John Vincent

Born 1764 in Ireland
Died 1848 in England


General John Vincent (1764 – 1848) was a British Army officer, who fought in the War of 1812.

He was born in Ireland, and entered the army as an Ensign in 1781. He transferred as a Lieutenant into the 49th Foot in 1783. He saw service with the regiment in Haiti, and in the campaign in Holland in 1799. He was a Major in 1795, and was appointed brevet Lieutenant-Colonel in 1800. Two years later, the 49th were posted to Canada. Vincent performed various garrison duties for the next ten years or so.

On the outbreak of war, Vincent led a detachment of the 49th from Lower Canada to Kingston, Ontario, and was commander of this post during the winter of 1812 to 1813, being promoted to Brigadier General. His forces fought off one half-hearted attack by ships under the American Commodore Isaac Chauncey, and over the winter he successfully bluffed the American Commander-in-Chief, General Henry Dearborn, into thinking his forces were much larger than they actually were and deterred any attack.

Vincent was subsequently transferred to the Niagara frontier. On 27 May 1813, his positions were attacked in the Battle of Fort George. Although his British and Canadian regulars made a determined defence, Vincent realised that he was about to be outflanked and surrounded, and ordered a rapid retreat.

Vincent's forces halted at a defensive position at Burlington Heights, where Vincent received news of his promotion to Major General. The pursuing American forces halted at Stoney Creek (Hamilton, Ontario). Their camp was insecure, and Vincent followed a suggestion by a subordinate to mount a night attack. The resulting Battle of Stoney Creek was a tactical draw but badly shook the Americans. Vincent himself took little part. He was thrown from his horse in the confusion and wandered lost in the woods for most of the night.

The Americans subsequently retreated to Fort George, and Vincent's forces maintained a blockade of them for several months. After the British defeat at the Battle of Moraviantown, which threatened Vincent's rear, he retreated again to Burlington Heights. By this time, Vincent was ill, and was transferred first to Kingston once again, then to Montreal, before leaving for England.

He never again saw active service, but was promoted Lieutenant General in 1825 and full General in 1843. He had held the sinecure post of Lieutenant Governor of Dumbarton Castle since April, 1814, and became Colonel of the 69th Foot in 1836.

Several officers of the 49th were to rise to high command in Canada during the War of 1812. Vincent was easily the longest-serving of them. British and Canadian accounts of the War give the impression of a modest and generous officer, who gave whatever help he could to other commanders.


The Vincent neighbourhood in Hamilton is named after him. It is bounded by King Street East (north), Greenhill Avenue (south), Mount Albion (west) and Quigley Road (east). Landmarks in this neighbourhood include Greenhill Park, Laurier Park and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School.