Henry William Paget

Henry William Paget, Marquess of Anglesey


(17th May, 1768 – 29th April, 1854)

THE ancestor of this noble family, on whom the dignity of the Peerage was conferred, had distinguished himself in early life by great learning, and extraordinary talents for public business ; in consequence of which, he was employed in situations of importance and confidence in the reign of Henry the Eighth, and under successive sovereigns—Edward the Sixth, Mary, and Elizabeth.

The Order of the Garter was conferred upon him ; and, in the second year of Edward the Sixth, he was called by writ to the House of Peers, under the title of Baron Paget of Beau-desert, in the county of Stafford.

The Earldom of Uxbridge was conferred upon Henry, son of the sixth Lord Paget, he having been summoned to the House of Peers in his father's lifetime by the title of Lord Burton, Baron of Burton, in the county of Stafford. The second Earl of Uxbridge died without issue in 1769; and, upon this event, the title became extinct ; but the Barony of Paget, being a Barony in fee, devolved upon Caroline, the daughter of Brigadier-General Thomas Paget, then married to Sir Nicholas Bayly, Baronet, of Plasnewydd, in the county of Anglesey ; and, when she died, Henry, their eldest surviving son, became Lord Paget; and afterwards, by creation in 1784, Earl of Uxbridge.

The present noble family, in the male line, is of high antiquity ; and its descent is illustrious through many generations. Sir Nicholas Bayly was great-grandson of Lewis Bayly, Bishop of Bangor, a descendant of the ancient Scottish house of Bayly, or Baillie, Earls of Lamington, and whose lineal ancestor married the daughter and heiress of the renowned Sir William Wallace. Dr. Lewis Bayly was one of the most eminent divines of his time. He accompanied King James the First to London on his accession to the English throne, and was appointed tutor of Prince Charles, afterwards King Charles the First. He married Ann, daughter of Sir Henry Bagenall, and granddaughter of Sir Nicholas Bagenall, of Newry Castle ; both of whom filled the high and arduous station of Mareschall of the armies in Ireland, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth ;—the latter was slain at the battle of Blackwater in 1598. Sir Nicholas Bagenall married a co-heiress of the ancient Welsh family of Vychan, afterwards surnamed Griffith, from which family also sprung the royal house of Tudor. Through this line the Marquess derives his mansion in Anglesey, and the greater portion of his Welsh and Irish estates.

Henry, third Earl of Uxbridge, entered the army when young, and served in America and the West Indies. He was afterwards Colonel of the Staffordshire militia; and enjoyed through life the distinguished honor of the personal friendship of King George the Third.

Upon his death, on the 13th of March, 1812, Henry-William, his eldest son, born on the 17th of May, 1768, succeeded to the title, as fourth Earl of Uxbridge.

His education had all the advantages of early tuition at home—at Westminster—at Oxford; and also of foreign travel. And, notwithstanding the allurements of a life to which high rank, family affluence, and all personal accomplishments gave him introduction and welcome, his classical attainments were of an exalted character.

At the period when Europe was thrown into convulsion by the French Revolution, Lord Paget became a soldier. Having raised a regiment of infantry, he was appointed to its command as Colonel, and was engaged in the arduous service of the first campaigns of the British army in Flanders, under H. R. H. the Duke of York.

In the interval of foreign service, his Lordship was in command of a brigade in the garrison at Ipswich, and here was formed a series of cavalry movements, by which this force was rendered more effective and formidable than any of a similar description ever sent before by Britain into the field. Lord Paget was enabled to show the practical effect of his own lessons, connected with British spirit and courage, in successive campaigns.

Nothing, indeed, could surpass the gallantry of his conduct as the leader of the Cavalry Brigade in the Peninsular war. On every occasion in which this body met the enemy, it added to its reputation as a most effective arm of the British force ; and often performed exploits of such dash and enterprise, as rather to resemble the deeds of ancient chivalry, than the more regulated services of modern tactics. In the heart of these brilliant achievements, the noble Lord was ever to be found ; and the enthusiasm which so largely contributed to victory, sprung in no small measure from his own personal bearing and example, which excited the admiration of his comrades of all ranks, from the Commander-in-Chief to the private soldier.

