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Burgoyne had a lengthy military career with the Royal Engineers, beginning with service in the Napoleonic Wars. He also served in America, France and Portugal before in 1831 taking up a civil appointment as chairman of the Board of Public Works in Ireland. While in Ireland, he published a pamphlet, Letters on the State of Ireland, which warned of forthcoming problems associated with the Established Church and the power of the landlords.
Burgoyne left Ireland in 1845 and took up another military post, as inspector-general of fortifications. As a critic of the state of Britain's defences, he was a supporter of the establishment of volunteer forces.
He served in the Crimean War, first as a strategic advisor and then as colonel-commandant of the Royal Engineers. He was raised to the rank of general in 1855, and received a baronetcy in 1856.
In 1865 he took the ceremonial post of Commander of the Tower of London. Burgoyne retired as inspector-general of fortifications in 1868 and was made a field marshal.
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