52nd Regiment of Foot (1797)

On 1 August 1796 Lawrence joined the 52nd Regiment as an Ensign1. On 1 January 1797 he was promoted to Lieutenant in place of Lieutenant William Wardrobe.

This seems like rapid promotion, but in reality promotion in the British Army was to coin a phrase from a century later was based on Buggins Turn, “appointing people to positions based on rotation rather than on merit.” Opening up of vacancies above was dependent upon retirement or death.2 3

On 18 October 1797 the Regiment was under orders to return to England, the effective men (ie those who were non-commissioned) were drafted to other Regiments, primarily the 77th and 80th Foot Regiments and received 3 guineas if they did so 4.

On 1 November 1797 he was seconded to the 32nd Regiment 5

The 52nd were to be moved back to England and on 16 Feb 1799 Lawrence exchanged with Lieutenant William Fennel of the 33rd Regiment 6.

Other Lieutenants, Thomas Reed (of the 52nd), William Fraser (36th), Nathaniel B Tucker and John Whitlies (both of the 72nd) did likewise.

The story continues on the The 33rd Regiment pages.


  1. “52nd Regiment: To Be Ensign: Lawrence O’Hara, Gent to Be Ensign Vice Macdonald Promoted in the 72nd Foot.” The London Gazette, no. 14004, Apr. 1797, p. 373, https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/14004/page/373. ↩︎
  2. The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British India and Its Dependencies. 1829 1816, p. 131.  ↩︎
  3. Capt. Lieutenant E. Burke to be captain of a company, vice Irwine, removed to the Royal Garrison Battalion. Dec 4 1795.
    Lieut. W Wardrobe to be captain-lieutenant, vice Burke, promoted Ditto.
    Ensign Laurence O’Hara to be lieutenant, vice Wardrobe, promoted Jan 1 1797
    Ensign E McConnegal to be lieutenant vice Mackenzie, deceased Jan 2 1796
    Ensign J Steeney to be lieutenant by purchase vice Brown, promoted 41st Foot Jan 6 1797
    Ensign John Rofs from 36th foot to be lieutenant without purchase vice Hicks who resigned May 8 1797
    William Frith grant to ensign by purchase vice Armstrong, promoted in 71st Foot Aug 2 1797
    E W Manoury gent. to be ensign by purchase vice Stoney promoted Aug 3 1797
    Lionel Hook gent. to be enfign vice McConnegal promote Dec 20
    Ensign J T Sattherthwaite from 76 foot to be ensign vice

    O’Hara promoted Jan 1 1797
    M M Madden gent to be ensign vice Bird who resigns Jan 3
    ↩︎
  4. Moorsom, WS. Historical Record of the Fifty-Second Regiment (Oxfordshire Light Infantry)… 1755-1858. Richard Bentley, 1860. ↩︎
  5. The National Archive. PRO/WO12/5025-5029 ↩︎
  6. 33rd Regiment: Lieutenant Lawrence O’Hara, from the 52d Foot Vice Fennell, Who Exchanges.” The London Gazette, no. 15108, Feb. 1799, p. 162, https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/15108/page/162. ↩︎