During his service in the Revolutionary War, the Honorable George Augustus Francis Rawdon was known by the courtesy title of "Lord Rawdon." His name and titles would change several times over the course of his life, but for simplicity, we'll refer to him that way throughout the course of this article. On the topic of his name, note that Rawdon was not "Lord Francis Rawdon" even though many modern writers refer to him that way. He was "Francis, Lord Rawdon." The two forms do not mean the same thing, and cannot be interchanged.
Rawdon was born on Dec. 9, 1754, and he came into the world with the proverbial silver spoon his mouth. His father was the first Earl of Moira (Irish Peerage), and his mother, Lady Elizabeth Hastings, was the daughter of the Earl of Huntington.
Rawdon was educated at Harrow, and became an ensign in the 15th Foot Regiment in Aug. 7, 1771. He enrolled in University College, Oxford, but like his classmate Banastre Tarleton, he failed to finish his degree. Instead, he purchased a lieutenancy in the 5th Foot Regiment (Oct. 20, 1773), sailed for America in May, 1774, and arrived in Boston two months later.
At the battle of Bunker Hill (June 17, 1775), he achieved his first taste of military glory, taking command of his company after his captain was hit, and leading it with conspicuous courage through the rest of the action. In a letter to England, John Burgoyne commented that "Lord Rawdon has this day stamped his fame for life." In consequence, he was promoted Captain (July 12, 1775) and given a company in the 63d Foot Regiment.
The winter garrison at Boston (1775-76) saw the first season of "Howe's Strolling Players," an amateur theatrical group composed primarily of British army and navy officers. Rawdon made his stage debut with them, delivering a prologue for Aaron Hill's tragedy, Zara, which had been written by John Burgoyne. He had joined the group in an effort to improve his public speaking. "I am conscious of my timidity on that point," he wrote to his uncle, "and feel that nothing but habit will conquer it." It was a sound decision, given that he had years of politics and statecraft waiting for him when he returned to England after the way, though one that seems to have met with indifferent success. Years later, The Times would damn-with-faint-praise one of his Parliamentary speeches with the comments, "although not blessed with very uncommon powers of oratory, and possessing a voice but indifferently calculated to make any great impression on his hearers, he went through this...talk, with a regularity that proved he understood his subject."
On Jan 15, 1776, Captain Lord Rawdon of the 63rd Regiment was appointed supernumerary aide-de-camp to General Henry Clinton. Later in the year, he accompanied Clinton in that capacity on the first expedition against Charleston.
Clinton had a natural inclination to mentor young officers, and Rawdon was one of his most talented pupils. In a letter to his uncle, he reported, "Clinton gives me lessons on the art of war, and I am truly happy at receiving instructions from one whom I regard as a thorough master of his profession." Whether the credit goes to Sir Henry's teaching or his own innate abilities, the young lord was destined to rise to the rank of colonel before the close of the war. He found his military training ground in the battles around New York, seeing action at Brooklyn, White Plains, and Fort Washington.
In early 1777, he accompanied Clinton home to England in his capacity as aide-de-camp. Apparently he made the acquaintance of the Marquis de Lafayette while they were in London. They returned in time for a late-summer campaign which opened up the Hudson River. After the capture of Forts Clinton and Montgomery, Clinton dispatched Rawdon to Philadelphia to carry the news to General Howe. He reached that city on Oct. 18, 1777, and stayed for the winter.
When Sir Henry assumed the position of Commander-in-Chief following Howe's resignation, he was quick to put his aide and pupil to work. In his diary entry for May 1-2, 1778, Stephen Kemble noted that Rawdon would be receiving an appointment to raise an Irish Provincial Battalion. Kemble, who wanted the position for himself, also noted miserably that "in case his Company in the Guards does not succeed, the temporary Rank of Colonel may give him a plea to be appointed Adjutant General if Colonel Paterson should decline, which I think will be the case."
Kemble's pessimism over his own situation was justified. On May 25, Clinton appointed Rawdon to command the Volunteers of Ireland with the provincial rank of colonel. Captain Welbore Ellis Doyle of the 55th Regiment was named his lieutenant-colonel.
