John Ligonier, 1st Earl Ligonier
John Ligonier, 1st Earl Ligonier
Master-General of the Ordnance
In office
Commander-in-Chief of the Forces
In office
Military Governor of Plymouth
In office
Governor of Guernsey
In office
Member of Parliament
for Bath
In office
Personal details
Born(1680-11-07)7 November 1680
Castres, France
Died28 April 1770(1770-04-28) (aged 89)
North Audley St, London
Resting placeSt Andrews, Cobham, Surrey [1]
RelationsFrancis Ligonier (1693–1746)
AwardsKnight of the Bath
Military service
Allegiance Great Britain
Years of service1702–1759
RankField marshal
UnitColonel, 7th Dragoon Guards 1720–1749
Grenadier Guards 1757–1770

Field Marshal John Ligonier, 1st Earl Ligonier, KB, PC (7 November 1680 – 28 April 1770), was a French Huguenot exile, born Jean Louis de Ligonier in Castres, Southern France. He had a long and distinguished career in the British army and was appointed Commander-in-chief in 1757.

During the Seven Years' War, he also served as Master-General of the Ordnance, effectively acting as Minister of War for the Pitt–Newcastle ministry. He retired from active duty in 1763 and died at his home in London on 28 April 1770.

Military career

The son of Louis de Ligonier, a member of a Huguenot family of Castres in the south of France that had emigrated to England in 1697,[2] and Louise Ligonier (née du Poncet), John Ligonier was educated in France and Switzerland.[3] He joined a regiment in Flanders commanded by Lord Cutts in 1702.[3]

He fought, with distinction, in the War of the Spanish Succession and was one of the first to mount the breach at the siege of Liège in October 1702.[4] After becoming a captain in the 10th Foot on 10 February 1703,[4] he commanded a company at the battles of Schellenberg in July 1704[4] and Blenheim in August 1704,[4] and was present at Menen[5] where he led the storming of the covered way as well as Ramillies in May 1706,[4] Oudenarde in July 1708[3] and Malplaquet in September 1709[4] where he received twenty-three bullets through his clothing yet remained unhurt.[6] In 1712, he became governor of Fort St. Philip, Menorca.[3] During the War of the Quadruple Alliance in 1719 he was adjutant-general of the troops employed in the Vigo expedition, where he led the stormers of Pontevedra.[4]

Equestrian portrait of Lord Ligonier by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1760

Two years later he became colonel of the Black Horse.[3] He was made a brigadier general in 1735,[2] major general in 1739,[3] and accompanied Lord Stair in the Rhine Campaign of 1742 to 1743.[4] He was promoted to lieutenant general on 26 February 1742[7] and George II made him a Knight of the Bath on the field of Dettingen in June 1743.[4] At Fontenoy in May 1745, Ligonier commanded the British, Hanoverian, and Hessian infantry.[3]

During the Jacobite rising of 1745 he was called home to command the British army in the Midlands.[8] In November 1745 he led a column of troops sent to Lancashire to oppose the rebels.[9] Having been promoted to the rank of general of horse on 3 January 1746,[10] he was placed at the head of the British and British-paid contingents of the Allied army in the Low Countries in June 1746.[11]

He was present at Rocoux in October 1746[12] and, having been made Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance on 19 March 1747,[13] he fought at Lauffeld in July 1747, where he led the charge of the British cavalry.[12] He did this with such vigour that he overthrew the whole line of French cavalry.[14] In this encounter his horse was killed and he was taken prisoner by Louis XV, but was exchanged within a few days.[15] The official despatch reported:

it is impossible to commend too much the conduct of the generals both horse and foot. Sir John Legonier, who charged at the head of the British dragoons with that skill and spirit that he has shown on so many occasions, and in which he was so well seconded...[15]

He became Member of Parliament for Bath in March 1748[12] and colonel of the 2nd Dragoon Guards in 1749.[12] From 1748 to 1770 he was governor of the French Hospital.[16]

On 6 April 1750 he was appointed Governor of Guernsey[17] and on 3 February 1753 he became colonel of the Royal Horse Guards.[18]

