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Baptized 4th. May 1803 Saint John Newcastle Upon Tyne Northumberland
FATHER: Lieut. General Sir George Airey KB (1761-1833) Colonel 8th.Foot, 25.4.1808; Major General 4.6.1811 ; QuarterMaster General, Ireland 25.12.1813; Lieut. General KCH 19.7.1821; Colonel 39th. Regt. 28.10.1823
who married in England in 1802
Catherine (Talbot) born Malahide Castle, Dublin; daughter of Richard Talbot (1731- 24.10.1788) and Margaret O'Reilly of Westmeath ( 1745 - 27.9.1834)
|Ensign 34th.Regt. of Foot||15.3.1821|
|34th.Regt. of Foot||11.6.1826|
|Brevet of Colonel||11.11.1851|
|Colonel of The 17th.Regt of Foot||20.7.1860|
|Governor General of Gibraltar||21.9.1865 - 25.7.1870|
|Colonel 7th.Regt. Royal Fusiliers||1.5.1868|
|Adjutant General to The Forces||1.10.1870 - 31.10.1876|
|Retired and Knighted as Baron Airey|
Served on the Staff of Sir Frederick Adam in the Ionian Island 1827-30 and that of Lord Aylmer in North America 1830-32. In 1832 he went to Horse Guards. In 1838 he went to Canada with the 34th and whilst there he had to take charge of a large area of land bequeathed to him by a relative. It was during this time, living the rough life of a settler that he learned the importance of adapting what primitive resources were available to the best possible use. He also instigated, against stiff opposition, the practice of providing an evening meal for the soldiers; a practice hitherto unheard of. He was supported by the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Hill, and this was adopted throughout the army.
He also conceived the idea of a regimental canteen, another innovation of its time, which was adopted across the army as a whole. When he returned to England the Duke of Wellington arranged for him to return to Horse Guards and in 1852 he was appointed Military Secretary to Lord Hardinge when that officer became Commander-In-Chief.
Airey was offered, but declined to accept, the position of Quartermaster General. Instead he commanded 1st Brigade, The Light Division on 1 September 1854 which included among other regiments The 7th or Royal Fusiliers, who, together with The 23rd Regiment were the first English troops to land at 8.45 on the morning of 14 September. He reluctantly accepted the appointment of Quartermaster General due to the illness of Lord de Ros, and at once set about organising the provision of supplies to the army. In his capacity as Quartermaster General of the Army his conduct was brought into question with regard to the lack of co-ordination in distributing food and winter clothing. Lord Raglan and other senior officers had for years lobbied Parliament for a Land Transport Corps, but as always is the case, the obstacle was HM Treasury, and in time of war politicians look for scapegoats.
From 16 November to 20 December 1854 Airey was on his sick bed. There appear to be many factors to blame for the poor distribution of food, clothing and other necessaries for the army in the field, and to wholly blame Airey, although he was the officer in command, cannot be justified. He was the subject of what was known as "The Chelsea Board" of inquiry, and was cleared of any malpractice or dereliction of duty. He had always enjoyed the trust of his senior officers, Wellington, Lord Raglan and Sir. J Simpson and was a Quartermaster General in the older sense, having a high degree of responsibility, more of a Chief of General Staff and considered to have been the ablest officer on the Staff of Raglan. Any attempt to make him a scapegoat for the inadequacies of the Army System in war time failed once he had laid the facts in the open. He returned to England to become QMG Home Forces. The whole sorry episode had affected his health, but he defended himself fully with the facts.
Another controversial episode of his career was the order issued to Lord Lucan Commanding the Light Cavalry Brigade on the 25 October 1854.
Airey wrote down and signed the order as dictated to him by Lord Raglan, Commander-In-Chief. Such was the urgency of the order that Airey passed it to his ADC, Captain Louis Nolan with the instruction that the order was to be obeyed without any further delay. The result is a matter of history, but again Airey was at first blamed for his choice of Nolan to deliver the message, and secondly, the order was in his handwriting. Once again, once the facts were known, he was proved blameless.
During 1879-80 he presided over the respected Airey Commission on Army reform.
Richard Airey married Harriett Mary Everard Talbot 3rd daughter of James, 3rd Lord Talbot De Maldahide
George Aylmer 1839 - 1853
Louisa Anne 1841 - 1849
Richard John 1844 - 1865
Juliet Fanny 1846 - 1863
---? Frederic 1848 - 1857
Sir Richard Airey died on 14 September 1881 at The Grange, Leatherhead, the home of Lord Garnet Wolseley , Surrey, aged 78 Years.
Lady Airey died at her home at 7, Lowndes Square, Chelsea on 28 July 1881,
aged 67 Years
They were buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, Square 141
GENERAL LORD AIREY KCB
QUARTER MASTER - GENERAL
WHO DIED ON THE 14TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER 1881
REQUIESCAT IN PEACE
TO THE MEMORY OF HARRIET MARY, LADY AIREY
3RD DAUGHTER OF JAMES, 3RD. LORD TALBOT DE MALDAHIDE
WHO DIED ON THE 28th DAY OF JULY 1881
" SHE IS NOT DEAD, BUT SLEEPETH "
ELDEST DAUGHTER OF
SIR RICHARD AIREY GCB
AND HARRIET MARY AIREY
WHO DIED AT PORT TALBOT,CANADA WEST
ON THE 1ST, JANUARY 1849 AGE 7½ YEARS
SHE IS INTERRED AT TYRCONNEL, CANADA WEST
ELDEST SON OF LIEUT. GENERAL SIR RICHARD AIREY GCB
AND THE HON. HARRIET MARY AIREY
BORN 27th AUGUST 1839 DIED 30th MAY 1853
YOUNGEST SON OF SIR RICHARD AIREY KCB
WHO DIED 8th AUGUST 1857
AGE 9 YEARS
( LAST SURVING SON)
WHO DIED 3rd SEPTEMBER 1865
AGE 21 YEARS
YOUNGEST DAUGHTER OF
SIR RICHARD AIREY KCB
BORN 29th, MAY 1846
DIED 15th JULY 1863
AGE 17 YEARS
Regimental Records of The Royal Fusiliers HM Tower of London
The Army List
Portrait of General Airey by Permission of The Royal Fusiliers Museum
The 1881 Census & The Vital Records Index
With thanks to Claire Aston F.O.K.G.C. for her advice on Ivy Clearance
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