There's an amusing side note to the appointment of Captain - now Lieutenant-Colonel - Doyle. Rawdon and Doyle were friends, but there's a possibility he was even closer to Doyle's wife, Frances. Contemporary gossip whispered that she was Rawdon's mistress and accompanied him (and her husband) throughout the campaigning in the south. Her first child, born in 1783, was named Frances Hastings Doyle, but if his parentage was at all in question, the fact doesn't seem to have troubled the "easy going" lieutenant-colonel.
On May 30, Clinton's orders reaffirmed Rawdon's appointment as one of his aides-de-camp, and on June 19, he was "appointed Adjutant-General, with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, in the Army, in the room of Colonel Patterson, who has obtained leave to return to Europe upon his private affairs."
In command of his newly formed regiment, Rawdon served during the retreat from Philadelphia to New York and saw action at the battle of Monmouth Court House (Jun. 20, 1778).
For the next year, he continued to serve as adjutant general, and to enjoy the quiet life in New York while the war essentially went on hiatus. The love for lavish hospitality which would in later life cause him dire financial distress was well developed during this period - Commodore Hotham mentions that Rawdon employed an Italian chef to serve his mess table.
Like many officers before and after him, Rawdon eventually fell out with his prickly Commander-in-Chief. A little more than a year after he had accepted the post of adjutant general, he resigned it again in anger, informing Clinton he had "no longer the honour of being upon those terms of mutual confidence in a station whose duties are most irksome to me." The roots of their argument were trivial. Rawdon was overly proud of his Volunteers of Ireland, and took it personally whenever Clinton criticized them. Clinton, in turn, was offended when Rawdon defended another officer to whom he had taken a dislike.
Rawdon also supported a protest raised by the regular army field officers against how seniority ranking was being handled between establishment and provincial officers which "exasperated the General and widened the breach." According to Charles Stuart, who was friends with both men, the rift might have been mended had not Rawdon written a letter to the Secretary of War in which he "mentioned his having resigned his office on account of bad health, begged to keep his Rank, and, unluckily at the bottom, made use of an expression wherein he insinuated that no fault of his had occasioned his resignation." This, for Sir Henry, meant that all hopes of a reconciliation were at an end. After the war, when Rawdon was more mature and Clinton under less stress, they worked through the rift and became friends again. They remained close until Clinton's death.
Rawdon's resignation caused concern in the army. In a letter to his father, the Earl of Bute, Charles Stuart commented that, "I was well acquainted with Lord Rawdon's talents; I loved him as a friend, and knew that he was the only man of integrity in the General's [Clinton's] family; besides, in the propriety of his conduct in that Office, he had so effectually established himself in the esteem of the Army that the few who retained a respect for the General were owing to his means."
Rawdon was not part of the main expedition that sailed south to Charleston, though there are conflicting reports on whether the primary reason for his absence was his ongoing feud with Clinton or ill health. On March 29, 1780, General James Robertson wrote to Clinton that:
"I found Lord Rawdon with Blisters on his Breast, dangerously ill - Convinced that a few Days on board Ship would kill him, I have used every Argument and Means to prevent him from embarking with the Regiment. He intends to have the Honor of waiting on you, if his Health mends, by the first Occasion, which probably the Arrival of the next Mail may offer."
Health problems or not, Rawdon joined the army during the latter part of the siege, bringing with him a reinforcement of some 2,500 troops, including the Volunteers of Ireland. On April 24, he led the expedition which captured the works on Haddrell's Point.
He remained in the south with Lord Cornwallis - perhaps, as Boatner suggests, because Sir Henry wanted to be rid of him. Cornwallis assigned him to command the advanced post at Camden. A few weeks later, Rawdon commanded Cornwallis's left wing at the battle of Camden. His calm under fire was cited as being instrumental in the victory.
He took an active part in the campaign through the remainder of 1780, and assumed command as Cornwallis's deputy when the Earl was ill. When Cornwallis advanced north after Cowpens, Rawdon was left behind to defend SC and Georgia with a small independent force.
