Hudson Lowe

Last updated


Sir Hudson Lowe

Hudson Lowe BNF Gallica.jpg
Sir Hudson Lowe and his signature
14th General Officer Commanding, Ceylon
In office
1826 ?
Preceded by James Campbell
Succeeded by John Wilson
Personal details
Born28 July 1769
Died10 January 1844(1844-01-10) (aged 74)
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch/service British Army
Rank Major general
Commands Royal Corsican Rangers
General Officer Commanding, Ceylon

Sir Hudson Lowe GCMG KCB (28 July 1769 10 January 1844) was an Anglo-Irish soldier and colonial administrator who is best known for his time as Governor of St Helena, where he was the "gaoler" of the Emperor Napoléon.

Soldier one who fights as part of an organized armed force

A soldier is one who fights as part of an army. A soldier can be a conscripted or volunteer enlisted person, a non-commissioned officer, or an officer.

Emperor of the French title used by the House of Bonaparte

Emperor of the French was the monarch of the First French Empire and the Second French Empire.

Contents

Early life

The son of John Lowe, an army surgeon, he was born at Galway in Ireland, his mother's native country. His childhood was spent in various garrison towns, particularly in the West Indies, but he was educated chiefly at Salisbury Grammar. [1] He obtained a post as ensign in the East Devon Militia when he was eleven. In 1787 he entered his father's regiment, the 50th Foot, which was then serving at Gibraltar under Governor-General Charles O'Hara. In 1791, he was promoted to Lieutenant. The same year he was granted eighteen months' leave, and chose to spend the time travelling through Italy rather than return to Britain. He chose to avoid travelling to France because the French Revolution had recently broken out. [2]

Surgeon physician with surgical specialty

In modern medicine, a surgeon is a physician who performs surgical operations. There are also surgeons in podiatry, dentistry maxillofacial surgeon and the veterinary fields.

Galway City in Connacht, Ireland

Galway is a city in the West of Ireland, in the province of Connacht.

Ireland Island in north-west Europe, 20th largest in world, politically divided into the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (a part of the UK)

Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, the third-largest in Europe, and the twentieth-largest on Earth.

Career

Corsica

Lowe arrived back at Gibraltar shortly after the outbreak of war between Britain and France in early 1793. The 50th were sent to take part in the Defence of Toulon which had been seized by an Allied force under Lord Hood after an invitation by French Royalists in the city. The 50th arrived too late to assist the defence, as the Allied forces had already withdrawn from the city. They were then redirected to Corsica, a French-owned island, where British troops had been sent to join with Corsicans under Pasquale Paoli. Lowe's regiment served as part of General Dundas's force during the Siege of Bastia and Siege of Calvi driving the French from the island. The regiment was stationed in Bastia. Lowe volunteered to fetch supplies from Livorno in Italy, but nearly died of malaria during the journey there. [3]

Gibraltar British Overseas Territory

Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. It has an area of 6.7 km2 (2.6 sq mi) and is bordered to the north by Spain. The landscape is dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar at the foot of which is a densely populated town area, home to over 30,000 people, primarily Gibraltarians.

Siege of Toulon siege

The Siege of Toulon was a military operation by Republican forces against a Royalist rebellion in the southern French city of Toulon.

Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount Hood British Admiral known particularly for his service in the American Revolutionary War and French Revolutionary Wars

Admiral Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount Hood was a Royal Navy officer. As a junior officer he saw action during the War of the Austrian Succession. While in temporary command of Antelope, he drove a French ship ashore in Audierne Bay, and captured two privateers in 1757 during the Seven Years' War. He held senior command as Commander-in-Chief, North American Station and then as Commander-in-Chief, Leeward Islands Station, leading the British fleet to victory at Battle of the Mona Passage in April 1782 during the American Revolutionary War. He went on to be Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth, then First Naval Lord and, after briefly returning to the Portsmouth command, became Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet during the French Revolutionary Wars.

