George Townshend, 1st Marquess Townshend

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About George Townshend, 1st Marquess Townshend,_1st_Marquess_Townshend

Field Marshal George Townshend, 1st Marquess Townshend, PC (28 February 1724 – 14 September 1807), known as The Viscount Townshend from 1764 to 1787, was a British soldier who reached the rank of field marshal.

Early life

Townshend was the son of Charles Townshend, 3rd Viscount Townshend, and Audrey Ethelreda Harrison. Charles Townshend, the prominent British politician, was his younger brother, and Thomas Townshend, 1st Viscount Sydney, his first cousin.

Military career

Early years

Educated at St. John's College, Cambridge, Townshend was commissioned into the Sir John Cope's Regiment in 1745. He fought at the Battle of Culloden during the Jacobite Rising in 1745 and the Battle of Lauffeld during the War of the Austrian Succession in 1747.

Seven Years War

He served as a brigadier in Quebec, under General James Wolfe; when the latter died, and his second-in-command (Robert Monckton) was wounded, Townshend took command of the British forces during the siege of Quebec. He received Quebec City's surrender on 18 September 1759. However, he held General Wolfe in much contempt (drawing Wolfe in caricature he created Canada's first cartoon), and was harshly criticized upon his return to Great Britain for that reason (Wolfe was a popular hero throughout the country). Nonetheless, he was promoted major general on 6 March 1761 and fought at the Battle of Villinghausen.

In 1762 he took command of a division of the Anglo-Portuguese army with the local rank of lieutenant-general, against the Spanish invasion of Portugal.


He served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1767–1772. In 1779, Fort Townshend, was begun by Governor Richard Edwards, naming it after Townshend, who was then Master-General of the Ordnance (1772–1782 and 1783–1784) and responsible for the construction of fortifications. The Fort includes the Government House of Newfoundland and Labrador. On 2 February 1773 he fought a duel with Charles Coote, 1st Earl of Bellomont, badly wounding the Earl with a bullet in the groin.

Townshend was promoted to general in 1782, and elevated to the marquessate in 1787. He was Governor of the Royal Hospital Chelsea from 1795 until 1796. He became a field marshal on 30 July 1796, and was appointed Governor of Jersey until 1806.

A peculiar family tragedy befell him in May of that year: his son, Lord Charles, had just been elected MP for Great Yarmouth, and he took a carriage to London with his brother, Rev. Lord Frederick, the Rector of Stiffkey. During the journey, Lord Frederick inexplicably killed his brother with a pistol shot to the head, and was ultimately adjuged insane.


On 19 December 1751, Townshend had married Charlotte Compton, 15th Baroness Ferrers of Chartley (d. 1770), daughter of James Compton, 5th Earl of Northampton. They had eight children:

Lord John Townshend (19 January 1757 – 25 February 1833), married Georgiana Poyntz and had issue
Lady Elizabeth Townshend (d. 21 March 1811)
Rev. Lord Frederick Patrick Townshend (30 December 1767 – 18 January 1836)
Lord Charles Townshend (1768 – 27 May 1796)
Ladies Charlotte, Caroline and Frances Townshend died young

He married Anne Montgomery, the daughter of Sir William Montgomery, 1st Baronet on 19 May 1773. Anne was Mistress of the Robes to Caroline, Princess of Wales, from 1795 to 1820. They had six children:

Lord William Townshend (1778–1794)
Captain Lord James Nugent Boyle Bernardo Townshend (11 September 1785 – 28 June 1842), married Elizabeth Wallis and had issue
Lady Anne Townshend (d. 29 November 1826), married Harrington Hudson
Lady Charlotte Townshend (16 March 1776 – 30 July 1856), married the Duke of Leeds and had three children.
Lady Honoria Townshend (1777–1826)
Lady Henrietta Townshend (d. 9 November 1848)
view all 12

George Townshend, 1st Marquess Townshend's Timeline

February 28, 1724
April 18, 1753
Age 29
January 19, 1757
Age 32
Age 41
March 16, 1776
Age 52
Age 57
Age 60
September 14, 1807
Age 83