Roger Hale Sheaffe, Baronet (1763 - d.) MP

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About Roger Hale Sheaffe, Baronet

Margaret, the youngest daughter, married her cousin, Roger Hale Sheaffe. At the time of the marriage he was major in Brock's regiment. That gallant officer was slain at Queenstown Heights at 7 o'clock in the morning. At noon Colonel Sheaffe moved up from Niagara, attacked the American forces and hurled them from the rocks into the river. For this great service he was made a Baronet.

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General Sir Roger Hale Sheaffe

1st Baronet (15 July 1763 – 17 July 1851) was an American-born General in the British Army in the first part of the 19th century.

Early career

An American Loyalist, Roger Hale Sheaffe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the third son, and eighth child, of William Sheaffe, Deputy Collector of Customs, and his wife Susannah (née Child). William died in 1771, leaving at least ten children still living. Young Roger attended the Boston Latin School as a boy, with his fellow Loyalist and cousin Isaac Coffin.[1] Lord Percy, later 2nd Duke of Northumberland, aided the family during the American War of Independence, and sent young Roger to a military academy in London. He helped support young Roger's military career, with the purchase of his first commission as ensign in 1778 in the 5th Regiment of Foot. He later purchased a Lieutenancy.

Sheaffe served with his regiment in Ireland from 1781 until 1787, when it was posted to Canada. In Detroit and at Fort Niagara, he served under Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe, who had a high opinion of him. He was commissioned Captain in 1795. He first served under Lieutenant-Colonel Isaac Brock in the 49th Regiment of Foot in 1798; they served together in the campaign against the Batavian Republic in 1799 and in the Baltic in 1801.

The 49th was posted to Canada in 1802. As Lieutenant-Colonel, Sheaffe commanded the garrison at Fort George, where he faced an attempted mutiny. Despite his own notable achievements, Sheaffe was often compared unfavourably with the popular and charismatic Brock. Sheaffe had been Brock's second in command prior to their time in Canada, and continued in that role upon their arrival. Shortly after arriving at their new station, a mutiny was attempted by some of Sheaffe's men. Brock hurriedly came to the aid of his subordinate, ended the mutiny without conflict, and arrested the perpetrators. They claimed they took their actions directly as a result of Sheaffe's belligerence, but were subsequently executed after a court-martial. Brock warned Sheaffe to stop working the men too hard and to stop punishing men harshly for small infractions.

Sheaffe nevertheless attained the rank of Colonel in 1808, and Major-General in 1811. This last promotion actually hurt Sheaffe financially, as he transferred from a full-pay commission as Colonel of the 49th to half pay as an unassigned general officer on the staff.

War of 1812

Sheaffe returned to Canada from a visit to England in July 1812. The next month, the War of 1812 broke out. Sir George Prevost, the Governor General of Canada and commander in chief of the forces there, appointed Sheaffe to command the troops at Fort George on the Niagara River. While Brock was absent, dealing with an American army at the Siege of Detroit, Sheaffe was required by Prevost to negotiate an armistice with the American forces on the opposite side of the river. Prevost may have believed that peace could be negotiated quickly, but by the time the armistice ended, the Americans had had been substantially reinforced.

Early on 13 October the Americans began crossing the Niagara at Queenston, a few miles south of Fort George. Brock galloped from Fort George to Queenston, arriving just in time to see the Americans capture the commanding heights and a British heavy gun battery. He sent orders to Sheaffe to bring reinforcements, but before they could arrive he led two frontal assaults against the heights. During the second, he was shot dead. Sheaffe arrived on the battlefield at 2 p.m. In contrast to Brock's actions, he waited for reinforcements before leading his force on a wide detour to the top of the heights, so as to shield them from American artillery. He then meticulously drew up his force before attacking at 4 p.m. The Americans, terrified of the Mohawks who had also joined the battle, tried to flee but were trapped against the river, and surrendered. 1,000 prisoners were taken, for a cost of 50 casualties.

Sheaffe was appointed Lieutenant Governor and commander in Upper Canada in succession to Brock, but was unpopular with the people he was to defend, and often with his own soldiers. During the later months of 1812 he was unable to transact business with the Legislature due to illness and other military commitments, forcing Prevost to make a personal visit to Upper Canada in February 1813.

In April, Sheaffe was present in York, the provincial capital, to deal with the civil authorities. York was weakly defended and Sheaffe had only four companies of regulars, passing through on route to Fort George and other posts. On 27 April, an American force supported by gunboats and other armed vessels attacked. In the Battle of York, Sheaffe's outnumbered troops were driven back to the edge of the town. Sheaffe decided to preserve his regulars and ordered a retreat to Kingston, having destroyed the fort and a sloop of war under construction in the dockyard. The militia were left to be taken prisoner, while the town was looted by the Americans and several buildings were set on fire.

Many prominent citizens of Upper Canada denounced Sheaffe's conduct at York, and Sir George Prevost relieved Sheaffe of his military and civil appointments in Upper Canada, putting him in charge of the troops in Montreal.

Subsequent career

Later in the year, Sheaffe was recalled to Britain. Here he subsequently had a successful military career, being promoted to Lieutenant-General in 1821 and full General in 1835.

He and his family lived in Penzance and Worcester, and he retired to Edinburgh. He died at his home in 36 Melville Street on 17 July 1851, and is buried in New Calton Cemetery, beside his daughters Frances Julia and Agnes Emily. He had been awarded a Baronetcy in January 1813 as a reward for the victory at Queenston Heights, but as none of his children survived him, the title died with him.

Family

Roger Hale Sheaffe married Margaret Coffin in Quebec in 1810. They had six children, all of whom predeceased their parents:

Frances Julia, b. 1812 in Canada, d. 1834 in Edinburgh. Agnes Isabella, b. 1814 in London, died in infancy. Agnes Emily, b. 1817 in Worcester, d. 1832 in Edinburgh. Percy, died as a young man. Another son and daughter who died in infancy.

References

1.^ http://www.archive.org/stream/lifeadmiralsiris00amor/lifeadmiralsiris00amor_djvu.txt}}

'''External links'''

Biography at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online Sir Roger Hale Sheaffe - on Sheaffe Family Website by Paul Sheaffe Early Canada Historical Narratives: Sheaffe & Queenston Heights Government offices