THE BONNYCASTLE FAMILY TREE PROJECT:Information about Richard Henry Bonnycastle, R.E.
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Richard Henry Bonnycastle, R.E. (b. 30 Sep 1791, d. 02 Nov 1847)Richard Henry Bonnycastle, R.E. (son of John Bonnycastle and Bridget Newel) was born 30 Sep 1791 in Woolich, Kent, and died 02 Nov 1847 in Kingston, Ontario.He married Francis Johnstone on 06 Aug 1812 in Edinburg, Scotland, daughter of William Johnstone.
Notes for Richard Henry Bonnycastle, R.E.:
Richard's family was unusual in that its middle class standing was due more to his father's intellectual achievements than it was to birth, business or inheritance.
Young Richard entered the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich as a cadet.He graduated as a 2nd Lieutenant and ultimately rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel of Engineers.He married in 1814. He was promoted to the rank of Captain in 1825 and to Lieutenant Colonel in 1848. He served at Flushing 1809, in America from 1812-1815; was Commanding Officer Royal Engineer in Canada West in 1837; was Commanding Officer Royal Engineers in Newfoundland.
He was Commanding Engineer at the construction of the extensive works thrown up by the British on the Castine Peninsula.He attained the rank of Captain in 1814 in which year he married the daughter of a Captain William Johnston.Subsequently he served with the British Army of occupation in France and on general duties in England.In 1818, while at Woolwich he wrote his first book "Spanish-America".The next move was to Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake in Upper Canada in 1826.He served both there and in York (Toronto).The thread of his military career in Canada is somewhat confused although it is known that he came to Upper Canada in 1826 and was stationed in Toronto, or York as it was then called and stayed there until 1837 when he went to Kingston. There he stayed until 1839 at which time he returned to England to be knighted. From England he was sent to Newfoundland where he stayed from 1840-1843 and then came back to kingston till his retirement in May of 1847. He died the same year.
As Commanding Officer, Royal Engineers in Upper Canada, he rendered very important service during the Canadian rebellion in 1837-39.In February of 1838, commanding a force of militia and volunteers and in the absence of regular troops, he defeated the designs of the insurgents at Napanee and the brigands at Hickory Island who were planning and attack on the city of Kingston, Ont.He was able to repair the defenses at Fort Henry to hold off this attack.For these services a grateful monarch knighted him.Later Richard was appointed commanding Officer, Royal Engineers in Newfoundland. He also served at Toronto and Halifax.He became a brevet-major in 1837, a Regimental Lieutenant Colonel in 1840 and then retired from the army in 1847.He died in 1848.
Sir Richard lived for a time in what was called "Bay Shore Cottage" in Toronto. Bay Shore Cottage was located near the army barracks along the bay shore on a promontory, suddenly jutting out into the harbor on the south side of Front Street and on the west side of Peter street presumably close to what today is Bonnycastle Street.The property included a pretty little 1 and ½ storey frame cottage painted white with green blinds and dormer windows surrounded by a board fence.It included a garden and a grove surrounding it.In Kingston, the family lived on Centre Street near King Street and on Sydenham and Colborne Streets.Later, his widow lived on Gore Street. Lady Bonnycastle also resided on Church Street in St. Catherines.
In 1834 Sir Richard was chosen to lead the efforts for the cities first art exhibition, as he was a talented amateur painter along with his military presence and popularity.While Sir Richard and his committee was able to put on a sizeable exhibition in the parliament buildings (Including some
by Sir Richard and Paul Kane), practically nobody attended because of a cholera epidemic.As a result Sir Richard had to hold paid lectures to pay off the resulting debt.
There is an epitaph on his tombstone, built into the wall of St. Paul's Anglican Church in Kingston, which reads "In Memory of Sir R. H. Bonnycastle, Knight, Lieut-Col of the Royal Engineers, who died at Kingston, November 2, 1847".
