Genweal Gregor MacGregor, late 1st Regiment of Foot The Royal Scots


A small engraving after J. S Rochard by W. H. Lizars titled beneath His Highness Gregor Cazique of Poyais. The engraving is in an old glazed black frame with brass acorn hanging, measuring 8 x 5¼ ins over the frame. It depicts MacGregor in heroic pose with a chest of medals and orders. Gregor Macgregor [1786-1845] did serve in the British Army in the Peninsula War from 1803 to 1810 and can be found in that year’s Army List serving in the 1st or Royal Regiment of Foot – later the Royal Scots. His life was a complicated one of military career, opportunism, and blatant fraud. In 1812 he joined the Republican forces in Venezuela, rose rapidly to be a general and fought some bold battles. However during an invasion of New Granada he deserted British Volunteers under his command. Returning to Britain in 1821 he claimed an imaginary royal title that was convincing enough to persuade large numbers of people to invest in land in a completely fictional country called Poyais. Some actually sailed to south America as an emigration party but many did not survive. Although he was tried in a French court he was not convicted and on his return to Caracas he was greeted as a hero and eventually given a full military funeral there. He is just one of several similar figures in British military history who crop up from time to time. Worthy of a place on a military historian or psychologist’s wall.      jan11/5

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