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About Sir Andrew Agnew, 5th Baronet of Lochnaw
AGNEW, Sir ANDREW (1687–1771), lieutenant-general, fifth baronet of Lochnaw, co. Wigton, N.B., and twelfth and last of the hereditary sheriffs of Galloway, was the eldest of the twenty-one children of Sir James, the fourth baronet of Lochnaw, and was born is 1687. He joined Marlborough's army as a volunteer immediately after the battle of Blenheim, and on 11 May 1705 was commissioned as cornet in Major Andrew Agnew's troop of Lord John Hay's ‘Royal Scottish dragoons’—now the Scots Greys—with which he fought bravely at Ramillies, Oudenarde, and Malplaquet. At the peace of Utrecht he was reduced as captain on half-pay of the Scots Greys. Soon after he eloped with a kinswoman, the daughter of Captain Thomas Agnew of the same regiment. This lady, to whom he was married in London, bore him eighteen children. She survived her husband, and died at the age of eighty-seven. At the time of the rebellion of 1715–16 the young laird of Lochnaw was on full-pay in Colonel Pocock's regiment, which was disbanded in Ireland in 1718, when he was removed to the 2lst Royal Scots fusiliers, with which corps he served upwards of a quarter of a century, becoming lieutenant-colonel in 1740, and commanding it with distinction at the battle of Dettingen. He held brigade commands under the Duke of Cumberland in Flanders, at Bruges, Ghent, and Ostend, and at the head of his Scots fusiliers accompanied the army sent to Scotland in 1746, when he was detached to Blair Castle, and with miserable resources made a gallant stand against the rebels there from 17 March until relieved at the end of the month. For this service he received the special thanks of the Duke of Cumberland. An account of the transaction was published long after by the late General Melville, who was present as an ensign, under the title, ‘Original and Genuine Narrative of the remarkable Blockade and Attack of Blair Castle by the Forces of the Rebels in the Spring of 1746. By a Subaltern Officer of H.M. Garrison’ (Edinburgh, 1808). After the battle of Culloden, Agnew accompanied his Scots fusiliers to Glasgow, where he left them on promotion to the colonelcy of the 10th marines. There is preserved at Lochnaw a banner of rich crimson silk, worked with the Agnew arms, which is said to have been carried, as a regimental colour, by the Scots fusiliers at Dettingen. An old popular tune, ‘The boatie and the wee pickle row,’ once the favourite regimental quick-step, is still called after him ‘the Sheriff's march.’ But despite his long and popular connection with the regiment, it is a curious fact that Sir Andrew Agnew's name is never once mentioned in the ‘Historical Record, 2lst Fusiliers,’ compiled some years ago by the late Mr. Cannon, of the Adjutant-general's Office, Horse Guards. The colonelcy of the 10th marines appears to have been no sinecure, as Sir A. Agnew, M.P., the eighth baronet, in his very curious and exhaustive family history alludes to a pile of correspondence still extant, dealing with the minutest details of the interior economy of that corps, which had its headquarters at Southampton and was disbanded in 1748. Sir Andrew Agnew was not afterwards actively employed. About 1748 the heritable offices of constable and sheriff of the province of Galloway (the present counties of Wigton and Kirkcudbright), with which the lands of Lochnaw had been invested since the time of King David II, were abolished, Sir Andrew receiving 4,000l. as compensation. In 1750 he was appointed governor of Tynemouth Castle, Northumberland, in succession to the Duke of Somerset, a post worth 300l. a year. He became a major-general in 1756, and lieutenant-general in 1759. He died at Lochnaw in 1771, in the eighty-fourth year of his age. As a military officer ‘the Sheriff,’ as he was popularly known, his father having resigned the shrievalty in his favour as early as 1723, appears to have been skilful as well as brave, and as a magistrate shrewd, kindly, and true-hearted, despite his eccentricities. Sir Walter Scott describes him as ‘a soldier of the old school, stiff and formal in manner, brave to the last degree, and something of a humourist’ (Hist. of Scotland); and Dr. Chambers says of him that he was ‘a skilful and accomplished officer, distinguished by deeds of personal daring, as well as by an eccentric personal manner that long made him a favourite in the fireside legends of the Scottish peasantry’ (Chambers, Lives of Eminent Scotsmen). [Agnew's Hist. Hereditary Sheriffs of Galloway, London, 1864; Chambers's Lives of Eminent Scotsmen, vol. i.]
Lieutenant-General Sir Andrew Agnew, 5th Baronet JP (21 December 1687 – 14 August 1771) was the son of Sir James Agnew, 4th Baronet and Lady Mary Montgomerie.
Succession He succeeded his father as 5th Baronet Agnew, of Lochnaw on the latter's death on 9 March 1735. On his death in 1771 he was succeeded in the baronetcy by his son.
Family He married Eleanora Agnew, daughter of Captain Thomas Agnew and Florence Stewart on 12 May 1714, and had issue: he had seventeen children, including:
Sir Stair Agnew, 6th Baronet (1734–1809) Warfare Sir Andrew Agnew of Lochnaw (5th Baronet) commanded his men "Dinna fire till ye can see the whites of their e'en," from which the saying "Don't fire until you can see the whites of their eyes" is taken.
At Dettingen, Bavaria, on 27 June 1743, Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Andrew gave to the men or his regiment, the 21st (Royal North British Fusilier) Regiment of Foot, an order from which this saying is derived. A man of spirit even for the times, he had earlier in the day replied to a brigade order that "the scoundrels will never have the impudence to attack the Scots Fusiliers", but they did. Formed in square, the Scots Fusiliers held a steady fire rolling along their lines and kept off the advancing French infantry. Sir Andrew, a resourceful and experienced officer, had in training practiced a novel battle drill with the men in his square, should they be attacked by cavalry. At last, the opportunity to spring this trap appeared when the square was attacked by enemy cuirassiers. Instead of employing the orthodox tactic of seeing them off by standing firm and taking the charge on muskets and pikes, Sir Andrew gave orders that, as the cavalry approached the front line, the two center companies should divide from the center and fall back from the outer markers. This novel approach allowed the cavalry to charge through a lane with the Fusiliers facing inwards. At this point Sir Andrew gave the command: "Dinna fire till ye can see the whites of their e' en . . . if ye dinna kill them they'll kill you." The French, as they rode through this lane of soldiers, were subjected to a withering crossfire and destroyed. Later in the day King George II, who commanded the Army but was a little out of his depth, rode up and said: "So, Sir Andrew, I hear the cuirassiers rode through your regiment today." "Ou, ay, yer Majestee," was the reply "but they dinna get oot again."