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Coffin, John (1756–12 June 1838), Loyalist and British general, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Nathaniel Coffin, the last receiver general and cashier of His Majesty’s Customs at Boston, and Elizabeth Barnes. Coffin attended the Boston Latin School and went to sea at an early age. He rose to command of a ship by the age of eighteen, and in 1775 he was engaged to bring a regiment of British troops from England to Boston, which at that time had just broken out in armed rebellion against King George III. Coffin appears to have had no conflict in his loyalties; he brought the troops on his ship to Boston and soon engaged in the war on the side of the king....

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Hunter, Robert ( October 1666–31 March 1734), British army officer and royal governor of Virginia, New York and New Jersey, and Jamaica, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of James Hunter, an attorney, and Margaret Spalding. Lacking land or inherited wealth, Robert Hunter chose a military career. In the November 1688 Glorious Revolution, Hunter formed part of the dragoon bodyguard that escorted Princess Anne from London as she fled her father, James II. An ardent Whig, Hunter continued to serve William III in Cardross’s Dragoon Regiment, Colonel John Hill’s Regiment, the Royal Scots Dragoons, and Colonel Charles Ross’s Irish Dragoons. In the War of the Spanish Succession (1702–1713) Hunter was aide-de-camp to commander in chief John Churchill, duke of Marlborough, a close relationship that brought Hunter into contact with the most influential men in Great Britain. Under Marlborough, Hunter rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel, saw active duty at the battles of Blenheim and Ramillies in 1704 and 1706, and was instrumental in securing the 1706 surrender of the city of Antwerp....

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Monckton, Robert (24 June 1726–21 May 1782), army officer and colonial administrator, was born in Yorkshire, England, the son of John Monckton, who was later the first Viscount Galway, a landowner, and member of Parliament, and Lady Elizabeth Manners, daughter of the second duke of Rutland. At age fifteen Monckton was commissioned in the Third Foot Guards. He fought against the French in the major battles of Dettingen (1743) and Fontenoy (1745), gaining promotion to captain in 1744, major in 1747, and lieutenant colonel in 1751. Becoming a member of Parliament for the family-controlled seat of Pontefract from 1751 to 1754, he showed his preference for the military life by joining his regiment in Nova Scotia in 1752....

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Robertson, James (29 June 1717–04 March 1788), British general and royal governor of New York, was born at “Newbigging,” the family estate near Burntisland, Scotland, the son of George Robertson, a laird, and Christian Dundas. Little is known of his childhood. Robertson enlisted in the British army as a common soldier, very unusual for a future general. In 1739 he became an officer. During 1747 he married Ann White; they had one child. Slowly rising in rank, he gained the ...

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Sharpe, Horatio (1718–09 November 1790), military officer and governor, was born in Hull, Yorkshire, England, the son of William Sharpe and Margaret Beake, whose father was principal secretary of Maryland, 1714–1732. Nothing is known of Horatio’s childhood, but he apparently was well educated. His brother John Sharpe served as guardian to the minor ...

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Shute, Samuel (12 January 1662–15 April 1742), British army officer and colonial governor of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, was born in England, the son of Benjamin Shute and Patience Caryl, daughter of the Reverend Joseph Caryl, the noted Nonconformist minister and a brother of Lord Barrington. Shute was educated by the Puritan ...

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Skene, Philip (09 January 1725–09 June 1810), British officer and Loyalist, was born in London, England, the son of James Skene, a Jacobite, and Mary Anne (maiden name unknown). Raised by an uncle who was a military man, Philip Skene was exposed early in life to the British army. During 1741 he became an ensign and fought in Europe in that decade. He participated in the suppression of the Jacobite invasion of Scotland and was severely wounded at the battle of Culloden (16 Apr. 1746). Afterward, he took part in more European battles and rose to lieutenant in 1750. During January of that year he wed Katharine Heyden. Their marriage would produce three children....

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Tryon, William (08 June 1729–27 January 1788), British army officer and governor of North Carolina and New York, was born in Surrey, England, the son of Charles Tryon, the owner of a landed estate, and Lady Mary Shirley. The wealth and aristocratic connections that Tryon enjoyed from birth enabled him to advance both militarily and politically despite a lack of formal education. In 1751 he obtained commissions first as a lieutenant and then as a captain in the First Regiment of Foot Guards. Six years later, he attained the rank of lieutenant colonel. Tryon’s marriage to Margaret Wake in 1757 enhanced both his wealth and his political influence. They had one child together. (From an affair with one Mary Stanton, Tryon had another child, whom he supported during the remainder of his life and provided for in his will.)...