Faces of the Mutiny I


” Fiction is Truth’ s elder sister … no one in the world
knew what truth was until some one had told a story.”

-Rudyard Kipling

Writing about events from the past, especially those which happened 164 years ago, can be compared to nothing short of a Pandora’s Box. Open the lid and suddenly out falls a myriad of half-proven stories, undoubted “facts” and a fair set of lies. It can be taken in one of two ways – write it as a tale, ignore the truth and simply tell a story or option two, which is infinitely harder, sieve through 160 years of books, articles and journals, each with their own versions of events. These again must be examined and a middle line is drawn somewhere between the fantastical embellishments of which Victorians writers were so fond and their military counterparts whose droning style of composition has led to many an eye closing in deepest slumber. I have read, and re-read many a tome on 1857 and have found that with enough patience, something more than just a tale can come out of it, hence the chapters which I have thus presented.

While composing these narratives, where my focus has been to put the people in the foreground, I have stumbled across another aspect of a most frustrating nature. I want to present the main characters but I am doing so without their faces. It is a rare thing to find a picture of a person long dead, especially from an era when photography was somewhat more tedious than it is now. I herewith thank all of those kind souls who have sent me pictures from their own collections. I have also scoured the internet myself to obtain images from sources that will not lead me to incur the wrath of the copyright rulers. All photographs published here are done so in good faith.

In this chapter, I shall present the faces of the Mutiny, with some of their words and when I have none, then at least some of the biography.

“Who had done his work and held his peace and had no fear to die.”

Dedication, Rudyard Kipling

Robert hope Moncrieffe Aitkin of Bailey guard

Colonel Robert Hope Moncrieffe Aitken, V.C., “who performed various acts of gallantry.”

robert bartrum and his poor wife, katherine

Katherine Bartrum and her husband Robert. Katherine had escaped from Gonda with her son, Bobby. She never saw her husband again. Robert was killed just outside the Residency, but his body was never brought in.

doctor brydon, twice besieged

Dr. Brydon, who was the only survivor of the disastrous flight from Kabul.

Mrs. Adelaide case

“…the 30th of June threw Adelaide into the greatest grief for she that morning had to mourn the loss of him who had made her so happy for five years…You should have lived with him to know his many good and noble qualities..I miss his cheerful face and merry laugh…he had a warm heart and a fine temper..” Day by Day at Lucknow”, p45. In a letter written by Caroline, sister of Mrs. Case.
Her husband’s final words, uttered to Captain Alfred Bassano, were said to be “Leave me sir, and rejoin your company.” Lt. Col. Case’s body was never buried and remained, where it lay after the disastrous battle of Chinhat.
(Picture of of memorial stone© Mike Peck (WMR-19973))

William George Cubitt

No ordinary VC was won by 21-year-old Lieutenant William George Cubitt of the 13th Bengal Light Infantry at the Battle of Chinhut. As a part of the volunteer cavalry, he rescued – at the risk of his own life – three wounded soldiers of the 32nd Regiment during the retreat, who had been left for dead.
During the Siege, he served under Lieutenant Aitkin as a part of the Baillie Guard and was severely wounded on the 25th of September.
Despite his generous nature and unquestionable gallantry, Lieutenant Cubitt was rather better known for having a terrible temper – ” the worst in the Indian Army” – but he was generally a modest man, liked and respected. His brother-in-law, Lieutenant James Hills-Johnes, won the V.C at Delhi on the 9th of July 1857.

Cubitt winning the VC, in a painting by Louis Desanges

It is unusual to find a group picture but there are a few from Lucknow.

Robert Simson, ICS, George E.W.Couper, Mrs. Elizabeth Hutchinson Banks and Major John Sherbrooke Banks. A picture taken before the mutiny. On the 21st of July, Major Banks was fatally shot in the head.
Miss O’Shaughnessy, daughter of W.B, of the telegraph, with the eldest daughter of Major Bruere. W.B. O’Shaughnessy was instrumental in bringing the telegraph to India and named by Dalhousie as the first superintendent of telegraphy. The O’Shaughnessy’s were on leave in England in 1857. Major Bruere was shot through the chest on the roof of the Brigade Mess on the 4th of September, dying almost instantly. That night, the native officers and sepoys of his company insisted on carrying his body themselves. This, wrote Julia Inglis was “the greatest mark of respect and affection they could show him, as it is against their caste to touch a dead body”. The shock of his death sent his wife “right out of her senses.”
Mr L.E. Rees, Mr W. Catania and the young son of William Babington Peile of the Bengal Army. Rees and Catania had both been masters at Martiniere School. Why they are photographed with the boy is a mystery.

Doctor joseph fayrer

Sir Joseph Fayrer, who would become a leading authority on venomous snakes in India.

Captain Robert bransby francis

Captain Robert Bransby Francis
“He was a brave and good officer, and much respected by all.”
He died on the evening of the 8th of July, following the amputation of his leg.

