The Honble. William Blakeney Esqr. Lieutenant General of His Majesty’s Forces, Colonel of His Majesty’s Iniskillin Regim’t of Foot & Lieutenant Governor of Minorca.

Tags: Military & Naval.
The Honble. William Blakeney Esqr. Lieutenant General of His Majesty’s Forces, Colonel of His Majesty’s Iniskillin Regim’t of Foot & Lieutenant Governor of Minorca.
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A half length portrait of the heroic defender of Minorca William, Lord Blakeney. He is directed slightly to the right, facing front, and wearing a heavily braided military coat and cocked hat. In the background is the fortress and island of Minorca. From an Anglo-Irish family, Blakeney (1672-1761) was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Minorca after a long and distinguished military career. He was left in command of Minorca for ten years. He earnestly pressed for more men, and for money for repairs. But the ministry of Pelham and Newcastle grudged money not spent in maintaining their parliamentary majority, and neglected his entreaties. On the breaking out of the Seven Years' War in 1756 an expedition was hurriedly despatched from France under the debauchee Duc de Richelieu and Admiral la Galissonnière against Minorca. The French government well knew how the defences of Minorca had been neglected, and that a rapid attack before reinforcements could reach the garrison must be successful. Blakeney knew also that without reinforcements he could not hold out long, but determined to wait resolutely for those reinforcements. When Admiral Byng retreated all hope was lost, and Blakeney, after seventy days' defence of an almost indefensible fortress, surrendered on the honourable terms that his garrison was to be transported to Gibraltar, and not made prisoners of war. The gallant defence of Minorca had made Blakeney a hero in the eyes of the English people, and the veteran of eighty-four, who had never gone to bed for seventy days, was as popular as Admiral Byng was execrated. After giving truthful evidence at Byng's trial as to the state of Minorca, Blakeney received many honours from George II, and was made a Knight of the Bath, Colonel of the Enniskillen regiment of infantry, and finally Lord Blakeney of Mount Blakeney in the peerage of Ireland. He was M.P. for Kilmallock 1725-57. His popularity continued unabated; a statue of him by Van Most was erected in Dublin; and when he died, on 20th Sept. 1761, at the age of eighty-nine, he was buried, amidst general mourning, in Westminster Abbey.