Blayney, Andrew Thomas, Lord Blayney 1770-1834, a distinguished officer, was born at Blayney Castle, county Monaghan, on 30 Nov. 1770. His father, the ninth Lord Blayney of Monaghan in the peerage of Ireland, lieutenant-general in the army and colonel of the 91st (1761-3) and of the 38th regiment from 1766, represented an ancient Welsh family, which had been seated in Ireland since the reign of Elizabeth, when Sir Edward Blayney had won a great estate for himself and been created a peer in 1621. Andrew Blayney succeeded his brother as eleventh Lord Blayney in 1784, and entered the army as an ensign in the 32nd regiment in 1789. He became a lieutenant in the 41st regiment in 1791, and captain in the 38th in 1792. In 1794 he raised part of the 89th regiment, which was being recruited in Ireland, and was gazetted a major in the new regiment, whose fortunes he shared for the next fifteen years. With it he landed with Lord Moira at Ostend, and marched to join the Duke of York in Flanders, and with it he shared the dangers of the horrible retreat through Holland in the winter of 1794-5, and distinguished himself in every encounter, and especially in the affair of Boxtel. His regiment was then ordered to accompany Abercromby to the West Indies; but the terrible storm, known as Christian's storm from the name of the admiral, drove the transports back. In the following year, 1796, he was promoted lieutenant-colonel on half pay, and married Lady Mabella Alexander, daughter of the first earl of Caledon.
In 1798 he purchased the lieutenant-colonelcy of his old regiment, the 89th, and took command of it in Ireland. He was at once appointed by Lord Carhampton, the commander-in-chief in Ireland, to the command of one of the flying camps, by means of which that able general, though fanatical nobleman, attempted to terrify the Irish; and he managed to perform his disagreeable functions to the satisfaction of Lord Cornwallis, and without awakening the animosity of the Irish peasantry themselves. In 1799 the 89th was ordered to form part of the garrison of Minorca, which had just been captured by Sir Charles Stuart, and when Lord Nelson recommended the despatch of troops to Sicily to preserve that island from the army of Championnet, Lord Blayney was sent thither in command of the 89th and 90th regiments. He assisted Sir Alexander Ball in reducing the island of Malta; he was present with Suwarrof's army in his continental campaign, of which he sent home an admirable account; and he was again in Malta in time to plant the English flag on the ramparts of Ricasoli. His regiment was next ordered from Malta to co-operate in Sir Ralph Abercromby's Egyptian expedition, and he was present at all the engagements in Egypt. His conduct gained him the approbation of Lord Hutchinson, who succeeded Abercromby; and on the surrender of Cairo he received the command of the two regiments, the 30th and the 89th, which were to form the garrison.
After the rupture of the treaty of Amiens the 89th was ordered first to the West Indies and then to the Cape of Good Hope, and was engaged in the recapture both of the French sugar islands and the Dutch colony in Africa. On its return from Africa it formed part of Lord Cathcart's tardy and useless expedition to Hanover, and was then sent to Buenos Ayres in General Whitelocke's luckless army. Lord Blayney was only one of the numerous excellent officers who had to pay the penalty of the incompetence of their general in the immense havoc made in their fine regiments. After the disgraceful capitulation of Buenos Ayres the 89th was again sent to the Cape, and in such badly found ships that it had to land many miles from Capetown, and to make a long and toilsome march, during which many men fell down dead from thirst and fatigue, and which was at last terminated successfully, owing to the capacity of the colonel. Lord Blayney soon found that there was no more fighting to be expected at the Cape; so he hurried home, and begged the government to employ him in the Peninsula, for which his knowledge of Spanish peculiarly fitted him. He was accordingly sent to Cadiz, and promoted major-general, in July 1810. He worried General Campbell, the governor of Gibraltar, into sending him with a mixed force of 300 English, 800 Spaniards, and 500 German and Polish deserters from the French army, to make a descent on Malaga. As might have been expected, the expedition utterly failed. At the first encounter with a part of General Sebastiani's corps d'armée, while besieging the fort of Fuengirole, the Spaniards ran away, the deserters misbehaved themselves, and Lord Blayney himself, whose dispositions betrayed the utmost contempt of military rules (Napier), was taken prisoner.
Lord Blayney's passage as a prisoner of war through Spain, and his imprisonment in France at Verdun, Bitche, and Guéret, gave him a novel experience. In his Narrative of a forced Journey through Spain and France as a Prisoner of War in the Years 1810 to 1814 he shows great powers of observation, and makes up a most interesting book. In it he describes vividly how the Spanish people lived when the French armies were occupying their country, and how they amused themselves as usual. Lord Blayney was directly instructed by the ministry to see to the relief of the poorer English prisoners, and entrusted with funds for that purpose. His book was published on his return to England in 1814, and had, as it deserved, considerable success; but his health was impaired, and he saw no further military service. He was M.P. for Old Sarum 1806-7; was promoted lieutenant-general in 1819, and died suddenly in Dublin on 8 April 1834, leaving one son, Cadwallader Davis Blayney, M.P. for Monaghan, who became twelfth Lord Blayney, and a representative peer for Ireland, and on whose death, in 1874, the peerage of Blayney became extinct.
Royal Military Calendar, ed. 1820, vol. iii.
Napier's History of the Peninsular War, book xii. chap. i.
Contributor: H. M. S. [Henry Morse Stephens]