Floyd, John (1748-1818) (DNB00)

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FLOYD, Sir JOHN (1748–1818), general, was elder son of Captain John Floyd of the 1st or king's dragoon guards (killed in Germany during the seven years' war), by Mary, daughter of the Rev. James Bate, rector of Chilham, Kent. He was born on 22 Feb. 1748, and entered the army on 5 April 1760, at the age of twelve, as a cornet in Eliott's light horse, afterwards the 15th or king's royal hussars. He is said to have received his commission without purchase, as some recognition of his father's gallantry, and he at once joined the regiment, and distinguished himself at the battle of Emsdorf. He was promoted lieutenant on 20 April 1763, and made riding-master to his regiment. His skill in this capacity brought him under the notice of the authorities. General Eliott, afterwards Lord Heathfield, spoke most favourably of his abilities, and he was ‘lent’ to the 1st dragoons, the royals, in order to improve their riding. Under the patronage of Eliott, Floyd was promoted, without purchase, captain-lieutenant on 20 May 1770, and captain on 25 May 1772 in the 15th hussars, and on 5 May 1779 major in the newly raised 21st light dragoons. In 1781 it was determined to raise a cavalry regiment expressly for service in India, and on 24 Sept. in that year Floyd was gazetted lieutenant-colonel of this new regiment, which was styled first the 23rd, and then the 19th light dragoons. He reached Madras in 1782, in which year he was gazetted a local colonel in the East Indies, and remained in that presidency for eighteen years, during which he showed himself the most accomplished English cavalry commander who ever served in the south of India. On 18 Nov. 1790 he was promoted colonel, and was in the same year appointed by Lord Cornwallis to command all the cavalry upon the Coromandel coast. In the three campaigns of Lord Cornwallis against Tippoo Sultan Floyd greatly distinguished himself. Before Lord Cornwallis had assumed the command in person, Floyd performed his greatest feat of arms. He had occupied Coimbatore on 21 July 1790 with the van of the army, and, after leaving headquarters there, he established himself on 26 Aug. at Satyamangalam with a detachment of the 36th regiment, and some of his own troopers of the 19th light dragoons. He was attacked by the enemy's cavalry in greatly superior force, but succeeded in retreating in good order. Cornwallis hereupon gave Floyd the command of the van-guard. He was wounded during the siege of Bangalore in March 1791, distinguished himself on the left wing in the battle of Arikera in May 1791, and served in the general action in May 1792 near Seringapatam, which induced Tippoo to sue for terms. After the conclusion of this war Floyd took his regiment into cantonments at Bangalore; he served as second in command to Colonel Braithwaite in the capture of Bangalore in 1793, and was promoted major-general on 5 Oct. 1794. When the second war with Tippoo Sahib broke out, Floyd again commanded the cavalry, and acted as second in command to General Harris. He led the advance of the army into Mysore, and the charges of his cavalry did much to win the battle of Malavalli. When the siege of Seringapatam was formed, Floyd commanded the covering army, and brought the Bombay column, under Major-general James Stuart, safely into camp. In the year after the capture of Seringapatam, Floyd, who had acquired great wealth from the lucrative appointments he had held in India, and from the booty of Seringapatam, returned to England. He was received with great distinction, was appointed colonel of the 23rd light dragoons on 11 Sept. 1800, and was promoted lieutenant-general on 1 Jan. 1801. He never again saw service, but spent some years on the staff in Ireland, commanding the Limerick division from 1803 to 1806, and the Cork division from 1809 to 1812. He was transferred to the colonelcy of the 8th light dragoons on 13 Sept. 1804, promoted general on 1 Jan. 1812, and in 1813 he received the honourable but sinecure office of governor of Gravesend and Tilbury. On 30 March 1816 he was created a baronet, and a special crest of a lion rampant, bearing the standard of Tippoo Sultan in its paws, was granted to him. Floyd was twice married: first, in 1771, to Rebecca Juliana, daughter of Charles Darke of Madras; and secondly, in 1803, to Anna, daughter of Crosbie Morgell, and widow of Sir Barry Denney, bart., of Tralee Castle. By his first wife he left one son (an officer who served in the Peninsula and at Waterloo, and who succeeded him as second baronet) and two daughters, one married to General Sir Joseph Fuller, G.C.H., and the other to the Right Hon. Sir Robert Peel, the second baronet. Floyd died suddenly of gout in the stomach, on 10 Jan. 1818, shortly before completing his seventieth year.

[Royal Military Calendar, 1st edit.; Foster's Baronetage; Military Record of the 8th Hussars; Cornwallis Correspondence; Mackenzie's Sketch of the War with Tippoo Sultan from 1789 to 1792; Dirom's Narrative of the Campaign in India in 1792; Beatson's War with Tippoo Sultan in 1799; Lushington's Life and Services of General Lord Harris; Wellesley Despatches.]

H. M. S.