Commander-in-Chief, Ireland

Commander-in-Chief, Ireland was title of the commander of British forces in Ireland before 1922. Until the Act of Union in 1800, the position involved command of the distinct Irish Army of the Kingdom of Ireland.


In the 18th and 19th centuries the British forces in Ireland were commanded by the Commander-in-Chief, Ireland. In January 1876 a ‘Mobilization Scheme for the forces in Great Britain and Ireland’ was published, with the ‘Active Army’ divided into eight army corps based on the District Commands. 4th Corps was to be formed within Irish Command, based in Dublin. This scheme disappeared in 1881, when the districts were retitled ‘District Commands.[1]

The 1901 Army Estimates introduced by St John Brodrick allowed for six army corps based on six regional commands. As outlined in a paper published in 1903, III Corps was to be formed in a reconstituted Irish Command, with HQ at Dublin.[2] Field Marshal HRH The Duke of Connaught was appointed acting General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOCinC) of III Corps in October 1901.[3] The title was withdrawn in 1904.[4]

Army Order No 324, issued on 21 August 1914, authorised the formation of a 'New Army' of six Divisions, manned by volunteers who had responded to Earl Kitchener's appeal (hence the First New Army was known as 'K1'). Each division was to be under the administration of one of the Home Commands, and Irish Command formed what became the 10th (Irish) Division.[5] It was followed by 16th (Irish) Division of K2 in September 1914.[6]

In the Republic of Ireland, the role nominally is held by the President of Ireland today as the supreme commander of the Defence Forces. In Northern Ireland from 1922 to 2009, the senior British military appointment was General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland.[7]

Commanders-in-Chief, Ireland, 1700–1922

Holders of the post have included:[7][8]


  1. ^ Army List 1876–1881.
  2. ^ Col John K. Dunlop, The Development of the British Army 1899–1914, London: Methuen, 1938.
  3. ^ "No. 27360". The London Gazette. 1 October 1901. p. 6400.
  4. ^ "No. 27676". The London Gazette. 13 May 1904. p. 3083.
  5. ^ "10th Division". The long, long trail. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  6. ^ "16th Division". The long, long trail. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Army Commands" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  8. ^ List of Commander-in-Chief Ireland Archived April 18, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Paula Watson and David Wilkinson, ERLE, Thomas (c.1650–1720), of Charborough, Dorset in The History of Parliament Online. Accessed 19 February 2013.
  10. ^ "No. 27154". The London Gazette. 16 January 1900. p. 289.
1862 in Ireland

Events from the year 1862 in Ireland.

1930 in Ireland

Events from the year 1930 in Ireland.

Arthur Paget (British Army officer)

General Sir Arthur Henry Fitzroy Paget, (1 March 1851 – 8 December 1928) was a soldier who reached the rank of General and served as Commander-in-Chief, Ireland, where he was partly responsible for the Curragh Incident.

Edward Blakeney

Field Marshal Sir Edward Blakeney (26 March 1778 – 2 August 1868) was a British Army officer. After serving as a junior officer with the expedition to Dutch Guiana and being taken prisoner by privateers three times suffering great hardship, he took part in the Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland in 1799. He also joined the expedition to Denmark led by Lord Cathcart in 1807. He went on to command the 2nd Battalion of the 7th Regiment of Foot and then both battalions of that regiment at many of the battles of the Peninsular War. After joining the Duke of Wellington as he marched into Paris in 1815, Blakeney fought in the War of 1812. He then commanded a brigade in the army sent on a mission to Portugal to support the constitutional government against the absolutist forces of Dom Miguel in 1826. His last major appointment was as Commander-in-Chief, Ireland, a post he held for nearly twenty years.

