|The Viscount Hardinge|
|Lived:||30 March 1785 - 24 September 1856|
|Placeofdeath:||Royal Tunbridge Wells|
|Serviceyears:||1799 - 1856|
First Anglo-Sikh War
|Laterwork:||Governor-general of India|
Privy Council of the United Kingdom
Member of Parliament
He was born at Wrotham in Kent. After attending Eton College, Sevenoaks School & Durham School, he entered the British Army in 1799 as an ensign in the Queen's Rangers, a corps then stationed in Upper Canada. His first active service was at the Battle of Vimiera, where he was wounded; and at Corunna he was by the side of Sir John Moore when the latter was fatally wounded. Subsequently he was appointed deputy-quartermaster-general in the Portuguese army by Sir William Beresford, and was present at nearly all the battles of the Peninsular War, being wounded again at Vittoria. At Albuera he saved the day for the British by taking the responsibility at a critical moment of strongly urging General Cole's division to advance.
When war broke out again in 1815 after Napoleon's escape from Elba, Hardinge returned to active service, and was appointed commissioner at the Prussian headquarters. In this capacity he was present at the Battle of Ligny on June 16, 1815, where he lost his left hand by a shot, and thus was not present at Waterloo two days later. For the loss of his hand he received a pension of £300; he had already been made a KCB, and Wellington presented him with a sword that had belonged to Napoleon.
In 1820 and 1826 Sir Henry Hardinge was returned to parliament as member for Durham; and in 1828 he accepted the office of secretary at war in Wellington's ministry, a post which he also filled in Sir Robert Peel's cabinet in 1841-1844. In 1830 and 1834-1835 he was chief secretary for Ireland. In 1844 he succeeded Lord Ellenborough as governor-general of India. During his term of office the first Sikh War broke out; and Hardinge, waiving his right to the supreme command, offered to serve as second in command under Sir Hugh Gough; but disagreeing with Gough's plan of campaign at Ferozeshah, he temporarily reasserted his authority as governor-general. After the successful termination of the campaign at Sobraon he was created Viscount Hardinge of Lahore and of King's Newton in Derbyshire, with a pension of £3000 for three lives; while the East India Company voted him an annuity of £5000, which he declined to accept. Hardinge's term of office in India was marked by many social and educational reforms.
He returned to England in 1848, and in 1852 succeeded the Duke of Wellington as commander-in-chief of the British army. While in this position he had the home management of the Crimean War, which he endeavoured to conduct on Wellington's principles - a system not altogether suited to the changed mode of warfare. In 1855 he was promoted to the rank of field marshal.
A commission was set up to investigate the failings of the British military during the Crimean campaign. As Hardinge was delivering the report of the commission to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, he collapsed with a stroke. Albert helped him to a sofa, where despite being paralysed on one side, he continued to deliver his report, apologizing for the interruption. Viscount Hardinge resigned his office of commander-in-chief in July 1856, owing to failing health, and died later in the same year at South Park near Tunbridge Wells.
His elder son, Charles Stewart (1822-1894), who had been his private secretary in India, was the 2nd Viscount Hardinge; and the latter's eldest son, Henry, succeeded to the title. The younger son of the 2nd Viscount, Charles Hardinge (b. 1858), became a prominent diplomatist, and was appointed Viceroy of India in 1910, being created Baron Hardinge of Penshurst.