In April, 1781, he attacked and defeated a superior rebel force under Major General Nathanael Greene at the battle of Hobkirk's Hill. Cornwallis described his victory as "by far the most splendid of this war," and said that, "His lordship's great abilities, courage, and firmness of mind, cannot be sufficiently admired and applauded." Boatner also gives the action a glowing assessment:
"As Green marched against him at Camden the 26-year-old British commander showed outstanding generalship...Instead of remaining on the defensive, Rawdon scraped together every able-bodied man and attacked Greene at Hobkirk's Hill, 25 Apr '81, where his audacity and skill, and the good performance of his own Vols. of Ireland, were rewarded with victory. Furthermore he had the good strategic sense and the moral courage to order the evacuation of the most exposed posts."
Unfortunately, the victory produced no lasting effect, and Rawdon was forced to begin a gradual retreat to Charleston. By 24 May he had withdrawn from Camden to Moncks Corner, where he joined a relief column and marched to the rescue of Ninety-Six, which was under siege by Greene's army. He arrived barely in time to save the harassed garrison, and after evacuating Ninety-Six, he withdrew to the area between the Santee and Edisto rivers.
It was a long, miserable retreat, as Tarleton vividly describes:
"It is impossible to do justice to the spirit, patience, and invincible fortitude, displayed by the commanders, officers, and soldiers, during these dreadful campaigns in the two Carolinas. They were not only to contend with men, and these by no means deficient in bravery and enterprize, but they encountered and surmounted difficulties and fatigues from the climate and the country, which would appear insuperable in theory, and almost incredible in the relation. They displayed military, and, we may add, moral virtues, far above all praise. During renewed successions of forced marches, under the rage of a burning sun, and in a climate, at that season, peculiarly inimical to man, they were frequently, when sinking under the most excessive fatigue, not only destitute of every comfort, but almost of every necessary which seems essential to his existence. During the greater part of the time, they were totally destitute of bread, and the country afforded no vegetables for a substitute. Salt at length failed; and their only resources were water, and the wild cattle which they found in the woods. Above fifty men, in this last expedition, sunk under the vigour of their exertions, and perished through mere fatigue."
The combination of fatigue and recurring bouts of malaria had ruined Rawdon's health. In July, he passed on his command, and, on 20 July '81 sailed for England. The ship carrying him home was taken by privateers, and he ended up with De Grasse's fleet. According to a Hessian officer, the rebels wanted him to be turned over to them so that they can lynch him, in revenge for Rawdon's having ordered the execution of one of their officers caught breaking his parole:
"On the 26th of August this year General Greene issued a proclamation from his headquarters in Camden in which he threatened to hang the first British colonel of a regular regiment he could capture in retaliation for the hanging of Colonel Hayne, in spite of the fact that the colonel had taken up arms again after having been paroled as a prisoner and was captured a second time in an open action. Should the right of retaliation be resorted to in such an unheard-of manner, many a colonel or other officer may be cruelly elevated sooner than could ever have been expected.... Comte de Grasse was far nobler toward Lord Rawdon than Congress demanded; he refused to surrender him."
Cornwallis had written to De Grasse as soon as he heard of his capture, expressing his concern for Rawdon's health and treatment, to which the French admiral replied that no one in the party would come to harm while they were under his protection. He sent Rawdon and his companions (which included Lt.-Col. and Mrs. Doyle) to Brest. Rawdon was exchanged for Thomas Burke, rebel Governor of North Carolina, and finally reached England early in 1782.
The same piece of trouble which had nearly gotten him lynched followed him home. In early February, 1782, the Duke of Richmond, a radical Whig, stood in the House of Lords and demanded an investigation into Hayne's execution. Rawdon took personal offense at what he considered Richmond's scandalous imputation on his humanity. He didn't quite challenge Richmond to a duel, but his demand for an apology was adamant.
Richmond's response, says a contemporary member of Parliament, brought his personal courage under "very general suspicion:"
"The expressions or assertions which his Grace used when relating this transaction gave such offence to the nobleman against whom they were levelled, that he soon afterwards called the Duke to a severe account. But as he declined giving any individual satisfaction for an act done in his parliamentary capacity, Lord Rawdon compelled him to declare in his place that by his accusation 'he had not intended any attack on Lord Rawdon's justice or humanity,' a declaration apparently at variance with his preceding charge."
