Doyle, Sir John (1756–1834), British army general, was born in Dublin, fourth son of Charles Doyle of Bramblestown, Co. Kilkenny, and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. Nicholas Milley of Johnville, Co. Kilkenny. He attended the school of the Rev. Benjamin Hobart in Carlow. Originally intending on pursuing a legal career, he entered TCD (July 1768) and was admitted to Lincoln's Inn (December 1769). On the death of his father, he abandoned his studies and followed his brother, Welbore Ellis Doyle, into the army. He joined the 48th Foot as an ensign (March 1771) and served with distinction in the American war of independence. Present at the battles of Brandywine, Germanstown, Camden, and Hobkirk's Hill, he also fought at the action known as ‘the defence of Judge Chew's house’ in October 1777. He was wounded several times and was promoted to major in 1781. At the end of the war in 1783, he went on half-pay. He had been elected MP for Mullingar in 1783 and despite being absent on campaign, held this seat until 1799. A founding member of the Irish Whig Club, he was an early advocate of catholic emancipation. He secured the appointment of secretary-extraordinary to the prince of Wales in 1791 and held this position until 1796.
In 1793 Doyle raised the 87th (Prince of Wales's Irish) Foot, which was later redesignated as the Royal Irish Fusiliers. This began a long tradition of family service with the regiment. Several members of the Doyle family, including Sir Charles William Doyle (qv), were to serve with the Royal Irish Fusiliers. Commanding the regiment in the campaign in the Netherlands in 1794, John Doyle was wounded at the battle of Alost (Aalst). He was commended by his commanding officer, the earl of Moira (qv), and awarded the colonelcy of the regiment, an honour he held until his death. In 1795 he served as the under-secretary of the military department in Dublin during the brief viceroyalty of Lord Fitzwilliam (qv). He commanded an abortive mission to the Isle Dieu in August 1795 but had to evacuate his position when not reinforced.
In 1799, having resigned his parliamentary seat and being promoted brigadier-general, he accompanied Gen. Sir Ralph Abercromby (qv) on his expedition to Egypt. Present at the battle of Alexandria on 21 March 1801, Doyle distinguished himself by capturing over 600 French soldiers with a force of 250 men on 17 May. In August 1801 he rose from his sickbed and resumed command of his brigade during the capture of Alexandria, but Sir John Hely-Hutchinson (qv) did not mention him in his report of the battle. Doyle subsequently pointed out this omission, and when it was rectified received the thanks of parliament and the Order of the Crescent from the Turks. As further reward for his services in Egypt he was made a major-general in 1802 and appointed private secretary to the prince of Wales.
He served as lieutenant-governor of Guernsey (1803–8) and was created a baronet (1805). In 1806 he was returned as MP for Newport, Isle of Wight, and became noted for speaking against the slave trade. On the dissolution of parliament in 1807 he retired from politics. In 1808 he was promoted to lieutenant-general and was made a KB in 1813. He was appointed governor of Charlemont in 1818 and promoted to full general in August 1819. He died at his London home in Somerset St., Portman Square, on 8 August 1834.
Doyle never married, and his baronetcy became extinct at his death. It was revived and conferred on his nephew, Sir Francis Hastings Doyle. There is a portrait of Sir John Doyle, and some personal papers, in the Royal Irish Fusiliers Museum, the Mall, Armagh. A portrait was also presented by Lord North to the officer's mess, Gough Barracks, Armagh, in 1894. His sword was placed in Gough Barracks after the second world war. A monument was later erected at Jerbourg on Guernsey. An anonymous history of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, The records of his majesty's 87th Regiment; or the Royal Irish Fusiliers (1830), is usually attributed to Doyle. The Bodleian Library in Oxford also has a collection of his letters.