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John Fortescue (historian)

Sir John Fortescue

Born28 December 1859
Died22 October 1933
Alma mater
Fortescue arms

Sir John William Fortescue KCVO FRHistS (28 December 1859 – 22 October 1933)[1] was a British military historian. He was a historian of the British Army and served as Royal Librarian and Archivist at Windsor Castle from 1905 until 1926.

Early life

Fortescue was born on 28 December 1859 in Madeira, the 5th son of Hugh, 3rd Earl Fortescue, by his wife Georgina, Countess Fortescue (née Dawson-Damer).[2][1] His family owned much of the area around Simonsbath on Exmoor since the twelfth century.[3] Fortescue was educated at Harrow School and Trinity College, Cambridge, later lecturing at Oxford (DLitt (Oxon)).[1][4]


Fortescue is best known for his major work on the history of the British Army, which he wrote between 1899 and 1930.[5] Between 1905 and 1926, he worked as the Royal Librarian at Windsor Castle.[5]

In 1911, Fortescue delivered the Ford Lectures at Oxford University.[4] In 1920, he delivered the British Academy's Raleigh Lecture on History.[6] He served as president of the Royal Historical Society from 1921 to 1925[7] and was elected an honorary fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.

He received the King George V Version of the Royal Household Long and Faithful Service Medal in 1925 for 20 years of service to the British Royal Family. Fortescue was appointed KCVO on the 1926 King's Birthday Honours List.

Personal life

In 1914, Fortescue married Winifred Beech, daughter of the Revd Howard Beech, Rector of Great Bealings, Suffolk; they had no children. Lady Fortescue (who died in 1951) was a writer and actress. He died in Cannes on 22 October 1933 at the age of 73.[5][8]


  • John William Fortescue (1895). A History of the 17th Lancers, Duke of Cambridge's Own. Macmillan & Company, Limited.
  • Dr John William Fortescue (1895). Dundonald. Macmillan and Co.
  • 1897 The Story of a Red Deer
  • Dr John William Fortescue (1899). The Drummer's Coat. Macmillan.
  • 1899–1930 A History of the British Army (in thirteen volumes, taking the story up to 1870) Available online for downloading
  • Dr John William Fortescue (1909). The County Lieutenancies and the Army, 1803–1814. Macmillan and Company, limited.
  • Dr John William Fortescue (1912). The Royal Visit to India 1911–1912. Macmillan and Co.
  • Dr John William Fortescue (1916). The Three Pearls. St. Martin's.
  • Dr John William Fortescue (1924). My Native Devon. Macmillan and Company, limited.
  • Dr John William Fortescue (1925). Wellington. London.
  • Sir John William Fortescue (1928). Six British Soldiers. William & Norgate.
  • Sir John William Fortescue (1928). The Empire and the Army. Cassell and Company.
  • Sir John William Fortescue (1928). Historical and Military Essays. Macmillan and Company, Limited.
  • Sir John William Fortescue (1928). A Short Account of Canteens in the British Army. The University Press.
  • 1930–1932 Royal Army Service Corps: A History of Transport and Supply in the British Army
  • Sir John William Fortescue (1931). Following the Drum. W. Blackwood & sons ltd.
  • Sir John William Fortescue (1932). Marlborough. Peter Davies Limited.
  • Sir John William Fortescue (1933). Author and curator. W. Blackwood.
  • Sir John William Fortescue (1934). The Last Post. W. Blackwood.

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Fortescue, Hon. Sir John William, (28 Dec. 1859–22 Oct. 1933), Hon. Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge; Librarian at Windsor Castle 1905–26". WHO'S WHO & WHO WAS WHO. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u209604. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
  2. ^ Bond, Brian (2004). "Fortescue, Sir John William (1859–1933)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  3. ^ "Sir John William Fortescue". Everything Exmoor. Retrieved 27 November 2007.
  4. ^ a b "Fortescue, the Hon. John William (FRTC878JW)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  5. ^ a b c "Sir John Fortescue". The Times. No. 46582. London. 23 October 1933.
  6. ^ Fortescue, John (1920). "The British Soldier and the Empire". Proceedings of the British Academy. 9: 409–429.
  7. ^ "List of Presidents". Royal Historical Society. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
  8. ^ John William Fortescue and Exmoor Archived 9 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine
Academic offices Preceded byCharles Oman President of the Royal Historical Society 1921–1925 Succeeded byThomas Frederick Tout
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John Fortescue (historian)
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