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Francis Rawdon.

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Francis Rawdon.

2nd Lord Moira.

Francis Rawdon was born in 1754, the son of the first Lord Moira, he spent his early years on his fathers estate, Montalto near Ballynahinch in County Down. Educated at Oxford University, he left without qualifying, he joined the British army in America and was wounded in the battle of Bunker's Hill, in the opening days of the American War of Independence, 1775.in the battle of Hopkirk's Hill, Lord Cornwallis said it was 'The most splendid of the war' obviously a man with scant regard for human suffering and life. Cornwallis was later given the opportunity to demonstrate his military skills during the United Irishmen's Rebellion of 1798.

Francis Rawdon eturned to Ballynahinch in 1791, where he had been elected in his absence to the Irish Parliament. A member of the Whig party, he was opposition spokesman in the house of Lords. He was an active campaigner for removing the injustices against both Presbyterians and Catholics, which was fermenting a revolutionary spirit in Ireland. He made public many of the excesses of the British army in Ireland, which exacerbated the situation in the events which led up to the 1798 rebellion. He had been approached by Wolfe Tone to lend his support to the movement for independence, Rawdon declined, the spectacle of the French Revolution in 1789 was perhaps prominent in his mind.

He convened a meeting in the market house in Ballynahinch, where he persuaded his tenants to pass a resolution declaring their loyalty to the English crown. Later in the House of Lords he declared that there was no town so loyal as Ballynahinch, subsequent events were to prove that this was far removed from the truth. A few short months later his home and a large portion of the town were burnt down. Shortly after he offered the estate for sale it was purchased in 1800 by Davis Ker a successful merchant. Lord Moira moved to his English estate, Donnington Park in Leicestershire (England)

Lord Moira speaking in British House of Lords in 1798.

Before my God and my country I speak of what I myself have seen. I have seen in Ireland the most absurd as well as the most disgusting tyranny that any nation ever groaned under. I have seen troops sent full of this prejudice, that every inhabitant of that kingdom is a rebel to the British Government. The most wanton insults, the most cowardly oppression practised upon men of all ranks and conditions, in a part of the country as free from disturbance as the City of London. Thirty houses are sometimes burned in a single night, but from prudential motives I wish to draw a veil over more aggravated facts.

In 1803 he became commander in chief of the army in Scotland, the following year he married, and began building a political career, utilizing his friendship with the Prince Regent. In 1806 he was appointed Constable of the Tower of London, in that year also, he became a member of the Whig Cabinet, during this period he was acting Grand Master of Masonry in London.

He moved to India and became Governor of Bengal, as Governor he had responsibility for British Colonial interests from Singapore to Suez. By now he was in his sixties, despite this he led successful military campaigns against the Mahrattas in Central India and the Gurkhas in Nepal, adding large tracts of land to the British Empire. His campaign in Nepal eventually led to many of the Gurkhas joining the British army, in which they served with honour and distinction for many years.

Lord Moira left India in 1823, his health failing, he served for a short time as Governor of Malta, he died in Naples in 1826 at the age of 72. He left a letter asking that when he died his right hand should be severed and sent to England to be buried with his wife when she died.