GRAHAM, Major General Charles (d.1800), army officer. MS order signed to Valentine Jones 1796

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GRAHAM, Major General Charles (d.1800), army officer. Manuscript order signed as ‘Commanding in Chief His Majesty’s Forces in the Windward and Leeward Charibbee Islands’, to Valentine Jones, Commissary General of the Forces, 1 side folio, Head Quarters, Martinique, 2nd August 1796, instructing him to pay ‘out of such Monies as are in, or shall come to your hands, for the Contingent or Extraordinary Expences of His Majesty’s Forces under my Command’ the Hon. Brigadier General John Knox, Quarter Master General £2,429-14 -8 for ‘Incidental Expences incurred by him in his Department of Quarter Master General as per annexed Account’ [not present]. The order is written in the autograph hand of Ralph Darling, and is signed by him at the foot as secretary. Small losses to edges; pasted on left margin onto old album page.  

Charles Graham joined the 42nd Regiment of Foot in 1760, serving in the French and Indian War and in the Caribbean. Obtaining a captaincy he went on to command the Grenadier Company in the New York campaign and the Rhode Island campaign 1776-1777.  He became Major in 1778 serving in the raid on Portsmouth, Virginia in May 1779; commanded the regiment for the occupation of Stony Point, New York; and the relief of Charleston in 1780.  He was later promoted Brigadier General for Sir Ralph Abercromby’s expedition against the French and Dutch possessions in the West Indies in 1795, and was promoted to Major General the following year. In 1796 Abercromby had to return to England, leaving Graham temporary commander-in-chief of forces, and in November appointed him Colonel of the 5th West India Regiment. Graham died in the West Indies in August 1800.

The recipient of the order, Valentine Jones, belonged to a Belfast family who became successful merchants as rum and sugar importers with interests in the West Indies. In 1794 Jones was appointed commissary of accounts, for the Leeward and Windward Islands, with responsibility for the stores and provisions for the army, and he eventually reached Barbados in April 1796. His financial dealings in the West Indies from this time onwards were later found to be suspect, and in 1809 he was brought to trial in a famous fraud case, involving the embezzlement of £87,179.  He was found guilty and received a prison sentence of (just) 3 years. The precedent of this fraud case is still cited in modern legal cases.

Sir Ralph Darling’s military career began in 1793 upon the outbreak of war between Britain and France when he secured an ensigncy in the 45th regiment whilst living in the West Indies. In 1795 he was posted to the 15th regiment to help suppress an uprising in Grenada. In August 1796 he was appointed military secretary to Sir Ralph Abercromby, and acted as military secretary to General Graham while Abercromby was in England. He continued to serve as a military secretary for a succession of commanders until 1802, by which time he was lieutenant-colonel in the 69th foot. He saw active service in in the Peninsular War, and in the Walcheren expedition, and in 1818 was appointed acting governor and commandant of the garrison of the island of Mauritius. This was a challenging post for him, but he took on an even more formidable task in 1824 when he became governor of New South Wales. His periods of administration in both colonies were highly controversial phases of his career, and he returned to England in 1831 (see ODNB)

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