Wilson, John Morillyon (DNB00)

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WILSON, Sir JOHN MORILLYON (1783–1868), commandant of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, son of John Wilson, rector of Whitchurch, Yorkshire, was born in 1783. He entered the royal navy, and served as a midshipman on the coast of Ireland during the rebellion of 1798, in the expedition to the Helder in 1799, and in the Mediterranean and Egypt in 1801. He received a medal from the captain-pasha of the Turkish fleet off Alexandria in 1801 for having saved the lives of the boat's crew belonging to a Turkish man-of-war. He was thrice wounded during his naval service, the third time so severely in the head that it produced total deafness, in consequence of which he was invalided and quitted the navy in 1803.

After the restoration of his health he entered the army as an ensign in the 1st royals on 1 Sept. 1804. The dates of his further commissions were: lieutenant, 28 Feb. 1805; captain, 1 Jan. 1807; major, 5 July 1814; lieutenant-colonel, 27 Nov. 1815; colonel, 10 Jan. 1837. He served with the third battalion of his regiment at Walcheren in 1809, and was twice wounded at the siege of Flushing. He afterwards served in the peninsular war, was present at the battle of Busaco, the retreat within the lines of Torres Vedras, the actions of Pombal, Redinha, Condeixa, Casal Nova, Foz d'Aronce, and Sabugal, the blockade of Almeida, and the battle of Fuentes d'Onor.

Soon after the outbreak of war with the United States of America in 1812, Wilson joined the first battalion of the 1st royals in Canada. He arrived towards the end of the year, and on 29 May 1813 was engaged in the attack under Sir George Prevost on the American depôt at Sacketts' Harbour, and on 19 June on a strong position occupied by the Americans at Great Sodus, where he received a severe bayonet wound. He took part in the expedition against Black Rock on the Niagara River near Erie, which was captured and burned on 11 July. He was at the capture of Fort Niagara on 19 Dec., and distinguished himself in the action near Buffalo on 30 Dec. 1813. He was engaged on the Chippewa under Major-general Phineas Riall on 5 June 1814, and in the desperate victory of the Chippewa or Lundy's Lane on 25 July, when Lieutenant-general Sir Gordon Drummond commanded the British. Riall was taken prisoner, and Wilson, wounded seven times and left for dead on the field of battle, fell into the enemy's hands, and remained a prisoner until after the treaty of Ghent terminated the war in December 1814.

For his distinguished conduct and bravery at Buffalo and Chippewa he received two brevet steps of promotion. He was also awarded the peninsular medal with clasps for Busaco and Fuentes d'Onor. He was for some time aide-de-camp to Major-general Riall at Grenada in the West Indies. He went on the half-pay list on 25 July 1822, and on 16 Nov. following he was appointed adjutant of the Royal Hospital at Chelsea. He was gentleman usher of the privy chamber to Queen Adelaide for nearly twenty years till her death in 1849. He was made a companion of the order of the Bath and a knight of the royal Hanoverian Guelphic order. On 14 July 1855 he was appointed major and commandant of Chelsea Hospital, where he died on 8 May 1868. He married, in 1824, Amelia Elizabeth Bridgman (d. 1864), daughter of Colonel John Houlton.

[Despatches; Army Lists; Christie's War in Canada; Gent. Mag. 1868; Royal Military Cal. 1820; Alison's Hist. of Europe; m'Queen's Campaigns of 1812, 1813, and 1814; Carmichael Smyth's Wars in Canada.]

R. H. V.