In a word, Richmond grovelled. After a lengthy debate in the Lords - and even lengthier arguments in the letters columns of the daily papers - Rawdon was fully exonerated. Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of it. The Hayne affair continued to haunt him. Years later he wrote a lengthy summary of what had happened in a letter to Harry Lee.
The Crown showed a better appreciation for his services. On Nov. 20, 1782, Rawdon was promoted to colonel and appointed A.D.C. to the King - a post he retained until his changing political views drove him into the Opposition - and on Mar. 5, 1783, he was created Baron Rawdon in the English peerage.
Even though he had been in America at the time, Rawdon had started his political career in 1780-1, standing as the member for Randalstown, county Antrim in the Irish House of Commons. After returning home, he continued to develop as a politician, though he really only emerged as a active voice in Parliament in 1787, when he broke with the Tories - after a quarrel with Pitt - and joined the Opposition. Through the next two decades, he involved himself in a variety of causes, espousing legislation to relieve the distresses of persons imprisoned for small debts, questioning foreign policy, and throwing himself with zeal into economic issues.
In May 1789, he gained a bit of additional notoriety when he acted as the Duke of York's second in his infamous duel with Lieutenant Colonel Lennox, a future Duke of Richmond.
By 1789, he had become an intimate member of the Prince of Wales circle. Rawdon's devout and uncritical loyalty to his friend and future sovereign would help drive him to financial ruin and motivate a series of controversial acts that would stain his reputation and political career. On Dec. 29, 1789, he took the first step into that quagmire by asking the House "to address the Prince of Wales to take on him the executive government as sole Regent." George III was incapacitated by one of his recurring bouts of mental illness, but his ministers greatly feared allowing the Prince - a staunch Whig - the powers of a Regency. The matter was still being wrangled over when the King recovered his health.
On a more personal front, Rawdon continued to collect titles. On the death of her brother, his mother succeeded to the barony of Hastings, and in anticipation of eventually claiming the title, Rawdon added the surname to his own. In 1793, his father died, and he became Francis Rawdon-Hastings, Earl of Moira.
He was appointed Major General the same year (Oct. 12, 1793), and on Cornwallis's recommendation was given command of an expeditionary force being dispatched to aid an insurrection of Royalists in Brittany. This expedition - in which Lord Cathcart also served - was formed too late, and was cancelled when the French victory at Fleurus rendered its purpose obsolete. In June, 1794, he led his force to the Low Countries instead, and, "after a brilliant and rapid march through a country in possession of an enemy vastly superior in numbers," relieved the Duke of York's army at Malines. Although he would command men through two more wars, this was the last time he would lead them in the field.
In the political turmoil of the late-1790s, a plan was formed to put together a new ministry, from which had been eliminated all "persons who on either side had made themselves obnoxious to the publick." Rawdon - now Lord Moira - was proposed as its candidate for Prime Minister. The idea was, of course, entirely unpractical and it eventually came to nothing, but the attempt displeased his former commander. When he heard of it, Cornwallis commented in a private letter that "excess of vanity and self-importance must have extinguished every spark of understanding, and I am sure there was a time when he had sense." That may be excessively harsh, but the situation was fairly typical of Rawdon's follies whenever he ventured into areas of power politics. As would happen several more times through his life, he had been tripped up by his own political naïveté and idealism - characteristics which served him well only when he focused on issues of social reform.
For the next couple of years, he did just that, turning his attention to the problems in his native Ireland. Throughout 1797-8, he made several impassioned speeches in the Lords in support of his countrymen and the need for reforms in the administration of Ireland. In 1799, when it was proposed to politically unite Ireland with Britain, Moira first opposed the measure, then later became reconciled to it. As late as 1801, he was still making his voice heard in opposition to the present Irish administration and in favor of Catholic enfranchisement.
He had been promoted to lieutenant general in 1798, and he made full general on Sept. 25, 1803, also receiving the colonelcy of the 27th Foot Regiment on May 23, 1804.
