Estcourt, James Bucknall Bucknall (DNB00)

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ESTCOURT, JAMES BUCKNALL BUCKNALL (1803–1855), major-general, son of Thomas Grimston Bucknall Estcourt, M.P., and younger brother of Thomas Henry Sutton Sotheron Estcourt [q. v.], was born on 12 July 1802. He was educated at Harrow, and entered the army as an ensign in the 44th regiment on 13 July 1820. On 7 June 1821 he was transferred to the 43rd Monmouthshire light infantry, in which he waa promoted lieutenant on 9 Dec. 1824, and captain on 4 Nov. 1825. He spent the next ten years of his military life in garrison in England and in Canada. In 1834 he accepted the post of second in command to Colonel F. R. Chesney [q. v.] in the famous Euphrates Valley expedition, and was placed in charge of the magnetic experiments. He showed himself a loyal assistant to his chief during the next two years of arduous labour and travel, and it was chiefly owing to Chesney's advocacy of his services that Estcourt was promoted major on 21 Oct. 1836, and lieutenant-colonel by brevet on 29 March 1839. In 1837 he married Caroline, daughter of Reginald Pole Carew, for many years under-secretary of state for the home department. On 25 Aug. 1843 he went on half-pay, on being promoted to an unattached lientenant-colonelcy. In February 1848 he entered parliament as M.P. for Devizes, the family borough, but did not seek re-election in 1852. Estcourt applied for a staff appointment in the Crimean expedition, although he had had no experience of actual warfare. On 21 Feb. 1854 he was made a brigadier-general, and appointed adjutant-general to the expeditionary force. He owed this important post to the support given to his application by his friend Lord Raglan, who believed that his polished and gentle manners concealed real strength of character. As adjutant-general he performed his duties efficiently during the weary months of waiting and sickness at Gallipoli and at Varna, and also at the battles of Alma and Inkerman. He was promoted major-general on 12 Dec. 1854. The two chief staff officers, Generals Estcourt and Airey, were held by the public to be especially responsible for the sufferings of the English army during the first winter in the Crimea; but Lord Raglan defended them in the strongest terms (see Kinglake,Invasion of the Crimea, vi. 312, 342) in his despatches of 15 Jan. and 3 March 1865. Estcourt, like Airey, went on steadily with his work, despite adverse circumstances and savage criticism, until 21 June 1856, when he was suddenly struck down by cholera. He at first rallied, but the thunderstorm of 23 June caused a relapse, and he died on the morning of 24 June. His death was universally regretted. Hamley writes that he was 'a man of remarkably kind and courteous disposition' (The Story of the Siege of Sebatopol, p. 268), and Kinglake speaks of him as 'a man greatly loved by Lord Raglan, by all his friends at headquarters, and indeed by all who knew him' (The Invasion of the Crimea, viii. 361). Lord Raglan was afraid to attend the funeral, for fear of showing his grief; but the last visit he paid before his own death, which was hastened by the loss of his adjutant-general, was to Estcourt's tomb. It was announced in the 'Gazette' of 10 July 1865 that Estcourt would have been made a K.C.B. if he had survived. His widow, who had courageously spent the winter in camp, and hsd been by her husband's deathbed, was raised to the rank of a K.C.B.'s widow by special patent in 1856. She survived until 17 Nov. 1886, when she died at her residence, The Priory, Tetbury.

[Burke's Landed Gentry; Chesney's Expedition to the Euphrates Valley; Life of General F. R. Chesney; Hart's Army List; Kinglake's Invasion of the Crimea; Russell's Letters from the Crimea; Nolan's History of the War in the East; Hamley's Story of the Siege of Sebastopol.]

H. M. S.