Burgoyne, Sir John Fox (1782–1871), engineer and administrator, was born 24 July 1782, eldest of the four illegitimate children of Lt-gen. ‘Gentleman’ John Burgoyne and Susan Caulfield, singer. Educated at Eton and Woolwich military academy, he joined the Royal Engineers at 16; saw active service in Malta, Sicily, and Egypt; and commanded the engineer units at major actions in the Peninsular (1809–14) and New Orleans (1815) campaigns, and subsequently in France, Portugal, Chatham, and Portsmouth (1815–31). From 1831 to 1845 he was chairman of the board of public works in Ireland; in this post (and as chairman of the Shannon navigation commission from 1831 and a member of the public works committee of 1835 and the railways commission of 1836–8) he exemplified the trend toward paternal state aid and planning in economic development and relief of distress; he also favoured a separate Irish legislature. In 1835 Burgoyne became a founder and first president of the Civil Engineers Society (chartered as the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland in 1877, and later opened to all branches of engineering), and in 1838 he was made major-general and KCB. In 1845 his hopes of becoming under-secretary for Ireland were disappointed; he resigned from the board of works and became inspector-general of fortifications, a post that he held until 1868. It did not prevent his remaining influential in Irish affairs – he was able to keep the Irish ordnance survey within the UK department and ensure that contours were used in its maps, and in February 1847 he also became chairman of the board of temporary relief commissioners in Ireland, administering the ‘soup kitchen act’, also known as ‘Burgoyne's act’ (10 Vict., c. 7).
In 1854 Burgoyne became colonel commandant of the RE, and helped to direct allied strategy in the war with Russia, notably by advising the allied commanders to invest, rather than assault, Sevastopol. The subsequent costly siege made him temporarily unpopular in Britain, but he was made a general (1855); baronet and FRS (1856); constable of the Tower of London (1865); and field-marshal and freeman of the city of London (1868). His many other honours included an honorary DCL (Oxon.). He married (1821) Charlotte Rose; they had seven daughters and one son, Capt. Hugh Talbot Burgoyne, RN, VC, whose death in 1870 contributed to his father's death, 7 October 1871.