Francis Grenfell, 1st Baron Grenfell

Field Marshal Francis Wallace Grenfell, 1st Baron Grenfell (29 April 1841 – 27 January 1925) was a British Army officer. After serving as aide-de-camp to the Commander-in-Chief, South Africa, he fought in the 9th Xhosa War, the Anglo-Zulu War and then the Anglo-Egyptian War. He went on to become Sirdar (Commander-in-Chief) of the Egyptian Army and commanded the forces at the Battle of Suakin in December 1888 and at the Battle of Toski in August 1889 during the Mahdist War. After that he became Governor of Malta and then Commander-in-Chief, Ireland before retiring in 1908.

Frederick Shaw (British Army officer)

Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Charles Shaw, KCB, PC (1861–1942) was a British Army general who served in the Boer War and the First World War. He became Commander-in-Chief, Ireland and retired in 1920.

George Hewett

General Sir George Hewett, 1st Baronet (11 June 1750 – 21 March 1840) was Commander-in-Chief, India and then Commander-in-Chief, Ireland for the British Army.

George Warde

General George Warde (24 November 1725 – 11 March 1803) was a British Army officer. The second son of Colonel John Warde of Squerryes Court in Westerham, he was a close childhood friend of James Wolfe, the Conqueror of Quebec. He became a colonel in the Royal Horse Guards. (2 April 1778 Colonel of the 1st Regiment of Horse). In 1773 he became colonel of the 14th Dragoons, then in 1791 was appointed Commander-in-Chief, Ireland, a post which earned him the rank of general in 1796. He was instrumental in repulsing two French invasions of Ireland in 1796 and 1798.

He married Charlotte Madan, daughter of Spencer Madan (1729–1813) and Charlotte née Cornwallis (died 1794); their son Charles Warde was a captain in the Royal Navy .Having retired to Clyne Castle overlooking Swansea Bay in 1799, he died in 1803 and is buried at St Mary Abchurch in London.

Henry Edward Fox

General Henry Edward Fox (4 March 1755 – 18 July 1811) was a British Army general. He also served brief spells as Governor of Minorca and Governor of Gibraltar.

Hugh Rose, 1st Baron Strathnairn

Field Marshal Hugh Henry Rose, 1st Baron Strathnairn, (6 April 1801 – 16 October 1885) was a senior British Army officer. He served as a military adviser to the Ottoman Army who were seeking to secure the expulsion of the forces of Mehemet Ali from Syria during the Egyptian–Ottoman War. He then fought with the French Army at the Battle of Alma, the Battle of Inkerman and at the Battle of Mamelon during the Crimean War. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857 Rose was given command of the Central Indian Field Force and secured the defeat of the Indian rebels at Jhansi in April 1858, at Lahore in May 1858 and at Gwalior in June 1858. He went on to be Commander of the Bombay Army, Commander-in-Chief, India and then Commander-in-Chief, Ireland.

John Byng, 1st Earl of Strafford

Field Marshal John Byng, 1st Earl of Strafford (1772 – 3 June 1860), of 6 Portman Square, London, of Ballaghy, Londonderry and latterly of Wrotham Park in Middlesex (now Hertfordshire), and of 5, St James's Square, London, was a British Army officer and politician. After serving as a junior officer during the French Revolutionary Wars and Irish Rebellion of 1798, he became Commanding Officer of the Grenadier Battalion of the 3rd Regiment of Foot Guards during the disastrous Walcheren Campaign. He served as a brigade commander at the Battle of Vitoria and then at the Battle of Roncesvalles on 25 July 1813 when his brigade took the brunt of the French assault and held its position for three hours in the early morning before finally being forced back. During the Hundred Days he commanded the 2nd Guards Brigade at the Battle of Quatre Bras in June 1815 and again at the Battle of Waterloo later that month when light companies from his brigade played an important role in the defence of Château d'Hougoumont. He went on to be Commander-in-Chief, Ireland and, after leaving Ireland in 1831, he was elected as Whig Member of Parliament for Poole in Dorset and was one of the few military men who supported the Reform Bill, for which he was rewarded with a peerage.

