Colquhoun Grant (British cavalry general)

For his contemporary and namesake, who was one of the intelligence officers employed by the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsular War, see Colquhoun Grant (British intelligence officer).
John Colquhoun Grant
Nickname(s) The Black Giant
Born 1764
Died 1835
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch United Kingdom British Army
Years of service 1793 to 1835
Rank British Army lieutenant-general
Battles/wars French Revolutionary Wars
Napoleonic Wars

Lieutenant General Sir John Colquhoun Grant KCB GCH (1764  20 December 1835) was a British soldier.

Military career

Sir Colquhoun Grant[note 1] joined the 36th Foot as an ensign in 1793, exchanging (some years later) to the cavalry (25th Light Dragoons), with which he served at Seringapatam, but returning to the infantry in 1802 to command the 72nd Foot, which he led for six years. In 1806, at the head of his regiment he joined Sir David Baird's expedition to the Cape of Good Hope and on 8 January was wounded in action against the Batavian army at the Battle of Blaauwberg. On announcing the victory of the British in despatches Baird remarked:

"Your lordship will perceive the name of Lt.-Col. Grant among the wounded ; but the heroic spirit of this officer was not subdued by his misfortune, and he continued to lead his men to glory as long as an enemy was opposed to the 72nd Regt."[1]

He exchanged to the 15th Hussars in 1808, and took part in Sir John Moore's expedition to the Peninsular, being wounded at Sahagún fighting the French. He returned to Spain in January 1813, in command of a cavalry brigade; serving in this capacity, with one interruption, until the end of the campaign. Wellington was less than impressed with the performance of Grant's hussar brigade at the Battle of Vitoria and Grant was eventually replaced in command. However, Grant's political influence meant that he soon returned to the Peninsular to take over command of the light dragoon brigade of Robert Ballard Long. He was appointed KCB in 1814. At Waterloo, Grant commanded the 5th Cavalry Brigade, consisting of the 7th and 15th Hussars with the 13th Light Dragoons attached, which was stationed in the centre of the allied position; during the battle he had five horses shot under him.[2] Grant was promoted to lieutenant-general in 1830,[3] and he served as a Tory Member of Parliament (MP) for the rotten borough of Queenborough from 1831 until the borough was disenfranchised under the Reform Act 1832.[4]

Grant was a groom of the bedchamber to Prince Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, later King of Hanover. He was reputed to have been the strongest man in the British Army, and was given the nickname "The Black Giant."[note 2] He was appointed colonel of the 15th Hussars in 1827, succeeding the Duke of Cumberland, a post he held until his death.

Personal life

Grant married Marcia, daughter of the Reverend J. Richards, of Long Bredy, Dorset. Their only surviving child, Marcia, eloped with Whig politician Richard Brinsley Sheridan in May 1835.[5]


  1. In common with a number of contemporaries, such as Sir Richard Hussey Vivian, he made use of a distinctive middle name in place of a common first name when knighted.
  2. The nickname became popular when he commanded the hussar brigade in 1813, his towering frame and swarthy looks contrasted with the appearance of his constant companion, a diminutive red-headed brigade major. The descriptive phrase "The Black Giant with his Red Dwarf" became commonplace within the brigade.



External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Thomas Gladstone
John Capel
Member of Parliament for Queenborough
With: John Capel
Constituency abolished
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir William Payne-Gallwey
Colonel of the 12th (The Prince of Wales's)
Royal Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Lancers)

Succeeded by
Sir Hussey Vivian
Preceded by
The Duke of Cumberland
Colonel of the 15th (The King's)
Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Hussars)

Succeeded by
Sir Robert Thomas Wilson
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