Richard was the third son of John Guyon, an officer
in the Royal Navy. He was born on 31 March 1803 at Walcot, Bath. The
family eventually moved to Richmond, Surrey, but how long they were in
Somerset is uncertain. Having been educated from an early age for an
army career, he went on to hold a commission in the Surrey Militia.
Before the age of 20, he studied at an Austrian military academy,
obtaining a commission in the Austrian army and by 1823, he had received
an appointment in Prince Joseph's second regiment of Hungarian hussars,
where he attained the rank of captain.
He married Marie, Baronne de Spleny in November, 1838. She was the
daughter of Field Marshal Baron de Spleny, commander of the Hungarian
life-guards. His wife owned a large country estate near Pesth and
Richard left the service soon after their marriage and retired to work
on the property, cultivating the farms.
The couple had three children, Victor, Edgar and Marianne. We do
not have a date of birth for Victor and as we know Edgar retained the
family title, it is possible Victor died young.
Edgar Joseph Richard was born in Hungary in 1848. After his
father's death, the title regained by his grandfather, was passed to
There are no dates for Marianne, but she was obviously named after Richard's aunt,
Marianne, who married Colonel J. Lawrence Prendergast and from whom
our part of the family is descended - she was James Albert Joy's
mother-in-law and is buried in the little Chapel cemetery in Matfield,
Hungary, in the middle of 1848, had declared itself a new state,
independent of Austria and openly hostile to her. For centuries
political and economical ties had united them to the German hereditary
possessions of their ruling house. They now demanded independence
which they had lost to Suleiman in 1526, the Battle of Mohacs.
Ferdinand I., at the dissolution of the old Reichstag, on 10 April,
1848 had recognised the existing rights of the Kingdom of Hungary; he
was eventually compelled to abdicate in favour of Francis Joseph I on 2
Louis Kossuth was a political agitator and fanatic; a type of
revolutionary apostle and martyr. When the Hungarian Revolution broke
out, it was he, along with other Magyar leaders, who asked Richard to
take command of the landsturm and the bonveds. In spite of having been
a cavalry officer, Richard soon mastered his new position. By the
middle of September, 1848, Hungary and Austria were at war.
The Banace of Croatia was a dignity in the gift of the king, though
his nominee was responsible to Hungary. This position had been held
since the Revolution broke out, by an Austrian general, Jellacic. He
formed a Croatian army of 40,000-50,000 men and though they were not
great militarists, their extraordinary armament and size made them a
Archduke Stephen attempted to induce Jellacic to evacuate Hungarian
territory but the latter refused. At the same time, he was informed
that Field-Marshal Lamberg had been appointed CIC of the Imperial troops
in Hungary and that, he, the banus was under the Field-Marshal's
orders. This went strictly against the constitution and recognizing
this the Archduke secretly fled the country to Schaumberg. Count
Lamberg attempted to take up his post in Budapest, the Hungarian
capital, and fell into the hands of some of Kossuth's desperate men. On
28 September, 1848, he was murdered at the suspension bridge which
united Pesth and Ofen; civil war had begun.
At the battle of Sukoro, 29 September, along with the Hungarian
troops under General Moga, Richard defeated Jellacic, forcing him and
his men to retreat. At the end of the following month, 30 October, at
the battle of Schwechat, he led the advance-guard of the right of the
Hungarian army against Jellacic again. On this occasion, he repulsed
them three times and after a bloody fight, with a brilliant charge,
drove the "Austrian" army from the village of Mannsworth. He was made a
colonel in the field and given command of the First Division, which
formed the advance-guard of the upper army, led by Gorgey.
On the same day as the abdication various Austrian forces advanced.
General Count Franz Schlick, with 8000 men, started from Galicia and
after a series of conflicts and a victory by Schlick at Kaschau the
provisional Government under Kossuth was forced to abandon Pesth and to
retire to Debreczin.
Richard, again, distinguished himself; this time by storming the pass
at Branitzlo, held by Schlick. Richard Debaufre Guyon had just 10,000
men against 25,000, but he made the union of the upper forces and the
Theiss army possible. For these services, the Hungarian diet decreed
that his name be inscribed on a bronze pillar.
