George Hanger, 4th Baron Coleraine (13 October 1751–31 March 1824) was a British solidier, author and eccentric.
He was born into a prosperous family in Gloucestershire, being the third son of seven children. His father, was Gabriel Hanger, a Parliamentarian, who in 1762 was created Baron Coleraine.
Colonel George Hanger was a member of Prince George’s inner circle. A gambler and a rake, Hanger gained true notoriety by marrying a beautiful gypsy girl, who unfortunately ran off with a bandy-legged tinker. His wife was christened “the lovely Aegypta of Norwood” by Hanger’s fellow officers.
George Hanger’s education was geared towards entering the army. He was sent to Reading School and then Eton before going to the University of Gottingen. After joining the army of Frederick the Great, he returned to England and purchased an Ensigncy in the 1st Regiment of Footguards in 1771. About this time, he married his first wife, a gypsy, who soon ran off with a tinker.
In the army he gained the reputation of being a womaniser, to the detriment of his military duties. He purchased a lieutenantcy in 1776, but retired in disgust after a more junior officer purchased promotion over him. He then purchased a captaincy in the Hessian Jagers. He served throughout the American Revolutionary War, transferring to Sir Banastre Tarleton’s British Legion as a major and commander of its light dragoons, eventually rising to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in 1793. In the 1780 Battle of Charlotte, Hanger commanded the legion due to Tarleton’s illness, ordering it to ride into Charlotte, North Carolina without taking precautions to guard against surprise attacks. As a consequence, the legion’s cavalry was badly mauled by Patriot militia that had set up an ambush in the town centre. Hanger was wounded in the battle, which he termed a “trifling insignificant skirmish”. He shortly thereafter fell ill, likely with yellow fever, and was shipped to the Bahamas to recuperate.
He also became involved in a minor literary feud, in 1789, publishing An Address to the Army; In Reply To ‘Strictures’, by Roderick M’Kenzie (Late Lieutenant in the 71st Regiment) On Tarleton’s History of the Campaigns of 1780 and 1781. The full title of M’Kenzie’s book was Strictures on Colonel Banaster Tarleton’s History of the Southern Campaigns of 1780 and 1781 and was itself critical of Tarleton’s 1787 account of the southern campaigns called A History of the Campaigns of 1780 and 1781 in the Southern Provinces of North America. Discussion of this apparently continues to this day.
After returning to England, he became a companion of the Prince Regent (later King George IV). They became great friends, the prince apparently loving both his humour and his exploits in both the army and with women, and appointing him Equerry in 1791. The only surviving painting of Hanger comes from this period. Commissioned by the prince, it remains in the Royal Collection. Hanger was also the butt of caricaturists and many prints of him survive. The National Portrait Gallery in London has a collection of twenty prints by James Gillray satirising him. In 1795 he purchased the Lieutenant-Colonelcy of the 125th Foot. Six months later he exchanged into the 1st Battalion of the 82nd Foot.
In 1814, he declined a seat in the House of Commons (even though his father and two of his brothers had done so before him). Instead, he took a place in the House of Lords when he succeeded to the family title. In need of money, he sold his lieutenant-colonel’s commission in 1796 and purchased an ensigncy in the 70th Foot and was appointed captain-commissary in the Royal Artillery in 1806. He died in London in 1824, at the age of 74.