In 1803, he was appointed commander-in-chief of the forces in Scotland, where he gained great popularity. He arrived in Edinburgh on Oct. 24, and took up residence in Duddingston House. According to a biographer of Sir Walter Scott, he found that the wars with France had filled the country with patriotic zeal:
"Edinburgh was converted into a camp: independently of a large garrison of regular troops nearly ten thousand Fencibles and Volunteers were almost constantly under arms. The lawyer wore his uniform under his gown; the shopkeeper measured out his wares in scarlet, in short, the citizens of all classes made more use for several months of the military than of any other dress; and the new Commander-in-Chief consulted equally his own gratification and theirs by devising a succession of manoeuvres, which presented a vivid image of the art of war, conducted on a large and scientific scale."
The account goes on to note with amusement that the enthusiasm of the participants, particularly the Highlanders, sometimes threatened to turn mock combat into real: "Once, at least, Lord Moira was forced to alter, at the eleventh hour, his programme of battle, because a battalion of killed Fencibles could not, or would not, understand that it was their duty to be beat."
On July 12th, 1804, in London, he married a Scottish Peeress, Lady Flora Muir Campbell, Countess of Loudoun in her own right. (The Prince of Wales gave away the bride.) Lady Loudoun (or Loudon, as it is sometimes spelled) was many years his junior. Over the course of their marriage, she would give him six children, five of whom lived to adulthood.
The Countess returned with him to settle in Duddingston House, and they became well known for their hospitality and social events. Kay provides a newspaper account of one of their parties:
"On Friday evening (June 14, 1805) the Countess of [Loudoun] and Moira gave a grand fete at Duddingston House, to above three hundred of the nobility and gentry...and a great number of the naval and military gentlemen, most of the judges, etc. The saloon was elegantly fitted up with festoons of flowers, and embellished with an emblematical naval pillar, on which were the names of Howe, Duncan, St. Vincent, and Nelson. The dancing commenced at ten o'clock, and was continued with great spirit till near two in the morning, when the company sat down to a most elegant supper...After supper, the dancing recommenced with redoubled vigour, and was continued till an hour after sunrising."
Rawdon and his wife remained in Scotland until sometime in late 1805 or early 1806. In Feb, 1806, Scott wrote to a friend that Rawdon and Lord Lauderdale were "fiercely combatting" for the position of C-in-C. Presumably Lauderdale won for that year Rawdon settled back into the mire of London politics. When Charles James Fox and Grenville came to power (the "Ministry of All the Talents"), he was appointed Master of the Ordnance, a member of the Privy Council, and Constable of the Tower. He retained the latter two posts until his death, but retired from the Ordnance office in 1807, following the next change in government.
Prinny soon had him embroiled in another political scandal. The Prince had been separated from his wife, Caroline of Brunswick, for some time. She had been living abroad, and, it was said, quite openly keeping a lover. Upon her return to England, her husband accused her of adultery - a prime bit of hypocrisy from the ever-roving George - and Rawdon drew the dirty task of orchestrating the investigation into her conduct. In the end, she was acquitted, but the affair left a blot on his reputation and came back to haunt him as late as 1813, when he was called upon to defend himself in the House of Lords against charges concerning the methods used in his investigation.
In 1810-11, George III again became incapacitated, reopening the Regency question, and Moira once more supported the interests of the Prince of Wales. He also continued to play an active role in the drive towards Irish reform and spoke out in favor of Roman Catholic enfranchisement, which he believed was a "restoration of a part of the constitution in a case in which it had been partially suspended, on grounds that had long ceased to exist."
He was heavily involved in the volatile changes in government that took place following the assassination of Prime Minister Spencer Perceval, and again, the Prince played on his loyalty and gullibility, using him as a tool to shape the situation to his own advantage. He sent Rawdon to negotiate with Lords Grey and Grenville on the formation of a ministry, but in such a way that the attempt was guaranteed to fail, as he wished it to. "No one can doubt the warmth and zeal of his attachment to the Prince," said 19th century chronicler Robert Huish, "and, in the present instance, he exhibited it at the expense of his own character for patriotism and understanding." A correspondent of the poet Thomas Moore said the same thing a little more kindly: "I should like to know if he has yet any suspicion how much he was the Prince's dupe." Pessimistically, Moore himself wrote, "I am much afraid that Lord Moira has ruined his reputation as a statesman."
