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Sir James Kempt by William Salter cropped.jpg

General Sir James Kempt, GCB (Edinburgh, Scotland c. 1765 – 20 December 1854 London) was a British Army officer, who served in Holland, Egypt and British North America, and fought during the Napoleonic Wars.

He was gazetted to the 101st Foot in India in 1783, but on its disbandment two years later was placed on half-pay. It is said that he took a clerkship in Greenwoods, the army agents (afterwards Cox & Co.). He attracted the notice of the Duke of York, through whom he obtained a captaincy (very soon followed by a majority) in the newly raised 113th Foot. But it was not long before his regiment experienced the fate of the old 101st; this time however Kempt was retained on full pay in the recruiting service.

In 1799 he accompanied Sir Ralph Abercromby to Holland, and later to Egypt as an aide-de-camp. After Abercromby's death Kempt remained on his successor's staff until the end of the campaign in Egypt. In April 1803 he joined the staff of Sir David Dundas, but next month returned to regimental duty, and a little later received a lieutenant-colonelcy in the 81st Foot. With his new regiment he went, under Craig, to the Mediterranean theatre of operations, and at the Battle of Maida he led the light brigade which bore the heaviest share of the battle.

Employed from 1807 to 1811 on the staff in North America, Brevet-Colonel Kempt at the end of 1811 joined Wellington's army in Spain with the local rank of major-general, which was, on 1 January 1812, made substantive. As one of Picton's brigadiers, Kempt took part in the great assault on Badajoz and was severely wounded. On rejoining for duty, he was posted to the command of a brigade of the Light Division (43rd, 52nd and 95th Rifles), which he led at Vera, the Nivelle (where he was again wounded), Bayonne, Orthez and Toulouse.

After the first abdication of Napoleon Bonaparte, Kempt was transferred once again to North America, where the Anglo-American War of 1812 was still being fought. He commanded a brigade which was intended to attack the vital American post of Sackets Harbor, New York, but logistic problems prevented the attack being made before winter brought an end to campaigning in Canada. News of peace between Britain and America reached Canada early in 1815, and Kempt returned to Europe. At the Battle of Waterloo, he led a brigade consisting of the 1/28th, 1/32nd, 79th and 1/95th in the division of Sir Thomas Picton at the Battle of Waterloo. On Picton's death, he succeeded to the command of his division.

Early in 1815 he was made K.C.B., and in July for his services at Waterloo, G.C.B.

From 1828 to 1830 he was Governor of British North America, and at a critical time displayed firmness and moderation. He was afterwards Master-General of the Ordnance. At the time of his death in 1854 he had been for some years a full General.

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Government offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Dalhousie
Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia
1820–1828
Succeeded by
Thomas N. Jeffrey
Preceded by
The Earl of Dalhousie
Governor General of British North America
1828–1830
Succeeded by
The Lord Aylmer
Political offices
Preceded by
The Viscount Beresford
Master-General of the Ordnance
1830–1834
Succeeded by
Sir George Murray
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