Biography of James Wolfe

Portrait of James Wolfe

James Wolfe was an eighteenth century military commander famous for dying at Quebec.

When and Where was he Born?

2nd January 1727, Westerham, Kent, England.

Family Background:

James Wolfe was the eldest son of Lieutenant-General Edward Wolfe, one of the Duke of Marlborough’s veterans and Henrietta, daughter of Edward Thompson of Long Marston in Yorkshire.


He was commissioned in the Royal Marines in 1741 aged 14.

Timeline of James Wolfe:

1741: Wolfe is appointed an ensign in the army aged fourteen.

1742: He travels on the Rhine campaign with the Twelfth Foot (now the Suffolk Regiment).

1743: He fights at the Battle of Dettingen on the 27th June as an Adjutant where he has a horse shot from under him is was promoted to Lieutenant due to his bravery.

1744: Wolfe receives a commission in Barrel’s Regiment, now the 4th Kings Own.

1745: He takes part as a Brigade-Major in the campaign to defeat the Jacobite army led by Bonnie Prince Charlie. He fights at the Battle of Falkirk on the 18th January as the Aid de Camp to General Hawley.

1746: James Wolfe fights at the Battle of Culloden on 16th April.

1747: He takes part and is wounded in the Battle of Lauffeld on 2nd July under General Sir James Morduant.

1749: He is promoted to Major.

Statue of James Wolfe
Statue of General James Wolfe outside the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. 
Wolfe was a resident of Greenwich and is buried in nearby St Alphege’s Church.
The statue was given to the nation by the Canadian Government. (copyright Anthony Blagg)

1750: He is promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel of the 20th Regiment.

1758: Wolfe has now been promoted to the rank of Colonel. He is given the command of a Brigade by William Pitt the Elder and his success under General Jeffery Amherst on an expedition to Cape Breton including the capture of the Fortress Louisbourg on 12th June leads to Pitt giving him the command of the expedition to Quebec.

1759: On 13th September his army scale the cliffs on the Plains of Abraham at a poorly guarded point to surprise the French led by General Montcalm. Both leaders are killed in the ensuing battle but Wolfe is to become forever famous for being the victor and establishing British rule over Canada. Wolfe had continued with his fight despite being twice wounded.

When and Where Did he Die?

13th September 1759, Quebec, Canada.

Age at Death:


Wolfe window Greenwich
Stained Glass window in St Alphege’s Church, Greenwich 
commemorating General Wolfe (copyright Anthony Blagg)


Never married.

Site of Grave:

St. Alphege’s Church, Greenwich, London.

St ALpage's Greenwich
St Alphege’s Church, Greenwich where Wolfe is buried (copyright Anthony Blagg)

Places of Interest:


He stayed with his parents in No 5 Trim Street when in England.


Fusiliers Museum, Wellington Barracks, Bolton Road, Bury.


McCartney’s House, Croom’s Hill Greenwich.
Statue overlooks Greenwich Park from the Royal Greenwich Observatory.
St Alphege’s Church, Greenwich has memorials.
Memorial, Westminster Abbey.

Wolfe plaque
Plaque, painting and church records commemorating the death of General Wolfe in St Alphege’s Church, Greenwich (copyright Anthony Blagg)


Birthplace, Quebec House, Westerham.