Seven Years' War

Further information: Great Britain in the Seven Years War

In September 1757, following the disgrace of the Duke of Cumberland who had signed the Convention of Klosterzeven, Ligonier was made Commander-in-Chief of the Forces.[12] He worked closely with the Pitt–Newcastle ministry who sought his strategic advice in connection with the Seven Years' War which was underway at this time.[12] Ligonier was also made a field marshal on 3 December 1757,[19] Colonel of the 1st Foot Guards on the same date[19] and a peer of Ireland on 10 December 1757 under the title of Viscount Ligonier of Enniskillen.[20] He was notionally given command of British forces in the event of a planned French invasion in 1759 though it never ultimately occurred.[3] He stood down as commander-in-chief in 1759 and became Master-General of the Ordnance.[3] He was given a further Irish peerage on 1 May 1762 as Viscount Ligonier of Clonmell (with remainder to his nephew) and on 19 April 1763 he became a Baron, and on 6 September 1766 an Earl, in the British peerage.[21]


Cobham Park

He spent his later years at Cobham Park in Cobham, Surrey, which he bought around 1750.[22] He died, still unmarried, on 28 April 1770 and was buried in Cobham Church.[23] There is a monument to him, sculpted by John Francis Moore[24] in Westminster Abbey.[23]

The earldom became extinct but the Irish viscountcy and Cobham Park passed to his nephew Edward, who would also be created Earl Ligonier (but in the Irish peerage) six years later. Ligonier's younger brother, Francis, was also a distinguished soldier.[3]


  1. ^ Heathcote 1999, p. 204.
  2. ^ a b Pilkington p. 546
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Wood, Stephen (2004). "John Ligonier, 1st Earl Ligonier". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/16653. Retrieved 1 May 2012. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Heathcote p. 202
  5. ^ Clarke p. 45
  6. ^ Mayo p. 12
  7. ^ "No. 8200". The London Gazette. 22 February 1742. p. 3.
  8. ^ "No. 8484". The London Gazette. 12 November 1745. p. 10.
  9. ^ The Scots Magazine. Vol. 7. 1745. p. 535.
  10. ^ "No. 8602". The London Gazette. 1 January 1746. p. 1.
  11. ^ "No. 8548". The London Gazette. 24 June 1746. p. 5.
  12. ^ a b c d e f Heathcote p. 203
  13. ^ "No. 8728". The London Gazette. 15 March 1747. p. 1.
  14. ^ Browne, p. 153
  15. ^ a b Albemarle p. 358
  16. ^ Murdoch and Vigne, pp. 17 and 18.
  17. ^ "No. 8942". The London Gazette. 3 April 1750. p. 1.
  18. ^ "No. 9238". The London Gazette. 30 January 1753. p. 2.
  19. ^ a b "No. 9744". The London Gazette. 3 December 1757. p. 1.
  20. ^ Walpole p.267
  21. ^ Kimber p.185
  22. ^ "Ancient History of Cobham Park". Retrieved 6 March 2008.
  23. ^ a b Heathcote p.204
  24. ^ Dictionary of British Sculptors, 1660–1851 by Rupert Gunnis


Parliament of Great Britain Preceded byGeorge WadeRobert Henley Member of Parliament for Bath 1748–1763 With: Robert Henley 1748–1757William Pitt 1757–1763 Succeeded byWilliam PittSir John Sebright Military offices Preceded byCharles Sybourg Colonel of Sir John Ligonier's Regiment of Horse(Black Horse) 1720–1749 Succeeded byJohn Mordaunt Preceded byGeorge Wade Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance 1748–1757 Succeeded byLord George Sackville Preceded byThe Duke of Montagu Colonel of The Queen's Regiment of Dragoon Guards 1749–1753 Succeeded byWilliam Herbert Preceded byThe Duke of Somerset Governor of Guernsey 1750–1752 Succeeded byThe Lord De La Warr Preceded byThe Earl of Dunmore Governor of Plymouth 1752–1759 Succeeded byRichard Onslow VacantTitle last held byThe Duke of Richmond Colonel of the Royal Horse Guards Blue 1753–1758 Succeeded byMarquess of Granby Preceded byThe Duke of Cumberland Commander-in-Chief of the Forces 1757–1759 VacantTitle next held byMarquess of Granby Preceded byThe Duke of Cumberland Colonel of the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards 1757–1770 Succeeded byThe Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh Preceded byVacant Master-General of the Ordnance 1759–1763 Succeeded byMarquess of Granby Peerage of Great Britain New creation Earl Ligonier 1766–1770 Extinct Baron Ligonier 1763–1770 Peerage of Ireland New creation Viscount Ligonier 1757–1770 Extinct Viscount Ligonier 1762–1770 Succeeded byEdward Ligonier