Born 1726 Died 1783
Sir Eyre Coote, the son of a clergyman, was born near Limerick, and entered the 27th regiment. He saw active service in the Jacobite rising of 1745, and some years later obtained a captaincy in the 39th regiment, which was the first British regiment sent to India. In 1756 a part of the regiment, then quartered at Madras, was sent forward to join Clive in his operations against Calcutta, which was reoccupied without difficulty, and Coote was soon given the local rank of major for his good conduct in the surprise of the Nawab's camp.
Soon afterwards came the battle of Plassey, which would in all probability not have taken place but for Coote's soldierly advice at the council of war; and after the defeat of the Nawab he led a detachment in pursuit of the French for 400 miles under extraordinary difficulties. His conduct won him the rank of lieutenant-colonel and the command of the 84th regiment, newly-raised for Indian service, but his exertions seriously injured his health.
In October 1759 Coote's regiment arrived to take part in the decisive struggle between French and English in the Carnatic. He took command of the forces at Madras, and in 1760 led them in the decisive victory of Wandiwash (January 22). After a time the remnants of Lally's forces were shut up in Pondicherry. For some reason Coote was not entrusted with the siege operations, but he cheerfully and loyally supported Monson, who brought the siege to a successful end on the 15th of January 1761.
Soon afterwards Coote was given the command of the East India Company's forces in Bengal, and conducted the settlement of a serious dispute between the Nawab Mir Cassim and a powerful subordinate, and in 1762 he returned to England, receiving a jewelled sword of honour from the Company and other rewards for his great services. In 1771 he was made a K.B.
In 1779 he returned to India as lieutenant-general commanding in chief. Following generally the policy of Warren Hastings, he nevertheless refused to take sides in the quarrels of the council, and made a firm stand in all matters affecting the forces. Hyder Ali's progress in southern India called him again into the field, but his difficulties were very great and it was not until the 1st of June 1781 that the crushing and decisive defeat of Porto Novo struck the first heavy blow at Hyder's schemes. The battle was won by Coote under most unfavourable conditions against odds of five to one, and is justly ranked as one of the greatest feats of the British in India. It was followed up by another hard-fought battle at Pollilur (the scene of an earlier triumph of Hyder over a British force) on the 27th of August, in which the British won another success, and by the rout of the Mysore troops at Sholingarh a month later. His last service was the arduous campaign of 1782, which finally shattered a constitution already gravely impaired by hardship and exertions. Sir Eyre Coote died at Madras on the 28th of April 1783. A monument was erected to him in Westminster Abbey.
For a short biography of Coote see Twelve British Soldiers (ed. Wilkinson, London, 1899), and for the battles of Wandewash and Porto Novo, consult Malleson, Decisive Battles of India (London, 1883). An account of Coote may be found in Wilk's Historical Sketches of Mysore (1810).
Being the entry for COOTE, SIR EYRE in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.