Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Asgill, Charles
ASGILL, Sir CHARLES (1762 or 1763–1823), general, was the only son of the first Sir Charles Asgill, who had risen from a clerkship to a partnership in a bank; was alderman 1749-77; sheriff and knighted 1752; lord mayor 1757; baronet 1761; and died 15 Sept. 1788. The son entered the army on 27 Feb. 1778, as ensign in the 1st foot guards, and became lieutenant in the same regiment with the rank of captain on 3 Feb. 1781. In that year he was ordered to America, joined the army under the Marquis of Cornwallis, and on the capitulation of York Town, Virginia, in the following October, he was taken prisoner. Some months afterwards, a Captain Huddy, an officer in the American army, was taken prisoner by some American loyalists, and, in retaliation for the death of a loyalist named Philip White, was hanged by a party under the command of Captain Lippincot. On this coming to the ears of Washington, he demanded of the British general. Sir Henry Clinton, that he should give up Lippincot. Sir Henry, in reply, disavowed and reprobated the act 'with unmeasured severity,' but declined to give up Lippincot, and referred the matter to a court martial. On this, Washington directed that a British captain should be taken by lot from among the prisoners to suffer death, should Lippincot not be executed, and wrote to Sir Henry to that effect. The lot fell on Asgill. The court martial which tried Lippincot acquitted him, on the ground that the guilt of the act rested mainly on the Board of Associated Loyalists at New York, the president of which had verbally ordered Lippincot to execute the prisoner. Sir Henry sent the proceedings of the court martial to Washington, who, 'considering the ground taken by the British commander in disavowing and censuring the act, added to the irresponsible nature of Lippincot's conduct,' was inclined to release Captain Asgill (Spark's Life of Washington, p. 352). When Asgill's mother heard what had happened, she sent a pathetic appeal to the Comte de Vergennes, the French prime minister, entreating him to intercede in behalf of her son. The Comte laid the matter before Louis XVI, and his queen, and, directed by them, sent an urgent appeal to Washington, who forwarded the letter to the American Congress. On 7 Nov. an act was passed by Congress releasing Asgill, who at once returned on parole to England.
On the death of his father in 1788, Asgill succeeded to the baronetcy, and in the same year he married Sophia, daughter of Admiral Sir Charles Ogle, Kt. Soon aftenvards he was appointed equerry to the Duke of York, and on 3 March 1790 was promoted to a company in the Guards with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Towards the end of 1793 he was ordered to the Continent, where he joined the army of the Duke of York, served through the campaign in Flanders and the retreat through Holland, and afterwards returned to England. On 26 Feb. 1795 he was promoted to the rank of colonel; to that of brigadier on the staff of Ireland in 1797; and to that of major-general on 1 Jan. 1798, during which year he was actively engaged in suppressing the rebellion. On 9 May 1800 he was appointed colonel of the 46th foot, and placed in command of the garrison of Dublin, and occasionally in that of the camp of instruction formed on the Curragh. He obtained the rank of lieutenant-general on 1 Feb. 1805, the colonelcy of the 85th foot in Oct. 1806, and that of the 11th foot on 25 Feb. 1807, for which regiment he raised a second battalion. He remained on the staff till 1812, and was promoted to the rank of general on 4 June 1814, He died in 1823, leaving no issue, and the baronetcy then became extinct.
[Gentleman's Mag. vol. xciii. part ii. pp. 274-5; Gordon's History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence of the United States of America, vol. iv. pp. 248, 249, 284-291; Spark's Life of Washington, p. 350; Irving's Life of Washington, vol. iv. p. 422; Hamilton's History of the Republic of the United States of America, vol. ii. p. 282; Spark's Diplomatic Correspondence, vol. xi. pp. 105, 128, 140; Annual Register, vol. xxvi. pp. 241-245 of the 'Chronicles.']