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Richard Kane
1662 – 1736
Allegiance United Kingdom Kingdom of Great Britain
Service/branch British Army
Rank Brigadier General
Battles/wars Nine Years' War
War of the Spanish Succession

Brigadier General Richard Kane (1662–1736) was a British Army General.

Military career

Born to Thomas O’Cahan and his wife, Margaret Dobbin, at his mother's home in Duneane, Ireland, in December 1662. At the age of 26, he anglicised his name to Kane and joined a volunteer Protestant regiment in his home town, Carrickfergus, raised to oppose James II's Catholic rule. Kane was trained in battle tactics, (including the ‘English Square’) in the Eighteenth regiment under William III and fought in William's campaigns in Ireland, rising to the rank of major. In 1702, William died and the Duke of Marlborough took command of the army. Richard Kane fought under Marlborough in many bloody battles of the War of the Spanish Succession. His regiment was singled out in recognition of its bravery during the 1695 siege of Namur; he was severely wounded at Blenheim, and, in December, 1710, Queen Anne named him colonel of the Royal Regiment of Ireland. He was 47.

In 1711, Kane sailed to Canada in an unsuccessful expedition under General Jack Hill to take Quebec from the French. On that voyage, he visited Boston. In the following year he commanded British troops in a takeover of the town of Dunkirk which ended disastrously when an epidemic killed half of the men.

In the summer of 1712, Queen Anne signed orders for the Duke of Argyll to capture the Spanish island of Minorca and turn it into an English colony. Argyll remained titular governor for the next three years, but the work was really for Richard Kane, the lieutenant governor. He arrived 10 November 1712 and remained on the island, with two short intervals, until his death twenty four years later.

In Minorca, against the interference of the Roman Catholic Church and always short of funds, Kane reformed the legal system, drew up a new constitution, built a road connecting the old Spanish capital, Ciudadela, with Mahon, the new capital, and improved trade by making Mahon a free port. He introduced new agricultural methods and imported breeds of cattle and the cereals to feed them.

In 1720 – 21, he was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Gibraltar when it was threatened by Spain and, in 1725, George I ordered Kane to Gibraltar again to strengthen the defences and ward off Spanish invaders. This he did, at the same time recommending a civil government for "the Rock". Kane was able to return to Minorca in February 1727 before the unsuccessful siege. George I rewarded him with the colonelcy of the Ninth (Norfolk) Regiment of Infantry.

He was formally appointed Governor of Minorca in 1733 and given the rank of brigadier general in 1735. He was not knighted. Richard Kane died in Mahon on 31 December 1736 after almost twenty five years of devoted service on the island. He was buried in the chapel of St. Philip's Castle which was later bombed by the Spanish. A bust by J. M. Ruysback with a Latin inscription listing his many achievements is in Westminster Abbey.

He left a “Narrative of All the Campaigns of King William and the Duke of Marlborough” and wrote A New System of Military Discipline for Foot on Action [1] which became the British army's "bible" at the time. Although an excellent soldier, Kane is best remembered as a colonial administrator devoted to the people in his care.


Government offices
Preceded by
Earl of Granard
Governor of Minorca
Succeeded by
Earl of Hertford
Preceded by
Earl of Portmore
Governor of Gibraltar
Succeeded by
Jasper Clayton


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