badly wounded at the battle of Steenkirk on 3 Aug. 1692, and died a few days afterwards. He was a bachelor.

[Falle's Jersey (Durell), pp. 133, 398; Boyer's Life of William III, ii. 178, 181; Macaulay's Hist. ch. xvi. xix.; will reg. in P. C. C. 187, Fane.]

G. G.