Wemyss, David Douglas (DNB00)

WEMYSS, DAVID DOUGLAS (1760–1839), general, born in 1760, went by the name of Douglas until about 1790, when he took the additional name of Wemyss, to the noble family of which name he belonged. He received a commission as ensign in the 49th foot on 27 April 1777, and joined his regiment in the same year in North America, where he took part with it first under General Howe, and then under Sir Henry Clinton, in the operations of the American war. In November 1778 he sailed with his regiment from New York in the expedition under Admiral Hotham and Major-general Grant to the West Indies. He took part in the capture of St. Lucia on 13 Dec., and in the defence of the Vigie against the French under D'Estaing on the 18th. He was also in the naval engagement off the island of Grenada on 6 July 1779, and was promoted to be lieutenant on 15 Aug. following. He returned to England in 1781.

Wemyss was promoted to be captain on 31 May 1783, and shortly after, on reduction of his regiment, was placed on half-pay. He was brought into the 3rd foot (‘The Buffs’) on 9 June 1786, joining the head quarters at Jamaica. He was obliged by ill-health to return home in 1789. On 16 March 1791 he was promoted to be major in the 37th foot. In 1793 he served with his regiment under the Duke of York in the campaign in Flanders, where he took part in the affair of Saultain, the battle of Famars (22 May), and the siege of Valenciennes, which capitulated on 28 July. For his services he was promoted to be lieutenant-colonel in the 18th foot (Royal Irish) from 12 April 1793.

Wemyss commanded his new regiment in 1794, with the force under Sir Charles Stuart [q. v.] at the capture of Corsica, taking part in the sieges of Fiorenza in February, of Bastia in April, and of Calvi, where he was wounded, in August. He was favourably mentioned in despatches for his services, and in 1795 was appointed governor of Calvi and its dependencies. He was promoted to be brevet colonel on 3 May 1796. On the evacuation of Corsica in October he accompanied the troops to Porto Ferrajo in Elba, whence he commanded a force (including his own regiment) which landed on the Italian coast on 7 Nov., and succeeded in driving the French from Piombino, Campiglia, and Castiglione, but, the enemy receiving considerable reinforcements, the British troops were withdrawn from Italy and returned to Elba. On the evacuation of the Mediterranean in 1797 Wemyss took his regiment to Gibraltar, where he was employed as a brigadier-general on the staff until he was promoted to be major-general on 29 April 1802, when he returned to England.

In April 1803 Wemyss was appointed to the command of the forces in Ceylon. He returned home in 1806, was promoted to be lieutenant-general on 25 April 1808, and on 27 May of the following year was appointed governor of Tynemouth Castle and Cliffe Fort. He was promoted to be general on 12 Aug. 1819. He died on 29 Aug. 1839 at his residence, Upper Gore House, Kensington, and was buried at Kensal Green cemetery. Wemyss's portrait, painted by Stewardson and engraved by Cook, is in possession of Colonel Francis Charteris Wemyss of 5 Onslow Square, London. Wemyss's niece, Frances Maria, daughter of Captain Hugo Wemyss, and wife of Arthur Beresford Brooke of the 23rd Welsh fusiliers, inherited his property.

[Royal Military Cal. 1820; Gent. Mag. 1839, ii. 652; Cannon's Historical Records of the 18th Royal Irish Regiment; Evans's Cat. of Engraved Portraits; Times, 3 Sept. 1839; Burke's Peerage; Smith's Wars in the Low Countries; Calvert's Campaign in Flanders and Holland; Histories of the American War; Cust's Annals of the Wars of the Eighteenth Century.]

R. H. V.