Colin Campbell (colonial governor)

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Lieutenant General
Sir Colin Campbell
8th Governor of British Ceylon
In office
15 April 1841 – 19 April 1847
Preceded by James Alexander Stewart-Mackenzie
Succeeded by James Emerson Tennent
acting governor
17th General Officer Commanding, Ceylon
In office
16 April 1841 – ?
Preceded by Robert Arbuthnot
Succeeded by William Smelt
25th Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia
In office
Preceded by Thomas Nickleson Jeffery
Succeeded by The Viscount Falkland
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Rank Lieutenant general
Unit 78th (Highlanders) Regiment of Foot
Commands General Officer Commanding, Ceylon

Lieutenant-General Sir Colin Campbell KCB (1776 – 13 June 1847) was a British Army officer and colonial governor.

Military career[edit]

Campbell was the fifth son of John Campbell of Melfort, by Colina, daughter of John Campbell of Auchalader, was born in 1776. From his boyhood he gave evidence of a daring disposition, and in 1792, at the age of sixteen, he ran away from the Perth Academy, and entered himself on a ship bound for the West Indies. He was met in the fruit market at Kingston in Jamaica by his brother (afterwards Admiral Sir) Patrick Campbell, then serving on HMS Blonde, who brought him home. His parents yielded to his wishes, and in 1793 he became a midshipman on board an East Indiaman and made one or two voyages.[1]

In February 1795 Campbell became a lieutenant in the 3rd battalion of the Breadalbane Fencibles, then commanded by his uncle, John Campbell, 1st Marquess of Breadalbane. On 3 October 1799 he entered a West India regiment as ensign, and in 1800 acted as brigade-major in the island of St. Vincent. On 21 August 1801 he was gazetted a lieutenant in the 35th Foot, and at once exchanged into the 78th Foot (Ross-shire Buffs), which was then stationed in British India. He joined his new regiment at Poona, accompanied Arthur Wellesley in the Second Anglo-Maratha War against the Maharajah Scindia and the Rajah of Nagpore, and so greatly distinguished himself by leading the flank companies at the storming of the Pettah of Ahmednagar on 8 August 1803 that Wellesley at once appointed him brigade-major. In this capacity he served at the Battle of Assaye, where he was severely wounded and had two horses killed under him, at the Battle of Argaum, and at the storming of Gawilghur.[1]

On leaving India Wellesley strongly recommended Campbell to his brother, Richard, Lord Wellesley, who made him his aide-de-camp, and to Lord Lake, who, on 9 January 1805, gave him a company in the 75th Highlanders. He returned to England with Lord Wellesley in 1806, and Sir Arthur Wellesley at once asked that he should be appointed brigade-major to his brigade, then stationed at Hastings. As brigade-major he accompanied Wellesley to Hanover and on the Copenhagen Expedition (1807), when his services at the battle of Kioge were conspicuous.[1]

In 1808 Sir Arthur Wellesley appointed Campbell his senior aide-de-camp, when he took command of the expeditionary force destined for Portugal, and sent him home with the despatches announcing the victory at Roliça on 17 August Campbell, however, windbound and hearing the guns, disembarked, and was present at the Battle of Vimeiro. Sir Harry Burrard then gave him the Vimeiro despatch, and Campbell was promoted a major in the army by brevet on 2 September 1808, and major of the 70th Foot on 15 December 1808. On the same day he was appointed an assistant adjutant-general to a division of the reinforcements intended for the Peninsula. He was present at the passage of the Douro, at Talavera, and at Busaco, and was promoted lieutenant-colonel by brevet on 3 May 1810. He was frequently engaged during the pursuit of Marshal Masséna and was present at Battle of Fuentes de Onoro. He obtained the post of assistant quartermaster-general at the headquarters of the army in the Peninsula, at Wellington's special request, in the spring of 1812, and acted in that capacity until the end of the Peninsular War, doing much, it is said, to smooth Wellington's relations with the quartermaster-general, George Murray. He was present at the storming of Badajoz and in nine general actions, for which he received a Peninsular Gold Cross and six clasps.[2]

On 4 June 1814 Campbell was promoted colonel in the army by brevet, and on 25 July made a captain and lieutenant-colonel in the Coldstream Guards. He was also appointed assistant quartermaster-general at the Horse Guards, and made a KCB, and a knight of the Tower and Sword of Portugal. In 1815 he was attached to the staff of the Duke of Wellington, as commandant at headquarters, and was present at the Battle of Waterloo; he held the post throughout Wellington's residence at Paris, from 1815–1818. He then exchanged his company in the guards for the lieutenant-colonelcy of the 65th Foot, which he held until he was promoted major-general in 1825. He held the command of the southern district for some years.[3]

Campbell was lieutenant-governor of Tobago 1828 and of Portsmouth 1828–35, and in 1833 was appointed lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia. In November 1840 he was promoted to the governorship of Ceylon, where he remained from September 1839 to June 1847. It was during his tenure of the latter office that the Duke of Wellington, to whose faithful friendship he owed so much, wrote to him: "We are both growing old; God knows if we shall ever meet again. Happen what may, I shall never forget our first meeting under the walls of Ahmednuggur".[3] He was colonel 99th Foot 1834–1836, and of 72nd Foot 1836 until death. In June 1847 he returned to England, and on 13 June he died, being buried in the church of St. James's, Piccadilly.[3]


Campbell married Jane Harnden, and they had four sons and three daughters. One of his sons, Arthur Wellington, was killed at the Battle of Badhowal Fort in the first Sikh War. His 3rd son, Frederick Archibald, was a Vice-Admiral in the Royal Navy and his daughter Maria married the Hon. Edmund Phipps, son of Henry Phipps, 1st Earl of Mulgrave and was the mother of ambassador Sir Constantine Phipps, father of ambassador Sir Eric Phipps.


  1. ^ a b c Stephens 1886, p. 350.
  2. ^ Stephens 1886, pp. 350–351.
  3. ^ a b c Stephens 1886, p. 351.


External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Peregrine Maitland
Governor of Nova Scotia
Succeeded by
The Viscount Falkland
Preceded by
James A Stewart-Mackenzie
Governor of Ceylon
Succeeded by
James Emerson Tennent
acting governor'
Military offices
Preceded by
Robert Arbuthnot
General Officer Commanding, Ceylon
Succeeded by
William Smelt