When he recovered, Lowe returned to Corsica, and was stationed in the citadel at Ajaccio as an aide to the Governor, Colonel Wauchope, close to where Napoléon Bonaparte's sisters had recently been living before they fled to mainland France. [4] In October 1796 it was decided to abandon Corsica and the force at Ajaccio was embarked and taken to Elba. The following year Elba was also abandoned and Lowe was evacuated with his regiment first to Gibraltar and then to Lisbon. He spent the next two years as part of a British force which was placed to deter an invasion by French and Spanish forces.

Corsica Island in the Mediterranean, also a region and a department of France

Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 18 regions of France. It is located southeast of the French mainland and west of the Italian Peninsula, with the nearest land mass being the Italian island of Sardinia to the immediate south. A single chain of mountains makes up two-thirds of the island.

Citadel type of fortress protecting a town and naval term for a safe room

A citadel is the core fortified area of a town or city. It may be a castle, fortress, or fortified center. The term is a diminutive of "city" and thus means "little city", so called because it is a smaller part of the city of which it is the defensive core. Ancient Sparta had a citadel as did many other Greek cities and towns.

Ajaccio Prefecture and commune in Corsica, France

Ajaccio is a French commune, prefecture of the department of Corse-du-Sud, and head office of the Collectivité territoriale de Corse. It is also the largest settlement on the island. Ajaccio is located on the west coast of the island of Corsica, 210 nautical miles (390 km) southeast of Marseille.

Lowe later saw active service successively in Elba, Portugal, and Menorca, where he was entrusted with the command of a battalion of volunteer Corsican exiles in the British Army, the Royal Corsican Rangers, who were armed with Baker rifles and trained as light infantry. In Corsica he was actually billeted in the Casa Buonaparte . He led the Corsican Rangers in Egypt in 1800–1801.

Elba Mediterranean island near Italy

Elba is a Mediterranean island in Tuscany, Italy, 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from the coastal town of Piombino, and the largest island of the Tuscan Archipelago. It is also part of the Arcipelago Toscano National Park, and the third largest island in Italy, after Sicily and Sardinia. It is located in the Tyrrhenian Sea about 50 kilometres (30 mi) east of the French island of Corsica.

Portugal Republic in Southwestern Europe

Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, is a country located mostly on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost sovereign state of mainland Europe. It is bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north and east by Spain. Its territory also includes the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, both autonomous regions with their own regional governments.

Menorca one of the Balearic Islands

Menorca or Minorca is one of the Balearic Islands located in the Mediterranean Sea belonging to Spain. Its name derives from its size, contrasting it with nearby Majorca.

Napoleonic Wars

After the peace of Amiens, Lowe, now a Major, became assistant quartermaster-general. On the renewal of war with France in 1803, he was charged, as a lieutenant-colonel, to raise the Corsican battalion again and with it assisted in the defence of Sicily. On the capture of Capri, he proceeded there with his battalion and a Maltese regiment; but in October 1808, Joachim Murat ordered an attack upon the island, which was organised by General Lamarque. Lowe, owing to the unreliability of the Maltese troops and no hope of help by sea, had to agree to evacuate the island. Sir William Napier criticised him, but his garrison consisted of only 1362 men, while the assailants numbered between 3000 and 4000.

Sicily Island in the Mediterranean and region of Italy

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 20 regions of Italy. It is one of the five Italian autonomous regions, in Southern Italy along with surrounding minor islands, officially referred to as Regione Siciliana.

Capri island near Naples

Capri is an island located in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Sorrentine Peninsula, on the south side of the Gulf of Naples in the Campania region of Italy. The main town Capri that is located on the island shares the name. It has been a resort since the time of the Roman Republic.

Malta island republic in Europe

Malta, officially known as the Republic of Malta, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 80 km (50 mi) south of Italy, 284 km (176 mi) east of Tunisia, and 333 km (207 mi) north of Libya. With a population of about 475,000 over an area of 316 km2 (122 sq mi), Malta is the world's tenth smallest and fifth most densely populated country. Its capital is Valletta, which is the smallest national capital in the European Union by area at 0.8 km.2 The official languages are Maltese and English, with Maltese officially recognised as the national language and the only Semitic language in the European Union.