If he had unwittingly played hatchet-man for the Prince, Rawdon was amply rewarded for his efforts. On June 12, 1812, he was invested with the order of the Garter, and on Nov. 18 of the same year was appointed Governor-General of Bengal and Commander-in-Chief of the forces in India. It seemed a splendid appointment, but his friend, Moore, was of the opinion that it was less than welcome:
"I think poor Lord Moira must go to his splendid banishment with a heart loaded with sorrows and regrets. At his time of life, giving up friends and country and old habits must be a painful effort, and nothing in all probability but the ruined state of his affairs, and the disappointment he must feel from the Prince's conduct, could have decided him to accept of a place which he may suspect is given to him to get rid of him. If he were young, and had never hoped for place and power and distinction under a Prince for whom he has sacrificed so much, it would have been a very fine thing to have been commander-in-chief and governor-general of India; but as it is I pity him."
Moore was not the only observer to put that interpretation on events. Lady Charlotte Bury, a lady-in-waiting to Princess Caroline, wrote that:
"Lord Moira is sent off to India; -- I call it being sent off, for it is evident the Regent cannot bear to have him near his person. How few people, in any rank of life, have sufficient nobility of soul to love those to whom they stand indebted! Would you lose a friend, oblige him -- not in the minor circumstances of life; but let the obligation be vast, and it crushes friendship to death. Lord Moira has accepted this honourable banishment, because he cannot help himself, and is ruined. But who ruined him? He lent uncounted sums of money in former years, of which no note whatever was taken, and of which he never will see one farthing in return. Yet no one pities or feels for this man. Why? -- because he is of nobler stuff than the common herd. Vanity and ambition were his only flaws, if flaws they be; but his attachment, or rather devotion; to the Regent was sincere, chivalric; and of a romantic kind, such as the world neither believes in nor understands; it was a kind of affection which amounted even to a passion of the mind, and, like all passions, led him into one or two acts beneath the "chevalier sans peur et sans reproche." But nevertheless, he is a noble creature upon the whole; and what can poor human nature ever be more? Formed to live in another day than the present, some men seem born too late, and some men too soon."
Whether or not their readings of Rawdon's mood was justified, he was about to find his place in history. He left England in April, 1813, taking with him Flora and their three eldest children, and arrived in Calcutta the following October for a stay which was planned to last three years but would actually last ten -- and secure Britain's ascendency over India for the next century.
His predecessor, Lord Minto, had left the political situation in a tangle, and it continued to deteriorate. In 1814, Moira declared war on Nepal, and led a militarily brilliant and successful campaign against the Gurkhas, which terminated in a treaty signed in 1816. As a reward, in Feb, 1817, he was created Viscount Loudoun, Earl of Rawdon, and Marquis/Marquess of Hastings, in the peerage of the United Kingdom. A vote of thanks had passed unanimously in both houses of parliament a few days previously "for his judicious arrangements in the plan, and direction of the military operations against Nepaul."
By that time, the newly minted "Lord Hastings" was already engaged in a second war in India, this time against the Pindarees. Its success established British supremacy on the subcontinent, but also caused friction with the East India Company, who felt Rawdon had exceeded his orders. Even so, in 1818 he was invested with a G.C.B., and the following year the East India Company gave him a vote of thanks for his services and a grant of £60,000 which was used to purchase an estate to be held in trust for him and his heirs. He also received a vote of thanks in both houses of Parliament.
For the rest of his time in India, Rawdon devoted himself to civil administration, at which he proved extremely adept. He encouraged education and freedom of the press, and severely house cleaned the corruption within the government. Unfortunately, in the process of doing so, he managed to get himself tangled in the politics of bribes and patronage within the East India Company -- another arena where his straightforward nature worked against him. He seems to have been innocent of any wrongdoing, but some unwise comments in a personal letter put him at odds with the Company's directors, and in 1821, indignant at their suspicions about his honesty, he tendered his resignation. He left India at the beginning of 1823 and returned home, but the affair dragged on within the recesses of the Company for an additional couple of years. It finally concluded with a neutral declaration that there was "no ground for imputing corrupt motives to the late governor-general."
