Williams, Sir William Fenwick

Led British forces in British No. America, organized Canada’s defenses when US Civil War began

Price: $75.00

Description:
(1800-1883) Canadian soldier, military and colonial administrator. It was widely believed that his father was Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, and Williams made no effort to discredit this possibility, which would have meant he was Queen Victoria’s half-brother. His putative father was the commissary general and barrack master of the British garrison at Halifax. In May 1815 he entered the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich (London). Commissioned 2nd lieutenant in the Royal Artillery July 1825. He served in Gibraltar, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and England, and promoted to 2nd captain 1840, 1st captain 1846, and brevet colonel 1854. In 1841 he went to Constantinople (Istanbul) and in 1843 was appointed British commissioner in charge of defining the Turkish-Persian border, which took 9 years and for which he was awarded a CB in 1852. When the Crimean War broke out in 1854, Williams was appointed British commissioner to the Turkish army in Anatolia after the Turks had been badly defeated by the Russians in the opening months of the war. Hearing news in May 1855 of a Russian plan to take Kars, he went back there on 7 June. A Russian army of 25,000 attacked a week later, repulsed with heavy losses, but another Russian attack was launched on 7 Aug. The Russians attacked again on 29 Sept. and lost 6,000 men. Hunger, cold, and cholera were beginning to take effect on the population of Kars, and early in November, when news came that there would be no reinforcements, Williams negotiated a surrender and was given a comfortable imprisonment at Ryazan. When the Crimean War ended he was presented to Czar Alexander II before returning to London in March 1856 where he was lionized. His defense of Kars was one of the great (and few) achievements of the British Army in the war. He was made a KCB and Parliament voted him an annual life pension of £1,000. He was made a major general, given command of the Woolwich garrison, and elected to parliament for Calne in July 1856, a seat he held until April 1859. Named commander-in-chief of the British forces in British North America, and organized Canada’s defenses when the American Civil War broke out in April 1861. Williams believed Southern independence was permanent, and that in consequence the North would seek in British North America, especially Canada West, “a balance for lost theatres of ambition.” Three additional British regiments were sent to Canada at Williams’ request and, in December 1861, at the time of the “Trent Affair”, a further 15,000 troops followed. Williams ordered heavy batteries set up at Toronto and Kingston. Governor General Lord Monck had trouble convincing him that Britain was not actually at war with the US. In May 1862, Canada’s provincial legislature threw out the militia bill by which the government proposed to raise an active militia force of 50,000 men at an annual cost of $1,110,000. His next tour of duty was in his native province. The lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia was critical of confederation, which the British government, by the end of 1864, firmly supported. Williams arrived in Nova Scotia in Nov. 1865. On 17 April, while British troops were being sent from Halifax by ship to meet the Fenian threat in the St Croix estuary, the Nova Scotia assembly passed the confederation resolution, firmly supported by Williams. He continued as lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia until Oct. 1867, and In Sept. 1870 was made governor and commander-in-chief of Gibraltar until 1876. His last official appointment was as Constable of the Tower of London. Scarce signature as “W.F. Williams/Lt.Gen Commd/B.N.A.” (Lieut. General Commanding British North America) on 8 x 5 sheet, adds Montreal, April 21 1862, red wax seal affixed at left side.

Condition: Very good, 2 slight stains from wax seal when sheet was folded, light stain at top fold
Type:Signature






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