Richard Henry Bonnycastle1,2,3

#12, (1791 - 1847)
FatherJohn Bonnycastle1 (1751 - 1821)
MotherBridget Newell1 (1754 - 1825)
RelationshipSon of John Bonnycastle
Charts5 Generations of Descendants of Sir Richard Henry Bonnycastle (1791-1847)
Ancestors of Hope Lyall Rudd (Jen's line)
Ancestors of Allan Lorne Bonnycastle (Dick's line)
Timeline of RH & Frances & Their Children


Frances Johnston (c 1792 - 1869)

Life Events

OccupationRichard Henry Bonnycastle was a a career military officer in the Royal Engineers reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was knighted in 1840. 
BirthHe was born on 30 Sep 1791 in Woolwich, Kent.1
BaptismHe was baptized on 30 Oct 1791 in St Mary Magdalene Woolwich, Kent. He was noted to be the child of John & Bridget.1 
St Mary Magdalene, Woolwich, baptism register for October 1791
Richard Henry & six others were baptised on the 30th
(birthdates are in the first column)
Note.Bridget Newell Bonnycastle's half-brother Richard Henry is undoubtedly the source of her son Richard Henry Bonnycastle's name. At the time of RHB's birth in 1791, Richard Henry was serving in the East India Company. 
EducationRichard Henry Bonnycastle passed out as a second lieutenant of the Royal Engineers on 28 Sep 1808 from Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, Kent.4,5 
MilitaryHe became a first lieutenant on 24 Jun 1809.4 
MilitaryHe was at the siege and capture of Flushing, in the Netherlands in Aug 1809. For a summary of that campaign see, for instance, this page.4,5 
MarriageHe married Frances Johnston, daughter of William Johnston and Jane Home, on 6 Aug 1812 in Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland.
The parish register reads: "Richard Henry Bonnycastle Esq. and Miss Frances Johnston, St. Andrews Parish, Daughter of Capn Willm Johnston Edinr."2
Marriage record of Richard Henry Bonnycastle & Frances Johnston
Edinburgh parish church register
Newspaper Published 14 Aug 1812 in the Edinburgh Advertiser.
Marriages - At Edinburgh, Richard Henry Bonnycastle, Esq; of the Royal Marines [sic], to Frances, second daughter of Capt. Wm Johnson.6
Newspaper Published 15 Aug 1812 in the Caledonian Mercury (Edinburgh)
Married - On the 7th current, by special licence, by the Right Reverend Bishop Sandford, Richard Henry Bonnycastle, Esq. of the Royal engineers, to Frances, second daughter of Captain William Johnston of this place.7
Newspaper Published 19 Aug 1812 in the Aberdeen Journal
Married - By special licence, by the Right Rev. Bishop Sandford, Richard Henry Bonnycastle, Esq. of the royal engineers, to Frances, second daughter of Captain William Johnston of this place.8
MilitaryRichard Henry Bonnycastle "served in the war with the United States of America from 1812 to 1815, and was at the taking of Fort Castine, John Adams corvette, and fleet of merchantmen, and occupation of that part of the State of Maine East of the Penobscot River; commanding engineer at the construction of the extensive works of the Castine Peninsula in the United States".4,5 
(Son) BirthSon Henry William John was born on 24 Jul 1813 in New Brunswick, Canada.9 
MilitaryRichard Henry Bonnycastle was promoted to captain on 11 Feb 1814.4 
(Son) BirthSon William Henry John was born on 27 Jul 1815 in Fort Cumberland, Nova Scotia, Canada.10 
MilitaryRichard Henry Bonnycastle was with the army of occupation in France.4,5 
(Heir) WillHe was named an heir in the will of his father John Bonnycastle dated 17 Aug 1816.11
(Dtr) BirthDaughter Jane Hume was born on 10 Jun 1817 in France.12 
PublicationRichard Henry Bonnycastle wrote 'Spanish America, a Descriptive and Historical Account' &c, 2 vols. 8vo, with maps; a work which appears to have been compiled when at Woolwich after his return from France. He was a good Spanish scholar. It was published in in London in 1818.4 
(Son) BirthSon John was born on 16 Jun 1819 in Island Bridge, Ireland. He died at the age of three months.13 
(Son) BirthSon Charles was born on 31 Aug 1820 in Pigeon House Fort, Dublin, Ireland.13 
(Son died) DeathSon Charles died 25 Jan 1822 in Ireland.13 
(Dtr) BirthDaughter Frances was born on 27 Jun 1822 in Island Bridge, Ireland.13 
(Dtr died) DeathDaughter Jane died 29 Jul 1822 in Ireland.13 
(Dtr) BirthDaughter Charlotte was born on 21 May 1824 in England.14,15 
(Son died) DeathSon William Henry John died 16 Aug 1824 in Kent, England. He was 9 years old.13 
(Son) BirthSon Murray was born on 9 Jul 1825 in Plumstead, Kent. He died in Plumstead at the age of eleven months.16 
Passenger ListThe family was listed on a manifest dated 20 Sep 1826 for the bark Vibilia which left London 31 July under the command of Master Corbitt and arrived at Quebec with Colonel Figg, Royal Engineers & lady & children and Captain Bonnycastle, Royal Engineers & lady & children on board. Cargo included stores and bricks consigned to the Government.17 
(Dtr died) DeathDaughter Frances died 28 Nov 1826 in Ontario.13 
(Dtr) BirthDaughter Henrietta was born on 10 Jul 1827 in Kingston, Ontario.13 
(Dtr) BirthDaughter Catharine Anne was born on 18 Dec 1829 in Kingston.13 
Fancy ball given by Hon. Mrs. Byng on April 1st [1830]

