General Sir Roger Hale Sheaffe, 1st
Baronet (15 July 1763 – 17 July
1851) was a Loyalist
General in the
British Army during the War of
1812. He was created a
Baronet in 1813 and afterwards served as
Commander and acting
Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. There is
conflicting information to statements regarding his military
accomplishments (1812) in the "Letters of Veritas" in and around page
1 Early life
2 Military career
3 War of 1812
4 Subsequent career
6 Dates of rank
8 External links
Roger Hale Sheaffe
Roger Hale Sheaffe was born at Boston, Massachusetts, the third son
and eighth child of Susannah Child (1730–1811), daughter of Susannah
Hatch and Thomas Child and William Sheaffe (1705–1771), a graduate
Harvard University who became Deputy Collector of Customs at
Boston. Her father was an
Englishman of the same family as Richard
Child, 1st Earl Tylney. He owned considerable property in his native
Lincolnshire but emigrated to
Boston where he co-founded Trinity
Church, in 1733.
One of Sheafe's sisters, Margaret, married Robert Livingston, of
Clermont Manor, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
Another sister, Susanna, married Captain Ponsonby Molesworth, grandson
of Robert Molesworth, 1st Viscount Molesworth. A third sister married
Benjamin Clarke Cutler, brother of Mrs Samuel Ward.
Shaeffe was educated at the
Boston Latin School with his cousin Sir
Isaac Coffin, 1st Baronet. His father died penniless in 1771 and
his mother opened a boarding house to support her 10 children. One of
the residents there was Lord Percy, later the 2nd Duke of
Northumberland, the leader of the British forces in
Boston during the
American War of Independence. Lord Percy greatly aided the family
during the War and was so struck by the qualities and the leadership
potential of Shaeffe that he sent him to a military academy in London.
Lord Percy became Shaeffe's lifelong friend and benefactor, purchasing
his first commission as Ensign in 1778 in the 5th Regiment of Foot. He
later purchased a lieutenancy.
Sheaffe served with his regiment in Ireland from 1781 until 1787, when
it was posted to Canada. In Detroit and at Fort Niagara, he served
Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe, who had a high opinion
of him. He was commissioned Captain in 1795. He first served under
Isaac Brock in the
49th Regiment of Foot
49th Regiment of Foot in 1798;
they served together in the campaign against the
Batavian Republic in
1799 and in the Baltic in 1801.
The 49th was posted to Canada in 1802. As Lieutenant-Colonel, Sheaffe
commanded the garrison at Fort George, where he faced an attempted
mutiny. Despite his own notable achievements, Sheaffe was often
compared unfavourably with the popular and charismatic Brock. Sheaffe
had been Brock's second in command prior to their time in Canada, and
continued in that role upon their arrival. Shortly after arriving at
their new station, a mutiny was attempted by some of Sheaffe's men.
Brock hurriedly came to the aid of his subordinate, ended the mutiny
without conflict, and arrested the perpetrators. They claimed they
took their actions directly as a result of Sheaffe's belligerence, but
were subsequently executed after a court-martial. Brock warned Sheaffe
to stop working the men too hard and to stop punishing men harshly for
Sheaffe nevertheless attained the rank of Colonel in 1808, and
General in 1811. This last promotion actually hurt Sheaffe
financially, as he transferred from a full-pay commission as Colonel
of the 49th to half pay as an unassigned general officer on the staff.
War of 1812
Sheaffe's house at 12 Inverleith Row, Edinburgh
Sheaffe returned to Canada from a visit to England in July 1812. The
next month, the
War of 1812
War of 1812 broke out. Sir George Prevost, the
General of Canada and commander in chief of the forces there,
appointed Sheaffe to command the troops at Fort George on the Niagara
River. While Brock was absent, dealing with an American army at the
Siege of Detroit, Sheaffe was required by Prevost to negotiate an
armistice with the American forces on the opposite side of the river.
Prevost may have believed that peace could be negotiated quickly, but
by the time the armistice ended, the Americans had been substantially
Early on 13 October the Americans began crossing the Niagara at
Queenston, a few miles south of Fort George. Brock galloped from Fort
George to Queenston, arriving just in time to see the Americans
capture the commanding heights and a British heavy gun battery. He
sent orders to Sheaffe to bring reinforcements, but before they could
arrive he led two frontal assaults against the heights. During the
second, he was shot dead. Sheaffe arrived on the battlefield at 2pm.
In contrast to Brock's actions, he waited for reinforcements before
leading his force on a wide detour to the top of the heights, so as to
shield them from American artillery. He then meticulously drew up his
force before attacking at 4pm. The Americans, terrified of the Mohawks
who had also joined the battle, tried to flee but were trapped against
the river, and surrendered. One thousand prisoners were taken, for a
cost of 50 casualties.
