Eyre Coote papers  1775-1925 (bulk 1775-1830)
full text File Size: 58 K bytes | Add this to my bookbag

Biography

Eyre Coote (1759-1823), was the son of Charles Coote (1713-1796), and Grace Tilson of Ireland. He was educated at Eton College and Trinity College. In December 1774, he entered the 37th Regiment British Army under his uncle, General Sir Eyre Coote. During the American Revolutionary War, he rose through the ranks to lieutenant in 1776 and to captain in 1778. Coote participated in the battles of Brooklyn (August 27, 1776), Brandywine (September 11, 1777), Germantown (October 4, 1777), and Monmouth Court House (June 28, 1778), among others. He served in the southern colonies under General Charles Cornwallis from 1780 until he was captured at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781. He was paroled in April 1782, and he returned to England.

In February 1783, Coote was commissioned a major in the 4th Regiment of Foot and five years later, he purchased the office of lieutenant colonel of the 70th regiment. Between 1782 and 1792, Coote was garrisoned in Britain and Ireland. His first significant command was under Sir Charles Grey, for an expedition to attack the French in the West Indies. Though the conflict was not entirely successful, Coote distinguished himself and was promoted to colonel in 1794. He participated in an unsuccessful expedition to the Netherlands in 1794-1795, and in 1795, was appointed aide-de-camp to George III. He participated in a second West Indies campaign, under the command of Sir Ralph Abercrombie in 1796, and, that same year, was promoted to brigadier general while stationed at Bandon, County Cork, under the command of General William Dalrymple. On January 1, 1798, he was promoted to major general and given command at Dover, where a French invasion of England was expected but never materialized.

In 1798, Coote commanded an expedition to destroy the sluice gates of the Bruges Canal and other fixtures near Ostend, Belgium. The attack was successful but he was wounded and taken prisoner by the French. He was exchanged in September 1798, and, the following year, he commanded a brigade in the Netherlands near Helder. In 1801, Coote accompanied Sir Ralph Abercrombie to Egypt, where he was responsible for the siege and capture of Alexandria. For his success in Egypt, Coote was made a member of the Order of the Bath in May 1802. Between 1801 and 1805, he was stationed at various locations in Britain and Ireland, and in 1802 he was elected Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom for Queen’s County, an office which he held until 1806. From 1805-1808, Coote served as governor general of Jamaica, and commanded an expedition to protect the West Indies from French attack.

His last significant operation followed in 1809, when Coote was second-in-command to General Lord Chatham for an expedition to the Netherlands. Although Coote captured Flushing and occupied Walcheren Island, Chatham’s army lost strength as it approached Antwerp, and returned to England, leaving Coote to garrison Walcheren. However, disease spread among the troops and by the end of 1809, most of the soldiers returned to England. The expedition’s failure resulted in a parliamentary inquiry and censure over military misconduct during the expedition.

In 1812, the borough of Barnstaple in Devon elected Coote to serve as a Member of Parliament, an office which he held until 1818. He was promoted to general in 1814, but in 1815, was charged before the lord mayor of London with indecent conduct, having allegedly paid boys at Christ Church Hospital to whip him. The lord mayor’s court did not convict him, though Frederick, Duke of York, deemed Coote’s actions inappropriate and had Coote court-martialled, dismissed from the army, and stripped of his knighthood. This disgrace and the death of his daughter led to his increasing mental and physical decline. He died in London on December 10, 1823.

Coote married Sarah Rodbard (d. 1795), daughter of John Rodbard, in 1786; they had three daughters: Sarah (d. 1815), Susanna (b. 1787), and Catherine. His wife Sarah died in 1795, and in 1805, he married Jane Bagwell, daughter of John Bagwell, of Marlfield. They had one son, Eyre (1806-1834), who died while on a yachting trip in the Mediterranean.