Field Marshall William Harcourt (1743-1830) was a soldier who fought in the American Revolutionary War. Serving with the 16th Light Dragoons, Harcourt was scouting in enemy territory on the 13th December 1776, when he came across a messenger bearing a letter from General Lee to General Washington. This subsequently led to the capture of General Charles Lee, regarded as one of the most talented American military leaders, and Harcourt’s recognition as a national hero.
William Harcourt’s monument can now be seen in the North Quire Aisle of St George’s Chapel. It stands 76 inches high on a stone base, representing the Field Marshall in his Coronation robes. However, the figure, sculpted by Sievier in 1832, was originally intended for Stanton Harcourt Church in Oxfordshire, but was moved to its current location on the orders of the King after he took a liking to the ‘splendid statue’. Where the original statue was to be placed in the south transept of Stanton Harcourt, now stands a plaster model, identical to the white marble figure at Windsor.
Despite Britain’s defeat in the American War of Independence, William Harcourt continued to be viewed as a hero, the monument commemorating the honour and bravery demonstrated by him. It was therefore appropriate that his statue would be placed in the Chapel, flanking Deans and Canons, Military Knights, and members of the English Royal Family.
Stefanos Koutroumanidis (Archives volunteer)