Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 07.djvu/91

This page has been validated.
Brownrigg
Brownrigg
85

BROWNRIGG, Sir ROBERT (1759–1833), the conqueror of the kingdom of Kandy, was the second son of Henry Brownrigg of Rockingham, county Wicklow, and was born there in 1759. He was gazetted an ensign in the 14th regiment in 1775, and joined it in America; but it was at once sent home. His family was not rich, and he had only himself to depend upon for rising in his profession. He became lieutenant and adjutant in 1778. In 1780 and 1781 he served as a marine on board the fleet, and from 1782 to 1784 he was stationed in Jamaica. In March 1784 he was promoted captain into the 100th regiment; in the October of the same year he exchanged into the 35th, and in June 1786 into the 52nd; and was promoted major in May 1790. In that year he was appointed deputy adjutant-general to the so-called Spanish armament, which was equipped at the time of the affair of Nootka Sound, and when the Spanish armament was broken up he was made commandant and paymaster at Chatham. In September 1793 he was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the 88th regiment, and joined the army in the Netherlands as deputy quartermaster-general. He served throughout the campaign of 1794, and in the disastrous retreat to Bremen, and became the Duke of York's special protégé and friend. He was military secretary to the duke, when he was made commander-in-chief in February 1795, received a company in the Coldstream guards in June 1795, and was promoted colonel in May 1796. He accompanied the Duke of York as military secretary on the expedition to the Helder in 1799, and in the same year was made colonel-commandant of the 60th regiment. He was promoted major-general in 1802, and in 1803 exchanged his appointment of military secretary at the Horse Guards for that of quartermaster-general. His conduct in this office received the approbation of the Duke of Wellington.

Brownrigg was made colonel of the 9th regiment in 1805, promoted lieutenant-general in 1808, served as quartermaster-general in the Walcheren expedition in 1809, and in October 1811 was appointed governor and commander-in-chief of the island of Ceylon. When he took up his command, the English occupied only certain towns on the coast. The interior of the island was ruled by the king of Kandy, who thoroughly despised the English ever since his capture and massacre of Major Davie's detachment in 1803. Matters came to a crisis during Brownrigg's tenure of office. A chief named Eheilapola was ordered up to Kandy to be killed; he revolted and offered his province to the English, whereupon the whole of his family were massacred by the king. He fled to Colombo and was kindly received by General and Mrs. Brownrigg. The king of Kandy promptly murdered ten British subjects, and Brownrigg issued a proclamation, declaring war. But it was not until December 1814 that he formed his available troops, consisting of the 19th and 73rd regiments and four Ceylon regiments, three thousand men strong, into three divisions, took the command in person, and occupied Kandy on 14 Feb. 1815. The king was taken prisoner on 18 Feb., and on 2 March 1815 the kingdom of Kandy was annexed by proclamation. Brownrigg had been gazetted K.C.B. in January 1815, and he was now created a baronet in March 1816. He was promoted full general in August 1819, and returned to England in 1820. He was given leave to bear the crown sceptre, and banner of the kingdom of Kandy in his arms in 1821, and was made G.C.B, in 1822. He died at Helston House, near Monmouth, on 27 April 1833.

[For the dates of General Brownrigg's promotions see the Army Lists; for a short and incomplete sketch of his life see the Annual Obituary and Register for 1833, which is not at all full on the Ceylon war, of which the best account extant is in a rare contemporary tract (numbered in the British Museum Library 585, f. 14); A Narrative of Events which have recently occurred in the Island of Ceylon, written by a Gentleman on the Spot, 73 pp. 1815.]

H. M. S.

BROWNRIGG, WILLIAM (1711–1800), physician and chemist, was born at High Close Hall, Cumberland, 24 March 1711. After studying medicine in London for two years, he completed his medical education at Leyden, graduating M.D. in 1737, and publishing an elaborate thesis, ‘De Praxi Medica ineunda.’ Entering upon practice in Whitehaven, he commenced to investigate the gaseous exhalations from the neighbouring coal-mines. In 1741 he communicated several papers on the subject to the Royal Society, and was elected F.R.S.; but his papers were not published, at his own request, as he intended to prepare a complete work. He had a laboratory erected in Whitehaven and supplied with a constant stream of firedamp from the mines, and he constructed furnaces by which great variations of heat could be obtained. His papers brought him into communication with Sir Hans Sloane, Dr. Hales, and other eminent men; and with their advice and and he undertook to prepare a general history of damps, the outlines of which Hales read and submitted to the Royal Society in 1741. But Brownrigg, strangely enough, could never be induced to publish this research, and thus his fame has been