Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Oakes, Hildebrand

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OAKES, Sir HILDEBRAND (1754–1822), baronet, lieutenant-general, elder son of Lieutenant-colonel Hildebrand Oakes, late of the 33rd foot (d. 1797), and his wife Sarah (d. 1775), daughter of Henry Cornelison of Braxted Lodge, Essex, was born at Exeter on 19 Jan. 1754. On 23 Dec. 1767 he was appointed ensign in the 33rd foot (now Duke of Wellington's regiment), in which he became lieutenant in April 1771, and captain on 8 Aug. 1776. He accompanied his regiment to America with the reinforcements under Lord Cornwallis [see Cornwallis, Charles, first Marquis] in December 1775, and served throughout the succeeding campaigns until the capitulation at Yorktown, Virginia, on 17 Oct. 1781. He returned home with his regiment in May 1784. In May 1786 he was aide-de-camp to Major-general Bruce on the Irish staff, became a brevet major on 18 Nov. 1790, and major 66th foot on 13 Sept. 1791. He joined that regiment at St. Vincent, West Indies, in 1792, embarked with it for Gibraltar, and commanded it in that garrison until the arrival of the lieutenant-colonel in February 1794. On 1 March 1794 he was appointed brevet lieutenant-colonel and aide-de-camp to Lieutenant-general the Hon. Sir Charles Steuart in Corsica, and in May quartermaster-general in Corsica, which appointment was extended to the Mediterranean generally in June. On 12 Nov. 1795 he became lieutenant-colonel 66th, and exchanged to the 26th Cameronians, retaining his staff appointment in Corsica until June 1796. In December 1797 he was quartermaster-general to the troops sent to Portugal under Sir Charles Steuart, became brevet colonel on 1 Jan. 1798, and commanded a brigade at the reduction of Minorca in that year. In August 1800 he left England on appointment to the staff of the army in the Mediterranean under Sir Ralph Abercromby, and served with it throughout the campaign in Egypt in 1801 as brigadier-general and second in command of the reserve under General Moore [see Moore, Sir John, 1761–1809]. He was wounded in the action of 21 March 1801, when Abercromby fell. He returned home from Egypt in March 1802. In October 1802 he was appointed brigadier-general at Malta, and on 10 Nov. 1804 lieutenant-governor and commandant at Portsmouth. On 1 Jan. 1805 he became a major-general, and in June of the same year was appointed one of the commissioners of military engineering, whose reports appear in ‘Parliamentary Papers,’ 1806–1807. On 11 July 1806 he was appointed major-general and quartermaster-general in the Mediterranean, whence he returned home with the troops from Sicily under Sir John Moore in Dec. 1807. In March 1808 he was appointed to command the troops in Malta. He received the local rank of lieutenant-general in Malta on 30 April 1810, and in May that year was made civil and military commissioner in the island, a position he held until the arrival of his successor, Sir Thomas Maitland [q. v.], in Oct. 1813, when Oakes returned home in very broken health, and on 2 Nov. 1813 was created a baronet in recognition of his services. He had attained the rank of lieutenant-general on 4 Jan. 1811. The outbreak of the plague in Malta, which swept off some five thousand persons, and was stamped out by the sterner measures of his successor, occurred during Oakes's government in 1813. Sir Robert Wilson, who visited Oakes at Malta in 1812, wrote of him: ‘Although but sixty, he is not far from his journey's end. Whenever his voyage terminates, England will lose one of her bravest soldiers, and the world an excellent man’ (Private Diary of Sir R. T. Wilson, i. 68). Oakes was appointed lieutenant-general of the ordnance in 1814, a post he retained until his death. He was made a G.C.B. on 20 May 1820. He was appointed colonel 1st garrison battalion on 23 Nov. 1803, was transferred to the 3rd West India on 24 April 1806, and succeeded to the colonelcy of the 52nd light infantry on 25 Jan. 1809, at the death of Sir John Moore. He was one of the commissioners of Chelsea Hospital and of the Royal Military College, and a member of the consolidated board. He died at Hereford Street, Mayfair, London, 9 Sept. 1822, aged 64, and unmarried.

Sir Henry Oakes (1756–1827), baronet, lieutenant-general East India Company's service, younger brother of the above, born 11 July 1756, received an Indian cadetship on 8 Feb. 1775, and was appointed a second lieutenant in the Bombay army on 18 May 1775. He served two campaigns in Guzerat in 1775–6, in the expedition to Poonah in 1778, and at the sieges of Tellicherry, Onore, Bungalore, and Bednore in 1780–1. He was adjutant-general of the force, under General Mathews, that surrendered at Bednore (Nagur) on 28 April 1783, and was carried off prisoner by Tippoo Sultaun (cf. Mill, Hist. of India, ed. Wilson, iv. 267–9). When Tippoo released the prisoners in 1784, Oakes was appointed by the Madras government captain-commandant of a battalion of sepoys (10 June 1784), and, when the battalion was disbanded, returned to Bombay to command the grenadiers of the 2nd Bombay Europeans, whence he was transferred to the 12th Bombay native infantry in September 1788, and took the field with that corps in 1790, serving first as quarter-master-general, and afterwards as commissary of supplies. He was with his battalion at the sieges of Cananore and Seringapatam in 1790, was detached with a separate force to Kolapore in Malabar, and was afterwards with the troops under Major Cappage in October 1791. In 1792 he was appointed deputy adjutant-general of the Bombay army, received the style of adjutant-general in 1796, and returned home on sick furlough in 1788, having attained the rank of major on 6 May 1795, and lieutenant-colonel on 8 Jan. 1796. He went out again in 1802, and was appointed colonel of the 7th Bombay native infantry, but was compelled to return home through ill-health. He went to India once more in 1807 as military auditor-general at Bombay, but was again obliged to return home. He became a major-general on 25 July 1810, a lieutenant-general on 4 June 1814, and succeeded his brother as second baronet in 1822. Henry Oakes married, on 9 Dec. 1792, Dorothea, daughter of General George Bowles of Mount Prospect, co. Cork, by whom he had four sons and three daughters. She died on 24 May 1837. Oakes, whose constitution had been completely undermined in India, was subject to fits of insanity, in one of which he destroyed himself. His death took place at his residence at Mitcham, Surrey, on 1 Nov. 1827.

[Burke's Baronetage, under ‘Oakes;’ Gent. Mag. 1797 i. 254 (Lieutenant-colonel Oakes), 1822 pt. ii. p. 373 (Sir Hildebrand Oakes), 1827 pt. ii. p. 560; Philippart's Roy. Mil. Cal. 1820, ii. 191–2; War Office Corresp. in Public Record Office relating to Corsica, Portugal, Malta, &c.; Mill's Hist. of India, ed. Wilson, vols. iv. and v. for particulars of campaigns in which Henry Oakes was employed.]

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