Captain Bonnycastle, represented 1st a Magician, and afterwards Earl of Sussex, accompanied by Mrs Bonnycastle, in the most superb dress, we ever beheld; 'twas indeed truly magnificent.
The whole scene was like one of fairyland, most brilliant and imposing; the splendour of the spectacle was much increased by numerous uniforms and regimentals.
(Dtr) BirthDaughter Georgiana was born on 19 Jul 1832 in Kingston. She died in York (now Toronto) in August 1833.13 
(Dtr) BirthDaughter Louisa was born on 11 Nov 1833 in Ontario.13 
MilitaryRichard Henry Bonnycastle achieved brevet-major on 10 Jan 1837.4 
(Witness) MarriageR.H. Bonnycastle witnessed the marriage of his brother Humphrey Bonnycastle and Jane Cottrell on 15 Jul 1837 in St. Mary, Lewisham, Kent.18,19,20
Humphrey Bonnycastle & Jane Cottrell
Marriage from Lewisham parish register, 1837
WillRichard Henry Bonnycastle wrote a will dated 17 Jul 1837 in London.21
Newspaper Published between 22 Jul 1837 and 28 Aug 1837.
"the packet ship Mediator, Christopher H. Champlin, master, arrived at New York that forenoon, from London and Portsmouth with cabin passengers and 84 passengers in steerage." Among the cabin passengers were "Major Bonnycastle, Royal Engineers; H. Bonnycastle, Esq. and Son, and Henry Tyrwhytt, Esq. all of Upper Canada."22
[the average westward passage time for the Mediator was 36 days, shortest 25 days, longest 54 days] 
Passenger ListHe was listed on a manifest dated 28 Aug 1837. Major Richard Henry Bonnicastle, age 45, Royal Engineer, arrived at New York from London on the ship Mediator, destination Upper Canada; travelling with [brother] Humphrey Bonnicastle age 42 & [nephew] Henry age 4.23 
Photograph This colour painting was done in the 1960s, so is the artist's impression of how RHB looked. The facial features are apparently copied from a known small watercolour of him. Even though it is not contemporary, I am leaving it on this website since it shows the Royal Engineer's uniform.24