Back home in England, he and his family spent some time at Lady Loudoun's estates in Ayrshire, where they were greeted by an enthusiastic turning out of the local militia. Their visit was also reported in the paper, which gave the following description of Rawdon and his wife:
"His lordship is seventy-one years of age; and, although he has been in camp and field in all sorts of climate, is stout and healthy. His bold, dark countenance, with frame erect, gives a most complete idea of the warrior; and he possesses all that suavity and dignity of manner, with a countenance beaming with intelligence, which are so characteristic of the statesman, warrior, and philanthropist. He was very plainly dressed-dark-green coat, coloured vest, and dark cassimere trousers. On his breast hung a gold insignia of one of his many Orders. The Marchioness is aged forty-six, and seems to have suffered little from the scorching climate - she looks well, and in excellent health. She has all the lady in her appearance - modest, dignified, kind, and affectionate."
On other fronts, his return was far less auspicious. The Prince of Wales' fickle favor had moved on, and he no longer had a place in the circles of power. A lifetime of generosity and extravagance had reduced him to a state of severe financial difficulty. His "chivalrous spirit, impelled by a munificent temper," said Wraxall, "[had] completely exhausted a splendid fortune."
Ousted from the circles of power and in financial distress, he accepted the post of Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Malta on March 22, 1824. It was a minor post and a great step down from being Governor of Bengal, but Rawdon didn't allow that to quench his zeal. As he had done in India, he devoted himself to social reform and the stemming of government corruption, and became extremely popular with the people of Malta.
He saw England for the last time during a visit home in 1825. Taking his seat in the House of Lords as Marquess Hastings, he tried to introduce legislation aimed at regulating some of the corruption within the Indian service. Unfortunately, the bill failed.
He returned to Malta in February, 1826, but by then his health was failing. Later the same year, he took a bad fall from his horse, sustaining injuries - possibly a ruptured hernia - which led to his death. He was taken to Naples, presumably to seek better medical care, but he died on November 28, aboard the H.M.S. Revenge in Baia Bay. As she had been all through the two decades of their marriage, the Marchioness was beside him.
His body was returned to Malta for burial at his own request. According to an officer aboard the Revenge, a letter was found among his papers directing that when he died, his right hand should be cut off and preserved until his wife's death, when it was to be placed in her coffin. His mausoleum is in Hastings Gardens, in the city of Valletta.
The DNB describes Rawdon as a "tall, athletic man, with a stately figure and impressive manner," and Kay characterized him as "rather of a spare figure." The cartoonist Gillray agreed with their assessments. Whenever he satirized Rawdon in his political cartoons - which was frequently - he showed him thin and straight as a rail, towering above those around him.
Rawdon had an ongoing interest in subjects ranging from art and poetry to exploration. He collected watercolors of the scenes and events of the Revolution (the collection was sold after his death), possessed a large library, and helped fund exploratory expeditions to Africa.
He became Thomas Moore's patron when the young Irish poet first arrived in England (1799). "The poet," says one of Moore's editors, "found a kind and powerful friend in Lord Moira, who obtained permission from the Prince Regent for Moore to dedicate his [Odes to Anacreon] to His Royal Highness, and also raised a profitable subscription for their publication. In 1803 Lord Moira and Joseph Atkinson persuaded William Wickham, the Chief Secretary of Ireland, to establish an Irish Poet Laureateship, which was to be conferred upon Moore (who declined it). In return, Moore dedicated a later volume of his works, Epistles, Odes, and other Poems to Rawdon, as a "humble tribute of gratitude" for his support.
Rawdon gave Moore free access to his estate at Donington Park. Whenever his finances were low, the poet moved there until he could afford to feed himself again. Rawdon seems to have collected transient poets in general, for Coleridge makes passing mention that he would "have much pleasure in availing myself of Lord Hastings' condescension," and one of Mary Robinson's obituaries named him as a "liberal patron" in her hard times. Her poetical tribute and thanks, "Lines Addressed to Earl Moira," appeared in The Wild Wreath.
