William Anne Villettes
Born: 14 Jun, 1754
Died: 13 Jul, 1808
Field: Soldier
Location in the Abbey: Chapel of st andrew
Type of memorial: Tablet
Type of material: Marble

A memorial to Lt.General William Anne Villettes was erected in St John the Evangelist's chapel in Westminster Abbey. It was later moved to its present position in St Andrew's chapel. The white marble tablet with decoration of acroteria on a black marble ground is by sculptor Sir Richard Westmacott. The inscription reads:

"Sacred to the memory of Lieut. Genl. William Anne Villettes, (second son of Arthur Villettes Esqr. his late Majesty's minister plenipotentiary at the court of Turin and to the Helvetic Cantons), who in consideration of essential services rendered to his country during a period of 33 years, at Toulon, in Corsica, at Malta, and in many other places, was appointed colonel of the 64th regiment of infantry, and Lieutenant Governor and commander of the forces in Jamaica; but while engaged in a tour of military inspection in that island, was seized with a fever and died near Port Antonio on the 13th of July 1808, aged 54 years. A worthy member of society was thus taken from the public, a valuable officer was lost to the king's service, and the island of Jamaica was deprived of a man well calculated to promote its happiness and prosperity. His residence there was indeed short, yet his manly, but mild virtues, his dignified but affable deportment, his firm, but conciliatory conduct, had secured him the confidence and esteem of the whole community. The sculptured marble shall dissolve in dust, and fame, and wealth, and honours pass away; not such the triumphs of the good and just, not such the glories of eternal day".

Below a Latin inscription shows the memorial was erected by his friends W.Cartwright, T.Bowdler and J.Casenove.

He was born at Bern in Switzerland on 14 June 1754, of a Huguenot family. He was educated in Bath and at St Andrew's university in Scotland. Joining the army in 1775 he served in Ireland and France and was engaged in the conquest of Corsica and appointed governor of the town of Bastia. In 1807 he took up his post in Jamaica and died there, unmarried, of yellow fever and is buried in Kingston.

A photo of the memorial can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further reading:

"A short view of the life of Lt.General Villettes" by T.Bowdler, 1815.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004.

 

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