Richard Henry Bonnycastle (1791-1847) in uniform
Historic plaque on the parade square just inside the gate of Fort Henry in Kingston, Ontario
(photo by David Beresford-Green)
Commanding Officer's room at [restored] Fort Henry, Kingston, Canada
(photo by David Beresford-Green) showing RHB's bed
Military In late 1837, most of the soldiers in Upper Canada were situated in Montreal, leaving just the Ordnance personnel and a few sailors in the Kingston area. Rebellion broke out and Major Richard Henry Bonnycastle received orders to hold the newly completed Fort Henry against rebel attack. He successfully built a force with Fort Henry workers, local militia, Kingstonians serving in the Frontenac Light Dragoons, some of the Perth Artillery, a unit of regular sailors, and some Mohawks from the Bay of Quinte region. This force caused about 2,000 Upper Canadian refugees and American sympathizers from New York state who had reached Hickory Island near Ganonoque to withdraw, their spies having spotted the defenses and fearing an attack would be too costly. 
Newspaper Published 14 Sep 1839. Furniture sale by auction (leaving Canada).25 
Newspaper Published 2 Oct 1839. Departed to England with family.26 
Item On 18 Mar 1840 in St James Palace, Richard Henry Bonnycastle was knighted. Here is the notice from the London Gazette, the official journal of record of the British government.27,28
Major Richard Henry Bonnycastle knighted
London Gazette, 1840
MilitaryHe became regimental lieutenant-colonel on 7 Sep 1840.29,4
Sir Richard Henry Bonnycastle promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel
Notice in the London Gazette, 29 September 1840
Newspaper Published 11 Dec 1841. [RHB] Military Commander in Newfoundland formerly of Kingston has written a book reviewed in Blackwoods Magazine.30 
PublicationHe wrote 'Newfoundland in 1842', 2 vols. 8vo in 1842 published in London.4 
PublicationHe wrote 'The Canadas in 1842', 2 vols. 12mo in 1842 published in London.4 
MilitaryHe has left the command of the Royal Engineers in Newfoundland and has assumed command of the department in Canada West on 23 Aug 1843.31 
Newspaper Published 23 Aug 1843 in the Lambton House Hotel. Bonnycastle and his family are staying at the Lambton House Hotel in Kingston. 
Newspaper On 9 Sep 1843 there is a newspaper item regarding his departure from Newfoundland.30 
Land RecordHe bought in S1/2 Lot 5 Conc 4, Seymour Township, Northumberland County, Canada West, on 21 Jun 1844.32 
Newspaper Published 16 Apr 1845. Item of note: Thomas Corbett offers for rent the stone house occupied by Sir Bonnycastle.30 
(Dtr died) DeathDaughter Catharine died 27 Jun 1845 in York, Ontario.13 
PublicationRichard Henry Bonnycastle wrote 'Canada and the Canadians in 1846', 12mo, published in 1846 in London.4 
Newspaper Published 16 Jul 1846 in the Daily News (London, England).

On Wednesday, 11th June, a detachment of the Royal Artillery, under the superintendance of Sir Richard Bonnycastle, commanding Royal Engineers, mounted a cannon upon the Martello Tower in course of erection at Murray Point, Kingston, in order to test the solidity of the work. It was found that the new masonry stood the firing well, and was not sensibly affected by it.33
Newspaper Published 30 Apr 1847 in the Belfast News-Letter. Office of Ordnance, April 24 - Corps of Royal Engineers - Brevet Major G. Tait to be Lieutenant-Colonel, vice Bonnycastle, retired on half-pay.34 
DeathHe died on 2 Nov 1847 in Kingston, Frontenac, Ontario, at the age of 56.35 
ObituaryHis obituary was published on 4 Nov 1847 in the Kingston Chronicle and News. The obituary was reprinted in numerous newspapers, including the Morning Chronicle in London, England.36
Obituary for Sir Richard Bonnycastle, 1847
Kingston Chronicle copied to St John's Nfld Times
BurialHe was buried on 5 Nov 1847 in Lower Burial Ground, Kingston, Frontenac County, Ontario. The burial was recorded in the St. George's Cathedral register, so this is likely where the service took place. Sir Richard was actually buried in the historic Lower Burial Ground Cemetery. A society has been formed for the cemetery's restoration and a Feb 2010 news release about it can be read here.3
Sir Richard Henry Bonnycastle, Lieutentant Colonel Royal Engineers
Burial register entry
[Sir Richard Henry Bonnycastle, age 56, died 2 Nov, buried 5 Nov, Ministers Messrs Bartlett & Graig, Remarks: Lt Col R.E.]
ProbateHis estate was probated on 17 Mar 1848 in Prerogative Court of Canterbury, London, England, with administration granted to Henry William Marriott, with power reserved of making the like grant to Humphrey and Charles the Brothers of the deceased when they shall apply for the same.21 
Publication ''Canada as it was and as it may be', 2 vols. 8vo, edited by Lieutenant-colonel (afterward General) Sir J.E. Alexander, C.B. from a mass of writings RHB left unpublished at his death, was published in 1852 in London.4 
Last Edited6 Apr 2014