Moore's letters and memoirs are rich with lively and affectionate anecdotes about his patron, from a naive accounting of his awe-struck wonder upon first visiting Donington Park -
"It was, I believe, on my next visit to England, that, having through the medium of another of my earliest and kindest friends, Joe Atkinson, been introduced to Lord Moira, I was invited to pay a visit to Donington Park, on my way to London. This was of course, at that time, a great event in my life; and among the most vivid of my early English recollections is that of my first night at Donington, when Lord Moira, with that high courtesy for which he was remarkable, lighted me, himself, to my bedroom; and there was this stately personage stalking on before me through the long lighted gallery, bearing in his hand my bed-candle, which he delivered to me at the door of my apartment. I thought it all exceedingly fine and grand, but at the same time most uncomfortable; and little I foresaw how much at home, and at my ease, I should one day find myself in that great house."
- to sentimental reminiscences of the times he spent there, set down in his journal after Rawdon's death:
"Walked over to the House and felt deeply interested by it -- every thing looked so familiar -- so redolent of old times...Walked round the Pond -- the hopeless Pond -- in endeavouring to fill which Lord Moira expended so much trouble & money without success -- the water still escaping, like his own wealth, through some invisible & unaccountable outlets and leaving it dry."
As a politician, Rawdon espoused many liberal causes, but his loyalty to the Prince of Wales sometimes blinded him to the larger issues surrounding his actions, and this led him into questionable arenas such as the first Regency bill and his involvement with the investigation of Queen Caroline. He was a skillful soldier, and a hard-working and dedicated -- if not always politically wise -- administrator. As a man, he was noted for his loyalty, his polite, easy manners, and his generosity. Wraxall called him "a nobleman of generous and elevated feelings," and years earlier, Peebles styled him "very polite." He took an active interest in the welfare of his estates, and among other activities established a society in Leicestershire for "the better improvement in the science of agriculture."
By way of conclusion, I have two contemporary quotations. Both were written on the occasion of his death, and I couldn't choose between them. One is from a published obituary which is overblown in style and emphasizes only Rawdon's strengths - but as far as it goes, it meshes well with the commentaries to be found in the journals and private letters of his friends and acquaintances:
"His manners were peculiarly striking. The dignity of his appearance, and the polished urbanity of his address, marked him at once as a gentleman of the highest order; but his good-breeding, although perfectly refined, seemed the natural impulse of a kind disposition; and was as apparent in his intercourse with the humblest members of society as in persons of his own rank and station. To those with whom he lived in habits of intimacy and friendship, he was not contented with rendering real service whenever the opportunity occurred; he never omitted those little attentions, the interchange of which constitutes so pleasing a part of private life. His mind was richly cultivated; his information was extensive, and at the same time minute; he was an excellent scholar; and was remarkable for the purity and eloquence of his familiar language. His conversation was always interesting, and with his immediate friends and family there was frequently a playfulness in it which was peculiarly delightful. In addition to these qualities, he was blessed with the happiest temper, and possessed the warmest and most generous heart; and it may be truly said of him, as it was of another great man, that his ample fortune absolutely sank beneath the benevolence of his nature."
The second, by Sir Walter Scott, is more poignant -- a private journal entry not meant for public consumption which dwells on Rawdon's greatest weakness yet still reflects the affection his good qualities inspired in those who knew him:
"Poor old Honour and Glory dead - once Lord Moira more lately Lord Hastings. He was a man of very considerable talents but had an over-mastering degree of vanity.... It followed of course that he was gulleable. In fact the propensity was like a ring in his nose into which any rogue might put a string. He had a high reputation for war but it was after the pettifogging hostilities in America where had done some clever things.... There was a time that I knew him well and regretted the foibles which mingled with his character so as to make his noble qualities sometimes questionable sometimes ridiculous. He was always kind to me - poor Plantagenet."
Biography from Benson J. Lossing in his Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution [with minor edits]:
Francis Rawdon, son of the Earl of Moira, was born in 1754, and entered the army in 1771. He was distinguished for his bravery during his first campaign in American, and in 1778 was appointed adjutant general of the British forces. He was at the storming of Forts Clinton and Montgomery in 1777 and was with Sir Henry Clinton at the battle of Monmouth. He was promoted to brigadier and was succeeded in his office of adjutant general by Major Andre. Rawdon afterward received the commission of a major general. In 1812, he was appointed Governor General of British India, which office he held until 1822. During his administration, the Nepaulese, Pindarees, and other native powers, were subjugated, and the British authority made supreme in India. During his absence in the East, he was created Marquis of Hasting. He died in 1825.