Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Yorke, Charles (1790-1880)

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YORKE, Sir CHARLES (1790–1880), field-marshal, born 7 Dec. 1790, was the son of Colonel John Yorke, deputy-lieutenant of the Tower from 1795 till his death, 26 Jan. 1826, by Juliana, daughter of John Dodd of Swallowfield, Berkshire.

He was commissioned as ensign in the 35th foot on 22 Jan. 1807, became lieutenant on 18 Feb. 1808, and on the 25th exchanged to the 52nd foot. He served with that distinguished regiment throughout the Peninsular war, being present at Vimiero, Fuentes de Onoro, Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz, Salamanca, Vittoria, the battles of the Pyrenees, the Nivelle and Nìve, and at Orthes, where he was severely wounded. He was also wounded at Badajoz and the Nivelle. He afterwards received the Peninsular silver medal with ten clasps. He was promoted captain on 24 Dec. 1813.

At Waterloo he was extra aide-de-camp to Major General Adam, who commanded the brigade of which the 52nd formed part. He received the medal. He was placed on half-pay on 25 Feb. 1816, but was appointed to the 13th foot on 7 Aug. 1817, and exchanged back to the 52nd on 2 July 1818. On 9 June 1825 he was given an unattached majority, and again went on half-pay. On 30 Nov. 1826 he was made lieutenant-colonel and inspecting field officer of militia. He became colonel on 23 Nov. 1841, and was assistant quartermaster-general, first at Cork and afterwards at Manchester from 1842 to 1851.

On 11 Nov. 1851 he was promoted major-general. He was sent to the Cape, and served in the Kaffir war of 1852 as second in command under General (afterwards Sir George) Cathcart [q. v.] On 20 June 1852 a Hottentot camp near the source of the Buffalo was surprised by his ‘judicious arrangements and the indefatigable exertions of Lieutenant-colonel Eyre and his troops’ (Cathcart, p. 195). When Cathcart crossed the Keï, Yorke was left in command in British Kaffraria, and hunted out the Kaffirs still lurking there. He was given a reward for distinguished service on 13 July 1853, and in May 1854 he succeeded Colonel (afterwards Lord) Airey as military secretary at headquarters.

He was made colonel of the 33rd foot on 27 Feb. 1855, and K.C.B. on 5 Feb. 1856. He became lieutenant-general on 13 Feb. 1859, and received the G.C.B. on 29 June 1860, when he ceased to be military secretary. In that office it is said that as Lord Fitzroy Somerset had ‘softened the asperity of the Iron Duke, Sir C. Yorke neutralised the exuberant kindness of the Duke of Cambridge’ (Stoqueler, Personal History of the Horse Guards, p. 250). He was made colonel-commandant of the 2nd battalion of the rifle brigade on 1 April 1863, and became general on 5 Sept. 1865. On 5 April 1875 he was appointed constable of the Tower of London, and on 2 June 1877 he was made field-marshal. He died in South Street, Grosvenor Square, on 20 Nov. 1880, and was buried on the 24th at Kensal Green.

[Times, 22 Nov. 1880; Ann. Reg. 1880; Illustrated London News, 16 June 1877 (portrait); Sir George Cathcart's Correspondence; Moorsom's History of the 52nd Regiment.]

E. M. L.