John Byng, 1st Earl of Strafford

John Byng, 1st Earl of Strafford

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 fourth son of politician George Byng (a grandson of the 1st Viscount Torrington) and his wife, Anne (a maternal granddaughter of the 1st Earl of Strafford of the first creation). In 1793, he joined the 33rd Regiment of Foot as an Ensign and fought under Col. Arthur Wellesley (later Duke of Wellington) in Flanders from 1793-95 and was wounded at Geldermalsen. From 1797-98, he was aide-de-camp to General Vyse in Ireland, where he was again wounded, this time in the Irish Rebellion of 1798. In 1799, he became a Major in the 60th Regiment of Foot, a Lieutenant-Colonel in the 29th Regiment of Foot a year later, and was stationed at Halifax, Nova Scotia from 1802-04. 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.

Napoleonic Wars

In 1811, Byng was promoted to a Brigadier-General and fought in the Peninsular War under General Hill, being engaged in southern Spain (at Vitoria, the Pyrenees, Pamplona (where he was wounded), the Nivelle (where he was again wounded), the Nive and Bayonne all in 1813) and in southern France (at Espelette, Garris, Orthes, Aire and Toulouse all in 1814). He also took part in the Battle of Waterloo and headed 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.

Ireland and politics

In 1828, Byng was appointed Commander-in-Chief, Ireland 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. In 1841, he was promoted to a General and after inheriting Wrotham Park from his eldest brother in 1847, was further raised in the Peerage as Viscount Enfield and Earl of Strafford that year. 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.


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

*Hon. George Stevens Byng, later styled Viscount Enfield, later 2nd Earl of Strafford (1806-1886)

Byng's first wife died from complications of the birth shortly after and on 9 May 1808, he married Marianne James (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.

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