George Hanger, 4th Baron Coleraine (13 October 1751 – 31 March 1824) was a British soldier, author, and eccentric.
Hanger was born into a prosperous family in Gloucestershire, the third son in a family of seven children. His father was Gabriel Hanger, a member of parliament who in 1762 was created Baron Coleraine in the Peerage of Ireland.
As a younger son, Hanger's education was geared towards his entering the army. He was sent to Reading School and then Eton before going to the University of Göttingen. After joining the Prussian Army of Frederick the Great, he returned to England and in 1771 purchased an Ensigncy in the 1st Regiment of Footguards. About this time, he married his first wife, a gypsy who soon ran off with a tinker.
In the army Hanger gained the reputation of being a womaniser to the detriment of his military duties. In 1776 he purchased a lieutenantcy, but he retired in disgust after a more junior officer purchased promotion over him. He then purchased a captaincy in the Hessian Jägers and served throughout the American Revolutionary War, transferring to Sir Banastre Tarleton's British Legion as a major and as commander of its light dragoons. In the Battle of Charlotte of 1780, Hanger commanded the legion due to Tarleton's illness, ordering it to ride into Charlotte, North Carolina without taking precautions to guard against surprise attacks. As a consequence, the legion's cavalry was badly mauled by Patriot militia that had set up an ambush in the town centre. Hanger was wounded in the battle, which he termed a "trifling insignificant skirmish". He shortly thereafter fell ill, probably with yellow fever, and was shipped to the Bahamas to recuperate.
He also became involved in a minor literary feud, in 1789, publishing An Address to the Army; In Reply To 'Strictures', by Roderick M'Kenzie (Late Lieutenant in the 71st Regiment) On Tarleton's History of the Campaigns of 1780 and 1781. The full title of M'Kenzie's book was Strictures on Colonel Banaster Tarleton's History of the Southern Campaigns of 1780 and 1781 and was itself critical of Tarleton's 1787 account of the southern campaigns called A History of the Campaigns of 1780 and 1781 in the Southern Provinces of North America. Discussion of this apparently continues to this day.
After returning to England, he became a companion of the Prince Regent (later King George IV). They became great friends, the prince apparently admiring Hanger's sense of humour and his exploits, both military and with women, and appointing him Equerry in 1791. The only surviving painting of Hanger comes from this period. Commissioned by the Prince, it remains in the Royal Collection. Hanger was also the butt of caricaturists and many prints of him survive. The National Portrait Gallery in London has a collection of twenty prints by James Gillray satirising him. In 1795 he purchased the Lieutenant-Colonelcy of the 125th Foot, and six months later he exchanged his commission into one of the same rank in the 1st Battalion the 82nd Foot. In need of money, in 1796 Hanger sold his lieutenant-colonelcy and purchased an ensigncy in the 70th Foot. In 1806 he was appointed captain-commissary in the Royal Artillery.
He declined a seat in the House of Commons, even though his father and two of his brothers had sat there, and in 1814 he refused to take his seat in the Irish House of Lords when he succeeded to the family title.
He died in London in 1824, at the age of 74, when his Irish peerage became extinct.
|Peerage of Ireland|
- Hanger's biography
- Hanger also published two other works:
- Life, Adventures, and Opinions (London, 1801), about his life and other military subjects.
- Lives, Adventures, and Sharping Tricks of Eminent Gamesters (1804), about his life.
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