Morrison, George (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

MORRISON, GEORGE (1704?–1799), general, military engineer and quartermaster-general to the forces, entered the train of artillery as a gunner on 1 Oct. 1722, and was quartered at Edinburgh Castle until 1829. He distinguished himself in suppressing the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, and was sent to the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich as a cadet gunner. After he had been instructed in the theory of a profession of which he had already learned the practice, he was sent to Flanders with the temporary rank of engineer extraordinary from 3 Feb. 1747, and served under Captain Heath, chief engineer of the Duke of Cumberland's army. He was present at the battles of Roucoux and Val (July) and at the siege of Bergen-op-Zoom (12 July-16 Sept.) With the assistance of Engineer Hall he made a survey of the river Merk and of the adjoining country from Breda to Stoutersgut. The drawing of this survey is in the British Museum.

On 2 April 1748 Morrison was appointed to the permanent list as practitioner engineer, and on his return home, on the conclusion of peace, he was sent to Scotland and employed in surveying the highlands and constructing roads on a plan laid down by Marshal Wade. Under Morrison's superintendence part of the trunk road from Stirling to Fort William was made, and also the road through the wilds of Glenbeg and Glenshee to Dalbriggan. His surveys of the former, dated 9 Jan. 1749, and of the latter, dated 22 Feb. 1750, are in the war office. Part of the road between Blairgowrie and Braemar was made by a detachment of Lord Bury's regiment under Morrison's orders. His drawing of this road is in the British Museum.

On 18 April 1750 he was promoted to be sub-engineer, and sent to Northallerton in Yorkshire for duty. Possessed of personal attractions and accomplishments, and having earned the good opinion of the Duke of Cumberland, he was about this time brought to the notice of the king, and in 1751 he was attached to the person of the Prince of Wales. He was promoted engineer extraordinary on 1 Jan. 1753, captain lieutenant on 14 May 1757, and captain and engineer in ordinary on 4 Jan. 1758. On 25 April 1758 he was appointed to the expedition assembled in the Isle of Wight for a descent on the French coast. He took part under the Duke of Marlborough in the landing in June in Cancale Bay, near St. Malo, and the destruction of St. Servan and Solidore. The troops were thence conveyed to Havre and to Cherbourg, and returned home again. On 23 July Morrison embarked under General Bligh at Portsmouth, and sailed on 1 Aug. for Cherbourg. Forts Tourlaville, Galet, Hommet, Esqueurdreville, St. Anines, and Querqueville, with the basin, built at considerable expense, were all destroyed. Bligh sailed for England on 15 Aug. On 31 Aug. Morrison again sailed with General Bligh with troops for St. Malo, and took part in the action of 9 Sept., and in the battle of St. Gas on 11 Sept. At the termination of these expeditions Morrison returned to court.

On 22 Feb. 1761 he was promoted lieutenant-colonel in the army and appointed deputy quartermaster-general on the headquarters staff. On the death of General Bland in June 1763 he was appointed quartermaster-general to the forces, and was in frequent attendance on the king. He was appointed equerry to the Duke of York, and travelled with him in 1764. He accompanied the duke when he left England on 7 July 1767, and attended him assiduously during his illness at Monaco, and was present at his death in September of that year. Morrison was ill himself, and it was with much difficulty that the dying prince could be prevailed on to accept his services. 'Your life, Morrison,' he said, 'is of more importance than mine. You have a family. Be careful of your health for their sake, and shun this chamber.' Morrison was much attached to the prince. He accompanied his remains to England, and attended their interment on the night of 3 Nov. in Westminster Abbey.

In 1769 he was a member of a committee appointed to consider the defences of Gibraltar. On 22 Dec. 1772 Morrison was promoted colonel in the army, and on 2 Feb. 1775 he was promoted to be sub-director and major in the corps of royal engineers. He was made a major-general on 29 Aug. 1777. In 1779 he was appointed colonel of the 75th regiment. In 1781 he attended Lord Amherst, the commander-in-chief, on an inspection of the east coast defences on the outbreak of the war with Holland. On 29 May 1782 he was transferred from the colonelcy of the 75th foot to that of the 17th regiment, and on 20 Nov. was promoted to be lieutenant-general. On 8 Aug. 1792 he was transferred from the colonelcy of the 17th foot to that of the 4th king's own regiment of foot. But little more is recorded of the ancient quartermaster-general except the changes of his residence. In 1792 he resided at Sion Hill near Barnet. On 3 May 1796, when he was promoted general, he was living at Fairy Hall near Eltham. He died at his house in Seymour Street, London, on 26 Nov. 1799, at about the age of ninety-five. He was married and had six children.

[Cannon's Historical records of the 17th Regiment of Foot, 8vo, 1848; Ann. Reg. 1767, vol. x.; Journal of the Campaign on the Coast of France, 1758; Gent. Mag. 1763, 1792, 1799, passim; Correspondence of Earl of Chatham, 1840, vol. iv.; European Mag. 1799, vol. xxxvi.; Hasted's History of Kent; Ordnance Muster Rolls (Add. MSS. Brit. Mus.); War Office and Board of Ordnance Records; Royal Engineers' Records; Connolly Papers, manuscript; Jesse's Memoirs of the Life and Reign of George III, vol. i.]

R. H. V.