New College of the Humanities

The Trial of Lord George Sackville

Court-martialled in 1760 for disobeying military orders, Sackville rose to the office of Secretary of State for War, writes David Fraser.

On April 3rd, 1760, Lord George Sackville, third son of the 1st Duke of Dorset, was found guilty by court-martial of having disobeyed the orders of Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, and was sentenced as ‘adjudged unfit to serve His Majesty in any military capacity whatsoever’.

Three months later the General-Governor of Quebec wrote:

‘I have carefully read the court-martial relating to the affair of Minden, all my garrison have studied it, and I may venture to affirm that there is not an officer in it who does not blush that such a sentence should have been pronounced by a British court.’

The alleged offence derived from the Allied action against the French on August 1st, 1759, during the Seven Years’ War, at Minden in Hanover, where the River Weser runs northward through a gap in wooded hills known as the ‘Porta Westfalica’, marking the boundary between Westphalia and Lower Saxony. Immediately after the action Lord George had been removed from his military appointments, but his trial - which he requested on September 7th, 1759 - did not take place for a further seven months.

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