Research Subjects: Biographies

Not One in Ten Thousand Know Your Name: the Officers of the British 1st Battalion of Detachments in 1809 -- Lieutenant John Adam Durie 92nd Foot

By Robert Burnham and Ron McGuigan

In November 1803, John Durie was commissioned as an ensign in the 92nd Foot without purchase with a date of rank of 12 November 1803.[1]  September 1805 Ensign Durie was promoted to Lieutenant without purchase with a date of rank of 18 September 1805.[2]  He would participate in the expedition to Sweden in early 1808 and would land with the with the 1st Battalion 92nd Foot in Portugal in August 1808.  He was left in Portugal when the battalion marched into Spain.  In February 1809, he was attached to the 1st Battalion of Detachments and would be on its rolls, until September 1809.  Lieutenant Durie fought during Douro Campaign, including the combat at Grijon and the Passage of the Douro, however while in Oporto he became ill and would not be able to march with the battalion in the Talavera Campaign.[3] He returned to England in November 1809.

Lieutenant Durie was assigned to the 1st Battalion and was stationed in Canterbury.  On 9 September 1810, the 1st Battalion boarded the ships Audacious, Apollo, and Vestal bound for Portugal.  Among those being sent out with Lieutenant Durie was Lieutenant John Cattanach, who had also served in the 1st Battalion of Detachments.  They landed in Portugal on 8 October.[4]

Over the next 43 months Lieutenant Durie would be involved in many actions, including the Lines of Torres Vedras, Pombal, Fuentes d’Orono, Arroyo dos Molinos, Almaraz, Alba de Tormes during the retreat from Madrid in 1812, Vittoria, the Pyrenees, Garris (St. Palais), the passage of the Gave d’Oleron, Arriveriete, Orthes, and Aire.[5]  He would be slightly wounded at the battle of Maya in the Pyrenees on 25 July 1813 and at Aire on 2 March 1814.[6]

In May 1814, Lieutenant Durie was promoted to captain without purchase with a date of rank of 28 April 1814.[7]  As the junior captain in the regiment he would go on half pay in the Fall of 1814, when the 2nd Battalion was disbanded. 

On 25 September 1815, John Durie married Sarah Froggatt in Edinburgh.[8]  Sarah was the heir of Thomas Sutton Mort Froggat, of Dam House, Tyldesley, Lancashire, which was also known as Astley Hall.[9]  They would live on Frederick Street in Edinburgh, where John’s son was born on 17 December 1817.[10] On 11 November 1819, John’s wife gave birth to his daughter, Catharine.[11] Another son was born on 1 October 1827 at Bandrum, Fife.[12] Eventually John Durie and his family would move to Astley Hall in Lancashire. John Durie died on 18 January 1843 at Astley Hall, Lancashire.[13] In 1844, his wife Sarah, married Lieutenant Colonel Malcolm Nugent Ross.[14]  She died on 12 February 1860.[15]


[1] London Gazette: 15 November 1803; Hart: 1841

[2] London Gazette: 21 September 1805

[3] Robinson; p. 17

[4] Gardyne; p. 228

[5] Hart: 1841

[6] Gardyne; pp. 364, 403

[7] Army List: July 1814; London Gazette: 3 May 1814

[8] Scot’s: 1815; p. 873

[9] Ibid; “Mort”

[10] Scot’s Magazine: 1817

[11] Blackwood’s: October 1819, p. 258; Asiatic: 1843

[12] Blackwood’s: November 1827; p. 766

[13] United Services Magazine: 1843; p. 320

[14] Gentleman’s Magazine: January – June 1844; p. 646

[15] Remains; p. 236

Placed on the Napoleon Series: January 2009

Not One in Ten Thousand Know Your Name: the Officers of the British 1st Battalion of Detachments in 1809 ]

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