Sheaffe was appointed
Lieutenant Governor and commander in Upper
Canada in succession to Brock, but was unpopular with the people he
was to defend, and often with his own soldiers. During the later
months of 1812 he was unable to transact business with the Legislature
due to illness and other military commitments, forcing Prevost to make
a personal visit to
Upper Canada in February 1813.
In April, Sheaffe was present in York, the provincial capital, to deal
with the civil authorities. York was weakly defended and Sheaffe had
only four companies of regulars, passing through en route to Fort
George and other posts. On 27 April, an American force supported by
gunboats and other armed vessels attacked. In the Battle of York,
Sheaffe's outnumbered troops were driven back to the edge of the town.
Sheaffe decided to preserve his regulars and ordered a retreat to
Kingston, having destroyed the fort and a sloop of war under
construction in the dockyard. The militia were left to be taken
prisoner, while the town was looted by the Americans and several
buildings were set on fire.
Many prominent citizens of
Upper Canada denounced Sheaffe's conduct at
York, and Sir
George Prevost relieved Sheaffe of his military and
civil appointments in Upper Canada, putting him in charge of the
troops in Montreal.
36 Melville Street, Edinburgh, Sheaffe's final home
Roger Hale Sheaffe
Roger Hale Sheaffe in New Calton Cemetery
Later in the year, Sheaffe was recalled to Britain. Here he
subsequently had a successful military career, being promoted to
General in 1821 and full
General in 1835.
He and his family lived in
Penzance and Worcester, and when he retired
he moved to Edinburgh. In the 1830s he is listed as living at 12
Inverleith Row in north Edinburgh.
He died at his home in 36 Melville Street on 17 July 1851, and is
buried in New Calton Cemetery, beside his daughters Frances Julia and
He had been awarded a baronetcy in January 1813 as a reward for the
victory at Queenston Heights, but as none of his children survived
him, the title died with him but his coat of arms was also bestowed on
his dead brother's children in perpetuity.
In 1810, at Quebec City, Sheaffe married Margaret, daughter of
Isabella Child and John Coffin (1729–1810), a relation of his
mother's from Boston. Lady Sheaffe's sister was the mother of Mrs
Benjamin Joseph Frobisher, half-sister of Mrs George Hamilton. They
had six children, all of whom predeceased their parents:
Frances Julia Sheaffe, b. 1812 in Canada, d. 1834 in
Agnes Isabella Sheaffe, b. 1814 in London, died in infancy.
Agnes Emily Sheaffe, b. 1817 in Worcester, d. 1832 in Edinburgh
(buried beside him).
Percy Sheaffe, died as a young man.
Another son and daughter both died in infancy.
His younger brother, William, and his Wife Mary, died leaving 4 young
children. Roger adopted them as his own and brought them up. The boys
joined the army and William arrived in Australia as a lieutenant on a
convict ship in 1834 with his wife and baby. Their 2 elder children
were left in England to be cared for by Roger and Margaret. All the
Australian Sheaffes are descended from William and Rosalie.
Dates of rank
Ensign - 1 May 1778
Lieutenant - 27 December 1780
Captain - 6 May 1795
Major - 13 December 1797
Lieutenant Colonel - 22 March 1798
Colonel - 25 April 1808
General - 4 June 1811
General - 19 July 1821
General - 28 June 1838
^ Diary of Anna Green Winslow
^ A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage
of the British Empire. Henry Colburn. 1839.
^ Amory, Thomas C. (Thomas Coffin) (1886). The life of Admiral Sir
Isaac Coffin, baronet, his English and American ancestors;. University
of California Libraries. Boston : Cupples, Upham and
^ "Early Canada Historical Narratives -- SHEAFFE & QUEENSTON
HEIGHTS". www.uppercanadahistory.ca. Retrieved 2018-02-24.
Edinburgh Post Office annual directory, 1832-1833". National
Library of Scotland. p. 171. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
^ Stephen has researched the family history to the 1400's - His book
"SHEAFFE Family History is in numerous libraries throughout the world.
Biography at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
Roger Hale Sheaffe
Roger Hale Sheaffe – on Sheaffe Family Website by Paul Sheaffe
(all information taken from "Sheaffe Family History" by Stephen W
Early Canada Historical Narratives: Sheaffe & Queenston Heights
Sir Isaac Brock
Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada
Francis de Rottenburg
Sir George Don
Colonel of the 36th (Herefordshire) Regiment of Foot
Lord Frederick FitzClarence
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Baronet(of Boston, MA)1813–1851
Lieutenant Governors of Ontario
D. A. Macdonald
J. B. Robinson
H. A. Bruce
W. R. Macdonald
Province of Canada
E. W. Head
F. P. Robinson
British Province of Quebec
Carleton (2nd time)
* The Crown's representative from 1759 to 1791, and from 1841 to 1866
held the office and rank of