Gerard Lake, 1st Viscount Lake

General Gerard Lake, 1st Viscount Lake (27 July 1744 – 20 February 1808) was a British general. He commanded British forces during the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and later served as Commander-in-Chief of the military in British India.

Gerard Lake, 1st Viscount Lake
Gerard Lake
Born27 July 1744
Harrow, Middlesex, Great Britain
Died20 February 1808 (aged 63)
AllegianceFlag of Great Britain (1707–1800).svg Great Britain
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Years of service1758–1808
Battles/warsAmerican Revolutionary War
French Revolutionary Wars
Irish Rebellion of 1798
Second Anglo-Maratha War


Lake entered the foot guards in 1758, becoming lieutenant (captain in the army) in 1762, captain (lieutenant-colonel) in 1776, major in 1784, and lieutenant colonel in 1792, by which time he was a general officer in the army. He served with his regiment in Germany between 1760 and 1762, and with a composite battalion in the Battle of Yorktown of 1781. After this he was equerry to the Prince of Wales, afterwards George IV.

In 1790, he became a major-general, and in 1793 was appointed to command the Guards Brigade in the Duke of York and Albany's army in Flanders during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was in command at the successful Battle of Lincelles on 18 August 1793, and served on the continent (except for a short time when seriously ill) until April 1794. He later sold his lieutenant-colonelcy in the guards, and became colonel of the 53rd Regiment of Foot and governor of Limerick in Ireland. In 1797 he was promoted to lieutenant-general.

1798 rebellion in Ireland

In December 1796 he was appointed commander in Ulster and issued a proclamation ordering the surrender of all arms by the civil population, during which time he was 'untroubled by legal restraints or by his troops' violent actions'.[1] Historians have generally seen Lake's Dragooning of Ulster in 1797 as effective in disarming and crippling the Society of United Irishmen in that province, although his effectiveness has been questioned.[2] Lake succeeded Sir Ralph Abercromby as commander-in-chief of British troops in Ireland in April 1798 and turned his attention to Leinster, where 'public floggings and torture of suspected rebels became widespread and added to the general atmosphere of terror'.[1] Rather than cowing the province into submission, 'his crude methods probably contributed to the outbreak of insurrection' in May 1798.[1] Lake continued to deal harshly with opposition, and issued orders to take no prisoners during the rebellion.[3]

In May Lake commanded troops in County Kildare, and, after the failed rebel attack on Naas on 24 May, he assisted General Ralph Dundas in ensuring the rebel surrender after the Battle of Kilcullen, which Dundas arranged on humane terms. Another rebel force on the nearby Curragh were also persuaded to surrender, but while this was being arranged by Lake the rebels were mistakenly attacked by separate British forces coming from the opposite direction, resulting in the Gibbet Rath massacre on 29 May. As a result, central Kildare remained quiet for the rest of 1798.

Lake then took overall command of a force of some 20,000 troops to crush the Wexford rebels and defeated the main rebel army at Vinegar Hill (near Enniscorthy, County Wexford) on 21 June. His policy of brutality towards rebels found in arms brought him into conflict with Lord Cornwallis who was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in June 1798 and instituted an amnesty act to encourage rebels to lay down their arms.[4]

Cornwallis sent Lake to oppose a French expedition of 1,000 troops which had landed at Killala Bay, County Mayo on 23 August. On 29 August, Lake arrived at Castlebar with a force of 1,700 (composed of mainly of militia, fencibles and yeomanry) and witnessed the rout of his troops under General Hely-Hutchinson (afterwards 2nd Earl of Donoughmore) at the Battle of Castlebar.[5] Lake failed to rally his largely inexperienced troops and was forced to retreat to Tuam; the speed of which retreat (and abandonment of material) led the incident to become known as the 'Races of Castlebar'. Hely-Hutchinson shouldered much of the blame, but it was accepted that Lake's troops were inexperienced and a head-on battle with the seasoned French force was probably to be avoided.[6] However, rumours also abounded that Lake had been drinking heavily the night before the battle and was only woken with difficulty while the French were already attacking.[1]

He defeated the French at the Battle of Ballinamuck on 8 September.[7]

Indian campaigns

In 1799, Lake returned to England, and soon afterwards travelled to British India where he was appointed Commander-in-Chief. He took up his duties at Calcutta in July 1801, and applied himself to the improvement of the East India Company army, especially in the direction of making all arms, infantry, cavalry and artillery, more mobile and more manageable. In 1802 he was made a full general.

