Lanyon, William Owen (DNB00)

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LANYON, Sir WILLIAM OWEN (1842–1887), colonel, colonial administrator, born in county Antrim on 21 July 1842, was eldest surviving son of Sir Charles Lanyon [q. v.], kt., of The Abbey, White Abbey, county Antrim, by his wife, Elizabeth Helen, daughter of Jacob Owen of the board of works, Dublin. He was educated at Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, and on 21 Dec. 1860 was gazetted ensign by purchase in the 6th royal Warwickshire regiment, with which he served in Jamaica during the native disturbances in 1865. The same year he was appointed aide-de-camp to the general commanding the troops in the West Indies. He purchased his lieutenancy, 6th foot, in 1866, exchanged to the 2nd West India regiment, and in 1868 purchased a company. He was aide-de-camp and private secretary to Sir John Peter Grant, K.C.B., governor of Jamaica from 1868 to 1873. In 1873, and until invalided in January 1874, he served as aide-de-camp to Sir Garnet (now Lord) Wolseley in the Ashantee campaign (brevet of major, medal). In 1874 he was despatched by the colonial office to the Gold Coast on a special mission in connection with the abolition of slavery, for which he was made C.M.G. The year after he was appointed administrator of Griqualand West (diamond fields). He raised and commanded the volunteer force there during the Griqua outbreak and the invasion in 1878 of the Batlapin chief, Botlasitsie, whom he defeated repeatedly and finally subdued. He received the thanks of the home government and the Cape legislature (C.B., Kaffir medal, brevet of lieutenant-colonel). He administered the Transvaal from March 1879 to April 1881, and in 1880 he was made K.C.M.G. for his services in South Africa. He served in the Egyptian campaign of 1882 as colonel on the staff and commandant on the base of operations (medal, 3rd class Osmanie and Khedive's medal). He also served with the Nile expedition of 1884–5. Lanyon died at New York, after a long and painful illness, on 6 April 1887, aged 45.

Lanyon married in 1882 Florence, daughter of J. M. Levy of Grosvenor Street, London; she died in 1883.

[Dod's Knightage; Army Lists; Colonial List, 1887; Illustr. London News, 2 July 1887 (will, 11,000l.). Much information relating to Lanyon's colonial services will be found in Parliamentary Papers, indexed under 'Gold Coast,' 'Griqua,' 'Transvaal,' &c.]

H. M. C.