John Colborne, 1st Baron Seaton

Field Marshal John Colborne, 1st Baron Seaton, (16 February 1778 – 17 April 1863), was a British Army officer and Colonial Governor. After taking part as a junior officer in the Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland, Sir Ralph Abercromby's expedition to Egypt and then the War of the Third Coalition, he served as military secretary to Sir John Moore at the Battle of Corunna. He then commanded the 2nd Battalion of the 66th Regiment of Foot and, later, the 52nd Regiment of Foot at many of the battles of the Peninsular War. At the Battle of Waterloo, Colborne on his own initiative brought the 52nd Regiment of Foot forward, took up a flanking position in relation to the French Imperial Guard and then, after firing repeated volleys into their flank, charged at the Guard so driving them back in disorder.

He went on to become commander-in-chief of all the armed forces in British North America, personally leading the offensive at the Battle of Saint-Eustache in Lower Canada and defeating the rebel force in December 1837. After that he was high commissioner of the Ionian Islands and then Commander-in-Chief, Ireland.

John Leslie, 10th Earl of Rothes

General John Leslie, 10th Earl of Rothes KT (1698 – 10 December 1767) was a senior British Army officer who became Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Irish Army between 1758 and 1767.

Lovick Friend

Major General Sir Lovick Bransby Friend (25 April 1856 – 19 November 1944) was a British Army major general and amateur sportsman. He served with the Royal Engineers and was Commander-in-Chief, Ireland during the 1916 Easter Rising. As a sportsman, Friend played in goal for the Royal Engineers in the 1878 FA Cup Final and first-class cricket for Kent County Cricket Club.

Neville Lyttelton

General Sir Neville Gerald Lyttelton, (28 October 1845 – 6 July 1931) was a British Army officer from the Lyttelton family who served against the Fenian Raids, and in the Anglo-Egyptian War, the Mahdist War and the Second Boer War. He was Chief of the General Staff at the time of the Haldane Reforms and then became Commander-in-Chief, Ireland.

Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar

Prince William Augustus Edward of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (11 October 1823 – 16 November 1902) was a British military officer of German parents. After a career in the Grenadier Guards, he became Major General commanding the Brigade of Guards and General Officer Commanding the Home District in 1870, General Officer Commanding Southern District in October 1878 and Commander-in-Chief, Ireland in October 1885. He was promoted to field marshal in 1897 despite his career including no great military achievements.

Ralph Abercromby

Sir Ralph Abercromby (sometimes spelt Abercrombie) (7 October 1734 – 28 March 1801) was a Scottish soldier and politician. He rose to the rank of lieutenant-general in the British Army, was noted for his services during the Napoleonic Wars, and served as Commander-in-Chief, Ireland.

He twice served as MP for Clackmannanshire, and he was appointed Governor of Trinidad.

Stapleton Cotton, 1st Viscount Combermere

Field Marshal Stapleton Cotton, 1st Viscount Combermere (14 November 1773 – 21 February 1865), was a British Army officer, diplomat and politician. As a junior officer he took part in the Flanders Campaign, in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War and in the suppression of Robert Emmet's insurrection in 1803. He commanded a cavalry brigade in Sir Arthur Wellesley's Army before being given overall command of the cavalry in the latter stages of the Peninsular War. He went on to be Commander-in-Chief, Ireland and then Commander-in-Chief, India. In the latter role he stormed Bharatpur—a fort which previously had been deemed impregnable.

William Medows

General Sir William Medows KB (31 December 1738 – 14 November 1813) was an Englishman and a general in the British Army. He entered the army in 1756 and saw action in North America, the Cape, and India. In 1788 he was appointed Governor of Bombay, transferring to become Governor of Madras in 1790.

That year, at the head of 15,000 men, he attacked Tipu Sultan of Mysore. In a see-saw campaign he was slightly wounded, mishandled a crucial assault and attempted suicide before the war ended in Britain's favour. In 1801 he was appointed Commander-in-Chief, Ireland as a full general.

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