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Lieutenant General Sir James Frederick Lyon, GCH, KCB (1775, Atlantic Ocean – 16 October 1842, Brighton, Sussex) was a British Army officer. Lyon made a lasting impression on Barbados in 2006 they issued a postage stamp to commemorate his agreement to allow non-white people to vote and for the work he funded from his own pocket following a hurricane.[1]

Contents

Biography

Lyon, a descendant of the Lords Glamis and a great-great-grandson of Patrick Lyon, Lord Carse, was the son of Captain James Lyon (died 1775) and his wife, Mary née Hamilton. He was born aboard a transport ship homeward bound from America after the Battle of Bunker Hill, where his father had been killed. On 4 August 1791, he was appointed as an ensign in the 25th (Sussex) Regiment of Foot. He became a lieutenant on 26 April 1793, captain on 5 April 1795, major on 21 February 1799, brevet colonel in 1811, major general in 1814, and lieutenant general in 1830.[2]

Lyon served with detachments of the 25th as marines on board the Gibraltar and the Marlborough in the Channel Fleet under Earl Howe. He was present at the actions of 27 and 29 May, and the Glorious First of June in 1794. He afterwards served with his regiment on the island of Grenada during the reign of terror there, when Governor Home and all the principal white inhabitants were massacred by the slaves. He was on Lord George Lennox's staff at Plymouth in 1797–8, and was subsequently aide-de-camp to Hon. Sir Charles Stuart at Minorca. In 1799, he was appointed to a foreign corps, originally known as 'Stuart's', or the Minorca regiment, raised in that island by Sir John Stuart, with Lyon and Nicholas Trant as majors. The corps was later named the 97th (Queen's Own Germans) Regiment of Foot and disbanded in 1818. Lyon was with it in 1801 in Egypt, where it was engaged with Napoleon's 'invincibles' at the Battle of Alexandria, and was highly distinguished. Lyon subsequently commanded the regiment in the Peninsula War from 1808 to 1811 at Vimeiro, Talavera, Busaco, and the first Siege of Badajoz.[2]

Germany

In June 1813, he was sent to Germany to assist in organizing the new Hanoverian levies (distinct from the King's German Legion), and he was present at the operations in the north of Germany in 1813–14, under the Prince Royal of Sweden. He led a division of Hanoverians at the Battle of the Göhrde in Hanover, on 13 September 1813, and afterwards was in charge of a mixed force of Russians, Hanoverians, and Hanseatics, under Count von Benningsen, which blockaded Hamburg. He commanded the 6th Hanoverian Brigade during the Waterloo Campaign and the advance to Paris. The brigade was with the reserve near Hal on 18 June, and did not engage.[2]

Barbados

Lyon commanded the inland district in 1817, and he led the troops in the Windward and Leeward Islands, with headquarters at Barbados, in 1828–33. He was appointed Governor in 1829[1] on 9 June 1831 a major change took place that allowed coloured people the same rights to vote as white people. The new act passed by the Governor, removed "certain restraints and disabilities imposed by law on His Majesty's Free Coloured and Free Black Subjects in this Island." The portraits of Lyon and Samuel J. Prescod wre issued on stamps 175 years later to commemorate this decision.[1]

On 11 August 1831 a hurricane hit the island and Lyon paid for repairs from his own money. It was said that "the ladies of the island" sent money to Britain to have his portrait painted. That portrait still hangs in the Senate House in Barbados and was a source for his portrait on the 2.50$ stamp issued in 2006.[1]

Awards

He was promised the Governorship of Gibraltar, but was disappointed. Lyon was appointed a KCB and KCH in 1815, and promoted to a GCH in 1817. He had also been awarded the Order of the Sword and the Military Order of Max Joseph, with gold medals for Egypt, Vimeiro and Talavera, and the Hanoverian and Waterloo Medal medals. He was colonel of the 24th (The 2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot from 1829 to his death, and an equerry to the Duke of Cambridge.

Lyon married Anne, daughter of Edward Coxe of Hampstead, and niece of the Revd George Coxe (his stepfather), Peter Coxe (1753?–1844), and Archdeacon William Coxe (1747–1828), the historian. Lyon lived latterly at Grosvenor Lodge, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and died at Brighton on 16 October 1842.[2]

References

  1. ^ a b c d 175th Anniversary of the Enfranchisement of Free Coloured and Black Barbadians, 2006, Barbados Postal Service, accessed 22 July 2008
  2. ^ a b c d Dictionary of National Biography (1885–1900), a publication now in the public domain.
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Henry Warde, 1821-29
Governor of Barbados
1829–1833
Succeeded by
Sir Lionel Smith, (& Windward Isles)
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir David Baird, Bt
Colonel of the 24th (The 2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot
1829–1842
Succeeded by
Robert Ellice
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