Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 31.djvu/221

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the regiment out to Tangier, where it arrived in April 1681. He was sent on an embassy to the Emperor of Morocco at Mequinez and visited Fez. An account of his mission was published in ‘Latest Accounts from Fez. By a Person of Quality,’ London, 1683. Kirke succeeded Colonel Sackville as governor of Tangier in March 1682, and on 19 Sept. following was transferred to the colonelcy of the old Tangier or Governor's regiment, since the 2nd or Queen's, and now the Queen's Royal West Surrey regiment. The regiment had been raised for service at Tangier. The origin of its badge—a Paschal Lamb—is unknown. Cannon and other writers err in describing it as an emblem of the house of Braganza. Perhaps, as Macaulay suggests, it was thought a fitting device for a Christian regiment going to war against the infidels. An account of Kirke's two years' command, compiled from the ‘Tangiers State Papers’ in the Public Record Office, the Dartmouth MSS., and other sources, is given in Davis's exhaustive ‘History of the Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment,’ London, 1888, i. 202–48, and conveys the impression that Kirke was an energetic and capable officer. Bishop Ken, then chaplain of the fleet under Lord Dartmouth, speaks of the dissolute tone of the garrison, and of a scandal caused by Kirke endeavouring to thrust one Roberts, the brother of his mistress, into the post of garrison-chaplain (Plumptre, Life of Ken, London, 1888, vol. i.) Dr. Lawson, the garrison-physician, told Pepys that Kirke had done more to improve the town and defences than all the other governors put together (Smith, Life of Pepys, i. 444). Lord Dartmouth [see Legge, George, 1648–1691], Kirke, and Pepys were joint-commissioners for arranging the abandonment of Tangier. On the evacuation of the place, early in 1684, Kirke, accompanied by his wife and two daughters, returned to England with his regiment (Kirke's Lambs), which was then stationed at Pendennis Castle and Plymouth. In an order dated 27 June 1684 the regiment is first styled the ‘Queen Consort's.’ Kirke's regiment, after the death of Charles II in February 1685, was called the ‘Queen Dowager's,’ the other Tangier regiment (afterwards the 4th King's Own) becoming for a time the ‘Queen's.’ Kirke's was ordered up to London from Pendennis in April 1685 (Home Office Marching Books, vol. i. order 1685, f. 16).

Made a brigadier-general on 4 July 1685, Kirke was present with part of both the late Tangerine regiments at the battle of Sedgmoor on 6 July 1685. He was appointed to command in the west of England by Lord Faversham, with whom he entered Bridgewater the day after the battle. A day or two later Kirke marched into Taunton with his ‘Lambs,’ escorting a convoy of prisoners and two cartloads of wounded. He at once hanged nineteen prisoners in the marketplace (Toulmin, Hist. of Taunton, ed. Glover), and appears to have claimed credit for not hanging more. The most exaggerated stories were circulated of his severities, and in London it was believed that he hanged over a hundred persons without any sort of trial within a week after the battle (Luttrell, vol. i.) He had his headquarters at the White Hart, at the corner of the High Street and the market-place, and, tradition asserts, used the signpost as a gallows. The little inn was afterwards kept for a time by the notorious murderers, the Mannings, and is now pulled down. The camping-ground of the ‘Lambs’ is yet called ‘Tangier.’ Kirke, a short-tempered, rough-spoken, dissolute soldier, was no doubt harsh and unscrupulous, but the accounts of his atrocities are fictitious or exaggerated (cf. Macaulay, Hist. of England, i. 634–6; Toulmin, Hist. of Taunton, ed. Glover, 1822, pp. 546–9). Despatches from Sunderland to Kirke, under dates 14–28 July 1685, express the king's disapproval of the severity shown, and of the living at free quarters enjoyed by the ‘Lambs;’ rebels (it was objected) were still at large, apparently a reference to delinquents from whom Kirke had taken bribes. He was recalled to London by an order dated 10 Aug. 1685 (Home Office Marching Books, i. 223). Another order, dated 31 Aug., directs his regiment to march from Taunton to London on relief by the Queen's (4th King's Own). Similar directions were sent to detached companies of Kirke's ‘Lambs’ still at Plymouth; other entries show that the orders were carried out, and disprove the unsupported statement that Kirke and his ‘Lambs’ formed the escort of Jeffreys during ‘the bloody assizes.’ Kirke's regiment was in the neighbourhood of London, and in the camps annually formed at Hounslow Heath, until 1688, when it formed part of a small force under his command at Warminster. Kirke, who had refused to abjure protestantism, saying he was pledged to the Emperor of Morocco to turn Mussulman if ever he changed his faith, was believed to be privy to the plot to seize James II at Warminster. Kirke was sent prisoner to London for refusing under some pretext to advance to Devizes. William III promoted him, his rank as major-general being dated (8 Nov. 1688) three days after the landing in Torbay. Oldmixon