Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 38.djvu/414

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Mordaunt
Mordaunt
408

State Papers, Dom. 1648-9 p. 178, 1658-9 p. 16, 1659-60, 1660-1 p. 241, 1661-2 p. 196, 1667 pp. 246, 277; Lords' Journ. xii. 60-2, 77-79; Harl. Misc. iii. 373; Hist. MSS.Comm. 5th Rep. App. pp. 145, 150-2, 171, 207, 300, 7th Rep. App.pp. 103,679, 10th Rep. App. pt. vi. pp. 188-216; Pepys's Diary, ed. Lord Braybrooke; Evelyn's Diary, 23 Oct. 1666; Evelyn's Life of Mrs. Godolphin, 1888, p. 137; Hatton Corresp. (Camd. Soc.), i. 73; Lysons's Environs of London, ii. 380; The Priuate Diarie of Elizabeth, Viscountess Mordaunt, ed. Earl of Roden, Duncairn, 1856, 8vo; Fagan's Descr. Cat, Engr. Works of Wm. Faithorne, 1888; Complete Peerage, ed. G.E.C., 1889, ii. 250.]

J. M. R.

MORDAUNT, Sir JOHN (1697-1780), general, born in 1697, was eldest son by his first wife of Lieutenant-general Hon. Henry Mordaunt, M.P., treasurer of the ordnance and colonel of a marine regiment, and nephew of Charles Mordaunt, third earl of Peterborough [q. v.] He entered the army in 1721, and rose to be captain and lieutenant-colonel in the 3rd foot-guards (Scots guards). He is not to be confused with a contemporary, Colonel Hon. John Mordaunt, who in 1735 married the widowed Countess of Pembroke. On 15 Jan. 1741 Mordaunt was appointed colonel 58th foot, afterwards 47th (Lancashire) foot, and now 1st North Lancashire regiment, which was then being raised in Scotland. In June 1745 he was made brigadier-general. He commanded a brigade of infantry at the battle of Falkirk, and was sent by the Duke of Cumberland, with two regiments of dragoons and the Campbell Highlanders, in pursuit of the rebels from Stirling. He commanded a brigade at Culloden. Horace Walpole says that after the battle the Duke of Cumberland presented Mordaunt with the Pretender's coach, on condition that he drove up to London in it. 'That I will, sir,' he replied, 'and drive on till it stops at the Cocoa Tree,' a famous tory coffee-house (Letters, i. 32). Mordaunt afterwards served in Flanders, and commanded a brigade at the battle of Val or Laffeldt. Some of his letters at this period to Counts Bentinck and Van Serooskerken are in Egerton MSS. Nos. 1721 and 1739. After his return home Mordaunt was appointed one of the inspecting generals. James Wolfe, then a young field-officer in the 20th foot, appears to have formed an attachment to a Miss Lawson, one of the maids of honour, and a niece of Mordaunt's, who was much at her uncle's place, and his letters at this period contain frequent notices of Mordaunt. The attachment was broken off in 1753. Writing from Mordaunt's seat, Freefolk, near Whitchurch, Hampshire, in July 1754, Wolfe remarks that Mordaunt's 'civility, good-breeding, and good humour make his house very easy and pleasant to his guests, and the country round has a variety of charms to those who love sport' (Wright, p. 290).

When invasion threatened in 1756, Mordaunt, a lieutenant-general, was appointed to command the great camp formed near Blandford in Dorset, and in the following year, immediately on Pitt succeeding to the premiership, was entrusted with the command of an expedition against Rochefort. Intelligence had reached Sir John Ligonier [see Ligonier, John, Earl Ligonier], through one Robert Clark, a sub-engineer (lieutenant), who had visited Rochefort in 1753, that, despite its importance as a great naval arsenal, the defences were incomplete and the garrison weak. The object of the expedition was therefore to attempt a surprise. The naval portion was entrusted to Admiral Hawke. Mordaunt's force consisted of ten regiments of foot and two of marines, with a detachment of light horse and a train of field artillery there were no siege guns —with Henry Seymour Conway [q. v.] and Edward Cornwallis as brigadier-generals, James Wolfe as quartermaster-general, and Robert Clark, promoted at a step from lieutenant to lieutenant-colonel, as commanding engineer (Porter, vol. i.) Owing to the delays in taking up transport, Mordaunt did not start until 10 Sept., a fortnight before the equinox. Mordaunt, who had been a very active, energetic man, appears to have been in broken health. His instructions were 'to make a descent on the French coast at or near Rochelle, and by a vigorous impression to force that place and destroy all magazines, arsenals, shipping, &c.' After the 'success or failure' of this he was to make like attempts on L'Orient or Bordeaux, or any places he might think suitable from Bordeaux homewards to Havre (Proceedings of a General Court-martial, &c.) Mordaunt asked what he should do if the ships were detained by contrary winds in sight of coast long enough to enable the French to mass troops on the menaced points, and was told that the practicability or otherwise of the descent must be left to his discretion (ib.) The islands of Rhé and Oleron were not sighted until 20 Sept. 1757. Three days elapsed before the ships could get into Basque Roads. Once in the roads the further initiative rested with the land officers. A week was passed in holding indecisive councils of war, while rumours came that the defences had been improved since Clark's visit, that the garrison had been largely reinforced, and that they had the power of flooding the ditches. At last it was decided not to run the risk of an attack, and