The battle of Kaplona, on 26 February 1849, was regarded as a
tactical victory for Schlick. Richard also fought at this battle with
his detachment, covering Dembrinski;s corps as they retired on the
second day of the engagement.
The town of Komorn was important to the Austrians as a secure base
for further operations of the imperial army and they besieged it. On
Richard's promotion to general, he was sent by Kossuth to make an entry
into Komorn and take command of the town. This he did on 21 April and
three days later was instrumental in raising the siege.
He resigned his command of Komorn in June, joining up with Vetter's
forces and on 14 July, defeated in a skilful engagement Jellacic at
Hegyes and drove him out of the Banat.
10 August, General Guyon took part in the battle of Temeswar but the
combined forces of the Russian and Austrian armies were against them.
The following day. Kossuth fled from Arad to Turkey and Gorgey was
appointed dictator. On 13th Gorgey surrendered to the Russians,
sacrificing himself, allowing others to escape. Richard, along with Bem,
and Kmety, and others, escaped to Turkey. Russia and Austria, on 16
September 1849, demanded their extradition but the sultan continued to
give the Hungarian leaders his protection.
Some time after this, Richard was residing at Konish, in Karamania
and his wife, Marie, was kept prisoner, by the Austrians, at Presburg.
In 1852, the Turks approached Guyon, offering him a command with the
rank of lieutenant-general and the title of Kurschid* (the Sun) Pasha.
He steadfastly refused to embrace the Mahometan faith, even though he
was starving from want and only after all efforts were abandoned as
hopeless, did the Turks accept his services on his own terms. He thus
became the first Christian to obtain the rank of Pasha and hold Turkish
military command without betraying his religion. He was sent to
Damascus where his wife eventually joined him.
He went to Anatolia in November, 1853, joining the Turkish army
there. He was not the only foreigner fighting with the Turkish army.
Associated with him were Perchat Pasha (Stein), Osman Bey (Zashitzkey)
and Fehti Bey (Coleman) - a German, Pole and an Irishman. There were
other European officers of minor ranks, refugees, Poles and Hungarians,
and a few Irish officers. He was stationed, initially, at Batoum and
was nominated to command along with the others mentioned but held the
"As a dashing horseman and brilliant sabreur, he would be more highly
appreciated by the Turkish soldiery than for his superior attainments
as a strategist and tactician. He seemed to unite all qualities
desirable for a general in such a command. If he failed subsequently to
effect what was expected, the fault was not his; the corruption and
incapacity of the Turkish pashas, and the intrigue of the divan,
paralysed his efforts. His counsels were slighted, his orders
counteracted, his remonstrances overruled at the seat of government. He
did all a man in such circumstances could do, and more than most men
would have attempted."
This sums up the whole of his 'career' in the Turkish army. The
indigenous officers were jealous of his command and their religious
scruples against obeying 'infidel commanders' proved costly in their
war against Russia.
"Cowardice, pride, obstinacy, stupidity,
peculation, characterised the conduct of the Tutrkish generals. General
Guyon was the life and soul of the army, everything would have gone to
ruin but for him, and the few European officers who seconded his
They seemed unbelievably naive, too.
August, 1853, Mustapha Zarif Pasha had attacked and been repulsed by
General Bubatoff near Kars and the following day, the Russian had, at
Kurukdar, assumed the offensive and defeated Mustapha. General Guyon
had recommended a plan of action to Selim Pasha, the general-in-chief,
which would have probably been decisive of the campaign. However, Selim
refrained from advancing for three days as they were Turkish religious
holidays ! Naturally, by the time the move was made, the Russians had
placed themselves in an advantegeous position. The generals, including
Selim, panicked, gave impossible orders and fled the field and though
Guyon (and Stein) could have rectified the situation, not one of the
high-ranking Turks heeded his advice and though the soldiery fought
bravely, eventually they fled in every direction; 30,000 Turks routed by
half their number.
