MACLEAN, ALLAN, army officer; b. 1725 at Torloisk on the island of Mull, Scotland, third son of Major Donald Maclean, fifth laird of Torloisk, and Mary Campbell; m. 4 Feb. 1771 in London, England, to Janet Maclean; d. 18 Feb. 1798 in London, without issue.
Like many of his Highland contemporaries, Allan Maclean joined the Jacobite army in 1745. He served as a lieutenant in the Clan Maclean battalion and was present at Culloden. After the defeat of Charles, tire Young Pretender, Maclean fled to the Netherlands and enlisted in the Scots brigade of the Dutch army in May 1746. In 1747 he and his kinsman Francis McLean were captured by the French at the siege of Bergen op Zoom (Netherlands). Allan Maclean returned to Great Britain in 1750 following the amnesty granted by George II to all Jacobite officers willing to swear allegiance to the house of Hanover.
On 8 Jan. 1756 Maclean was commissioned lieutenant in the Royal Americans (62nd, later 60th Foot) and served in North America until 1761. He was wounded in James Abercromby’s futile assault against Montcalm*’s forces at Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga, N.Y.) in 1758, and again while commanding an independent company of New York provincial troops at the siege of Fort Niagara (near Youngstown, N.Y.) in 1759. Later that year he joined James Wolfe*’s force before Quebec. Returning to Britain in 1761, Maclean raised his own unit, and on 18 Oct. 1761 he was gazetted major commandant of the 114th Foot (Maclean’s Highlanders). He proceeded to North America with his men, but in 1763 the regiment was disbanded and Maclean went on half pay. A number of his men settled on St John’s (Prince Edward) Island. Maclean himself later received a land grant there along with several other Maclean gentry, but he does not appear to have settled on the island.
Maclean was restored to full pay in 1772 and the next year offered to raise a battalion of Highlanders for service in Bengal, but the East India Company rejected the offer. As the political situation in the American colonies deteriorated, Maclean proposed to raise a regiment from disbanded Highland soldiers living in North America. This proposal was accepted and on 12 June 1775 Maclean was empowered by Lieutenant-General Gage to raise “a Corps of two Battalions . . . to be cloathed, Armed and Accoutred in like manner with His Majesty’s Royal Highland Regiment [42nd Foot] and to be called the Royal Highland Emigrants.” The first battalion was recruited in Canada and New York and the second in Nova Scotia and St John’s Island. Maclean, who was designated lieutenant-colonel commandant of the whole regiment, took personal command of the first battalion.
During the revolutionary war the second battalion never served as a unit, although some detachments were sent to the Carolinas. The first battalion, however, played a notable part in the defence of Canada during the American invasion of 1775. When Governor Guy Carleton*’s attempts to relieve Fort Saint-Jean (on the Richelieu River) collapsed, Maclean, who had assembled a force of regulars and Royal Highland Emigrants on the river and was endeavouring to enlist Canadian support, withdrew to Quebec. He arrived in time to discourage pro-American elements from surrendering the city to Benedict Arnold*. Maclean’s energy and firm direction, combined with the efforts of Lieutenant Governor Hector Theophilus Cramahé, strengthened the morale of the defenders. Although Carleton took over the supreme command upon his arrival after the fall of Montreal, Maclean was responsible for the military arrangements which led to the defeat of the Americans on 31 Dec. 1775 and the death of their commander, Richard Montgomery. The Americans continued the siege, however, until May 1776, when British reinforcements arrived.
On 11 May 1776 Allan Maclean was appointed adjutant general of the army in North America, a position he held until 6 June 1777 when he was promoted brigadier-general and made military governor of Montreal. Following Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga (Schuylerville, N.Y.), Maclean, as the officer responsible for the defence of Montreal, was forced to abandon Fort Ticonderoga (formerly Fort Carillon) and concentrate his troops along the Richelieu River for a more effective defence against any renewed American invasion. After strong appeals from Maclean, the Royal Highland Emigrants were finally regimented in 1779 as the 84th, and the authorized strength was raised from 700 to 1,000 for each battalion.
Maclean returned to Great Britain after the peace settlement of 1783. He retired from the army in 1784 and lived quietly in London until his death.
BL, Add. mss 21661–892. Private archives, J.N.M. Maclean of Glensanda, the younger (Edinburgh), Torloisk mss and transcripts. G.B., Board of Trade, JTP, 1764–67, 404–14. Boatner, Encyclopedia of American revolution. DNB. Gentleman’s Magazine, 1798, 354–55. G.B., WO, Army list, 1756–84. J. N. M. Maclean, Reward is secondary; the life of a political adventurer and an inquiry into the mystery of ‘Junius’ (London, 1963). J. P. MacLean, An historical account of the settlements of Scotch Highlanders in America prior to the peace of 1783 . . . (Cleveland, Ohio, and Glasgow, 1900; repr. Baltimore, Md., 1968); Renaissance of the clan Maclean . . . (Columbus, Ohio, 1913). G. F. G. Stanley, Canada invaded, 1775–1776 (Toronto, 1973).
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Cite This Article
G. F. G. Stanley, “MACLEAN, ALLAN,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed March 28, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/maclean_allan_4E.html.
The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:
|Author of Article:||G. F. G. Stanley|
|Title of Article:||MACLEAN, ALLAN|
|Publication Name:||Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4|
|Publisher:||University of Toronto/Université Laval|
|Year of publication:||1979|
|Year of revision:||1979|
|Access Date:||March 28, 2023|