Military Wiki
Earl of Strafford
Portrait of John Byng by William Salter, 1834-1840
Born 1772
Died June 3, 1860(1860-06-03) (aged 87 or 88)
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Rank Field Marshal

Flanders Campaign
Irish Rebellion of 1798
Napoleonic Wars

War of the Fifth Coalition

Peninsular War

Hundred Days

Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Guelphic Order

Field Marshal John Byng, 1st Earl of Strafford, GCB, GCH, PC (I) (1772 – 3 June 1860) was a British peer, politician and soldier.

Early years

Byng was the third son of Major George Byng,[1] son of the Hon. Robert Byng, third son of George Byng, 1st Viscount Torrington.[1] His mother was Anne, a maternal granddaughter of the 1st Earl of Strafford of the first creation. George Byng was his elder brother. In 1793, he joined the 33rd Regiment of Foot as an Ensign[1] and fought under Col. Arthur Wellesley (later Duke of Wellington) in Flanders from 1793–95 and was wounded at Geldermalsen. From 1797 to 1798, he was aide-de-camp to General Vyse in Ireland, where he was again wounded, this time in the Irish Rebellion of 1798.[1] In 1800, he became a Major in the 60th Regiment of Foot,[1] a Lieutenant-Colonel in the 29th Regiment of Foot a few months later,[1] and was stationed at Halifax, Nova Scotia from 1802 to 1804. In 1804, he transferred to the 3rd Regiment of Foot Guards and took part in the Hanoverian Expedition in 1805, the Siege of Copenhagen in 1807 and the Walcheren Expedition in 1809.[1]

Napoleonic Wars

In 1811, Byng was promoted to a Brigadier-General and fought in the Peninsular War under General Hill. He was engaged in Spain and southern France at the battles of Vitoria,[1] the Pyrenees,[1] Pamplona (where he was wounded), the Nivelle (where he was again wounded)[1] and the Nive in 1813.[1] He fought in actions at Espelette, Garris, Orthez,[1] Aire-sur-l'Adour and Toulouse in 1814.[1] During the Battle of Waterloo[1] he led a brigade of Guards (2/2nd Guards and 2/3rd Guards) in the 1st Division. He was involved in the advance on Paris soon after and occupied the heights of Montmartre. He was appointed a KCB in 1815, twice received thanks from both Houses of Parliament, was promoted to a Lieutenant-General in 1825 and was appointed a GCH in 1826. In recognition of his services, he was awarded the Army Gold Cross, with one clasp, for the battles of Vitoria, the Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, and Orthez; the Military General Service Medal with one clasp for Toulouse; and the Waterloo Medal.

Ireland and politics

In 1828, Byng was appointed Commander-in-Chief, Ireland[1] and admitted to the Privy Council of Ireland the same year. After leaving Ireland in 1831, he was appointed a GCB and switched to politics, being elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Poole in Dorset, a seat he held until he was raised to the Peerage as Baron Strafford in 1835.[1] In 1841, he was promoted to a General He was further raised in the Peerage as Viscount Enfield and Earl of Strafford 1843[1] and inherited Wrotham Park from his eldest brother in 1847. In 1855, he was further promoted to the highest military rank of Field Marshal and on his death five years later in 1860, his titles passed to his eldest son, Viscount Enfield.[1]


On 14 June 1804, Byng married heiress, Mary Mackenzie[1] and they had one child:

Byng's first wife died from complications of the birth shortly after and on 9 May 1808, he married Marianne James[1] (the second daughter of Sir Walter James Head, Bart. and maternal granddaughter of the 1st Earl Camden) and they had four children:

  • Hon. William Frederick (d. 1877)
  • Lady Harriet Frances (d. 1873), married Capt. Charles Ramsden.
  • Hon. Frances (d. 1846), married Henry Tufnell.
  • Lady Caroline Frances (d. 27 May 1898), mar. 18 Aug 1835 Sir Walter George Stirling, Bart.


  • Heathcote, T. A., The British Field Marshals 1736 - 1997, Leo Cooper, 1999, ISBN 0-85052-696-5

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Sir James Leith
Colonel of the 4th West India Regiment
Regiment disbanded
Preceded by
Sir Henry Torrens
Colonel of the 2nd West India Regiment
Succeeded by
Francis Fuller
Preceded by
Gordon Forbes
Colonel of the 29th Regiment of Foot
Succeeded by
The Lord Downes
Preceded by
Sir George Murray
Commander-in-Chief, Ireland
Succeeded by
The Lord Vivian
Preceded by
George Vaughan Hart
Governor of Londonderry
Office abolished
Preceded by
The Duke of Cambridge
Colonel of the Coldstream Guards
Succeeded by
The Lord Clyde
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Benjamin Lester
William Ponsonby
Member of Parliament for Poole
Served alongside: Benjamin Lester 1831–1835
Charles Tulk 1835
Succeeded by
Charles Tulk
George Byng
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Earl of Strafford
3rd creation
Succeeded by
George Byng
New creation Baron Strafford
(descended by acceleration)


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