Military Wiki
William Harcourt
The Earl Harcourt
Born 20 March 1743
Died 17 June 1830 (aged 87)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Rank Field Marshal
Battles/wars Seven Years War
American War of Independence
French Revolutionary Wars

Field Marshal William Harcourt, 3rd Earl Harcourt, of Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire, GCB (20 March 1743 – 17 June 1830) was a British nobleman and soldier. He was the younger son of Simon Harcourt, 1st Earl Harcourt.

Seven Years War[]

Harcourt was commissioned into the First Regiment of Foot Guards in October 1759, and the 16th light dragoons in October 1759, which had been raised at his father's expense and was known as Harcourt's Black Horse.[1] In 1760, Harcourt was sent to Mecklenburg-Strelitz to escort to England the consort-elect of George III and he was appointed to a post in the Royal Household.[2]

He was aide-de-camp to Lord Albemarle at Havana in 1762.[2]

Later career[]

He became lieutenant colonel of the 31st Regiment of Foot in 1764, of the 4th Light Dragoons in 1765 and of the 16th Light Dragoons in 1768.[2] He served as Member of Parliament for Oxford from 1768 to 1774.[2] He commanded the 16th Light Dragoons in America, and captured General Charles Lee in 1776.[2]

He became a major-general in 1782[2] and purchased the house at St Leonard's Hill, Clewer, from the Duke of Gloucester.[2] He was appointed Deputy Ranger of Windsor Great Park.[2] He was promoted to lieutenant-general in 1793[2] and fought in the Flanders Campaign[2] with the Duke of York, whom he succeeded as commander.[2] He oversaw the British retreat, being unable to prevent the Batavian Revolution in Amsterdam in January 1795, and their final evacuation from Bremen in spring 1795.[2]

In 1798, he was promoted to general[2] and in 1801 became Governor of the Royal Military College at Great Marlow.[3]

He succeeded his elder brother George Simon Harcourt, 2nd Earl Harcourt to the earldom in 1809,[2] and was made a field marshal and GCB at the coronation of George IV in 1821, where he bore the Union standard.[2]

He was Equerry to Queen Charlotte from 1761 to 1766 and Master of the Horse from 1809 to 1818. For many years he served as a Groom of the Bedchamber and Deputy Lieutenant of Windsor Castle. He was on terms of close intimacy with the royal family and his court duties during the king's first illness (i.e.: mental derangement - the reference is to George III) "were of a very close and confidential nature."

At Kensington on 3 September 1778 he married Mary Danby (c. 1750 - St Leonard's Hill, Berkshire, 14 January 1833), widow of Thomas Lockhart, of Craig House,[2] Scotland (his wife was sent to accompany Princess Caroline of Brunswick on her wedding journey to England). There were no children, so when Harcourt died at St Leonard's Hill, Berkshire, the title became extinct. The estates passed to a cousin, Edward Vernon, who was Archbishop of York; on inheriting the estates he changed his name to Harcourt. A statue of Lord Harcourt was commissioned (from Robert William Sievier) with the intention that it should be erected at Stanton Harcourt in Oxfordshire, but at the insistence of the royal family, it was placed, instead, in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.[2]


He married, on 3 September 1778, Mary, widow of Thomas Lockhart of Craig House in Scotland, and daughter of the Rev. W. Danby, D.D., of Farnley, Yorkshire, by whom he had no issue. She died 14 January 1833.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1  Chichester, Henry Manners (1890). "Harcourt, William (1743-1830)". In Stephen, Leslie; Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 24. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  3. "No. 15377". 20 June 1801. 

External links[]

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Robert Lee
Sir Thomas Stapleton, Bt
Member of Parliament for Oxford
with George Nares 1768–1771
Lord Robert Spencer 1771–1774

Succeeded by
Lord Robert Spencer
Peregrine Bertie
Military offices
Preceded by
Lt-Gen John Burgoyne
Colonel of the 16th Regiment of Light Dragoons
Succeeded by
Sir John Vandeleur
Preceded by
The Marquess Townshend
Governor of Kingston-upon-Hull
Succeeded by
The Earl of Clanricarde
New office Governor of the Royal Military College
Succeeded by
Sir Alexander Hope
Preceded by
Hon. Henry Fox
Governor of Portsmouth
Succeeded by
Sir William Keppel
Preceded by
The Duke of Wellington
Governor of Plymouth
Succeeded by
The Lord Hill
Court offices
Preceded by
The Lord Selsey
Master of the Robes
Succeeded by
Hon. Henry Sedley
Preceded by
The Earl Harcourt
Master of the Horse to Queen Charlotte
Succeeded by
(death of Queen Charlotte)
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
George Harcourt
Earl Harcourt
Succeeded by
Title extinct

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