Thomas Sutcliffe (soldier)

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Thomas Sutcliffe (c. 1790 – 22 April 1849) was an English soldier of fortune. After periods in the Royal Navy and then as an army officer involved in the Battle of Waterloo, he became an army officer in the service of Colombia and then Chile. In later years he was a writer.

Battle of Waterloo Battle of the Napoleonic Wars in which Napoleon was defeated

The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday, 18 June 1815 near Waterloo in Belgium, part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands at the time. A French army under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated by two of the armies of the Seventh Coalition: a British-led allied army under the command of the Duke of Wellington, and a Prussian army under the command of Field Marshal Blücher. The battle marked the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

Colombia Country in South America

Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia, is a sovereign state largely situated in the northwest of South America, with territories in Central America. Colombia shares a border to the northwest with Panama, to the east with Venezuela and Brazil and to the south with Ecuador and Peru. It shares its maritime limits with Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. Colombia is a unitary, constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments, with the capital in Bogota.

Chile republic in South America

Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a South American country occupying a long, narrow strip of land between the Andes to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far south. Chilean territory includes the Pacific islands of Juan Fernández, Salas y Gómez, Desventuradas, and Easter Island in Oceania. Chile also claims about 1,250,000 square kilometres (480,000 sq mi) of Antarctica, although all claims are suspended under the Antarctic Treaty.



Thomas Sutcliffe was a son of John Sutcliffe of Stansfield, near Halifax, Yorkshire, and great-grandson of John Kay, the inventor of the flying shuttle. [1]

Todmorden Market town and civil parish in the Upper Calder Valley in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, England

Todmorden is a market town and civil parish in the Upper Calder Valley in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, England. It is 17 miles (27 km) north east of Manchester and in 2011 had a population of 15,481.

John Kay (flying shuttle) British inventor

John Kay was the inventor of the flying shuttle, which was a key contribution to the Industrial Revolution. He is often confused with his namesake, who built the first "spinning frame".

He entered the Royal Navy, and was on board the Kingfisher in the blockade of Corfu in 1809; he was captured by the enemy, but managed to escape to Albania. He afterwards held a commission in the Royal Horse Guards, and was with his regiment at the battle of Waterloo, where he was severely wounded. [1]

Adriatic campaign of 1807–14 Campaign in the Napoleonic Wars

The Adriatic campaign was a minor theatre of war during the Napoleonic Wars in which a succession of small British Royal Navy squadrons and independent cruisers harried the combined naval forces of the First French Empire, the Kingdom of Italy, the Illyrian Provinces and the Kingdom of Naples between 1807 and 1814 in the Adriatic Sea. Italy, Naples and Illyria were all controlled either directly or via proxy by the French Emperor Napoleon I, who had seized them at the Treaty of Pressburg in the aftermath of the War of the Third Coalition.

Albania country in Southeast Europe

Albania, officially the Republic of Albania, is a country in Southeast Europe on the Adriatic and Ionian Sea within the Mediterranean Sea. It shares land borders with Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, North Macedonia to the east, Greece to the south and a maritime border with Italy to the west.

Royal Horse Guards cavalry regiment of the British Army

The Royal Regiment of Horse Guards (RHG) was a cavalry regiment of the British Army, part of the Household Cavalry.

In 1817 he formed one of a band of adventurous Englishmen who went out to Colombia to aid those fighting for independence from Spain, and was appointed lieutenant-colonel of cavalry in the army of the republic. Here again he was made a prisoner of war, and was detained at Havana. He returned to England in 1821. He set out again for South America in August of the following year, and offered his services to the republic of Chile; he received the appointment of captain of cavalry. [1]

Havana Capital city in La Habana, Cuba

Havana is the capital city, largest city, province, major port, and leading commercial center of Cuba. The city has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of 781.58 km2 (301.77 sq mi) – making it the largest city by area, the most populous city, and the fourth largest metropolitan area in the Caribbean region.

For sixteen years Sutcliffe remained in the military service of the republic, and took part in the operations of the liberating army in Peru. In 1834 he was appointed political and military governor of the island of Juan Fernandez, then used as a convict station by Chile. [1]

Peru republic in South America

Peru, officially the Republic of Peru, is a country in western South America. It is bordered in the north by Ecuador and Colombia, in the east by Brazil, in the southeast by Bolivia, in the south by Chile, and in the west by the Pacific Ocean. Peru is a megadiverse country with habitats ranging from the arid plains of the Pacific coastal region in the west to the peaks of the Andes mountains vertically extending from the north to the southeast of the country to the tropical Amazon Basin rainforest in the east with the Amazon river.

Juan Fernández Islands Special Territory and Commune in Valparaíso, Chile

The Juan Fernández Islands are a sparsely inhabited island group reliant on tourism and fishing in the South Pacific Ocean. Situated 670 km off the coast of Chile, they are composed of three main volcanic islands: Robinson Crusoe, Alejandro Selkirk and Santa Clara. The group is considered part of Insular Chile.

He witnessed the destructive earthquake there in February 1835, when he lost most of his possessions. Shortly afterwards an insurrection took place on the island, and Sutcliffe was recalled. [1]

1835 Concepción earthquake 1835 earthquake in South America

The 1835 Concepción earthquake occurred near the neighboring cities of Concepción and Talcahuano in Chile on 20 February at 11:30 local time and has an estimated magnitude of 8.2 Ms  or 8.1 ML. The earthquake triggered a tsunami which caused the destruction of Talcahuano. A total of at least 50 people died from the effects of the earthquake and the tsunami. The earthquake caused damage from San Fernando in the north to Osorno in the south. It was felt over a still wider area from Copiapó in the north to the island of Chiloe in the south and as far west as the Juan Fernández Islands.

Eventually, through a change of administration, he was cashiered in March 1838, and he returned to England in January 1839. He had slender means, since heavy claims for arrears of pay remained unsettled. He tried to improve his circumstances by writing. After living in the neighbourhood of Manchester, Sutcliffe moved to London in about 1846, and died in poverty in lodgings on 22 April 1849, aged 59. [1]


The last two works were published in order to obtain public support for the descendants of John Kay, for which he worked unsuccessfully for several years. [1]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Wikisource-logo.svg Sutton, Charles William (1898). "Sutcliffe, Thomas". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography . 55. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 177–178.