George Townshend

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Governor 1796-1807
George Townshend


The latest in a sequence of generals and field marshals appointed to govern Jersey, Lord Townshend was 72 when appointed, and served for 11 years. He probably had little personal involvement with the island and his Lieut-Governor, Lieut-General Andre Gordon, continued the work of Henry Seymour Conway on developing a ring of defensive towers around Jersey's coastline


George Townshend, 1st Marquess Townshend PC (28 February 1724 – 14 September 1807), known as the Viscount Townshend from 1764 to 1787, was a British soldier who reached the rank of field marshal.

Early life

Townshend was the son of Charles Townshend, 3rd Viscount Townshend, and Audrey Ethelreda Harrison. Charles Townshend, the prominent British politician, was his younger brother, and Thomas Townshend, 1st Viscount Sydney, his first cousin.

Military service

He served as a brigadier in Quebec, under General James Wolfe; when the latter died, and his second-in-command (Robert Monckton) was wounded, Townshend took command of the British forces during the siege of Quebec. He received Quebec City's surrender on 18 September 1759. However, he held General Wolfe in much contempt (drawing Wolfe in caricature he created Canada's first cartoon), and was harshly criticized upon his return to Great Britain for that reason (Wolfe was a popular hero throughout the country). Nonetheless, he was promoted major general on 6 March 1761 and fought at the Battle of Villinghausen.

In 1762 he took command of a division of the Anglo-Portuguese army with the local rank of lieutenant-general, against the Spanish invasion of Portugal.


He served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1767–1772. In 1779, Fort Townshend was begun by Governor Richard Edwards, naming it after Townshend, who was then Master-General of the Ordnance (1772–1782 and 1783–1784) and responsible for the construction of fortifications. The Fort includes the Government House of Newfoundland and Labrador.

On 2 February 1773 he fought a duel with Charles Coote, 1st Earl of Bellomont, badly wounding the Earl with a bullet in the groin.

Townshend was promoted to general in 1782, and elevated to the marquessate in 1787. He was Governor of the Royal Hospital Chelsea from 1795 until 1796, when he was appointed Governor of Jersey. He became a field marshal on 30 July 1796.

Ragg history

From 19th century history of Jersey by the Rev Alban E Ragg

‘Jersey was relatively quiet at the end of the 18th century and Townshend governed the island through his Lieut-Governor Lieut-General Andre Gordon, to whose skill and devotion to its interests the Island owes a debt of gratitude, and under whom during the first two years of the new century we find peaceful alterations and warlike preparations mingled. In the year 1800, the small fort known as Rocco Tower, in St Ouen's Bay, was built, which, surrounded by the tide at high water, would in those days have proved of no mean efficiency in keeping off a foe; whilst during the same year the Town Hill was purchased by the Government from the commonalty of the Vintage of St Helier for £11,280 for the purpose of erecting thereon the present Fort Regent; it being worthy of note that the interest arising from such purchase-money—invested in the hands of three trustees, and amounting to about £680 12s. per annum—was, and is still, devoted to the paving of and other improvements in the streets of St Helier.

In the following year (1801), with the aid of the States, buildings for a now market were constructed on the site of the present Vegetable Market, and the market, until that date from " time immemorial" held in the present Royal Square, was removed there; after which the Square began more prominently, and at last exclusively, to assume its present name, evidently deriving it, in the first place, from the statue of George II erected in it, and from which, by the way, all distances on the Island are now measured.’

Predecessor Successor
Sir George Howard
Marquess Townshend
Earl of Chatham
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