General Brent Spencer (only known portrait)
|Member of the United Kingdom Parliament|
for Sligo Borough
27 March 1815 – 1818
|Preceded by||Joshua Spencer|
|Succeeded by||John Bent|
|Died||29 December 1828 (aged 67–68)|
|Years of service||1778–1828|
|Commands||103rd Regiment of Foot|
40th (the 2nd Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot
2nd West India Regiment
95th Regiment of Foot
Rifle Brigade 1st Battalion
40th (2nd Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot
|Battles/wars||American Revolutionary War|
French Revolutionary Wars
• War of the First Coalition
• War of the Second Coalition
• Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland
• Battle of Alexandria
• Battle of Copenhagen
• Battle of Vimeiro
• Battle of Bussaco
• Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro
• Second Siege of Badajoz
General Sir Brent Spencer (c. 1760 – 29 December 1828) was an Anglo-Irish officer in the British Army, seeing active service during the American Revolutionary War and the French Revolutionary Wars. During the Peninsular War he became General Wellesley's second-in-command on two occasions. He fought at Vimeiro and testified in Wellesley's favour at the inquiry following the Convention of Cintra. He led a division at Bussaco and two divisions at Fuentes de Onoro. After the latter action, he had an independent command in northern Portugal. Wellesley, now Lord Wellington, was not satisfied that Spencer was up to the responsibilities of second-in-command and he was replaced by Thomas Graham. Miffed, Spencer left Portugal and never returned. He became a full general in 1825.
Early life and family
Spencer was born circa 1760, the second son of Conway Spencer of Tremary and his wife, Mary. His brother was politician Joshua Spencer, and their nephew was politician George Canning II (who married Lady Georgiana Stewart, daughter of the 1st Marquess of Londonderry).
Spencer became a commissioned officer in 1778. He fought with great credit in the West Indies in 1779–1782 during the American Revolutionary War and again in 1790–1794 during the War of the First Coalition. Promoted to brigadier general, he participated in the unsuccessful 1797 Santo Domingo campaign against Toussaint Louverture. In 1799, he led the 40th Foot during the Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland. This campaign included the battles of Bergen and Castricum.
The Dos de Mayo Uprising of Spain against Napoleon found Spencer in command at Gibraltar. On his own initiative he sailed for Portugal and arrived at Mondego Bay on 5 August 1808. The force that he brought with him were 946 men of the 6th Foot, 806 soldiers of the 29th Foot, 874 troops of the 32nd Foot, 948 men of the 50th Foot, 929 soldiers of the 82nd Foot, and 245 artillerists. All infantry units consisted of 1st Battalions, except the 29th which was not organized into battalions. At Mondego Bay he joined his force to the 8,123 troops that General Arthur Wellesley brought from Cork in Ireland.
At the Battle of Vimeiro in 1808, Spencer was Wellesley's second-in-command. He was made a Knight Companion of the Order of the Bath on 26 April 1809. He commanded the 1st Division at the Battle of Bussaco and in the 1810-1811 French invasion of Portugal. At the Battle of Fuentes de Onoro in 1811, Spencer, now a lieutenant-general, temporarily led both the 1st and 3rd Divisions.
Later that year, he was replaced by Thomas Graham, 1st Baron Lynedoch because of pessimistic letters which he had sent back to England. In 1825, Spencer was promoted to full general.
Wellington wrote of Spencer, "He was exceedingly puzzle headed. He would talk of the Thames for the Tagus."
After having been in succession Colonel of the 9th Garrison Battalion (1806–08) and the 2nd West India Regiment (1808–09) and Colonel-Commandant of the 2nd Battalion of the 95th Regiment of Foot (1809–16) and the 1st Battalion of the Rifle Brigade (1816–18), in 1818 he was given the colonelcy of the 40th (2nd Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot, which he held until his death in 1828.
Romance with Princess Augusta
Spencer met Princess Augusta Sophia, the second daughter of King George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, about 1800, and a romantic friendship had developed by about 1803. In 1805 Spencer was appointed as an equerry to the king. According to Augusta, the couple conducted their relationship with great discretion as they were not of equal rank; news of such an attachment was feared to disturb the King's precarious mental health. In 1812 Augusta sent a long letter to her brother the Prince Regent to ask for his consent to her marrying Spencer, but it is unknown whether she did so. It is believed the couple remained together until Spencer's death in 1828.
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "S" (part 3)
- "SPENCER, Sir Brent (c.1760-1828), of Tremary, co. Antrim. | History of Parliament Online". www.historyofparliamentonline.org. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
- "CANNING, George II (1778-1840), of Garvagh, co. Londonderry. | History of Parliament Online". www.historyofparliamentonline.org. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
- Glover (2001), 355
- Chandler (1979), 418-419
- Oman (2010), I, 230
- Gates (2002), 270
- Dorothy Margaret Stuart, The Daughters of George III (Fonthill Media, 2017), pp 110–120
- Hadlow, Janice. A Royal Experiment.
- Chandler, David G. (1979). Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars. New York, NY: Macmillan. ISBN 0-02-523670-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Gates, David (2002). The Spanish Ulcer: A History of the Peninsular War. London: Pimlico. ISBN 0-7126-9730-6.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Glover, Michael (2001). The Peninsular War 1807-1814. London: Penguin. ISBN 0-141-39041-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Oman, Charles (2010). A History of the Peninsular War Volume I. La Vergne, Tenn.: Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 978-1432636821.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Oman, Charles (1996). A History of the Peninsular War Volume III. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole. ISBN 1-85367-223-8.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Oman, Charles (1996). A History of the Peninsular War Volume IV. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole. ISBN 1-85367-224-6.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Oman, Charles (1993) . Wellington's Army, 1809-1814. London: Greenhill. ISBN 0-947898-41-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Brent Spencer
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
| Member of Parliament for Sligo Borough
27 March 1815 – 1818
|New regiment|| Colonel of the 103rd Regiment of Foot
Eyre Power Trench
| Colonel of the 2nd West India Regiment
Sir George Beckwith
|New regiment|| Colonel-Commandant of the 2nd Battalion,
95th Regiment of Foot
Sir William Stewart
| Colonel-Commandant of the 1st Battalion,|
Sir George Osborn
| Colonel of the 40th Regiment of Foot
Sir James Kempt