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 You must seek permission prior to publication of any of our images.

200th Anniversary Exhibition

Lieutenant Francis Maguire and the Forlorn Hope at San Sebastian,
31st August 1813

"The Fourth led and perhaps in the whole history of war there cannot be found a stronger instance of courage and obedience to orders."
Major General Robinson, 1813

The Mother

Mrs Elizabeth Maguire.
Accession Number: KO0776/20

Elizabeth Houghton, was a woman of remarkable originality and strength of character. Her family belong to Worcestershire, an offshoot of the Yorkshire Hoghtons, but they emigrated to America, for there Elizabethís childhood was passed. She was born on 17th June 1775, during the battle of Bunkerís Hill and within earshot of the guns.

When she was fifteen she ran away from home to marry Francis Maguire, an attractive young officer whose regiment had been stationed in Nova Scotia. Francis Maguire held a commission as surgeon in the 4th "Kingís Own" Regiment of Foot.

We know that in the 1790s Elizabeth moved with the Regiment whenever she could, living in Newfoundland and Quebec. In 1797 the troops in Canada being weak in number were reorganized. The men of the Kingís Own were transferred to the 26th Foot, and the commanding officer, his staff and a number of officers, sergeants and drummers were ordered home. Mrs Maguire with her two little boys, Frank and Peter joined her husband on the transport which set sail from Quebec on 25th September.

Off Landís End they fell in with a French privateer, La Vengeance, and after a running fight, in which several men were wounded, they were overpowered and captured. The Colours of the Regiment were saved from falling into enemy hands by Mrs Maguire who wrapped them round her flat irons and dropped them through her cabin porthole into the sea.

The French towed their prize to Brest Harbour. The prisoners were taken to the Castle and thrust into a single room, Mrs Maguire, the only woman among several hundred men, behind a screen of military cloaks gave birth to her eldest daughter, before being released upon a prisoner exchange and at last was able to reach England.
In 1809 Surgeon Maguire obtained his Majority and sailed with the 69th Foot to India. Elizabeth remained in England. In August 1811 whilst part of the expedition to Java, he died following an attack of yellow fever.

Of the fourteen children born to Elizabeth and Francis, seven grew up, four daughters all of whom married, and three sons. The youngest son, Tom, born in 1805, lived until 1895. Peter, the second son, was drowned in the South Seas as a midshipman trying to recover a watch he had just received as a birthday present.

Francis, the eldest, received his commission at twelve years old on 22nd October 1804 in the 4th "Kingís Own" Regiment and it was with them that he served until his death.

For many years before her death in 1857 Elizabeth Maguire was the recipient of three pensions, one for her husband, one for Francis, and one for Peter.

Surgeon Francis Maguire
Accession Number: KO0776/19

bulletThe Mother, Elizabeth Maguire
bulletThe Mother's Letters
bulletThe Hero: Lieutenant Francis Maguire
bulletThe Painting
bulletCommentary on the Action



© Images are copyright, Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum.
 You must seek permission prior to publication of any of our images.

Only a proportion of our collections are on display at anyone time.  Certain items are on loan for display in other institutions.  An appointment is required to consult any of our collections which are held in store.

© 2013 Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum