In 1824 Thomas Rowcroft gained the post of Consul-General for Peru. This portrait was painted by artist Henry Howard in 1823, shortly before Rowcroft left the UK to begin his service. The portrait was exhibited at the Royal Academy the following year.
Rowcroft arrived in Callao, the largest port of Peru, late in 1824. He travelled towards the capital, Lima, accompanied by his daughter, Leonora Maria. The Royalists occupied Callao, while the Patriots, led by the Venezuelan military and political leader General Bolivar, were at Lima. On 17 December 1824, Rowcroft’s carriage approached Lima. Patriot troops occupying the advanced post of their garrison called out to the vehicle. The Patriots expected the carriage to halt and await further instruction. However, Rowcroft continued alone on horseback, failing to respond to the signal. He was dressed in the uniform of the London Light Horse Association, which may have been mistaken for that of the Royalists. The sentinel of the Patriots fired two shots, one of which struck Rowcroft. Badly injured, Rowcroft returned to Callao with his daughter, where he died from his wound the following morning. Sympathy and regret was expressed by both Royalists and Patriots, and General Bolivar himself called on Rowcroft’s daughter in Callao to offer his condolences.
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