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Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Sir John Lysaght Pennefather

Sir John Lysaght Pennefather was the third son of the Rev. John Pennefather and Elizabeth Percival. We descend directly from his half-brother, Edward Pennefather, who had been born earlier to the Rev. John Pennefather and his first unnamed wife.

Sir John Lysaght Pennefather (1789 - 1872), was a soldier who was famed for two very remarkable military victories.  He entered the army in 1818 but saw no active service until 1843 when, at the Battle of Meanee in India, his regiment of 500 Irishmen helped to defeat an army of 35,000.  He survived being seriously wounded, was made a C.B. and received the thanks of parliament.
(The Battle of Meanee was part of Sir Charles Napier's plan to expand the British Raj in India.)

Sir John Lysaght Pennefather later distinguished himself a second time in 1854 at the Battle of Inkermann, one of the engagements of the Crimean War against the Russians. On the day of the battle, Pennefather had only 3000 Irishmen under his command as opposed to the Russians' 35,000.

'Always undaunted, always kindling with warlike animation, he was a very power in himself. Even when his radiant countenance could not be seen, there was comfort in the sound of his voice...and the grand old boy's favourite oaths roaring cheerily down through the smoke.'

The battle lasted about six hours from daybreak till about 1pm, then the Russians began their retreat, having lost nearly 12,000 men.  Pennefather's 'admirable behaviour' was mentioned by Lord Raglan's dispatch.

Sir John Pennefather was nicknamed 'The Swearing General' because of his penchant for colourful language.

Following his military career, Sir John Lysaght Pennefather was made Governor of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea from 1870 till his death in 1872.  He was buried in Brompton Cemetery.

In 1834, he had married Katherine, daughter of John Carr Esq., of Mountrath, Queen's County.

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