On the outbreak the Second Anglo-Maratha War in 1803 General Lake took the field against Daulat Scindia, and within two months defeated the Marathas at Kol (now called Aligarh), after storming Aligarh Fort during the Battle of Ally Ghur (1 September 1803). He then took Delhi (11 September) and Agra (10 October), and won a victory at the Battle of Laswari (1 November), where the power of Scindia was completely broken with the loss of 31 disciplined battalions, trained and officered by Frenchmen, and 426 pieces of ordnance. This defeat, followed a few days later by Major-General Arthur Wellesley's victory at the Battle of Argaon, compelled Scindia to come to terms, and a treaty was signed in December 1803.

Operations continued against Yashwantrao Holkar, who, on 17 November 1804, was defeated by Lake at the Battle of Farrukhabad. However, Lake was frustrated by Jats and Yashwantrao Holker at Bharatpur which held out against five assaults early in 1805.[8] Cornwallis succeeded Lord Wellesley as Governor-General of India in July of that year – superseding Lake at the same time as commander-in-chief – and determined to put an end to the war. Cornwallis, however, died in October of the same year and Lake pursued Holkar into the Punjab. However, after seeing the stronger position of Holkar and his effort to gather all Indian princes under one flag against the British, the British East India Company signed a peace treaty with Holkar which returned to him all his territory and promised no further interference from the Company.

Lord Wellesley in a despatch attributed much of the success of the war to Lake's matchless energy, ability and valour. For his services, Lake received the thanks of Parliament, and, in September 1804, was rewarded by being created Baron Lake of Delhi and Laswary and of Aston Clinton in the County of Buckingham. From 1801 to 1805 Lake was Commander-in-Chief, India, then again from 1805 to 1807 as his successor John Graves Simcoe had died before heading off to India. At the conclusion of the war he returned to England, and in 1807 he was created Viscount Lake of Delhi and Laswary and of Aston Clinton in the County of Buckingham.

One of his sons Major George Augustus Frederick Lake accompanied him in Ireland and then India, acting as his aide-de-camp and military secretary during the campaign: at one stage offering his mount when the elder Lake's horse had been shot from under him at an engagement near the village of Mohaulpoor. Minutes after seeing his father mounted Major Lake was seriously wounded in the presence of his father. Major G A F Lake recovered from his wound and went on to command the 29th Regiment of Foot during the Peninsular Campaign. He was killed in action at the Battle of Roliça, Portugal on 17 August 1808[9].

Parliamentary career

Like many contemporaries, Lake pursued both a parliamentary and military career. He represented Aylesbury in the British House of Commons from 1790 to 1802, and he also was brought into the Irish House of Commons by the government as member for Armagh Borough in 1799 to vote for the Act of Union.

Later years

Viscount Lake was recorded as being an inveterate gambler who lost most of his family's fortune. He died in London on 20 February 1808 leaving his children with little or no inheritance. This was seen by many at Court and the then Prime Minister the Duke of Portland, as a sad end for such a stalwart of Empire and his children. Portland made a special request to King George III to remedy the situation, particularly with respect to the unmarried Lake daughters[10].


