William Cadogan first Earl of Cadogan

1672 - 17 July 1726

Portrait of William Cadogan

William Cadogan's family

The Cadogan family was Irish. Cadogan's grandfather William had fought against the Irish in 1641 and had been governor of Trim. His father was a Dublin barrister named Henry Cadogan (?-1715), his mother was Bridget Waller. William Cadogan had a brother Charles and a sister.

Cadogan in the Nine Years War

A tradition about Cadogan's early career

Tradition has it that William Cadogan saw his first service as a cornet or volunteer in one of the cavalry regiments which fought at the Boyne (1690). Due to his age he would probably have entered the army only a short time before. The same tradition has him present at the conquest of Cork and Kinsale, and Marlborough noticing his organizational talent during this late 1690 expedition. After the Ireland campaign Cadogan would have gone to the Low Countries to fight in the campaigns of the Nine years war.

The problem with this tradition is that it's quite hard to verify it from any contemporary source and some of it seems hardly credible. On the other hand we have his March 1694 commission as captain. In combination with Cadogan not being of an influential family this commission makes it likely that by 1694 Cadogan had already served in the army for 3-4 years.

The likely truth about Cadogan's early career

Therefore William Cadogan probably did serve as an ensign in the 1690 and 1691 campaigns in Ireland. He might also have have started as a volunteer, especially when this means as serving in one of the units raised by local protestants. For the statement that Marlborough noted his organizational talent during the late 1690 Cork and Kinsale expedition I've not found any source. Because Cadogan was in all likelyhood still a cornet or ensign at the time, and Marlborough Lieutenant-general, the statement seems a later invention. It is probable that after Ireland was subdued Cadogan went to Flanders as ensign/cornet or lieutenant in one of the regiments going to Flanders. He might have been present in such a capacity in one of the battles fought there in 1692 and 1693. My conclusion on Cadogan's early career would be that he started in the army in 1690 or 1691, fought in the Irish campaigns, and then served in Flanders in 1692 and 1693.

Cadogan serves as a captain in Flanders

On 4 March 1694 Cadogan was appointed captain of the company previously commanded by Edmond Bowyer in Thomas Erle's regiment of foot (later 19th Foot)1. We can therefore suppose that Cadogan fought in all the campaigns in which this regiment participated from 1694-1697. One of these was the 1695 Namur campaign, where his talent might have been noted.

Cadogan after the peace of Rijswijk

On 1 August 1698 William Cadogan became a major of the Inniskilling dragoons2. (To be more exact this was James Wynne's regiment of Enniskillen Dragoons, known as Charles Ross's regiment from 16 July 1695 onward.) His old company in Erle's regiment went to Lt-Colonel Freke3. A position as major or lieutenant-colonel enabled an officer to influence the state of a whole regiment. In this capacity as major William Cadogan's talents probably led to the Enniskillen dragoons appearing in a very good state at reviews. I therefore deem it likely that his organizational talent was noted by King William III or the Earl of Marlborough during this short peace.

Cadogan in the War of the Spanish Succession

On 1 June 1701 William Cadogan was appointed as brevet colonel (i.e. a colonel without having a regiment) of foot4. This commission was only made to raise him somewhat in rank, because on 1 July 1701 he was made Quarter Master General5. These appointments were related to elements of the British army crossing to the United Provinces that year.

In 1704 Cadogan was made Brigadier General6. On 3 January 17nn Cadogan was turned out of all his offices and replaced as lieutenant of the Tower7.

Cadogan after the war

On 11 October 1714 William Cadogan became colonel of the Coldstream Guards. In April 1718 became Baron of Oakley, Viscount Caversham and Earl of Cadogan8.




This biography has been scraped together from various sources.


1) English Army Lists vol. 3 page 371 has William Cadogan appointed as captain to Thoms Erle's regiment on 4 March 1694.
2) English Army Lists vol. 4 page 199 has William Cadogan appointed as Major to the Inniskilling dragoons on 1 August 1698.
3) English Army Lists vol. 4 page 207 has lt-col Robert Freke succeeding to Cadogan's company in Erle's Foot on 1 August 1698.
4) English Army Lists vol. 4 page 266 has William Cadogan appointed as brevet colonel on 1 June 1701.
5) English Army Lists vol. 4 page 265 has William Cadogan appointed as Quarter Master General on 1 July 1701.
6) Luttrell Vol. V. page 458 under 22 August 1704 has Cadogan's appointment as Brigadier General
7) The Political State of Great Britain Volume XV printed in Londond 1718, page 419
8) The British Chronologist London, 1775, page 479