HANDASYD (Handasyde), THOMAS, b. c. 1645; commander of the English forces at St John’s, 1697–98; governor of Jamaica, 1702–11; m. Anna Catharina Morel (d. 13 Sept. 1704), and they had five children; d. 26 March 1729 at Great Staughton, Huntingdonshire, England.
As a junior officer Handasyd fought in campaigns in Ireland and Flanders. He was promoted major in Colonel John Gibsone’s regiment, 16 March 1694, and sailed in the expedition for the re-capture of St John’s, Newfoundland, in 1697. On their arrival, St John’s was found abandoned and destroyed, and the soldiers were put to work re-constructing the fort and other defences under the supervision of the engineer, Michael Richards. As provisions were very scarce, Colonel Gibsone decided to take the regiment home, leaving some 300 men under the command of Major Handasyd. Gibsone recommended Handasyd as a candidate for the governorship of Newfoundland, describing him as a “good, worthy man, of courage and conduct, who has served the King 24 years.” On his return to England in 1698, Handasyd reported that, although 214 men had died from hardship and malnutrition, the fortifications had been rebuilt. As ordered, he had formed a Newfoundland Independent Company of 53 men to constitute a permanent garrison for St John’s. (Military engineers at that time held no army rank, and it was in this company that Richards received his commission as captain, as did Robert Latham some years later.)
On 20 June 1702, Handasyd received commissions as colonel of the 22d regiment and as lieutenant-governor of Jamaica. He became governor of the island soon after his arrival, and in 1703 the Earl of Peterborough described Handasyd as “one of the best infantry officers we have.” That same year, on the arrival of Vice-Admiral Graydon’s squadron, destined for the ill-fated expedition to Placentia (Plaisance), Handasyd did all he could to provide the fleet with provisions, and assist in the embarkation of the soldiers, but he resented Graydon’s wholesale impressment of men. He forwarded the protests of 18 ship-masters and merchants to the Board of Trade and Plantations, and he despatched a letter to Graydon himself, with a request to return at least the landsmen he had taken.
Handasyd was promoted major-general on 1 Jan. 1710, and returned to England in 1711. In 1712 he resigned his commission as colonel of the 22d regiment in favour of his son Roger. Thomas Handasyd died on 26 March 1729 and was buried in St Andrew’s churchyard, Great Staughton. The inscription on a large monument inside the church states that he was in his 85th year.
PRO, CSP, Col., 1697–98, 1702, 1702–3, 1710–11, 1711–12; CSP, Dom., 1702–3, 537 (Earl of Peterborough’s letter). Dalton, English army lists, II–V. Prowse, History of Nfld.
Revisions based on:
Thomas Handasyd’s will, available at the National Arch. in London, PROB 11/629/246; the inscriptions on the tombstones of Handasyd and his wife, transcribed at Find a Grave, “Memorial no.160053780,” “Memorial no.160054838”: www.findagrave.com (consulted 9 Nov. 2017); and the monument to Thomas Handasyd and other members of his family in St Andrew’s Church, Great Staughton, Eng., described in H. G. Watson, A history of the parish of Great Staughton, Huntingdonshire (St Neots, Eng., 1916), 87.