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First Foot Guards


Lord Ligonier
Colonel of the First Foot Guards

 

Above: Lord Ligonier
Below: Lady Ligonier

 

There are two Lords Ligonier of military fame:

The first was Earl Ligonier (1680-1770)
originally Sir John Ligonier. Ligonier was active in the Seven Years War, and
Henry Clinton was his aide de camp before becoming lieutenant colonel in the Foot Guards.

Ligonier was a naturalized Huguenot refugee, professional soldier, and courtier. When the Duke of Cumberland (nephew of George II and commander in chief) suffered military defeat and political disgrace in 1757 a new leader of the army had to be found. Pitt obtained the promotion of Lord Ligonier to Field Marshal who became in fact, if not in name, at age 77 Captain-General of the army, which brought him into the Cabinet as an adviser to Pitt. Although respected for his long and able service, Ligonier was at this stage in his life little more than a 'yes-man' for the dynamic Pitt.


In 1758 General John Forbes seized two French forts near present-day Pittsburgh. He named them Fort Ligonier after his commander-in-chief and Fort Pitt after the war minister.

The most notable portrait of Ligonier is by eminent portraitist Sir Joshua Reynolds. It now hangs in the reconstructed Fort Ligonier.

 

Ligonier's nephew was Lord Ligonier, who became Colonel of the First Foot Guards.

In London Italian writer Vittorio Alfieri was smitten by Lord Ligonier's wife, and fought a duel over her in Green Park. He wanted to marry her until she confessed she had also been sleeping with a groom for three years. Alfieri finally moved to Florence where he took as his mistress Louise, Countess of Albany, the young spouse of the aging drunkard Bonnie Prince Charlie. After the Old Pretender died, the two lived together until his death.

The portraits of Lord Ligonier and Penelope Lady Ligonier are by Thomas Gainsborough RA (1727-1788), and were painted in 1770 and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1771. Both paintings are in the Huntington collection

 


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