General William Corbet

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Corbet, William, General, was born at Ballythomas, County of Cork, in August 1779. He entered Trinity College when but fifteen, and soon became a distinguished member of the Historical Society. He was one of the nineteen students expelled for revolutionary sympathies by Lord Clare, in February 1798. With his brother he retired to France, and entered the army. On 16th September 1798 a descent was made on Rutland Island, Donegal, by Tandy, Corbet, and a number of other Irish refugees, in a French vessel, the Anacreon. After learning the fate of Humbert's expedition, and circulating a few proclamations, they re-embarked and returned to France. Next year he was arrested at Hamburg by British agents, and sent back to Ireland. After two years' incarceration he escaped from Kilmainham, by the co-operation of some friends throwing a cord over the prison wall, and his drawing up a rope ladder on a stormy night. Dr. Madden gives a most interesting account of this exploit. He found many friends in Dublin, reached England, and passed over to France. Entering the army, he shared in Napoleon's campaigns, and by 1814 had risen to be a colonel. In 1828 the British ambassador endeavoured to prevent his being employed in the Franco-Greek expedition. He was, however, appointed to the command of the citadel of Navarino, and when he returned to France in 1837 was created Major-General for his distinguished services. He died at St. Denis, 12th August 1842, aged 63. Mr. Madden gives the following testimony as to his character: "His moral conduct was throughout his life perfectly correct; he entertained a high sense of honour and a deep respect for female character, but never married. . . He was of a retiring and unobtrusive disposition." A younger brother visited Ireland in 1875, on the occasion of the O'Connell Centenary.

Sources

330. United Irishmen, their Lives and Times: Third Series: Robert R. Madden, M.D. 3 vols. Dublin, 1846.

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