  1. ^ a b c d Quinn, James (2009). "Lake, Gerard". Dictionary of Irish Biography.
  2. ^ Curtin, Nancy J. (2000). "The Magistracy and Counter-Revolution in Ulster, 1795-1798". In Smyth, Jim (ed.). Revolution, Counter-Revolution and Union: Ireland in the 1790s. Cambridge University Press. p. 39. ISBN 0521661099.
  3. ^ Bennell, Anthony S. (2004). "Lake, Gerard, first Viscount Lake of Delhi (1744–1808)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  4. ^ Quinn, James (2012). "Cornwallis, Charles Earl Cornwallis". Dictionary of Irish Biography. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  5. ^ Kleinman, Sylvie (2012). "Humbert, Jean-Joseph Amable". Dictionary of Irish Biography. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  6. ^ Bartlett, Thomas (1997). "Defence,counter-insurgency and rebellion: Ireland, 1793-1803". In Bartlett, Thomas; Jeffery, Keith (eds.). A Military History of Ireland. Cambridge University Press. p. 286. ISBN 0521629896.
  7. ^ "Battle of Ballinmuck". LibraryIreland. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  8. ^ The fourth assault was on 20 February 1805 with a fifth assault the following day. The Gentleman's magazine (1805) Volume 75, Part 2, page 854
  9. ^ "Containing the Services of General and Field Officers of the Indian Army". The East India Military Calendar. 3: 511. 1826. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  10. ^ (King of Great Britain), George III (1808). The Later Correspondence of George Iii (Vol Five ed.). CUP Archive. pp. 22–23. Retrieved 1 June 2017.


  • See H Pearse, Memoir of the Life and Services of Viscount Lake (London, 1908); GB Malleson, Decisive Battles of India (1883); J Grant Duff, History of the Mahrattas (1873); short memoir in From Cromwell to Wellington, ed. Spenser Wilkinson.
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Lake, Gerard Lake, 1st Viscount" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 16 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 85–86.
Parliament of Great Britain
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William Wrightson
Scrope Bernard
Member of Parliament for Aylesbury
With: Scrope Bernard
Succeeded by
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of Ireland
Preceded by
Hon. Thomas Pelham
Patrick Duigenan
Member of Parliament for Armagh Borough
With: Patrick Duigenan
Succeeded by
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Parliament of Great Britain
Member of Parliament for Aylesbury
With: Scrope Bernard
Succeeded by
James Du Pre
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Military offices
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Robert Dalrymple Horne Elphinstone
Colonel of the 53rd (Shropshire) Regiment of Foot
Succeeded by
Welbore Ellis Doyle
Preceded by
William Medows
Colonel of the 73rd (Highland) Regiment of Foot
Succeeded by
George Harris, 1st Baron Harris
Preceded by
Sir Ralph Abercromby
Commander-in-Chief, Ireland
April 1798 – June 1798
Succeeded by
The Marquess Cornwallis
Preceded by
Sir James Craig
Commander-in-Chief, India
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The Marquess Cornwallis
Preceded by
The Marquess Cornwallis
Commander-in-Chief, India
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Sir George Hewett
Preceded by
The Earl of Chatham
Governor of Plymouth
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The Viscount Howe
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Lake
Succeeded by
Francis Lake
Baron Lake
1801 in India

Events in the year 1801 in India.

1806 in India

Events in the year 1806 in India.

Aston Clinton

Aston Clinton is a historic village and civil parish in the Vale of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, England. The village is at the foot of the Chiltern Hills, 2 miles (3.3km) from Weston Turville, 4 miles (6.5km) from Aylesbury and is bisected both at the northern end of the parish by the Aylesbury Arm and in the centre of the parish by the Wendover Arm stretch of the Grand Union Canal. The village lies between the market towns of Tring and Wendover.

Battle of Castlebar

The Battle of Castlebar occurred on 27 August 1798 near the town of Castlebar, County Mayo, during the Irish Rising of that year. A combined force of 2,000 French troops and Irish patriots routed a force of 6,000 British militia in what would later become known as the "Castlebar Races" or "Races of Castlebar".

Carnew executions

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Dunlavin Green executions

The Dunlavin Green executions refers to the summary execution of 36 suspected rebel prisoners in County Wicklow by the British military shortly after the outbreak of the rebellion of 1798. There are several accounts of the events, recorded at differing times and differing in detail.

George Harris, 1st Baron Harris

George Harris, 1st Baron Harris GCB (18 March 1746 – 19 May 1829) was a British soldier.

Gibbet Rath executions

The Gibbet Rath executions, sometimes called the Gibbet Rath massacre, refers to the execution of several hundred rebels by British forces during the Irish Rebellion of 1798 at the Curragh of Kildare on 29 May 1798.

Henry Joy McCracken

Henry Joy McCracken (31 August 1767 – 17 July 1798) was an Irish Republican and industrialist from Belfast, Ireland. He was a founding member of the Society of the United Irishmen.