In the course of 1809, Lowe and his Corsicans helped in the capture of Ischia and Procida, as well as of Zante, Cephalonia and Cerigo. For some months, he acted as governor of Cephalonia and Ithaca, and later of Santa Maura. He returned to Britain in 1812, and in January 1813, was sent to inspect a Russo-German legion then being formed. He accompanied the armies of the allies through the campaigns of 1813 and 1814, being present at thirteen important battles. He won praise from Blücher and Gneisenau for his gallantry and judgment. He was chosen to bear to London the news of the first abdication of Napoleon in April 1814.

He was knighted and promoted to major-general; he also received decorations from the Russian and Prussian courts. Charged with the duties of quartermaster-general of the army in the Netherlands in 1814–1815, he was about to take part in the Belgian campaign when he was offered the command of the British troops at Genoa; but while still in the south of France he received (on 1 August 1815) news of his appointment to the position of custodian of Napoleon, Emperor of the French, who had surrendered to HMS Bellerophon off Rochefort. Lowe was to be Governor of Saint Helena, the place of the former Emperor's exile.

At the time of Lowe's appointment, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, Lord Bathurst, wrote to Wellington:

"I do not believe we could have found a fitter person of his rank in the army willing to accept a situation of so much confinement, responsibility and exclusion from society." [5]

Saint Helena

On his arrival at Plantation House, he found that the Napoleon had an uneasy relationship with Admiral Sir George Cockburn, who had been responsible for conveying Napoleon to St. Helena, and was in charge of him pending the arrival of a new Governor. Napoleon and Governor Lowe had a stormy relationship, and only met half a dozen times. To a large extent, Lowe's hands were tied by his instructions from The 3rd Earl Bathurst, but Lowe's characteristic lack of tact doubtless exacerbated the friction between them.

The news that rescue expeditions were being planned by Bonapartists in the United States led to the enforcement of stricter regulations in October 1816. Lowe ordered sentries to be posted round the garden of Napoleon's residence, Longwood House, at sunset instead of at 9 p.m. He assigned a British officer the task of catching sight of Napoleon every day. Lowe created a set of petty rules that included restricting Napoleon to the Longwood Estate and requiring that the British not address Napoleon by his Imperial titles but only as a general. He demanded that Napoleon pay for part of his imprisonment, so Napoleon offered up some Imperial silver for sale. This created such a backlash in Europe that the demand had to be canceled. Then he reduced the amount of firewood for Longwood. News that Napoleon was burning his furniture to stay warm again caused such a backlash of public sympathy that the supply of firewood was restored.

All of this and more offended Napoleon and his followers, who campaigned against Lowe. Barry Edward O'Meara, the Irish surgeon, whilst initially providing information for Lowe, ultimately sided with Napoleon, and joined in criticisms from Las Cases and Montholon. The French, Russian and Austrian commissioners on St. Helena, whilst hostile to Napoleon, were also very critical of Lowe's conduct and found it impossible to get on with him.

In addition, modern scholars debate Lowe's role in Napoléon's death. Lowe's restriction of the former Emperor of the French to what amounts to "house arrest," not just "exile," certainly affected Napoleon's exercise and general health, but some have gone so far as to suggest that Lowe may have had him poisoned.

After the death of the Emperor Napoleon in May 1821, Lowe returned to England. On the publication of O'Meara's book, Lowe resolved to prosecute the author, but his application was too late. Ironically, O'Meara's book was softer on Lowe than what the doctor really thought of him and of his role as "executioner" at St. Helena. His true attitudes are revealed in the letters he passed clandestinely to a clerk at the Admiralty. [6]

Apart from the thanks of George IV, at a levee, he received little reward from the British Government, whose orders he had obeyed to the letter. His treatment of Napoleon and the subsequent public relations problems for the British Government remained an underlying issue for the rest of his career. Field Marshal The 1st Duke of Wellington later said that he was "a very bad choice; he was a man wanting in education and judgment. He was a stupid man. He knew nothing at all of the world, and like all men who knew nothing of the world, he was suspicious and jealous." [7]

After Saint Helena

In 1825–30, he commanded the forces in Ceylon, but was not appointed to the Governorship when it fell vacant in 1830. He was appointed to the colonelcy of the 56th (West Essex) Regiment of Foot in 1831, and in 1842 transferred to the colonelcy of his old regiment, the 50th (Queen's Own) Regiment of Foot. He was also made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG).

