John and Francis Ligonier

In the north ambulatory of Westminster Abbey is a marble monument to Field Marshal John [Jean-Louis], Earl Ligonier. It shows a figure of History holding a scroll on which are incised the names of the battles the Earl took part in: Schellenberg, Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde, Taniere, Malplaquet, Dettingen, Fontenoy, Rocoux, and Laffeldt. Below is a portrait relief with various military trophies. The monument has been altered and the four relief portraits of Queen Anne, George I, George II and George III are now placed on the basement. The Earl's crest and motto "A Rege Et Victoria" and a relief of Britannia seated on a bale have gone. His coat of arms is sculpted on an urn. The monument is signed by sculptor John Francis Moore, 1773, and is sited opposite the memorial to General Wolfe. The inscription reads:

In memory of John Earl Ligonier Baron of Ripley in Surry Viscount of Inniskilling and Viscount of Clonmell Field-Marshal and Commander in Chief of His Majesty's Forces Master-General of the Ordnance Colonel of the First Regiment of Foot-Guards One of His Majesty's most honourable Privy Council and Knight of the most honourable military order of the Bath. Died XXVIII April MDCCLXX aged XCII.

He was born on 17th October 1680 at Castres in France where the Ligonier family, who were Huguenots, had been established for several generations. His father was Louis de Ligonier, sieur de Montcuquet and his mother Louise (du Poncet). John was probably educated in France and Switzerland and took refuge in Ireland when Protestants had to flee France. He was naturalized English in 1702 and served in the British army in the campaigns listed on his memorial. In 1713 he was appointed governor of Minorca where he improved the fortifications. In 1753 he became Colonel of the Royal Regiment of Horse Guards (the Blues) and rose to be aide-de-camp to King George II. As a reward for his gallant behaviour at the battle of Dettingen the King dubbed him Knight banneret, an honour only conferred on the battlefield - the first occasion this had been done since 1642. He is best remembered for his successful cavalry charge at the battle of Laffeldt. By Penelope Miller he had a daughter also called Penelope who married Lt. Colonel Arthur Graham. John was later a Member of Parliament and governor of Guernsey and of Plymouth. On his retirement he was created Earl Ligonier and died on 28th April 1770. He was buried near his home at Cobham in Surrey. He is considered by many to be the greatest British soldier between Marlborough and Wellington.

(Sir Septimus Robinson, Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, left some money in his will of 1764 towards a memorial, if no provision was made for one after Ligonier's death. He also suggested an inscription. The Abbey records do not give the name of the person who later applied in 1771 for the monument to be erected).

Francis Ligonier

John's brother Francis Augustus was born in 1693 at Castres and came to England in 1710. His brother Anthony was already in the British army. He died and was buried in Edinburgh in 1746. John erected a memorial to his brother, by sculptor Louis Francois Roubiliac, in the south cloister of Westminster Abbey. The inscription reads:

Sacred to FRANCIS LIGONIER Esq [Esquire] Colonel of Dragoons, a native of France, descended from a very ancient and very Honble. family there; but a zealous Protestant and subject of England, sacrificing himself in its defence, against a POPISH PRETENDER at the BATTLE OF FALKIRK, in the year 1745. A distemper could not confine him to his bed when duty called him into the field, whre he chose to meet death, rather than in the arms of his friends. But the disease proved more victorious than the enemy. He expired soon after the battle where under all the agonies of sickness and pain, he exerted a spirit of vigour and heroism. To the memory of such a brave and beloved brother, this monument is placed by Sir JOHN LIGONIER, Knight of the Bath, General of Horse in the British Army, with just grief, and brotherly affection.

John also looked after Francis' natural children by Anne Murray, Edward and Frances. Edward joined the army and fought at the battle of Minden. He succeeded to the Irish title Earl Ligonier of Clonmell. He married first Penelope Pitt, whom he divorced, and secondly Lady Mary Henley. He had no children and died on 14th June 1782. Frances married Colonel Thomas Balfour.

Further Reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004

"Field Marshal Lord Ligonier" by Rex Whitworth, 1958


17th October 1680


28th April 1770


Soldier; politician


North Ambulatory; South Cloister

Memorial Type


Material Type


John and Francis Ligonier
John, Earl Ligonier monument

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

John and Francis Ligonier
Francis Ligonier memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster