Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Woodford, Alexander George

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WOODFORD, Sir ALEXANDER GEORGE (1782–1870), field-marshal, was the elder son of Lieutenant-colonel John Woodford (d. 1800), by his second wife, Susan (d. 1814), eldest daughter of Cosmo George, third duke of Gordon, and widow of John, ninth earl of Westmorland. Lord William Gordon and Lord George Gordon [q. v.] were his mother's brothers. Major-general Sir John George Woodford [q. v.] was his younger brother. The father, John Woodford, was for some time in the grenadier guards. He served under General James Wolfe [q. v.], and later took an active part in the volunteer movement of the day. He became lieutenant-colonel of the sixth fencible infantry (the Gordon regiment). During the Gordon riots, which his brother-in-law led, he was the first officer to order the soldiers to fire on the rioters after the attack on Lord Mansfield's house.

Alexander was born at 30 Welbeck Street, London, on 15 June 1782. He went to Winchester as a commoner in 1794, and in 1799 to Bonnycastle's academy at Woolwich. He obtained a commission as ensign in the 9th foot on 6 Dec. 1794. His further commissions were dated: lieutenant, 15 July 1795; captain, 11 Dec. 1799; regimental captain Coldstream guards and lieutenant-colonel, 8 March 1810; colonel, 4 June 1814; regimental second major, 25 July 1814; regimental first major, 18 Jan. 1820; regimental lieutenant colonel, 25 July 1821; major-general, 27 May 1825; lieutenant-general, 28 June 1838; colonel of the 40th, or 2nd Somersetshire, regiment of foot, 25 April 1842; general, 20 June 1854; transferred to the colonelcy of the Scots fusilier guards, 15 Dec. 1861; field marshal, 1 Jan. 1868.

Woodford was promoted lieutenant in an independent corps and was brought into the 22nd foot on 8 Sept. 1795, but placed on half-pay the following year, as he was too young to serve. He was again brought into the 9th foot as captain-lieutenant of the newly raised battalion in 1799. He served with this regiment in the expedition to the Helder in September 1799, and was severely wounded on the 19th at the battle of Bergen. He was brought into the Coldstream guards on 20 Dec. 1799. In 1803 he was appointed aide-de-camp to Major-general Sir James Ochoncar Forbes (afterwards general and seventeenth Lord Forbes) [q. v.] He rejoined his regiment to serve at the investment and bombardment of Copenhagen in 1807. He again joined the staff of Lord Forbes in Sicily and the Mediterranean as aide-de-camp from March 1808 to June 1810. From duty in London he joined his company at Isla de Leon for the siege of Cadiz in 1811, commanded the light battalion of the brigade of guards at the siege and capture on 19 Jan. 1812 of Ciudad Rodrigo, at the siege and capture on 6 April of Badajos, at the battle of Salamanca on 22 July, at the occupation of Madrid and the capture on 14 Aug. of the Retiro, at the siege of Burgos in September and October, and in the retreat from that place. He commanded the first battalion of the Coldstream guards at the battle of Vittoria on 21 June 1813, at the siege of St. Sebastian and its capture on 31 Aug., at the battle of the Nivelle on 10 Nov., the battles of the Nive from 9 to 13 Dec., and the investment of Bayonne in the spring of 1814. He was appointed aide-de-camp to the prince regent on 4 June 1841 for his service in the field, and aide-de-camp to the king on the prince's accession to the throne. He commanded the second battalion of the Coldstream guards at the battles of Quatre Bras on 16 and of Waterloo on 18 June 1815, at the storm of Cambray on 24 June, at the entry into Paris on 7 July, and during the occupation of France.

For his services Woodford was frequently mentioned in despatches, and received the gold medal with two clasps for the battles of Salamanca, Vittoria, and the Nive, the silver medal with two clasps for Ciudad Rodrigo and Nivelle, and the Waterloo medal. He was made a companion of the order of the Bath, military division, and was permitted to accept and wear the insignia of knighthood of the Austrian order of Maria Theresa and of the fourth class of St. George of Russia.

Woodford was lieutenant-governor and commanded the infantry brigade at Malta from 1825 until he was transferred in a like capacity in 1827 to Corfu. He was made a knight commander of the order of the Bath on 13 Sept. 1831, and a knight grand cross of the order of St. Michael and St. George on 30 June 1832, in which year he was appointed to the command of the forces in the Ionian Islands, and acted temporarily as high commissioner. He was appointed lieutenant-governor of Gibraltar on 28 Feb. 1835, and governor and commander-in-chief on 1 Sept. 1836, a position he occupied for seven years. The grand cross of the order of the Bath, military division, was bestowed upon him on 7 April 1852. He became lieutenant-governor of Chelsea Hospital on 25 Sept. 1856, and succeeded to the governorship on 3 Aug. 1868 on the death of Sir Edward Blakeney. He died at the governor's residence, Chelsea Hospital, on 26 Aug. 1870, and was buried at Kensal Green cemetery on 1 Sept.

Woodford married, in 1820, Charlotte Mary Ann (d. 21 April 1870), daughter of Charles Henry Fraser, British minister at Hamburg. One of the six lancet windows in the north transept of Westminster Abbey was filled with stained glass by Woodford in memory of his son, Lieutenant-colonel Charles John Woodford of the rifle brigade, who was killed while leading a charge at Cawnpore during the Indian mutiny in 1857.

[War Office Records; Despatches; London Times, 27 Aug. and 2 Sept. 1870; J. Fisher Crosthwaite's Brief Memoir of Major-general Sir John George Woodford, 1881; Mackinnon's Hist. Records of the Coldstream Guards; Cannon's Historical Records of the 9th Foot; History of the 40th or 2nd Somersetshire Regiment of Foot; Siborne's Waterloo Campaign; Royal Military Calendar, 1820; Napier's History of the War in the Peninsula.]

R. H. V.