Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Le Mesurier, Havilland (1783-1813)

LE MESURIER, HAVILLAND (1783–1813), lieutenant-colonel, son of Havilland Le Mesurier [q. v.], commissary-general, was originally intended for a partnership in his father's house of business. He was educated at a school at Salisbury, and afterwards at Westminster, and early in 1800 was sent to Berlin to learn German. There he acquired military tastes, and in January 1801 an ensigncy was obtained for him in the royal staff corps. He was subsequently promoted to a lieutenancy in one of the limited-service companies added to the 20th foot, but the company was reduced at the peace of Amiens, and Le Mesurier, who had been with his father in Egypt and Italy, was appointed lieutenant 83rd foot. In August 1803 he entered the senior department of the Royal Military College, High Wycombe, and was sent to reside at Kiel in Holstein to improve himself in German. On 25 Aug. 1804 he was promoted captain 21st fusiliers, and, after passing a distinguished examination at High Wycombe, was employed on the quartermaster-general's staff in Kent and Sussex. He was a deputy-assistant quartermaster-general under Sir John Moore in Sweden and at Corunna. Returning to the Peninsula in April 1809, he was appointed by Marshal Beresford a supernumerary lieutenant-colonel in the 14th (Algarves) Portuguese infantry. The regiment was at Chaves, in a wretched state, the officers old and inefficient, and from two hundred to four hundred of the men constantly sick. Provisions were scarce and very high-priced, and not another English officer was within fifty miles of the place. Le Mesurier succeeded to the command, acquired the confidence of the officers and men alike, and brought the regiment into excellent order. He was appointed Portuguese military secretary to Lord Wellington in April 1811, and was present in that capacity at the battle of Fuentes d'Onoro, 5 May 1811, but soon resigned his post and returned to his regiment. On 3 Oct. 1811 he became a brevet lieutenant-colonel in the British service, and was appointed commandant of the frontier fortress of Almeida, where he displayed much skill and activity in bringing the defences and the garrison into a state of efficiency. On government land and on the government account he raised corn enough for the maintenance of the garrison of Almeida within range of its guns, and with the fatigue labour of the garrison he raised enough potatoes to supply 2,500 men for three months. When Wellington prepared for his final advance, Le Mesurier was appointed to command the 12th Portuguese infantry. He was shot through the back of the head, when leading his regiment, in the battle of the Pyrenees, 28 July, and died 31 July 1813, at the age of thirty.

Le Mesurier, though not of robust constitution, and a great sufferer from fever and ague during the Peninsular campaign, was a very active officer. He was the translator of one or two French military works, and was entrusted by Marshal Beresford with the compilation of regulations for the Portuguese army, which were nearly ready at the time of his death.

[Army Lists; Gent. Mag. 1813 pt. ii. pp. 499, 685, 1814 pt. i. pp. 90–94.]

H. M. C.