Posts Tagged ‘William Adam of Blair Adam’

Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Sir Frederick Adam


Frederick Adam

a Scottish major-general at the Battle of Waterloo, in command of the 3rd (Light) Brigade. He was the fourth son of William Adam of Blair Adam and his wife Eleanora, the daughter of Charles Elphinstone, 10th Lord Elphinstone.

At the age of fourteen in 1795, Frederick Adam entered the British Army. He trained at the artillery school at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich. In the same year he was commissioned as a first lieutenant and in 1796 he was promoted to second lieutenant.

He took part in the campaigns in the Netherlands and Egypt under Sir Ralph Abercromby, he was promoted to the rank of major in 1803 and a lieutenant colonel in 1804. From 1806 to 1811 he was stationed on Sicily. Between 1812 and 1813 he was in Spain fighting in the Peninsular War, where he was severely wounded at Alicante. On 12 April 1813, while commanding the Light Brigade in John Murray’s expeditionary force, Adam led a brilliant rearguard action against the corps of Marshal Louis Gabriel Suchet at Biar. The following day, his 2/27th Foot battalion inflicted 350 casualties on Suchet’s 121st Line Regiment during the Battle of Castalla. He was wounded again in an action at Ordal on 13 September 1813.

On 18 June 1815, Adam commanded the 3rd British Brigade in Henry Clinton’s 2nd Division at the Battle of Waterloo. At the crisis of the battle, Adam’s 1/52nd (Light) Foot performed a left-wheel to enfilade the flank of the French Imperial Guard’s main attack while the British Guards engaged the head of the column. Under fire from two directions, the French guardsmen put up a brief resistance then fled. After their unsuccessful attack on the British centre, the Guard rallied to their reserves of three (some sources say four) regiments, just south of La Haye Sainte for a last stand against the British. But a charge from Adam’s brigade threw them into a state of confusion and those which were left retreated towards La Belle Alliance. It was during this stand that Colonel Hugh Halkett took the surrender of General Cambronne.

The French Imperial Guard made a last stand in squares on either side of the La Belle Alliance. General Adam’s Brigade charged the square which was formed on rising ground to the (British) right of La Belle Alliance and again threw them into a state of confusion. The other square was attacked by the Prussians. The French retreated away from the battle field towards France. The French artillery, and everything else belonging to them, fell into the hands of the British and Prussians.

From 1817 to 1824, Adam continued his career in the army. Between 1824 and 1832 he was a popular Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands. His commissioning of the construction of public buildings on Corfu was appreciated by the local population. From 25 October 1832, to 4 March 1837, he was Governor of Madras and, in 1846, he was promoted to general.

Incomplete list of military commands:

  • 1813 – commanded Anglo-Allied Light Brigade at Biar and Castalla.
  • 1813 – commanded Anglo-Allied Advanced Guard at Ordal.
  • 1815 – commanded 3rd (Light) British Brigade at Waterloo.
  • 1829 – 1835 Colonel of 73rd Perthshire Regiment of Foot.
  • 1835 – Colonel of 57th Foot who were stationed in India.
  • 1843 – Colonel 21st Fusiliers.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

William Adam of Blair Adam
2 August 1751 – 17 February 1839


William Adam

William Adam of Blair Adam FRSE KC was a Scottish advocate, barrister, politician and judge. He served as Solicitor General for Scotland and as Lord Chief Commissioner of the Jury Court.

His political career was affected by his father’s periodic financial problems, as sometimes the family had substantial wealth and sometimes it was in difficulties, forcing Adam to concentrate his attention on his legal practice.

His second son was Admiral Sir Charles Adam.

William Adam was the only surviving son of Jean Ramsay and John Adam of Blairadam, architect and master mason to the Board of Ordnance in Scotland, of Maryburgh, Kinross. His uncle was the architect Robert Adam.

Born in Kinross-shire, he was educated at the High School in Edinburgh, Edinburgh University and Christ Church, Oxford. He joined Lincoln’s Inn in 1769, to qualify as an English barrister. He was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1773 and was eventually called to the English bar in 1782.

Adam represented a number of constituencies in Parliament. He was MP for the rotten borough of Gatton 1774–1780. He represented Wigtown Burghs 1780–1784. He was a Treasury nominee for that seat, as a supporter of Lord North. He moved to another Scottish Burgh seat Elgin Burghs 1784–1790. In 1790–1794 he sat for Ross-shire. His last Parliamentary seat was Kincardineshire, which he represented from 1806 until he became a Judge in January 1812.

Adam took a very hard line on American issues in the early part of his political career. He was critical of his future political leader Lord North for being too conciliatory before the outbreak of fighting. However, after pursuing an independent course up to 25 November 1779 he then announced in the House of Commons that he was now going to support Lord North. After that he became a loyal friend and defender of North.

Adam particularly disliked the leading opposition figure Charles James Fox. At one stage they fought a duel. He also attacked Fox verbally in Parliament.

Adam was appointed to the minor political office of Treasurer of the Ordnance. He held this office twice, first between September 1780 and May 1782 and again April–December 1783.

On 17–18 February 1783, Adam spoke and voted against peace with the United States. After that, despite his past animosity to Charles James Fox, Adam advocated the Fox-North Coalition, as the only way to stop Lord North’s party becoming politically irrelevant.

Adam was active in gathering detailed information about the Scottish constituencies, to help his political associates.

Thereafter Adam was less involved in politics as he developed his career at the English bar. Through his friendship with the Prince of Wales he was appointed Solicitor General for Scotland (1802–1805) and then Attorney General to the Prince (1805–1806). From 1806–1815 he was Chancellor of the Duchy of Cornwall, another office in the gift of the Prince.

Adam was Lord Lieutenant of Kinross-shire from 1802 until his death. He became a friend of Sir Walter Scott. In 1812, he published Vitruvius Scoticus, a collection of his grandfather William Adam’s architectural projects, which the elder William had first initiated in 1727.

During the Regency of the Prince of Wales, Adam received judicial office in Scotland. Between 1814–1819 he was a Baron of the Scottish Court of Exchequer. Adam became a member of the Privy Council on 17 March 1815. He became Lord Chief Commissioner of the Scottish jury court from 1815 until his death.

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