As regular readers are aware, I occasionally like to dip back into Irish connections with the American Revolution. Some of the records I have been looking at this weekend relate to Irish veterans of the British Army who went on to receive pensions from the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin. Many of them had seen action during the American War of Independence, so I am starting an occasional series that presents details of those whose discharge documents specifically mention that conflict. Most of these men had enlisted for unlimited service, and had spent many decades in the military–often across multiple continents.

John Grace, Thurles, Tipperary, 17th Dragoons in America

John, a native of Thurles, Co. Tipperary, was born around 1750. A labourer when he enlisted, he would go on to spend 37 years in military service, and later worked as a recruiter during the Napoleonic Wars. By then he had spent 12 years in the 18th Dragoons in Ireland, 3 years in the 20th Foot in the West Indies, and 10 years in the 87th (The Prince of Wales’s Irish) Foot, with whom he fought against Republican France in Flanders and the Netherlands in 1794-5. His American War service came in the 17th Regiment of Dragoons, with whom he spent 12 years. They landed in 1775, and John spent his first 8 months in Boston following the Battle of Bunker Hill. He then moved to Halifax, and participated with the regiment at the Battles of Long Island, White Plains and Fort Washington (all 1776), Forts Clinton and Montgomery (1777), Crooked Billet (1778), and Barren Hill (1778). Some of the regiment were detached to serve in the South with Tarleton’s Legion, with whom they fought at Cowpens (1781). John returned to Ireland with the regiment after 1783. His American service was the most arduous of his career, leading him to suffer from “rheumatism and bilious complaints” in later life.

John Grace’s discharge (UK National Archives)

John Hamilton, Cork City, 44th Regiment of Foot in America

John was born in Cork City around 1751. He was a weaver before he enlisted in the army, joining the 44th Regiment, which would later be designated the East Essex. Across 19 years in uniform he spent 3 years as a private, 3 as a corporal, and 13 as a sergeant. He was recorded as having “served with great credit in the Light company during the whole of the American War”. John and his comrades in the 44th had landed in Boston in 1775, and fought at the Battle of Long Island (1776), Battle of Brandywine (1777), Battle of Germantown (1777), and the Battle of Monmouth (1778). They moved to Canada in 1780, and cycled back to Ireland in 1786. After leaving the 44th, John played an integral role in the formation of the City of Limerick Militia.

The Delaware Regiment engage British troops at the Battle of Long Island (Brooklyn) in 1776. John Hamilton from Cork City served there with the 44th Foot (Domenick D’Andrea)

Robert McClune, Cork City, 38th Regiment of Foot in America

Robert was born in Cork City around 1750. He was a labourer when he joined up. He spent a total of 15 years in the army, “eight years of which time he served in America in his majesty’s 38th Regiment during the later war in station of a non-commissioned officer”. When friends offered him some business opportunities back in Cork he obtained his discharge, but would later go on to serve in both the 70th and 65th Regiments of Foot. The 38th, or 1st Staffordshires (as they were known from 1782), had arrived in Boston in 1774. Robert fought with them at Bunker Hill (1775) and at the Brandywine (1777). By 1790, Robert was described as “old and worn out in the service”.

Birmingham Hill on the Brandywine battlefield. Robert McClune from Cork fought at the Brandywine with the 38th Foot (Damian Shiels)

Henry Stedfast, Bandon, Co. Cork. 16th Regiment of Foot in America

Henry was born in Bandon around 1748, and was a weaver when he enlisted. He crossed the Atlantic with the 16th Foot, who would be known as the 16th (Buckinghamshire) Regiment from 1782. Henry spent 20 years with them, including 9 years as a corporal and 3 as a sergeant. He also spent another 3 years in the 18th Foot. Henry’s time in America was difficult. The 16th were stationed in Florida, where they were headquartered at Pensacola. Though they moved briefly to New York in 1776, they were soon back in what would become the Sunshine State. Henry was next among a detachment who were taken prisoner by the Spanish in 1779 when they captured Baton Rouge. Other portions of the regiment fought at Savannah (1779) and Pensacola (1781). The 16th returned home in 1782. On his discharge, Henry was described as “being worn out by twelve years service in the unwholesome climate of West Florida, and two years and three-quarters confinement while prisoner with the Spaniards at New Orleans, Vera Crua and the Havannah”.

Discharge of Henry Stedfast from Bandon (UK National Archives)

Henry Weir, Sligo, Co. Sligo, 17th Dragoons in America

Henry served with John Grace in the 17th Dragoons. He had been born in Sligo town around 1747. A labourer when he joined-up, he spent 8 years in the 10th Dragoons and 13 years in the 17th Dragoons–12 of them as a corporal. By the time of his discharge in 1787, it was noted that he had served “twenty-one years, nine of which in America last war and is now discharged being consumptive and worn out in service.”