  1. Baptisms of St Mary Magdalene Woolwich, Kent. Registers from London Metropolitan Archives. Image viewed at, Richard Henry Bonnycastle, 1791.
  2. Microfilm of the Marriage Register of Edinburgh, Midlothian, 1858-1863 (Family History Library, 993527), Bonnycastle/Johnston marriage, 1812.
  3. Burial Register of St George's Cathedral, Kingston "Register #2-K-6, p. 74."
  4. Sir Leslie Stephen ed. Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, London(1921-22) (, digital images), Bonnycastle, Sir Richard Henry, p825.
  5. Captain H G Hart, The New Army List (London: John Murray, 1846), viewed on Google Books.
  6. databases, online image from the Edinburgh Advertiser.
  7. Caledonian Mercury (Edinburgh, Scotland), Saturday, August 15, 1812; Issue 14143. image online at 19th Century British Library Newspapers, a Gale digital collection.
  8. The Aberdeen (Scotland) Journal. image online at 19th Century British Library Newspapers, a Gale digital collection.
  9. Letters from Doris Knox, Ontario, to J Kolthammer, dated early 1990s "letter, 17 Apr 1991 (quoting a bible)."
  10. Terrence M. Punch, Nova Scotia Vital Statistics from Newspapers, 1813-1822 (Halifax: Genealogical Committee of the Nova Scotia Historical Society, 1978), Acadian Recorder, Sat 26 Aug 1815.
  11. Will and Administration of John Bonnycastle, Professor of Mathematics in the Royal Military Academy Woolwich, 17 August 1816, proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 27 September 1821.
  12. Microfilm of the Bishop's Transcripts of St Mary Woolwich, Kent, 1813-1818 (Family History Library, 307732).
  13. Letters from Doris Knox, Ontario, to J Kolthammer, dated early 1990s.
  14. Microfilm of the Bishop's transcripts of Plumstead, Kent, 1744-1853 (Family History Library, 1469482), film#1469482 contains Baptisms and burials 1820-1853 Marriages 1820-1836, Charlotte Bonnycastle baptism, 1825.
  15. Online image of the 1851 Census for England & Wales (,, HO107/2527 folio 858.
  16. Microfilm of the Bishop's transcripts of Plumstead, Kent, 1744-1853 (Family History Library, 1469482), film#1469482 contains Baptisms and burials 1820-1853 Marriages 1820-1836, Murray Bonnycastle baptism, 1825.
  17. Website The Ships List (
  18. Microfilm of the Bishop's transcripts of St. Mary's Church, Lewisham, Kent, 1829-1837 (Family History Library, 307680), Bonnycastle/Cottrell marriage, 1837.
  19. Marriages of the parish of Lewisham. registers from London Metropolitan Archives. Image viewed at, Humphrey Bonnycastle & Jane Cottrell, 1837, #439.
  20. Marriages of the parish of Lewisham. registers from London Metropolitan Archives. Image viewed at, Humphrey Bonnycastle & Jane Cottrell, 1837, #1.
  21. Will and Administration of Sir Richard Henry Bonnycastle, Captain in the Corps of Royal Engineers, 17 July 1837, proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 17 March 1848 (Family History Library, Film #0156663).
  22. New York Evening Post, No. 10826, 28 August 1837, p.3a (sent via email 14 nov 1997 from Michael Palmer).
  23. databases, New York Passenger Lists.
  24. E-mails from David Beresford-Green to J Kolthammer.
  25. Unsourced newspaper, P3 C1, & 18 Sep 1839, P3 C2.
  26. Unsourced newspaper, P3 C1.
  27. W.A. Shaw, The Knights of England (n.p.:, 1906 (reprint 1971)), Clayton Library, 929.7 S537.
  28. The London Gazette, online at, Issue 19839, 24 Mar 1840, Page 4.
  29. The London Gazette, online at, Richard Henry Bonnycastle promotion, Issue 19899, 29 Sept 1840, page 2162.
  30. Unsourced newspaper, P2 C5.
  31. Obituary of Sir Richard Bonnycastle in Kingston Chronicle (copied in St John's Newfoundland Times, 15 Dec 1847), 4 November 1847, P2 C6.
  32. Index to Land Records, Ontario (OLRI), 1780s-1910s, compiled by Ontario Archives, Ontario, 1979.
  33. Daily News (London, England, Issue 40, 16 July 1846. image online at 19th Century British Library Newspapers, a Gale digital collection.
  34. The Belfast News-Letter, Friday, April 30, 1847; Issue 11357. image online at 19th Century British Library Newspapers, a Gale digital collection.
  35. Burial Register of St George's Cathedral, Kingston.
  36. Obituary of Sir Richard Bonnycastle in Kingston Chronicle (copied in St John's Newfoundland Times, 15 Dec 1847), 4 November 1847.
  37. Died., St. Catharine Constitutional, Ontario, 12 April 1860, page 3.
  38. Marriage certificate of John Waddingham and Louisa Bonnycastle, married 5 January 1870 in the Province of Ontario, Certificate #none.