At the close of 1853, he was at the head of 30,000 men near
Akhaltzick. He was mindful of the common soldiery and succoured and
encouraged them; something the Turkish officers would never do. They
respected him and he could have made the army a superior one. Even the
Russians had 'a salutary apprehension of the energy, bravery, and
military skill of Guyon, but they regarded the Turkish pashas with
In 1854, despite the cholera and fever which swept through the
encampments, the ordinary Turkish soldiers were ready to fight. If the
Porte (government) had authorised him, Guyon could have fought his way
to the foot of the Caucasus. Riding amongst the tents, he was often
implored: "Why do we not march?". The answer was simple - the pashas
were luxuriating in their tents, smoking tobacco and opium and
languishing in their harem. This gave the Russians time to recuperate
Even when there was a medglis, a meeting of a council of pashas,
willing to discuss tactics, their actions were aborted. The spies in
and around the camp, not only made sure all the common soldiery knew,
but, also the Russians. On many occasions, Churschid Pasha put forward
strategy, only to discover that, inspite of his request for secrecy, the
Russians were taking evasive action before he had even briefed his
The pashas continued to denounce General Guyon, petitioning the Porte
for his removal and eventually, he was recalled to Constantinople on
half pay. It was an incredible situation; Colonel Thorne wrote: "had he
command of the army not a Russian would have retained a foot of land
even in Georgia".
General, Sir William Williams was not only an English counterpart to
Guyon but also a friend. He suffered at the hand of his superiors, like
Lord Stratford, as Guyon did with the high-ranking Turks. Guyon
regarded Sir William Williams as a close friend; they felt a close
sympathy for one another.
Nolan wrote in his 'Illustrated History of the War with Russia', that
he had seen personal letters from Guyon to his friends and they tell of
an incident where The British Ambassador refused to present him to the
sultan but presented instead, a French cook ! He states- "Whatever the
merits of the latter, in his way, they were not of so much importance
to the Turkish empire as the soldier whose genius baffled Austria and
Russia on the plains and in the passes of Hungary, until the treachery
of Georgey paralysed his arm and thwarted his skill". His praises are
highly sung as a commander who led with great dignity and foresight and
who was a patriot and a gentleman according the book written about him
He fell a victim to cholera and within 48 hours died, on 13 October
at Scutari. (At this time, Florence Nightingale had a hospital at
Scutari for the wounded from the Crimea, but we cannot confirm whether
General Guyon was in a hospital before his death.) He had a funeral
with full military honours on 15 October 1856, performed by Mr.
Blackstone, the Embassy chaplain and buried in the English burial ground
at Scutari Point overlooking the cliffs. Present were many of his old
companions in arms during the Hungarian war.
The history of his family halts here also, except from information
gleaned from a French Heraldry book, from which we can confirm that
Edgar held the title and was still alive in 1887 (the date of the book).
At present, the whereabouts of the bronze plaque dedicated to General
Guyon is unknown, but in Budapest, in the Pasaret district, there are
Guyon koz koz meaning passage &
Guyon Richard u. u. meaning street/lane.
There is also a book entitled, "The Patriot and the Hero General
Guyon" written by A.W. Kinglake in 1856, but a copy of this is not yet
GENTLEMEN'S MAGAZINE - OBITUARY. 1856
RICHARD DEBAUFRE GUYON
OCT. 13 of Cholera, the renowned General Guyon (Kurschid Pasha).
He was born at Bath, his father being a captain in our English navy,
descended from a French family. In 1821, being then eighteen, he got a
commission in the Austrian army; he subsequently married a Hungarian
lady with considerable landed property, and became a Hungarian country
gentleman in which capacity he took up arms at the head of a section of
the revolutionists of 1848, to oppose Jellachich. His career from this
point is historical - the brilliant engagements he led, and his
overthrow, with Bem, Kmety, through the patriotism of Gorgey sacrificing
himself rather than his men. He fled with the rest of the Hungarian
leaders to Turkey. Guyon, however, although offered a command in
Damascus, with the rank of lieutenant-general and the title of Kurschid
(the sun) Pacha, stedfastly refused to embrace the Mahometan faith, and
this at a time when he was actually starving from want. It was only
when every effort had been abandoned as hopeless, that the authorities
at Constantinople accepted Guyon's services on his own terms. He was
the first Christian who obtained the rank of Pacha and Turkish military
command without betraying his religion. His subsequent career in the
Eastern war is fresh in the minds of all readers of the newspapers. The
funeral took place in the English burial-ground at Scutari, on the 15th
inst., with all due military honours. Mr.. Blackstone, the Embassy
chaplain, performed the solemn service. Very many of his old companions
in arms during the Hungarian war were present at the sad ceremonial.