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KERR, WILLIAM JOHNSON – Volume VII (1836-1850)

d. 23 April 1845 at Wellington Square (Burlington), Upper Canada


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HAVILAND, WILLIAM, army officer; b. 1718 in Ireland, son of Captain Peter Haviland; m. 5 July 1748 Caroline Lee; m. secondly in 1751 Salusbury Aston, and they had one son and one daughter; d. 16 Sept. 1784 at Penn, Buckinghamshire, England.

William Haviland was commissioned ensign in the 43rd Foot (Gooch’s American Regiment) in December 1739, and he took part in the siege of Cartagena (Colombia) in 1741. The following year he obtained a company in the 27th Foot and during the Jacobite rebellion in Scotland served as an aide-de-camp to the regimental commander Major-General William Blakeney. Haviland was promoted major in 1750 and lieutenant-colonel in 1752.

In July 1757 Haviland brought the 27th to Halifax, Nova Scotia, by way of New York to serve in Lord Loudoun’s proposed expedition against Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island). He probably returned with the regiment to New York the following month, and during the winter of 1757–58 he was in command of Fort Edward on the Hudson River. Here he discovered the difficulties inherent in leading colonial troops. Attempting to punish some mutinous rangers, Haviland clashed with Captain Robert Rogers and incurred the wrath of the ill-tempered provincials, who wanted no part of British discipline. Loudoun and Major-General James Abercromby, Haviland’s commanding officers, were dissatisfied with the rangers’ behaviour but allowed Haviland’s request for a court martial to drop. Although they failed to support Haviland completely, his superiors’ confidence in his ability was reflected in the fact that the rangers continued as part of his command until the surrender of Montreal in 1760.

In the summer of 1758 Haviland took part in Abercromby’s unsuccessful attack on Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga, N.Y.), and the following year he commanded the advance force of Jeffery Amherst’s expedition up lakes George (Lac Saint-Sacrement) and Champlain. Because of the qualities of leadership Haviland had demonstrated at Fort Edward and during the 1759 campaign, he was selected by Amherst to lead one of the three independent commands intended to converge on Montreal in 1760; the others were to be commanded by Amherst, advancing from Oswego, and James Murray, advancing from Quebec. In command of 3, 400 troops, Haviland, now appointed brigadier-general, left Crown Point in August. Moving up Lake Champlain, his force encountered the French under Colonel Louis-Antoine de Bougainville* at Fort Île aux Noix on the Richelieu River. Bougainville hoped to delay Haviland’s advance long enough to prevent his rendezvous with the other British forces. With the capture of the French flotilla on the river, however, Bougainville considered the fort indefensible and withdrew to Saint-Jean under cover of night on 27 August. François Bigot, in assessing the significance of the capture of Île aux Noix, wrote that had Bougainville been able to hold out for as long as had been hoped, “Canada might have perhaps been saved for this year.” With the rangers in the vanguard, Haviland advanced on Saint-Jean, which the French quickly abandoned. He established communications with Murray and captured Chambly soon afterwards. With the arrival of Amherst’s force Montreal was surrounded, and on 8 September the city surrendered. Haviland had played a significant role in completing the conquest of Canada and had taken part in what was probably the most brilliant British military manœuvre of the Seven Years’ War.

In December 1760 Haviland was made a colonel commandant in the Royal Americans (60th Foot). In 1761 he accompanied Major-General Robert Monckton’s expedition to the West Indies, where the following year he commanded a brigade at the reduction of Martinique and at the siege of Havana, Cuba. Promoted major-general in 1762 and lieutenant-general in 1772, he was appointed colonel of the 45th Foot in 1767. During the American War of Independence he served in England on Amherst’s staff and in 1779 was appointed to command the Western District with headquarters at Plymouth. There he won praise for skilfully maintaining cordial relations between the regulars and the militia. In 1783 he was promoted general. After his death his widow and children were looked after by Edmund Burke, a former friend and neighbour; the two families were later linked by marriage.

John D. Krugler

A half-tone portrait of William Haviland (artist anti Gate unknown) is in L. W. G. Butler and S. W. Hare, The annals of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps . . . (5v., London, 1913–32), I.

Clements Library, Thomas Gage papers, American series; Sir John Vaughan papers. Huntington Library, Abercromby papers; Loudoun papers. PRO, WO 34/10, 34/51–52, 34/116–23, 34/125–29, 34/132–43, 34/147, 34/161–65, 34/188, 34/231–39, 34/241. Amherst, Journal (Webster), 15, 115, 127, 145, 148, 204, 207, 210, 218, 220, 222, 239, 245–46, 254, 260–61, 275. Annual Register (London), 1760, 57–60. Coll. des manuscrits de Levis (Casgrain), IV, 256–57, 290–91, 297, 300; X, 137–49; XI, 224–25, 248–49. The correspondence of Edmund Burke, ed. T. W. Copeland et al. (10v., Cambridge, Eng., and Chicago, 1958–78), IV, 126; V, 86, 102, 238, 278, 374, 405; VI, 66, 262, 391; VII, 4, 85, 190–91, 493; VIII, 274, 290, 294, 296, 317, 320, 353; IX, 5, 453–54. Correspondence of William Pitt (Kimball), II, 280, 308, 322, 338, 342, 345. Gentlemans Magazine, 1784, 718–19. Johnson papers (Sullivan et al.), III, 260; X, 208. Knox, Hist. journal (Doughty), I, 157, 473, 478, 486, 497, 508; II, 488, 504, 515, 527, 529, 565, 600; III, 82, 94, 330–31, 333. NYCD (O’Callaghan and Fernow), X, 713–14, 1103–5, 1121. Robert Rogers, Journals of Major Robert Rogers . . . (London, 1765; repr. Ann Arbor, Mich., [1966]), 70–71, 80–88, 90–102, 187–97. British manuscripts project: a checklist of the microfilms prepared in England and Wales for the American Council of Learned Societies, 1941–1945, comp L. K. Born (Washington, 1955). [J.] B. Burke, A genealogical and heraldic history of the landed gentry of Great Britain & Ireland (5th ed., 2v., London, 1871), 600. DNB. J. S. Corbett, England in the Seven YearsWar: a study in combined strategy (2nd ed., 2v., London, 1918), II, 106–17, 220–21, 250. J. R. Cuneo, Robert Rogers of the rangers (New York, 1959), 64–74, 88–89, 118–28. J. W. Fortescue, A history of the British army (13v. in 14, London, 1899–1930), II, 395–99, 540. Frégault, Canada: war of the conquest, 282–87. L. H. Gipson, The British empire before the American revolution (15v., Caldwell, Idaho, and New York, 1936–70), VII, 155, 238, 448–62; VIII, 191–93. D. E. Leach, Arms for empire: a military history of the British colonies in North America, 1607–1763 (New York, 1973), 471–75. J. C. Long, Lord Jeffery Amherst: a soldier of the king (New York, 1933), 99, 126–36, 153, 261, 266–67, 306, 309. Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe (2v., Boston, 1884; repr. New York, 1962), 361, 590, 594. The Seven Years’ War in Canada, 1756–1763 . . . , comp. Sigmund Samuel (Toronto, 1934), 59–64, 180–82. G. M. Wrong, The fall of Canada . . . (Oxford, 1914), 194, 203, 206, 218–22.

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Cite This Article

John D. Krugler, “HAVILAND, WILLIAM,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed April 23, 2017, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/haviland_william_4E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/haviland_william_4E.html
Author of Article: John D. Krugler
Title of Article: HAVILAND, WILLIAM
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1979
Year of revision: 1979
Access Date: April 23, 2017