Wightman, Joseph (DNB01)

WIGHTMAN, JOSEPH (d. 1722), major-general, was appointed ensign to Lieutenant-colonel Robert Smith on 28 Dec. 1690, and lieutenant to Lieutenant-colonel Thomas Hopson on 7 Aug. 1693, with the additional rank of captain. On 8 Dec. 1696 he was promoted captain and lieutenant-colonel in the first foot guards. He subsequently became an officer of Sir Matthew Bridges's regiment of foot (now the Leicestershire regiment), with which he served in the Netherlands under William III. In 1701 he accompanied the regiment to Holland and served in Marlborough's campaigns in 1702 and 1703. He was promoted to the regimental rank of lieutenant-colonel in 1702, and on 26 Aug. 1703 received the brevet rank of colonel. Marlborough commended him as 'a very careful, diligent officer' (Letters and Despatches of Marlborough, ed. Murray, 1845, i. 192). In 1704 the regiment was transferred to the Spanish peninsula, where it saw much service under the Earl of Galway, and suffered severely at Almanza on 25 April 1707. On 1 Jan. 1707 Wightman became brigadier-general, and on 20 Aug. he was appointed to the command of the regiment on the death of Colonel Holcroft Blood [q. v.] On 1 Jan. 1710 he was promoted to the rank of major-general.

On 13 July 1712 Wightman was appointed Commander-in-chief in Scotland during the absence of John Campbell, second duke of Argyll [q. v.] This command he obtained through General John Richmond Webb [q. v.], somewhat against the inclination of Argyll, who desired to nominate Brigadier-general William Breton (Addit. MS. 33273, f. 198). Wightman's position was difficult. He did not get on well with Argyll, who, he complained, never answered his letters, and he found the Scottish people generally Jacobite in feeling, and hostile to the English soldiery. To avoid offending the presbyterians he ordered his chaplain to discontinue the use of the book of common prayer in the regimental services (Addit. MS. 6116, f. 31). On the outbreak of the rebellion of 1715 under the Earl of Mar [see Erskine, John, Sixth or Eleventh Earl] Argyll was absent from Scotland, and Wightman, drawing together his forces, numbering about eighteen hundred men, took post under where Argyll, hastening from London, him about the middle of September. At the battle of Sheriffmuir on 13 Nov. Wightman commanded the centre of the royal forces, composed of about three regiments of infantry, and ably supported Argyll, who, with the cavalry on the right wing, completely routed the enemy's left. He wrote an account of the battle on the following day, which was printed in 1717 in 'A History of the late Rebellion' by Robert Patten [q. v.] It was reprinted and severely criticised in 1745 by Robert Campbell in his 'Life of John, duke of Argyle and Greenwich.'

In 1718, at the time of the landing of the Jacobites at Loch Alsh under William Murray, marquis of Tullibardine [q. v.], Wightman was stationed at Inverness, and on 10 June he commanded the royal troops at the battle of Glenshill, where he forced the highlanders to disperse, and the Spanish troops to surrender prisoners of war. His services were rewarded with the government of Kinsale. He died suddenly of apoplexy at Bath on 25 Sept. 1722.

[Dalton's English Army Lists, 1896–8, vols. iii. and iv.; Cannon's Hist. Record of the Seventeenth or Leicestershire Regiment, 1848, p. 49; Rae's Hist. of the Rebellion, 1746; Patten's Hist. of the Rebellion of 1715, 1745; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. viii. 446; Hist. Register, 1719, No. xv.; 1722, Chron. Diary, p. 44; Lockhart Papers, 1817, ii. 19–20; Campbell's Life of Argyle and Greenwich, 1745; Kington Oliphant's Jacobite Lairds of Gask, 1870; Jacobite Attempt of 1719, Scottish Hist. Soc. Publ., vol. xix.; Crichton's Life of Lieutenant-colonel Blackader, 1824, p. 467; Terry's Chevalier de St. George, 1901.]

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