Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Jarry, Francis

JARRY, FRANCIS (1733–1807), first commandant of the British Royal Military College, born in France in 1733, is stated by the French war office to have entered the Prussian army, and to have become a captain and engineer therein at dates unknown, major 28 Oct. 1763, colonel 30 March 1790. The German war office, however, can find no trace of any officer of the name in the records of the Prussian army (foreign office letter, 14 Oct. 1890). According to Sir Howard Douglas [q. v.], and other officers associated with him at a later date in England, Jarry was one of the twelve military officers whom Frederick the Great of Prussia claimed to have personally instructed in quartermaster-general's duties. After the seven years' war, in which he is said to have received several severe wounds, Jarry (it is stated) was placed at the head of the military school at Berlin, and retained the post till Frederick's death in 1786. Once he resigned after a quarrel with the court; but the king could not spare him, and recalled him.

Jarry is said to have entered the service of France at the invitation of General Dumouriez, who described him as ‘one of the cleverest officers in any service’ (Le Marchant, p. 118; Evidence of Sir H. Douglas before Select Committee on Military Education, 1855). He was created a chevalier of the order of St. Louis 19 June 1791; was admitted colonel and adjutant-general in the French army 6 July 1791, and became maréchal de camp 27 May 1792 (verified extract from the Archives Administratives, Ministère de la Guerre, dated Paris, 17 Feb. 1891). He was employed in the French army, serving under Marshal Luckner against the Austrians in 1792, and he incurred the displeasure of the national government by burning part of the suburbs of Courtrai, on the ground that they furnished shelter to the Tyrolese riflemen, on 29 June 1792 (cf. Ann. Register, 1792, pt. i. pp. 410 et seq.) He left the French service 16 Aug. 1792.

Jarry arrived in London with other French emigrants after the return of the Duke of York's army in 1795. He became acquainted with the third Duke of Portland, and was a sort of military mentor to one of the duke's sons, Lord William Henry Cavendish Bentinck [q. v.] He was soon recognised as a man of eminent talent in his profession and full of interesting anecdote. A year or two later, at the suggestion of General John Gaspard Le Marchant [q. v.], then junior lieutenant-colonel 7th light dragoons, he was engaged to deliver tactical lectures to voluntary classes of young officers at a house in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, which was hired for the purpose (Evidence of Sir H. Douglas before Select Committee). George Murray of the 3rd guards, afterwards Wellington's quartermaster-general in the Peninsula, Henry Edward Bunbury [q. v.], the fifth lord Aylmer, and Richard Bourke [q. v.] were among the students there. But Jarry soon found that the rudimentary knowledge of military science in the British army was too small to enable all his pupils to profit by his instruction, and recommended the formation of mathematical and fortification classes (ib.). Early in 1799 Isaac Dalby [q. v.] was appointed professor of mathematics, and two émigrés of the Ecole Polytechnique teachers of fortification, and the establishment, which had the approval of Sir Ralph Abercromby and other officers of distinction, acquired a semi-official status (ib.) In January 1801 a parliamentary grant of 30,000l. was voted for the establishment of a ‘royal military college,’ to consist of two departments, a senior at High Wycombe and a junior at Marlow, both of which were subsequently removed to Sandhurst. Of the former, which was to consist of thirty officers to be instructed in general staff duties, particularly those of the quartermaster-general's department, Jarry was appointed commandant 4 Jan. 1799. The assemblage of so many young officers solely for purposes of instruction was without precedent in the British army. Jarry was a man of high professional ability, of easy and refined manners, and the most unassuming disposition; but his lean, bent form and many eccentricities exposed him to persecution at the hands of some idlers among his pupils. Among the practical jokes indulged in by them was the destruction of all the models made by Jarry with his own hands for instruction in field-works. Cookery and gardening were his special hobbies. At the time of the peace of Amiens his position appears to have been so uncomfortable that he thought seriously of returning to France (cf. letters in Addit. MSS.) He was appointed inspector-general of instruction 25 June 1806, and died, after a tedious and painful illness, on 15 March 1807, aged 75. After some delay, pensions of 100l. a year each were given to his widow and daughters, who were left wholly unprovided for.

Jarry's treatise on the ‘Employment of Light Troops in the Field,’ which was translated and published by order of the Duke of York in 1803, and four small treatises on ‘Outpost Duties and the Movement of Armies in the Field’ are catalogued in the British Museum under Jarry, ‘John.’ Some of his letters and papers are preserved among Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 33101 and 33109–12; they throw no light on his military career.

An engraved portrait of Jarry appears in Sir Denis Le Marchant's ‘Memoirs of Major-general Le Marchant,’ 1841, p. 116.

[The fullest Account of Jarry is in Sir Denis Le Marchant's Memoirs of Major-general Le Marchant, London, 1841, of which only a small number of copies were printed. See also Ann. Register, 1792, pt. i.; Parl. Papers; Accounts and Papers, 1810, vol. ix., Military Enquiry Royal Military College; Rep. Select Committee on Military Education, 1855; Evidence of Sir Howard Douglas; Life of Sir H. E. Bunbury (privately printed); Brit. Mus. Cat. of Printed Books, under ‘Jarry —,’ and ‘Jarry, John;’ Add. MSS. ut supra; Gent. Mag. lxxi. 954, lxxvii. 285.]

H. M. C.