Lawless, William (DNB00)

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LAWLESS, WILLIAM (1772–1824), French general, was born at Dublin, 20 April 1772, joined the United Irishmen, was outlawed in the Fugitive Bill, and, having taken refuge in France, entered the army. He was placed on half-pay in 1800, but in 1803 was appointed captain of the Irish legion, and in July 1806 was ordered to Flushing, then besieged by the English, to command the Irish battalion. To reach his post he had to pass in a small open boat through the English fleet. He was dangerously wounded in a sortie, and when General Monet capitulated without stipulating for the treatment of the Irish as prisoners of war, Lawless escaped from the town with the eagle of his regiment, concealed himself for two months in a doctor's house, and at length found an opportunity of getting by night in a fishing boat to Antwerp. Bernadotte welcomed him, extolled him in general orders, and reported his exploits to Napoleon, who summoned him to Paris, decorated him with the Legion of Honour, and promoted him to be lieutenant-colonel. In 1812 he gained a colonelcy, and in August 1813 he was wounded at Lowenberg and his leg was amputated. On the restoration of the Bourbons the Irish regiment was naturally looked on with little favour by a dynasty so deeply indebted to England, and in October 1814 Lawless was placed on half-pay with the rank of brigadier-general. He died at Paris, 25 Dec. 1824.

[Fieffé's Hist. des Troupes Etrangères, Paris, 1854; Madden's United Irishmen, 2nd ser. ii. 525, London, 1843; Mem. of Miles Byrne, Paris, 1863.]

J. G. A.