Captain Richard charles and Maria germon

Maria Germon and her husband, Captain Richard Charles, the “Charlie” in her book. They celebrated their 7th wedding anniversary on the 21st of October, 1857, with a pint bottle of champagne which Charles had found, some milk, some sugar and a little cocoa – contributed by others – so Maria could make a cup of hot chocolate to celebrate.

Henry George Gore-BrownE, V.C.

Colonel Gore- Browne

“For conspicuous bravery, in having, on the 21st of August 1856, during the Siege of Lucknow Residency, gallantly led a sortie at great personal risk, for the purpose of spiking two heavy guns , which were doing considerable damage to the defences.
It appears from the statements of non-commissioned officers and men who accompanied Captain Browne on the occasion, that he was the first person who entered the Battery, which consisted of the two guns in question, protected by high palisades, the embrasures being closed with sliding shutters. On reaching the Battery, Captain Browne removed the shutters, and jumped into the Batter. The result was, that the guns were spiked and it is supposed that one hundred of the enemy were killed.”

The London Gazette

Martin gubbins, esq.,

Martin Gubbins, Esq.
Accused, but never openly, of advising Henry Lawrence to proceed with the Battle of Chinhut, laughed at for fortifying his house and then subsequently sneered at for having a swimming bath and enough provisions to hold out the siege, Mr. Gubbins seemed to displease and irritate people on every turn. But Reverend Polehampton spoke of his immense kindness, Mrs. Bartrum remembered his generosity and certainly, no one ever doubted his bravery. The most controversial figure of the Siege of Lucknow.
His grandson, Major-General Sir Colin McVean Gubbins would become one of WWII’s unsung heroes.

William, Edward and Ellen Hilton

Photographs: Top Row: William Hilton in 1884, Edward Hilton, Ellen Saunders- Hilton, Williams’ mutiny medals
Bottom Row: William Hilton with his Edward’s six children; Edward and Ellen being presented to HRH the Prince of Wales at the 1911 Darbar.

‘I bear willing testimony to the great efficiency with which Mr. Hilton has discharged the duty of Sergeant Superintendent of the Martiniere for the last four years.
During this period, duties of extraordinary responsibilities have devolved upon him, which, as well as those properly belonging to his office, he has always discharged to my entire satisfaction.
His thorough trust-worthiness and his great anxiety at all time to do his duty, made him a very valuable servant to the College, which his and Mrs. Hilton’s care and attention to the boys have deservedly earned for both a large share of affection and esteem of the boys and their friend..’

                                          January, 20th 1859 Signed: G. Schilling, Late Principal, La Martiniere, Lucknow

Besides his son Edward, William’s wife Jane and his daughter, Sarah were also present, but no pictures of them have come to light.

Edward never left Lucknow and his boyhood experiences at the Residency remained the main focus of his life. He married Ellen Saunders (pictured here wearing a hat) – herself a survivor of the siege – and with her, he would have 6 children.
It was Edward’s book, “The Tourists’ Guide to Lucknow” which started this author’s own Lucknow journey.
Edward’s sister, Sarah, like her brother, married someone who was present at the siege, Frederick Sutton. They eventually moved to Kharapur where Frederick is buried. His brother Joseph is buried at the Residency cemetery. Sarah’s grave is currently a mystery.
Frederick Sutton and Edward Hilton attended the Delhi Darbar in 1911 and most likely the previous ones as well.

The Inglis Family

Major General John Eardly Wilmot Inglis, KCB and his wife, Julia Selina née Thesiger. The family portrait from Illustrated London News of 1857 is somewhat unflattering, however it does show two of their children, the elder of whom is John Frederick (pictured here as an adult), the “Johnny” from her diary. Johnny celebrated his 4th birthday during the siege. , Julia writes,
“Johnny’s rosy cheeks, which he never lost, excited great admiration; he passed most of his time in the square next to us with the Sikhs, who were very fond of him, and used to give him chappatties, though they could not have had much to eat themselves, poor men!
Only three of the six Inglis children were born before the siege, the youngest, Alfred, was 9 months old when it began. Te other, Alfred, was 2.
Their youngest son, the Reverend Rupert Edward Inglis, born in 1863, was killed in the 1st World War as he was helping to bring in the wounded on the 18th of September ,1916 at the Battle of the Somme. He was 53.

Lt.General James John Mcleod Innes, V.C., C.B.

