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Gerard Lake, 1st Viscount Lake
He entered the foot guards in 1758, becoming lieutenant (captain in the army) 1762, captain (lieut.-colonel) in 1776, major 1784, and lieut.colonel in 1792, by which time he was a general officer in the army. He served with his regiment in Germany in 1760-1762 and with a composite battalion in the Yorktown campaign of 1781. After this he was equerry to the prince of Wales, afterwards George IV. In 1790 he became a major-general, and in 1793 was appointed to command the Guards Brigade in the duke of York's army in Flanders.
He was in command at the brilliant affair of Lincelles, on August 18, 1793, and served on the continent (except for a short time when seriously ill) until April 1794. He had now sold his lieut.-colonelcy in the guards, and had become colonel of the 53rd foot and governor of Limerick. In 1797 he was promoted lieut.-general. In the following year the Irish rebellion broke out. Lake, who was then serving in Ireland, succeeded Sir Ralph Abercromby in command of the troops in April 1798, issued a proclamation ordering the surrender of all arms by the civil population of Ulster, and on June 21 routed the rebels at vinegar Hill (near Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford). He exercised great severity towards all rebels found in arms.
Lord Cornwallis now assumed the chief command in Ireland, and in August sent Lake to oppose the French expedition which landed at Killala Bay. On the 29th of the same month Lake arrived at Castlebar, but only in time to witness the disgraceful rout of the troops under General Hely-Hutchinson (afterwards 2nd earl of Donoughmore) ; but he retrieved this disaster by compelling the surrender of the French at Ballinamuck, near Cloone, on the 8th of September. In 1799 Lake returned to England, and soon afterwards obtained the command in chief in India. He took over his duties at Calcutta in July 1801, and applied himself to the improvement of the Indian army, especially in the direction of making all arms, infantry, cavalry and artillery, more mobile and more manageable. In 1802 he was made a full general.
On the outbreak of war with the Mahratta confederacy in 1803 General Lake took the field against Sindhia, and within two months defeated the Mahrattas at Coel, stormed Aligahr, took Delhi and Agra, and won the great victory of Laswari (November 1, 1803), where the power of Sindhia was completely broken, with the loss of thirty-one disciplined battalions, trained and officered by Frenchmen, and 426 pieces of ordnance. This defeat, followed a few days later by Major-General Arthur Wellesley's victory at Argaum , compelled Sindhia to come to terms, and a treaty with him was signed in December 1803. Operations were, however, continued against his confederate, Jaswant Rao Holkar of Indore, who, on November 17, 1804, was defeated by Lake at Farrukhabad. But the fortress of Bhurtpore held out against four assaults early in 1805, and Cornwallis, who succeeded Wellesley as governor-general in July of that year--superseding Lake at the same time as commander-in-chief--determined to put an end to the war.
But after the death of Cornwallis in October of the same year, Lake pursued Holkar into the Punjab and compelled him to surrender at Amritsar in December 1803. Wellesley in a despatch attributed much of the success of the war to Lakes matchless energy, ability and valour. For his services Lake received the thanks of parliament, and was rewarded by a peerage in September 1804. At the conclusion of the war he returned to England, and in 1807 he was created a viscount. He represented Aylesbury in the House of Commons from 1790 to 1802, and he also was brought into the Irish parliament by the government as member for Armagh in 1799 to vote for the Union. He died in London on the 20th of February 1808.
See H Pearse, Memoir of the Life and Services of Viscount Lake (London, 1908); GB Malleson, Decisive Battles of India (1883); J Grant Duff, History of the Mahrattas (1873); short memoir in From Cromwell to Wellington, ed. Spenser Wilkinson.
|- style="text-align: center;" | width="30%" |Preceded by:
The Marquess Cornwallis | width="40%" style="text-align: center;" |Commander-in-Chief, India
1805–1807 | width="30%" |Succeeded by:
Sir George Hewett
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