Cathcart, Charles Murray, second Earl Cathcart 1783-1859, general, eldest surviving son of William Schaw Cathcart, first earl of Cathcart [qv.], was born at Walton, Essex, on 21 Dec. 1783, entered the army as a cornet in the 2nd life guards on 2 March 1800, and served on the staff of Sir James Craig in Naples and Sicily during the campaigns of 1805-6. His father having been created a British peer on 3 Nov. 1807 with the titles of Viscount Cathcart and Baron Greenock, C. M. Cathcart was from this time known under the name of Lord Greenock. Having obtained his majority on 14 May 1807, he saw service in the Walcheren expedition in 1809, taking part in the siege of Flushing, after which for some time he was disabled by the injurious effects of the pestilence which cut off so many thousands of his companions. Becoming lieutenant-colonel on 30 Aug. 1810, he embarked for the Peninsula, where he was present in the battles of Barossa, for which he received a gold medal on 6 April 1812, of Salamanca, and of Vittoria, during which he served as assistant quartermaster-general. He was next sent to assist Lord Lynedoch in Holland as the head of the quartermaster-general's staff, and was afterwards present at Waterloo, where he greatly distinguished himself, having three horses shot under him. For his services he received the Russian order of St. Wladimir, the Dutch order of St. Wilhelm, and was made a C.B. on 4 June 1815. He continued to act as quartermaster-general until 26 June 1823, at which date he became lieutenant-colonel of the royal staff corps at Hythe. This corps was a scientific one, and had formed a museum of various objects collected by its several detachments, and in this way Lord Greenock was led to take an interest in a subject to which he ever afterwards devoted much of his attention. Leaving Hythe on 22 July 1830, he took up his residence in Edinburgh, and for some years was occupied in scientific pursuits. He attended lectures in the university, took an active concern in the proceedings of the Highland Society, and was a member of the Royal Society, to which he read several papers, which were published in its Transactions. In 1841 he discovered a new mineral, a sulphate of cadmium, which was found in excavating the Bishopton tunnel near Port Glasgow, and which received after him the name of Greenockite. It is a beautiful substance that was entirely new to mineralogists. He held the appointments of commander of the forces in Scotland and governor of Edinburgh Castle from 17 Feb. 1837 to 1 April 1842, and on 17 June in the following year succeeded his father as second earl and eleventh baron Cathcart. He was commander-in-chief in British North America from 16 March 1846 to 1 Oct. 1849, during very difficult times, and for some period combined with the military command the civil government of Canada. On his return to England he was appointed to the command of the northern and midland district, and the resignation of this post in 1854 brought to a conclusion his active services. He was colonel of the 11th hussars, 1842-7, of the 3rd dragoon guards, 1847-51, of the 1st dragoon guards, 1851 to his decease, and a general in the army, 20 June 1854. Among other honours, he was created a K.C.B. on 19 July 1838, and a G.C.B. 21 June 1859. In 1858 his constitution gave way, and he died at St. Leonard's-on-Sea on 16 July 1859, very peacefully, and in the full possession of his faculties. He was a man of powerful mind, which was improved by great industry and perseverance, and he had a kindly and generous heart, which threw a sunshine around the circle of his domestic life. He married in France on 30 Sept. 1818, and at Portsea on 12 Feb. 1819, Henrietta, second daughter of Thomas Mather. She died on 24 June 1872. He was the writer of two papers in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1836, On the Phenomena in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh of the Igneous Rocks in their relation to the Secondary Strata, and The Coal Formation of the Scottish Lowlands.

     Proceedings Royal Society of Edinburgh (1862), iv. 222-4
     Gent. Mag. new ser. vii. (1859), 306-7.

Contributor: G. C. B. [George Clement Boase]

Published: 1886