Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lascelles, Thomas

LASCELLES, THOMAS (1670–1751), colonel, chief engineer of Great Britain and deputy quartermaster-general of the forces, was born in 1670. He served as a volunteer in Ireland from 1689 to 1691, and distinguished himself at the battle of the Boyne. He also served in the expedition to Vigo and Cadiz in 1702, as gentleman of H.M. 2nd troop of guards volunteers. He received his first commission in the regular army on 17 March 1704, and proceeded to the Low Countries, where he served throughout Marlborough's campaigns, and was present at nearly all the battles and sieges. In 1705 a sum of 65,000l. was by royal warrant of Queen Anne of 12 March, on an address of the House of Commons, distributed to the army under Marlborough for its gallant services in the preceding year, especially at Blenheim. Lascelles, who was dangerously wounded at Blenheim, received 33l. as his share.

On the declaration of the peace of Utrecht, Lascelles and Colonel John Armstrong were appointed, under the treaty, to superintend the demolition of the fortifications, &c., of Dunkirk. The fortress had been surrendered by the French as a pledge of good faith for the execution of the treaty, and by its conditions the fortifications and harbour works were to be razed. Lascelles was employed on this duty until 1716, and, on an application to the king, Armstrong and he were granted pay at 20s. a day, double the ordinary allowance. The board of ordnance informed Mr. Secretary Bromley that 'Colonel Armstrong and Colonel Lascelles highly deserve an addition of 10s. each per diem above their ordinary pay.' In 1715 Lascelles was appointed deputy quartermaster-general of all H.M. forces. From 1720 to 1725 he was again employed at Dunkirk, and on 1 July 1722 was promoted to the rank of director of engineers, vice Petit, who died on 25 March previous. In 1727, by royal warrant, he was ordered to perform the duties of surveyor of ordnance during Colonel Armstrong's absence abroad. In 1729 he was appointed British commissioner for inspecting the demolition of new works, consisting of quays and jetties constructed by the burghers of Dunkirk, and by the end of December 1730 it was reported that these were entirely razed to the level of the strand to Lascelles's satisfaction. In 1732 he received personal instructions from the king in reference to Dunkirk, and went thither to meet the French and British commissioners.

In 1740 Lascelles was appointed chief engineer to the train of artillery in the expedition under Lord Cathcart to Carthagena, but his services were in such request at home that his place had to be taken by Jonas Moore [q.v.]. By royal warrant, dated 18 Nov. 1741, Lascelles was directed to fill the office of surveyor-general of the ordnance during the illness of Major-general John Armstrong. On 30 April 1742 he was appointed, by letters patent under the great seal, to be master-surveyor of the ordnance, ammunition, and habiliment of war within the Tower of London, the kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and all British dominions, and to be chief engineer of Great Britain, in the room of General Armstrong, deceased, at a salary as chief engineer of 501l. 17s. 6d. per annum. This was in addition to his pay of 365l. per annum as director of engineers. By royal warrant of 19 May 1742 he was further appointed assistant and deputy to the lieutenant-general of the ordnance, and to perform the duties of lieutenant-general of the ordnance, so long as the post should remain vacant, at a salary of 300l. per annum. In 1744 he was sent to Ostend to report on the armament and ammunition to be sent thither, and to arrange for repairing and augmenting the fortifications. In 1745 he was appointed, as inspector-general of artillery, to represent the British government at the Hague, to carry out the terms of a convention dated 5 May 1745 between the States-general and George II, and to determine the balance due from Great Britain to the States-general on account of expenditure for artillery and ammunition stipulated to be furnished by Great Britain in the Low Countries.

By royal warrant of 11 April 1750 Lascelles was granted 200l. per annum for life for his long and faithful services. The same year he retired on a pension of 200l. per annum. He died on 1 Nov. 1751, aged 81, having served through twenty-one campaigns and having been present in thirty-six engagements. He was one of the ablest engineers of the time in Europe.

[State Papers; Board of Ordnance Records, Royal Engineers' Records; Gent. Mag. 1751, p. 523.]

R. H. V.