Lowe died at Charlotte Cottage, near Sloane Street, Chelsea, of paralysis, on 10 Jan. 1844, aged 75. [8]

Family

In London on 30 December 1815 [9] Lowe married Mrs. Susan Johnson, daughter of Stephen De Lancey, sister of William Howe De Lancey, and widow of Colonel William Johnson. She had previously had two daughters, one of whom had died, and the other married Count Balmain. They had five children, two sons, Hudson Lowe, born in 1816, and Edward William Howe de Lancey Lowe, born in 1820, and three daughters, Camilla, Francis, Clara Maria Susanna Lowe, born on 26 August 1818. Lady Lowe died in Hertford Street, Mayfair, London, on 22 August 1832. [8] [10]

Portrayals in fiction

Sir Hudson Lowe was portrayed by Orson Welles in Sacha Guitry's film Napoléon (1955), by Sir Ralph Richardson in Eagle in a Cage (1972), by Vernon Dobtcheff in L'Otage de l'Europe (1989), by David Francis in the Napoleon miniseries (2002), and by Richard E. Grant in Monsieur N. (2003). He appears in the play "La Dernière Salve" by Jean-Claude Brisville (1995). He is a character in Tom Keneally’s book “Napoleon’s Last Island’’ (2015).

Related Research Articles

1815 Year

1815 (MDCCCXV) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Friday of the Julian calendar, the 1815th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 815th year of the 2nd millennium, the 15th year of the 19th century, and the 6th year of the 1810s decade. As of the start of 1815, the Gregorian calendar was 12 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

Hundred Days period from Napoleons escape from Elba to the second restoration of King Louis XVIII

The Hundred Days marked the period between Napoleon's return from exile on the island of Elba to Paris on 20 March 1815 and the second restoration of King Louis XVIII on 8 July 1815. This period saw the War of the Seventh Coalition, and includes the Waterloo Campaign, the Neapolitan War as well as several other minor campaigns. The phrase les Cent Jours was first used by the prefect of Paris, Gaspard, comte de Chabrol, in his speech welcoming the king back to Paris on 8 July.

Pasquale Paoli Corsican politician

Filippo Antonio Pasquale di Paoli was a Corsican patriot, statesman and military leader who was at the forefront of resistance movements against the Genoese and later French rule in the island. He became the president of the Executive Council of the General Diet of the People of Corsica, and also designed and wrote the Constitution of the state.

Gaspard Gourgaud French general

Gaspard, Baron Gourgaud, also known simply as Gaspard Gourgaud, was a French soldier, prominent in the Napoleonic wars.

<i>Monsieur N.</i> 2003 film by Antoine de Caunes

Monsieur N. is a 2003 British-French film directed by Antoine de Caunes. It tells the story of the last years of the life of the Emperor Napoléon, who was imprisoned by the British on St Helena. Napoléon retained a loyal entourage of officers who helped him plot his escape, and evaded the attentions of Major-General Sir Hudson Lowe, the island's overzealous Governor.

Barry Edward O'Meara (1786–1836) was an Irish surgeon and founding member of the Reform Club, who accompanied Napoleon to Saint Helena and became his physician, having been surgeon on board the Bellerophon when the emperor surrendered himself.

Henri Gatien Bertrand French general

Henri-Gratien, comte Bertrand, was a French general.

