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Edward, Viscount (later Earl) Ligonier

British, 1740 - 1782

Edward Ligonier, a soldier, was born in 1740, the only son of Anne (Murray) Freeman, a widow, and Francis Augustus Ligonier (1693-1746), a French Protestant refugee who came to England in 1710 and rose to the rank of colonel in the 13th Dragoons and 59th Foot (infantry). Following his father's death from a battle wound in 1746, Edward was raised by his uncle, John Ligonier (1680-1770), who was promoted that year to the full rank of general and made commander-in-chief in Great Britain. Like his father and uncle, Edward Ligonier pursued a career in the army. In 1752, aged twelve, he entered the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen's Bays) as a cornet, and from 1757 he served as lieutenant in the 7th Dragoons. He was aide-de-camp to Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick in the Seven Years' War, and on August 15, 1759 was promoted to captain of the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards. Appointed aide-de-camp to George III in 1763, he traveled to Madrid as secretary to Lord Rochford's special embassy (1763-65). On December 16, 1766 Ligonier married Penelope Pitt, eldest daughter of George Pitt and his wife Penelope Atkins, at the British Embassy in Paris. On his uncle's death, April 27, 1770, he succeeded to the title of 2nd Viscount Ligonier of Clonmell in the Irish Peerage (becoming Earl Ligonier in 1776). On May 7, 1771 he fought a duel with swords in Green Park with the Italian poet Vittorio Amadeo, Count Alfieri (1749-1803), whom he suspected of adultery with his wife. He sued for divorce and the marriage was legally dissolved in 1772. Gazetted colonel of the 9th Regiment of Foot on August 8, 1771, he eventually rose to the rank of lieutenant general on August 29, 1777. On December 14, 1773 he married Mary Henley (d. 1814), third daughter of Jane (Huband) and Robert, 1st Earl of Northington. This marriage, like his first, was without issue, and when Lord Ligonier died at the age of forty-two on June 14, 1782 his title became extinct. He had devoted the last years of his life to lobbying for the "red ribbon" of Knight of the Bath, an honor that he finally gained on December 17, 1781, but he died before installation.