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

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TOWNSHEND, JOHN (1789–1845), colonel, was the eldest surviving son of Richard Boyle Townshend, high sheriff for co. Cork and M.P. in the Irish House of Commons, by his wife, Henrietta, daughter of John Newenham of Maryborough. He was born at Castletownshend on 11 June 1789, and on 24 Jan. 1805 was appointed cornet in the 14th light dragoons. He became lieutenant on 8 March 1806, by purchase, and captain on 6 June, without purchase. On 16 Dec. 1808 he sailed from Falmouth with his regiment for Portugal. He was first engaged on the plains of Vogo on 10 May 1809, was in close pursuit of the enemy on the 11th, and was present at the crossing of the Douro and capture of Oporto on the 12th under Sir Arthur Wellesley. He took part in several skirmishes with the French rear-guard during their retreat into Spain, in the engagements of 27 and 28 July 1809 at Talavera, and in an affair with the enemy's advanced post on 11 July 1810 in front of Ciudad Rodrigo. He was engaged with the enemy on 24 July 1810 at the passage of the Coa, near Almeida, under the command of Major-general Craufurd, and in several skirmishes of the rear-guard from Almeida to Busaco. He was present with the army on the march from Busaco to Coimbra, and to the lines of Torres Vedras, where the army arrived in October 1810. From 6 March to 14 April 1811 he was engaged in the several affairs and skirmishes on the enemy's retreat from Santarem to the frontiers of Spain. In the engagements of 3 and 5 May 1811 at Fuentes d'Onor he was employed as aide-de-camp to Sir Stapleton Cotton [q. v.] He was present at the affair with the enemy's lancers at Espega on 25 Sept. 1811. He was employed on duty at the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo in December 1811 and January 1812; at the siege of Badajoz in March and April 1812; at the battles of Salamanca on 22 July following, and of Vittoria on 21 June 1813, when the whole of the enemy's baggage was taken or destroyed. On 24 June 1813 he took part in the taking of the enemy's last gun near Pampeluna, under the command of Major Brotherton of the same regiment, and was constantly engaged with the enemy until the battle of Orthes on 27 Feb. 1814. On 8 March following he was made prisoner of war in an affair with the enemy near the city of Pau, but was quickly released.

Townshend was subsequently present at New Orleans in America on 8 Jan. 1815. He was made brevet major on 21 Jan. 1819, as a reward for his services during the Peninsular war; major in the regiment, by purchase, on 13 Sept. 1821; lieutenant-colonel, by purchase, on 16 April 1829; and aide-de-camp to the queen and colonel in the army on 23 Nov. 1841. In 1827, on the death of his father, he succeeded to the family estates at Castletownshend. In 1831 he was one of the board of officers appointed by the general commanding in chief, under Lord Edward Somerset, for revising the formations and movements of cavalry. He served with his regiment in India for some years, but embarked at Bombay for England in November 1844. He landed in England in January 1845, and died unmarried at Castletownshend on 22 April of the same year. A monument was erected to his memory in the church of Castletownshend by the officers of his regiment. He was succeeded in his estates by his brother, the Rev. Maurice Fitzgerald Stephens-Townshend.

[An account of Colonel Richard Townesend and his family, by Richard and Dorothea Townshend, 1892; Record of Colonel Townshend's services.]

W. W. W.