He was considered an excellent and painstaking officer.He was a prolific author of a number of works to include "Spanish America, a Descriptive and Historical Account", "The Canadas in 1842 (2 Vols)", "Newfoundland in 1842" and "Canada and the Canadians in 1846".After his death he left a mass of writings which were published under the editorship of General Sir J. E. Alexander, CB with the title "Canada As It Was and As It May Be (2 Vols)" published London 1852.
Sir Richard (or was it William Henry Bonnycastle) established the "Bonnycastle Family Homestead" which deserves some mention.It was a very solidly built house of limestone. The main house was built with a centre hall, large living room, to the left of the entrance with an open fireplace.To the right was a smaller sitting room, also with an open fireplace, with a bedroom back of it.In the addition at the back were a large kitchen and dining room.Back of the kitchen was a frame summer kitchen.Upstairs was a centre hall with four bedrooms over the main house and four bedrooms and a windowless storeroom over the back of the house.There was also a set of back stairs leading down to the kitchen.Around the front, on the south side and along the east side of the house was a verandah.On each side of the front door, french windows opened into the two living rooms.The approach to the house was a long wide lane bordered by maple trees across which, near the house ran a small stream.In the front yard were many flowering shrubs and a small latticed "summer house".At the back of the house was a fenced in vegetable garden, through which a path led to another latticed "summer house"in a grove of trees beside the same stream.The farm itself was level and productive.On a small knoll, back of from the barns was a small family cemetery where Henry Bonnycastle, after his death in 1888 was buried.Other members of the Bonnycastle family were also buried there.
More About Richard Henry Bonnycastle, R.E.:
Fact 1: 1825, Captain, Royal Engineers.
Fact 2: 1848, Lieutenant Colonel.
Fact 3: 1809, served in Flushing.
Fact 4: served in America 1812-1815.
Fact 5: Commanding R.E. Canada West 1837-1839.
Fact 10: 18 Mar 1840, Knighted for services in defence of Kingston.
More About Richard Henry Bonnycastle, R.E. and Francis Johnstone:
Marriage: 06 Aug 1812, Edinburg, Scotland.
Children of Richard Henry Bonnycastle, R.E. and Francis Johnstone are:
- +Henry William John Bonnycastle, b. 24 Jul 1813, Fort Cumberland, NB, d. 23 Jul 1888, Campbellford, Ontario.
- William Henry John Bonnycastle, b. 27 Jul 1815, Saint John N.B., d. 16 Aug 1824, Gillinghamnear Chatham, Kent.
- Jane Hume Bonnycastle, b. 10 Jun 1817, France, d. 03 Dec 1817, Dublin.
- John Bonnycastle, b. 16 Jun 1819, Island Bridge nr Dublin, d. 19 Sep 1819, Dublin.
- Charles Bonnycastle, b. 30 Aug 1821, Pigeon House, Fort Dublin, Ireland, d. 25 Jan 1822, Dublin, Ireland.
- Frances Bonnycastle, b. 27 Jun 1822, Island Bridge, Ireland, d. 08 Nov 1826, Kingston, Ontario.
- Charlotte Bonnycastle, b. 21 May 1824, d. Apr 1862, Buffalo, NY.
- Murray Bonnycastle, b. 29 Jul 1825, Plumstead, Kent, d. 14 Jun 1826, Plumstead, Kent.
- Henrietta Bonnycastle, b. 10 Jul 1827, Kingston, ONtario, d. date unknown.
- Catharine Anne Bonnycastle, b. 18 Dec 1829, Kingston, Ontario, d. 27 Jun 1845, York, Ontario.
- +Georgiana Bonnycastle, b. 19 Jul 1832, Kingston, Ontario, d. 25 Aug 1833, York, Ontario.
- +Louisa Bonnycastle, b. 11 Nov 1833, York, Ontario, d. 12 Sep 1900, Gore's Landing, Ontario.