<i>Asterix in Corsica</i> comic book album

Asterix in Corsica is the twentieth volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (artwork). It was originally serialized in Pilote issues 687-708 in 1973. It is the best-selling title in the history of the series, owing to its sales in the French market, but is one of the lowest-selling titles in the English language.

<i>Eagle in a Cage</i> 1972 film by Fielder Cook

Eagle in a Cage is an Anglo-American historical drama film, produced in 1972.

Longwood House residence of Napoleon Bonaparte on Saint Helena

Longwood House is a mansion in St. Helena and the final residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, during his exile on the island of Saint Helena, from 10 December 1815 until his death on 5 May 1821. It lies on a windswept plain some 6 km (3.7 mi) from Jamestown.

William Howe De Lancey British Army officer

Colonel Sir William Howe De Lancey was an officer in the British Army during the Napoleonic Wars. He died of wounds he received at the Battle of Waterloo.

Briars, Saint Helena architectural structure

Briars is the name of the small pavilion in which Napoleon Bonaparte stayed for the first few weeks of his captivity on Saint Helena in late 1815. The pavilion was in the garden of William Balcombe, an English merchant who became a purveyor to Napoleon. His 14-year-old daughter Elizabeth Lucia ("Betsy") Balcombe was the only family member who spoke French and she became the family translator. Because of his family's closeness to Napoleon, Balcombe attracted the suspicion of Governor Hudson Lowe, and in 1818 he was forced to leave the island and return to England. The Briars was then used as the home for the Admiral assigned to St Helena.

Royal Corsican Rangers

The Royal Corsican Rangers was a unit of the British Army, composed mainly of Émigrés, which served during the later part of the French Revolutionary Wars and throughout the Napoleonic Wars.

The French conquest of Corsica took place during 1768 and 1769 when the Corsican Republic was occupied by French forces under the command of the Comte de Vaux.

Lucia Elizabeth Balcombe Abell was a friend of Napoleon I during his exile at Saint Helena. She and her family's closeness to Napoleon attracted the suspicion of Governor Hudson Lowe.

French domains of St Helena

The French domains of Saint-Helena are an estate of 14 hectares in three separate parts owned by France on the British island of Saint Helena. Three French properties are under the administration of the French Foreign Ministry which undertakes their management and maintenance. These consist of :

Principality of Elba

The Principality of Elba was a non-hereditary monarchy established by the Treaty of Fontainebleau of 11 April 1814. It lasted less than a year, and its only head was Napoleon.

Major-General Sir George Ridout Bingham KCB (1777–1833) was a British Army officer, who fought in the Napoleonic Wars.

General Sir Henry Tucker Montresor KCB was a general in the British Army.

Stephen de Lancey was Chief Justice of the Bahamas and Governor of Tobago.

References

  1. Gregory p.17-18
  2. Gregory p.18-19
  3. Gregory p.19-22
  4. Gregory p.22
  5. Wellesley 1864, p. 56.
  6. Barry O'Meara's clandestine letters Albert Benhamou, 2012
  7. Lord Rosebery, Napoleon: The Last Phase, 1900, pp. 68–69.
  8. 1 2 Wikisource-logo.svg  "Lowe, Hudson"  . Dictionary of National Biography . London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  9. Napoleon's Jailer: Lt. Gen. Sir Hudson Lowe : a Life. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2016-12-03.
  10. "Free Family History and Genealogy Records —". Familysearch.org. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
Bibliography
Attribution

Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Lowe, Sir Hudson"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 16 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 72–73.

Further reading

Military offices
Preceded by
James Campbell
General Officer Commanding, Ceylon
1826–?
Succeeded by
John Wilson
Preceded by
Sir George Walker
Colonel of the 50th (Queen's Own) Regiment of Foot
1842–1844
Succeeded by
John Gardiner
Preceded by
The Lord Aylmer
Colonel of the 56th (West Essex) Regiment of Foot
1832–1842
Succeeded by
The Earl of Westmorland
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Hislop, Bt
Colonel of the 93rd (Highland) Regiment of Foot
1822–1832
Succeeded by
John Cameron