Irish Republic (1798)

The Irish Republic of 1798, more commonly called the Republic of Connacht, was a short lived puppet state proclaimed during the Irish Rebellion of 1798 that resulted from the French Revolutionary Wars. In theory the republic was to cover the whole island of Ireland, but its functional control was limited to only very small parts of the Province of Connacht. The opposing Irish Royal Army was deployed across most of the country including the main towns such as Dublin, Belfast and Cork.

James Corcoran

James Corcoran (c.1770 – 1804) was an Irish rebel who fought during the rebellion of 1798 and was the leader of the last rebel guerrilla band to be defeated in the years following the suppression of the rebellion.

Jean-Baptiste-François Bompart

Jean-Baptiste-François Bompart (Lorient, 1757 — Bagnols, 1842) was a French privateer, navy officer and admiral. He was related to the noted Admiral Maxime de Bompart.

He took part in the American War of Independence as a young officer.

He later captained the Embuscade. She encountered and fought HMS Boston off New Jersey at the Action of 31 July 1793.

Promoted to admiral, he commanded the Expédition d'Irlande and was later defeated at the Battle of Tory Island.

He retired in 1801 over political disputes.

Jean Joseph Amable Humbert

General Jean Joseph Amable Humbert (22 August 1767 – 3 January 1823) was a French soldier, a participant in the French Revolution, who led a failed invasion of Ireland to assist Irish patriots in 1798. Born in the townland of La Coâre Saint-Nabord, outside Remiremont Vosges, he was a sergeant in the National Guard of Lyon. He rapidly advanced through the ranks to become brigadier general on 9 April 1794 and fought in the Western campaigns before being allocated to the Army of the Rhine.

List of Governors of Plymouth

The Governor of Plymouth was the military Captain or Governor of the Fortress of Plymouth. The Governorship was abolished in 1842. The Lieutenant Governorship was vested in the General Officer Commanding Western District from 1793 to 1903, and in the Officer Commanding Plymouth Garrison from 1903 until that post was abolished.

Michael Dwyer

Michael Dwyer (1772–1825) was a United Irishmen leader in the 1798 rebellion. He later fought a guerrilla campaign against the British Army in the Wicklow Mountains from 1798–1803.

Scullabogue Barn massacre

The Scullabogue massacre was an atrocity committed in Scullabogue, near Newbawn, County Wexford, Ireland on 5 June 1798, during the 1798 rebellion when some insurgents massacred up to 200 noncombatant men, women and children, most of whom were Protestant, held prisoner in a barn which was then set alight. A participant in the rebellion, General Thomas Cloney, put the death count at 100.

Siege of Bharatpur (1805)

The Siege of Bharatpur took place between 2 January and 22 February 1805 in the Indian Princely state of Bharatpur (now part of Rajasthan), during the Second Anglo-Maratha War. Forces of the British East India Company, led by General Gerard Lake, were four times repulsed in attempts to storm the fortress. The victory by Bharatpur backed by the Maratha Empire was an embarrassing defeat for the British.

Viscount Lake

Viscount Lake, of Delhi and Laswary and of Aston Clinton in the County of Buckingham, was a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1807 for the prominent soldier Gerard Lake, 1st Baron Lake. He was Commander-in-Chief of India from 1801 to 1805 and from 1805 to 1807. Lake had already been created Baron Lake, of Delhi and Laswary and of Aston Clinton in the County of Buckingham, in 1804, also in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. The titles became extinct on the death of the third Viscount in 1848.

Wexford Rebellion

The Wexford Rebellion refers to the outbreak in County Wexford, Ireland in May 1798 of the Society of United Irishmen's Rising against the British domination of Ireland. It was the most successful and most destructive of all the uprisings that occurred throughout Ireland during the 1798 Rising, lasting from 27 May 1798 until about 21 June 1798. The Wexford Rebellion saw much success despite County Wexford not being thought of as an immediate threat by the government, because of the spontaneous risings that occurred both before and after the significant rebel victories in Oulart, Enniscorthy, and Wexford town.

East India Company
British India

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