Kingsley, William (DNB00)


KINGSLEY, WILLIAM (1698?–1769), lieutenant-general, son of William Kingsley and his wife Alice, daughter and heir of William Randolph of Maidstone, Kent, was born about 1698. He was a direct descendant from William Kingsley, archdeacon of Canterbury (d. 1647), from whom Charles Kingsley [q. v.] the novelist also traced his descent. The Kingsleys are stated to have been of Lancashire origin (Berry), and a ‘William Kingsley, gentleman, of Canterbury,’ appears in a roll of Roman catholic estate-holders in Yorkshire (North Riding) during the period 1717–1780 (cf. Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. i. 346 a).

Kingsley seems to have become cornet in Honywood's dragoons (now 11th hussars) in May 1721. He was lieutenant and captain in the 3rd foot-guards (now Scots guards) in the company commanded by Lieutenant-colonel Wolfe, father of General James Wolfe. His commission bore date 29 June 1721 (Home Off. Mil. Entry Book, vol. xii. f. 238). He was promoted captain-lieutenant in the same regiment in 1743; captain and lieutenant-colonel in 1745; brevet-colonel in 1750; and regimental major, with the rank of colonel of foot, on 29 Jan. 1751 (ib. vol. xxii. f. 173). He was aide-de-camp to his colonel, Lord Dunmore, at Dettingen, and was present with the 1st battalion of his regiment at the battle of Fontenoy, where a cannon-ball passed between his legs and killed four men behind him, on 11 May 1745. When the collected grenadier companies of the several regiments of guards marched from London for the north in the following December (the ‘march to Finchley’), he was one of the officers sent ahead into Northamptonshire by the Duke of Cumberland to obtain information of the enemy's movements (Hamilton, ii. 135). On 22 May 1756 Kingsley was made colonel of the 20th foot (now Lancashire fusiliers). James Wolfe, then lieutenant-colonel of the regiment at Devizes, wrote of him: ‘Our new colonel is a sensible man, and very sociable and polite’ (Wright, p. 345). Kingsley was with his regiment in the Rochefort expedition of 1757, and afterwards went to Germany as major-general. He greatly distinguished himself at the battle of Minden on 1 Aug. 1759, at the head of a brigade composed of the 20th (Kingsley's), 25th (Home's), and 51st (Brudenell's) foot, which was very prominently engaged. ‘Kingsley's grenadiers,’ as the 20th was popularly called, is said to have fought among some rose-gardens or hedges, a circumstance still commemorated by the regimental custom of wearing ‘Minden roses’ in the caps on each anniversary of the day. The regiment had six officers and eighty men killed and eleven officers and 224 men wounded, and was excused from all further duty on account of its losses. A general order of three days' later date announced that ‘Kingsley's regiment of the British line will resume its share of the duty at its own request.’ Kingsley was afterwards engaged at Ziezenberg and elsewhere. He became a lieutenant-general in December 1760, and was appointed to the command of a secret expedition, with William Draper [q. v.] as his quartermaster-general. The force was at first destined for eastward of the Cape, but was afterwards ordered to rendezvous at Quiberon for an attempt on Belle Isle on the coast of Brittany. The death of George II and other circumstances delayed the expedition, which was eventually countermanded (Beatson, ii. 420, iii. 167 n.) Kingsley was not actively employed again. He was an outspoken, independent Englishman, extremely popular with his soldiers, and an active freemason. He was over seventy years of age and unmarried at the time of his death at Kingsley House, Stone Street, Maidstone, on 9 Oct. 1769 (Scots Mag. 1769). He was buried in the family vault at Kennington Ashford, Kent (see Russell, Hist. of Maidstone, p. 340).

Kingsley's portrait was painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds in March 1760, and two engraved portraits are catalogued by Evans (Cat. Engraved Portraits, vol. ii.) Marginal notes by him appear in a history of the seven years' war in possession of the Hon. Mrs. Stopford Sackville (Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. iii. 81 a), and some of his letters are in British Museum Addit. MSS. 32732, 32896, 32918.

[Berry's Genealogies (Kent), p. 306; cf. Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. i. 346 a; also Hasted's Kent, fol. ed. iii. 268 n. Home Office Military Entry Books in Public Rec. Office, London, vols. xii–xxii., various; Georgian Era, vol. ii.; ‘The Guards at Fontenoy,’ in Colburn's United Service Mag. February 1868; Hamilton's Gren. Guards (London, 1872), vol. ii.; Wright's Life of Wolfe (London, 1864); Beatson's Nav. and Mil. Memoirs (London, 1794), vols. ii–iii.; Gent. Mag. 1759 pp. 385 et seq., 1760 pp. 44, 155, 485, 541; Cannon's Hist. Rec. 20th (East Devon) Regt.; Memoirs of Sir James Campbell (Callendar) (Edinburgh, 1832), vol. i.; Smith's Story of the 20th Regiment, 1688–1888 (London, 1888); Scots Mag. 1769, also afford incidental notices.]

H. M. C.