Born in India in 1830, James John Mcleod Innes was educated at home, distinguishing himself at Edinburgh University in Mathematics. He then attended Addiscombe, where he won the Pollock Medal, – awarded to the best cadet of the season – before joining the Bengal Engineers in 1848. In 1854 he was promoted to Lieutenant. It was not a military career he sought; joining the Public Works Department in Bengal he only rejoined the army when the mutiny broke out. During the siege, he was specially employed in mining, his coup de grace was the blowing up of Johannes House, with Bob the Nailer in it. When he wasn’t mining – under Havelock he was placed in charge of the mining operations in the new positions occupied by Havelocks force – he was fighting, taking part in all the sorties. Following the evacuation, he was posted to Brigadier Frank’s division. He would then see action in Miratpur, Chandi, and Amirpur, culminating in his winning the V.C. at Sultanpore for “a splendid act of gallantry during the advance in putting out of action by his single-handed boldness a dangerous gun of the enemy General Franks recommended him for the Victoria Cross, observing that his courage was ‘surpassed by none within his experience.” (Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 Supplement, Volume 2).
He was Mentioned in Despatches three times.
He did not stay in the military however even though his rank was now Brevet Major. After the Mutiny was over, he returned to civil work, where he was, amongst other things as Accountant-General, Public Works Department Commissioner, Inspector-General of Military Works, and on the commission investigating the failure of the Bombay Bank. In 1886 he retired – now a Lieutenant General – to Cambridge, where he died in 1907.
His book, “Lucknow and Oude in the Mutiny” (1895) is possibly one of the finest accounts of the Siege and the situation in Oude.
His wife, Lucy Jane née Macpherson who he had married in Jalandhar in 1855, with who he had four children -3 sons and a daughter. One of his sons entered the ICS but died at the age of 22.

Kanouji lal, the forgotten hero

Kanouji Lal.
A truly forgotten hero of the Siege of Lucknow.
Before the mutiny, he had been a bailiff for the Oudh courts. He turned his services in favor of the British, and became a spy, running messages between the Residency and Sir Colin Campbell. His was true danger – if caught, torture was certain and death unavoidable. He was first approached by Kavanagh, Lal refused to even consider it – his work was risky enough, without a European accompanying him, especially one who stood out as conspicuously as Kavanagh.
Persuaded by the temptation of a handsome reward, Lal finally agreed. Without him, Kavanagh would never have reached Sir Colin. After the siege, he was employed again in the intelligence department and most of the plans Sir Colin made were based on Kanouji Lal’s information. Kavanagh states with much anger, “He was most useful, and there can be no harm in repeating that- he was badly rewarded.” The prejudices of the time did not recognize him amply, if at all, for his services – whereas Kavanagh received a V.C., albeit given only begrudgingly, Misr.Kanouji Lal’s role sadly faded from history.

Sir henry Lawrence

“He enjoined us particularly to be careful of our ammunition, and often repeated, “Save the ladies.”

“An Account of the Mutinies in Oude and the of Siege of Lucknow” p. 198, Gubbins

So passed the noble of spirit, unselfish, frank and kind Sir Henry Lawrence. Volumes have already been written about this man – read enough, and one would almost believe sainthood would have been in order. However, every time requires a hero and Lucknow had Henry Lawrence. On the face of it, when one looks past the overflowing language used to describe him, Sir Henry Lawrence was not a fool. He was an experienced and shrewd administrator, and he saw the situation in Lucknow for what it was. This was more than just a military mutiny – here, the entire population wanted their heads. The Nawab and his court had been sent packing to Calcutta, and the thousands of people who had been in his employ were now jobless. Corruption on the civil side, coupled with an incompetent and practically rabid former commissioner it was a fight just waiting to happen. When Henry Lawrence arrived in Lucknow, he did not have the time to smooth out differences or calm ruffled feathers – he had to act. He needed to buy enough time to set up his defenses and win over what friends they had left. He did just that – he secured his position and consolidated what he had. It was his foresight that saved the garrison at Lucknow, of that there can be no doubt. If the disaster at Chinhat precipitated events is a matter of speculation – Lawrence knew the crash was coming regardless. Chinhat just brought things to where they were headed, a little quicker. He cannot be completely blameless for Chinhat but overstretched as he was, it is no surprise he took the advice of others. For a man of his principles, of methodic deliberation and sound intelligence, Chinhat must have been a crushing blow.
When he arrived in Lucknow, Henry Lawrence was not a well man. His beloved wife, the extremely clever and witty Honoria had died 3 years previously, and without her, he neglected himself more than ever, working harder and longer. It was obvious to those who knew him, that Lucknow would be his last fight.
Besides his grave and memorial cross at Lucknow, Sir Henry Lawrence has a memorial plaque at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Calcutta and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
He is further remembered in the names of:
Henry Lawrence Island in the Indian Ocean, at 12N 93E.
The town of Lawrence in New Zealand.
The Lawrence Arms public house in Southsea, Hampshire.
The Lawrence Schools in India.

It is befitting to end this part of the narrative with Henry Lawrence. Lucknow still has a few faces to show, and I shall endevour to present them shortly.

(Picture credits:
Mark Probett for the drawing of Henry and Honoria
Picture with Col. Edwards and his brother George Lawrence,http://blog.chughtaimuseum.com/?p=1335
Drawing by Raven Hill, scanned image by Jacqueline Banerjee
Pictures of the Hilton family and WIlliam’s mutiny medals – with many thanks to Brenda Carter, descendent of the Hilton-Sutton family. https://freepages.rootsweb.com/~kenshe/genealogy/whilton/d1.htm