Hardinge, Henry Hardinge, Viscount, 1785-1856

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Hardinge, Henry Hardinge, Viscount, 1785-1856

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1785-1856

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Henry Hardinge was born in 1785 in Wrotham, Kent, in 1785, the son of the rector of Stanhope, Durham. In 1799 he was residing in Upper Canada as a ensign in the Queen's rangers. Hardinge returned to Britain in 1802, purchasing a lieutenancy in the 4th foot regiment and becoming captain by purchased in the 57th foot regiment in 1802. Hardinge attended the Royal Military College in High Wycombe from February 1806 to November 1807. He served in Spain and Portugal under Sir Arthur Wellesley (later Lord Wellington) from 1807 to 1809. Upon returning home he was promoted major and appointed to the Portuguese forces, with whom he say action during the Peninsular War from 1811 to 1815. In 1820 he was elected Tory MP for the city of Durham and was subsequently re-elected four times. He married Lady Emily Jane (1789-1865) the following year, with whom he had four children. Hardinge worked in military administration from 1823 until his retirement from the army in 1827. He came Secretary at War to Lord Wellington in 1828 and, briefly, chief secretary for Ireland in 1830. Also in 1820 he was elected MP for Newport and MP for Launceston in 1834. He served again as Irish Secretary in 1834 and then as Secretary at War from 1841 to 1844. He was appointed Governor General in India in 1844, in which capacity he dealt with misrule in Oudh, legal reform, the Anglo-Sikh Wars in 1845-1846, and other economic and social reforms. Hardinge was elevated to the peerage in 1846 on account of his service in India, becoming the 1st Viscount Hardinge of Lahore and Durham. He returned to Britain and again served in military administration, becoming master-general of the ordnance in 1852, general commanding-in-chief later in 1852, and field marshal in 1855. He was responsible for numerous military reforms, but also army shortcomings during the Crimean War. In 1856 he was stricken with paralysis and resigned from his post. Hardinge died several months later in September at the age of 72.

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Original biographical notes, Pat Howitt, Rare Books and Special Collections, 1960s
Additional biographical description, 2019

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