Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Lysons, Daniel (1816-1898)

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LYSONS, Sir DANIEL (1816–1898), general, born on 1 Aug. at Rodmarton, Gloucestershire, was son of the Rev. Daniel Lysons [q. v.], the topographer, by his second wife. Josepha Catherine Susanna, daughter of John Gilbert Cooper of Thurgarton Priory, Nottinghamshire. He was educated at the Rev. Harvey Marryat's school at Bath, and at Shrewsbury school, where he twice saved boys from drowning. He spent two years (1832-3) with M. Frossard at Nîmes to learn French. On 26 Dec. 1834 he obtained a commission as ensign in the 1st royals, joined the regiment at Athlone in February 1835, and went with it to Canada in the following year.

He became lieutenant on 23 Aug. 1837, and, owing to his skill as a draughtsman, he was employed on the staff of the deputy quartermaster-general, Colonel Charles Gore [q. v.], during the Canadian insurrection. He was present at the action of St. Denis, and was mentioned in despatches (London Gazette, 26 Dec. 1837). He was also at the capture of St. Eustache. He was deputy assistant quartermaster-general from 1 Dec. 1837 to 12 July 1841, and with the assistance of officers of the line he surveyed a good deal of the frontier. He was an indefatigable sportsman, and has left a vivid picture of his Canadian life, and especially of moose hunting, in his 'Early Reminiscences.'

On 29 Oct. 1843 the right wing of the royals left Quebec for the West Indies in the transport Premier, which was wrecked six days afterwards in Chatte Bay, on the right bank of the St. Lawrence. Lysons was very active in saving those on board, and being sent back to Quebec for help, he made in four and a half days what was reckoned an eight days' journey of three hundred miles. His exertions were praised in general orders, and he was rewarded by a company in the 3rd West India regiment on 29 Dec., the Duke of Wellington directing that his promotion should be notified to him by return of post. He went to the West Indies from England in the spring of 1844, and was given command of the troops in Tobago; but on 24 May he was transferred to the 23rd Welsh fusiliers, then stationed in Barbados. He was brigade-major there from 3 Nov. 1845 to 15 March 1847, when he accompanied his regiment to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

He returned with it to England in the autumn of 1848. He was town-major at Portsmouth from 18 June to 21 Aug. in 1849, and drew up a system of encamping and cooking there. Having obtained his majority on 3 Aug., he rejoined his regiment at Winchester, and served with it during the next five years at Plymouth, Liverpool, Chester, and Parkhurst. In April 1854 he embarked with it for Turkey, and was the first man to land in the Crimea in September. The 23rd formed part of the first brigade of the light division. At the Alma it lost over two hundred officers, and men, including its commanding officer. Just before the battle Lysons joined the second division as assistant adjutant-general, but succeeding to the lieutenant-colonelcy of his regiment on 21 Sept., he returned to take command of it. He was present at Inkerman, though laid up with fever at the time. The excitement did him good, and the hurricane of 16 Nov. seems to have completed his cure.

Throughout the winter Lysons was indefatigable in his care of his men, reduced from eight hundred to about two hundred fit for duty. He put up, mainly with his own hands, a hospital hut for them. His officers were nearly all 'young boys, very nice lads, but as yet quite useless;' and in the summer, when the strength of the regiment had been raised by drafts to over five hundred, he described it as 'like a newly raised militia regiment officered from the higher classes in a public school.' In the assault of 18 June 1855 Lysons commanded the supports of the column furnished by his brigade. He was wounded in the knee, but brought the brigade out of action, and had command of it for a time. In the second assault, on 8 Sept., he led an attack on the right flank of the Redan, and was severely wounded in the thigh. On 25 Oct. he was given command of the second brigade of the light division, and retained it till the end of the war. He had been three times mentioned in despatches (London Gazette, 10 Oct. 1854, 4 July and 5 Oct. 1855), was made brevet-colonel on 17 July 1855, and C.B. (5 July), and received the medal with three clasps, the Sardinian and Turkish medals, the legion of honour (4th class), and Medjidie (3rd class).

He returned to England in July 1856, and resumed command of the 23rd. On 16 Jan. 1857 he exchanged to the 25th foot, and on 24 Nov. went on half-pay, having been appointed on 5 Nov. assistant adjutant-general at headquarters. In this office he was employed on the revision of the infantry drill-book and its adaptation to the needs of the volunteers. He also prepared 'Instructions for Mounted Rifle Volunteers' (1860). On 6 Dec. 1861 he was sent to Canada in connection with the 'Trent' affair, and he was deputy quartermaster-general Irom 27 Aug. 1862 till 30 Sept. 1867. This gave him an opportunity of extending the frontier surveys which he had been engaged upon as a subaltern.

He was promoted major-general on 27 Dec. 1868. He commanded brigades at Malta and Aldershot from 1 July 1868 to 30 June 1872, and then commanded in the northern district for two years. He drew up a system of 'Infantry Piquets,' which was issued by authority in 1875. On 1 April 1876 he was appointed quartermaster-general at headquarters. He became lieutenant-general and was made K.C.B. on 2 June 1877, and on 14 July 1879 he became general. The colonelcy of the Derbyshire regiment was given to him on 25 Aug. 1878, and he accepted the honorary colonelcy of the first volunteer battalion of the royal fusiliers. From 1 July 1880 to 1 Aug. 1883 he commanded the Aldershot division, and he was then placed on the retired list, having reached the age of sixty-seven. On 29 May 1886 he received the G.C.B., and on 4 March 1890 he was made constable of the Tower.

Lysons died on 29 Jan. 1898, and was buried at Rodmarton. Vigorous to the last, he had been writing on army reform a month before (Times, 17 Dec. 1897). In 1856 he married Harriet Sophia, daughter of Charles Bridges of Court House, Overton. She died in 1864, and in 1865 he married Anna Sophia Biscoe, daughter of the Rev. Robert Tritton of Morden, Surrey. By his first wife he had four sons, of whom the second, Henry, obtained the Victoria cross in the Zulu war of 1879 as a lieutenant in the Scottish rifles.

[Lysons's Early Reminiscences (1896) and the Crimean War from First to Last (1895), the latter consisting of letters written by him in the Crimea; Times, 31 Jan. 1898; Broughton-Mainwaring's Historical Record of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, pp. 159-216.]

E. M. L.