Pennsylvania Historical Marker to the 1778 Battle of Crooked Billet, where Henry Weir from Sligo fought with the 17th Dragoons (Dough4872)

Thomas Rielly, Limerick City, 34th Regiment of Foot in America

Thomas was born in St. John’s, Limerick City around 1762. He was barely a teenager when he first enlisted in the 34th, with whom he went on to serve “for seven years and six months during the time of the American War”. The 34th (who became the Cumberland Regiment) were sent to Canada in 1776, and the grenadiers and light companies participated in the Saratoga campaign until their surrender in 1777. The regiment returned home in 1786. Thomas would spend his life in the army. He was active during the 1798 Rebellion in Ireland, when he was “injured in the West”. He was serving with the 4th Royal Veteran Battalion in 1807, and enlisted for the final time in 1819.

The British surrender to the Americans after the Second Battle of Saratoga, 1777. Some comrades of Thomas Rielly from Limerick were among those captured (John Trumbull)

Thomas Clark, Castlerea, Co. Roscommon, 15th Regiment of Foot in America

Thomas was born in Castlerea around 1745. During his service he spent 10 years as a private in the 14th Dragoons, and 13 years as a Sergeant in the 15th Foot (The Yorkshire East Riding Regiment from 1782). With the latter unit he fought at the Battles of Long Island (1776), White Plains (1776), Fort Washington (1776), Brandywine (1777) and possibly Germantown and White Marsh (both 1777). He was “wounded thro’ the right knee on the 11th September 1777 at the Battle of Brandywine”. Though he continued to serve, “always during a march [he] complained of a sever pain in his right knee which often renders him incapable of marching”. Thomas stayed with the 15th as they went to the West Indies, where he was wounded again, struck in the shoulder during the Siege by French troops of Brimstone Hill on Saint Kitts in 1782. He left the army in 1788 as a result of these two wounds.

Marker remembering the British dead at the Brandywine battlefield. Thomas Clark from Castlrea was wounded in the right knee here (Damian Shiels)

Sylvanus Clark, Ballykelly, Co. Derry, 28th Regiment of Foot in America

Sylvanus was born in Ballykelly around 1750. A labourer when he enlisted, he went on the spend 19 years in the 28th Foot (from 1782 the North Gloucestershire). Deployed to America in 1776, they Sylvanus fought at White Plains (1776), later being sent to the West Indies, where they were engaged at Saint Lucia and Saint Kitts. All in all, he spent 4 years in America and 5 in the West Indies. When he was discharged in 1790, he was described as “rheumatic and worn out in the service and served in America and West Indies during the late war.”

The British and French fleets engage each other at Saint Kitts in January 1782. Slyvanus Clark from Co. Derry served here with the 28th Foot (National Maritime Museum)

John Guthrie, Coleraine, Co. Derry, 10th Regiment of Foot in America

John was described as being born in “Colerain, Antrim” around 1753. He was a weaver when he enlisted, and served as a grenadier in the 10th, who were there when the Revolution began at Lexington and Concord in 1775. John was among those who charged up Bunker Hill in 1775, and also fought at Long Island (1776), Germantown (177), Monmouth Courthouse, and Rhode Island (both 1778). They returned home in 1778. The regiment became the North Lincoln regiment in 1782. Having been “twice wounded in America during the Rebellion” it was a peacetime incident that ended John’s service. He was discharged in 1784 having lost the use of his left arm as a result of an accident while stationed at Charles Fort, Kinsale, Co. Cork. He had been in the army for 14 years.

British troops advance during the Battle of Bunker Hill. John Guthrie from Coleraine was among the grenadiers who repeatedly sought to take the American positions (Percy Moran)

Henry Hollaren, Nanee [Nenagh?]. Co. Tipperary, 40th Regiment of Foot in America

Henry was born around 1749. He spent 21 years in the service; 14 years in the 40th Foot, 3 years in the 59th Foot, and 3 years in the 52nd Foot. The 40th (who became the 2nd Somersetshire) deployed to Boston in 1775, and spent some time briefly in Halifax and Georgia in 1776. They fought at the Battles of Long Island (1776), Fort Washington (1776), Princeton (1777), Brandywine (1777), and Germantown (1777). Next deployed to the West Indies, they fought at Saint Lucia (1778). They returned to New York and fought at the Battle of Groton Heights (1781). Henry was wounded at Elizabethtown in America and again at Saint Lucia. He was 41 years-old when discharged, “being twice wounded and worn out”.

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A grenadier of the 40th Regiment of Foot, Henry Hollaren’s Regiment, in 1767 (Raymond Smythies)