James Stuart (British Army officer, born 1741)

General James Stuart was a British Army officer who served in North America during the American Revolutionary War and took part in various campaigns in British India. He was the first General Officer Commanding, Ceylon and second Military Governor of British Ceylon. He was appointed on 1 March 1796 and was Governor until 1 January 1797. He was succeeded by Welbore Ellis Doyle.[1]

James Stuart
2nd Military Governor of British Ceylon
In office
1 March 1796  1 January 1797
MonarchGeorge III
Preceded byPatrick Alexander Agnew
Succeeded byWelbore Ellis Doyle
1st General Officer Commanding, Ceylon
In office
Preceded byNew Command
Succeeded byWelbore Ellis Doyle
Personal details
Born(1741-03-02)2 March 1741
Blairhall Perthshire, Scotland
Died29 April 1815
Charles Street, Berkeley Square, London
Resting placeSt. James's Chapel, London, England
Military service
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Branch/serviceBritish Army
CommandsGeneral Officer Commanding, Ceylon
Madras Army

Early life

Stuart was born on 2 March 1741. He was the third son of John Stuart of Blairhall in Perthshire. His mother was Anne, daughter of Francis Stuart, 7th Earl of Moray. Stuart was educated at schools in Culross and Dunfermline, Scotland. He studied law at the University of Edinburgh and then joined the British Army, serving in the American war of independence.[2][3]

Military career

India and Ceylon

Promoted to major in the 78th Foot, he arrived in India in 1782 and was promoted to lieutenant-colonel[2] on 14 February. He took part in Sir Eyre Coote's campaign against Hyder in the Second Anglo-Mysore War, and was present at the siege of Cuddalore[2][4] where he commanded the attack on the right of the main position in the assault of 13 July 1782.[3]

He served in the campaign of 1790, under General Sir William Medows, against Tipu Sultan, attacking the fortresses of Dindigul and Palghaut. He served under Cornwallis during the campaigns of 1791–2, and led the siege of Seringapatam,[4] commanding the centre column in the assault of 6 February 1792. Promoted to colonel in August, he returned to Madras in 1794.[3]

Promoted to major-general in 1795, he took command of the expedition against Dutch possessions in Ceylon that year. After the whole island was secured in 1796, Stuart became commander-in-chief in the same year of the forces in Madras.[3][4]

He was made colonel of the 82nd Regiment of Foot in 1797,[5] transferring the following year to the 72nd Regiment of Foot, a position he held until his death.[6]

In 1799 he commanded the Bombay Army in the last war against Tipu, which occupied Coorg, and repulsed Tipu at Seedaseer on 6 March. On 15 March he joined with Major General George Harris (afterwards Lord Harris) before the 1799 Battle of Seringapatam[4] and took charge of the operations on the northern side of the city. After its capture he received the thanks of both Houses of Parliament.[3]

Later career and death

He became commander-in-chief of the Madras Army in 1801. Promoted to lieutenant-general in 1802,[2] he took part in the Second Anglo-Maratha War in 1803 but in 1805 returned to England in bad health.[2] He was promoted to the rank of full general on 1 January 1812.[2]

He died without issue at Charles Street, Berkeley Square, London, on 29 April 1815 and was buried in a vault in St. James's Chapel, Hampstead Road, London.[2][3]


  1. "Sri Lanka". Rulers.org. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  2. "Stuart, James (1741-1815) - General". mq.edu.au. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  3. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  4. C. E. Buckland (1971). Dictionary of Indian Biography. Ardent Media. p. 409.
  5. "82nd (The Prince of Wales's Volunteers) Regiment of Foot". regiments.ord. Archived from the original on 19 May 2006. Retrieved 30 August 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  6. "72nd (or Duke of Albany's Own Highlanders) Regiment of Foot". regiments.org. Archived from the original on 6 January 2007. Retrieved 27 July 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
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