Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Clinton, William Henry

CLINTON, Sir WILLIAM HENRY (1769–1846), general, elder son of General Sir Henry Clinton the elder, K.B., was born on 23 Dec. 1769. He commenced his career as a cornet in his father's regiment, the 7th light dragoons, to which he was gazetted on 22 Dec. 1784. He was promoted lieutenant on 7 March 1787, captain into the 45th regiment on 9 June 1790, and lieutenant and captain in the 1st or Grenadier guards on 14 July 1790. He served in the campaign of 1793 in Flanders with his battalion, and was promoted captain and lieutenant-colonel on 29 Dec. 1794. He was next employed with Doyle's abortive expedition, and in 1796 became aide-de-camp to the Duke of York, in which capacity he acted, with but one slight intermission of regular duty in Ireland, until June 1799. In that year he was sent on a secret mission to the Russian generals Korsakoff and Suwarrow, and returned in October in time to take up his old appointment on the duke's staff at the Helder, and it was his duty to bear the news of the armistice of Alkmar to England. In June 1800 he was appointed to act as deputy quartermaster-general at headquarters during the absence of Colonel Anstruther in Egypt, and on 1 Jan. 1801 he was promoted colonel. In June of that year he was selected to command a secret expedition, and on 23 July following he took possession of the island of Madeira, which he governed as a brigadier-general until the conclusion of the peace of Amiens in 1802. In April 1803 he was appointed military secretary to the commander-in-chief, and on 26 July 1804 quartermaster-general in Ireland. In May 1807 he was sent on a secret mission to Sweden, and on 25 April 1808 he was promoted major-general, but he was not sent upon foreign service until the beginning of 1812, when he was ordered to Sicily. He there commanded the division at Messina until September 1812, when he proceeded to Alicante to take command of the troops on the east coast of Spain. He was, however, superseded by Major-general Campbell in December 1812, who was in his turn superseded by Sir John Murray in March 1813, when Clinton took the command of the 1st division. This division he commanded at the battle of Castalla on 13 April 1813, but from that time he failed to live in harmony with Sir John Murray. That most unsuccessful general managed to quarrel with the admiral commanding, Admiral Hallowell, his second in command, Clinton, and his quartermaster-general, Colonel Donkin, and it is to this disunion that the failure of the British army to take Tarragona was due. Lord William Bentinck took command of the army in the east of Spain on 17 June 1813, and on leaving it he sent Sir John Murray to England and again gave Clinton the command-in-chief. The general had now no very difficult task; his wary enemy, Suchet, was obliged to fall back on France because of the advance of Wellington in the west, and Clinton had only to watch him, and then to form the blockade of Barcelona. At the conclusion of the war, Clinton was made colonel of the 55th regiment, and promoted lieutenant-general, and in January 1815, on the extension of the order of the Bath, he was made a G.C.B. He now took some part in politics. He had been elected M.P. for Boroughbridge with his brother in 1806 in the interest of the Duke of Newcastle, and after sitting for that place till 1818 he was in that year elected M.P. for Newark in the same interest, and sat for that town till 1830. In 1825 he received the office of lieutenant-general of the ordnance, which he held till 1829, and in December 1826 he received the command of the division of five thousand men which was sent to Portugal to maintain order there, and brought them back in April 1828. On 22 July 1830 he was promoted general, and in the same year he resigned his seat in the House of Commons, and retired to his country seat, Cockenhatch, near Royston in Hertfordshire, where he died at the age of seventy-six, on 23 Dec. 1846. Clinton married in 1797 Lady Dorothea Louisa Holroyd, youngest daughter of John Holroyd, first earl of Sheffield, and by her had a family of two sons, both officers in the Grenadier guards, and two daughters.

[Royal Military Calendar; Napier's Peninsular War.]

H. M. S.