Samuel Auchmuty

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See also Wikipedia's article about "Samuel Auchmuty (British Army officer)".

Sir Samuel Auchmuty KC 1775 is one of King's College's most famous alumni, but you won't hear much about him in the United States. That's because he not only, like many King's College men, sided with the British during the Revolutionary War, but - unlike most Loyalists, who retired to quiet lives in Canada - left for a military career in England.

Family and early life

Auchmuty came from an educated family was closely engaged with King's College prior to the outbreak of the war. His father, also named Samuel, had previously studied at Harvard, but earned an honorary doctorate in theology from King's in 1767 (and another from Oxford soon after) and became one of King's governors before taking up the significant position of rector at Trinity Church. Auchmuty's brothers Robert Nicholls and Richard also attended King's, in the classes of 1774 and 1775 respectively. All declared as Loyalists and fought for the King, but little is known about Robert Nicholls, but Richard died shortly after being captured by American rebel forces at Yorktown. Their father, who had fled to New Jersey, died at the hands of American sentries who noticed him sneaking through their lines to inspect his property. Samuel fought in the British 45th regiment at Brooklyn and White Plains and left with his unit at the end of the war.

Global military career

A poor soldier in England, Samuel Auchmuty had to fight his way up the ranks by doing service on the fringes of the British Empire - but, in the process, earned renown as he helped vastly expand British dominion. Starting in India, he also fought victorious campaigns in Egypt and what are now Indonesia, Argentina, and Uruguay, where he commanded the force that took Montevideo as part of an abortive (and long-forgotten) British attempt to conquer Spanish South America (King's College Alumni called it "a filibustering expedition"[1]).

King's College Alumni also mentions, snidely, that, during the Napoleonic Wars, Auchmuty "served with distinction in every quarter of the globe but Europe".[2] For all that this may have been embarrassing for a British officer in the early 19th century, it effectively marked Auchmuty as by far the most well-traveled and worldly of all King's College graduates, even moreso than the diplomat John Jay.

In recognition of his service, Auchmuty was knighted and given the Knight Grand Cross (GCB). At the end of his life he was rewarded the powerful position of Commander-in-Chief, Ireland, but had barely been in office several months before he died from injuries he sustained from falling off his horse.


  1. Leonhard Felix Fuld, King's College Alumni, p. 63, [1]
  2. Leonhard Felix Fuld, King's College Alumni, p. 65, [2]