In covering the disastrous retreat of Sir John Moore, Lord Paget had a most arduous duty; throughout which his skill and bravery were alike conspicuous. Keeping in check the superior numbers of an adversary, warm and daring in pursuit, he taught them to beware of encounters with the English cavalry ; and particularly in the gallant affair on the Ezla, in front of Benavente, 29th of December, 1808, where General Lefebvre Desnouettes, the Commander of the Imperial Guard, was taken prisoner, he distinguished himself and his intrepid followers in a way which taught the enemy caution in all his future movements. In more fortunate campaigns, his Lordship continued to evince the same daring spirit, and, to use the common phraseology of the camp, " covered himself with laurels."

When Buonaparte, in 1815, returned from Elba, and, by an exertion of influence almost miraculous, raised a formidable army to support his resumption of the throne of France—all Europe was roused, and imbodied in arms ; and not last, but first, in this perilous and momentous struggle, were the troops of Great Britain in the field. Lord Paget, having now become Earl of Uxbridge, as second to the Duke of Wellington, commanded the allied cavalry of the army ; and the result of the memorable day of Waterloo attests their unrivalled prowess.

It was at the close of the battle, and when the enemy were in full retreat, that Lord Uxbridge lost his leg. Upon his Lordship's personal conduct in this tremendous conflict, and under the sufferings incident to his wound, we might, without flattery, dilate ; but the living memory of his own age, and historical record hereafter, will do him more ample justice.

His Lordship was received in England with loud acclamations from all ranks of people. The Marquisate of Anglesey was conferred upon him, to mark the royal estimation of his services : which were honored with the further reward of a unanimous vote of thanks by the two Houses of Parliament. He received the orders of the Bath and the Garter from his own Sovereign, and he was also invested with all the distinguished orders of the allied Sovereigns.

When the august ceremony of the Coronation—to which our memorial is called on to refer—took place, the Marquess of Anglesey sustained the office of Lord High Steward ; and nothing could exceed the grace and dignity which the horse and his rider displayed in the magnificent arena of Westminster Hall.
On this occasion, the following very neat epigram was produced :-
Tho' Anglesey's steed with a retrograde pace,
So delightfully curvets and prances,
'Tis before the king's friends he retreats with such grace,
His enemies dread his advances.

His Lordship was afterwards appointed to the office of Master-General of the Ordnance, with a seat in the Cabinet, as a colleague of our lamented minister, the late Mr. Canning. On the 1st day of March, 1828, his Lordship was sworn in Lord Lieutenant-Governor, and Governor-General of Ireland.

In this important station, as representative of his illustrious Sovereign, his Lordship engaged the warm affections of the Irish people. He secured their obedience to the laws. He subdued religious animosities. He conciliated general goodwill. He sought to ameliorate and improve the condition of the labouring classes ; commerce had received an active spring through his patronage and munificence, and every means were put in progress towards national prosperity, when he was recalled by the king's minister in the tenth month of his viceregal functions.

The sensation created by this act must be still fresh in the memory of the public, as well as the manly and dignified course taken by the noble Marquess, on resuming his seat in the Upper House of Parliament. We believe there was but one feeling on the subject in England and Ireland ; and the latter country, as it showed its deep regrets at his departure, may now be expected to reap great political advantages from his return. On the accession of the present ministry, the Marquess of Anglesey was re-appointed Lord Lieutenant; and never was there a period when individual character in the government was so essential to the happiness and welfare of the governed. By the time this brief sketch issues from the press, his Lordship will probably be in the exercise of his functions ; and the people of Ireland, who loved his frank and generous conduct in every relation of life, as much as his straight-forward and impartial policy in their trying and difficult affairs, have already cause to rejoice in the near prospect of renewing those ties which united them together in a bond of reciprocal attachment.

And these are days of no common difficulty to legislators ; days, we would say, in which the soldier, become statesman, has of all others the most difficult task to perform. But Lord Anglesey, though one of the brightest military heroes of our age, has displayed such noble qualities in civil life, that we not only do not fear his Irish government, but augur from it the most auspicious results. He has shown what he is, and has already been weighed. We grant him, therefore, willingly the chivalrous honor of leading our gallant Cavalry brigades : will not Ireland hail and rally round the spirit? But more, in him she will receive, for the second time, the impartial conservator of human rights, the honest reformer of every real grievance, the equal holder of the balance of justice : will she not improve and grow happy under such auspices ? It is impossible that such a man should not be a beneficent destiny to Ireland.