George Tomkyns Chesney

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Sir George Tomkyns Chesney, KCB, CSI, CIE (30 April 1830 Tiverton, Devon– 31 March 1895), British Army general, brother of Colonel Charles Cornwallis Chesney.

Biography[edit]

Educated at Blundell's School, Tiverton, and at Addiscombe Military Seminary, he entered the Bengal Engineers as second lieutenant in 1848. He was employed for some years in the public works department and, on the outbreak of the Indian rebellion of 1857, joined the Ambala column, was field engineer at the battle of Badli-ki-Serai, brigade-major of engineers throughout the siege of Delhi, and was severely wounded in the assault (he received a medal and clasp and a brevet majority). [1]

In 1860, he was appointed head of a new department in connection with the public works accounts. His work on Indian Polity (1868), dealing with the administration of the several departments of the Indian government, attracted wide attention and remains a permanent text-book. The originator of the Royal Indian Civil Engineering College at Coopers Hill, Englefield Green, Egham, he was also its first president (1871–1880). [1]

In 1871, he (initially) anonymously[2] contributed to Blackwoods Magazine a highly influential short story called The Battle of Dorking, a vivid account of a supposed invasion of England by the Germans after their victory over France. This was republished in many editions and translations and is considered a founding piece of the invasion literature genre. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1869, Colonel in 1877, Major General in 1886, Lieutenant General in 1887, colonel-commandant of Royal Engineers in 1890, and general in 1892. From 1881 to the government of India, and was made a Companion of Order of the Star of India (C.S.I.) and a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (C.I.E.)

From 1886 to 1892, as military member of the governor-generals council, he carried out many much-needed military reforms. He also championed Indianization: the admission of Indians into the higher (British) officer corps of the Indian Army. However, he was unsuccessful, mainly because of the implacable opposition of General Sir Frederick (later Lord) Roberts, the then Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, who contended that these officer posts were "properly reserved for the governing (ie British) race". [3] He was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath (C.B.) at the jubilee of 1887, and a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (K.C.B.) in the New Year's Honours list 1 January 1890.[4] On leaving India in 1892, he was elected to the Parliament of the United Kingdom as a Conservative Party candidate, as member for Oxford. He was chairman of the Committee of Service Members of the House of Commons until his death.

He died suddenly of angina pectoris at his residence, 27 Inverness Terrace, London, on 31 March 1895, and was buried at Englefield Green, Surrey, on 5 April.[5]

Family[edit]

Chesney married, in 1855, Annie Louisa, daughter of George Palmer of Purneah, Bengal, who, with four sons and three daughters, survived him.[5]

Works[edit]

He wrote novels, including The Dilemma, The Private Secretary, and The Lesters, and was a frequent contributor to periodical literature.[1]

Anthologies[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Chisholm 1911.
  2. ^ Kirkwood, Patrick M (2012). "The Impact of Fiction on Public Debate in Late Victorian Britain: The Battle of Dorking and the "Lost Career" of Sir George Tomkyns Chesney". The Graduate History Review 4 (1). 
  3. ^ Chandar S. Sundaram, "Reviving a 'Dead Letter': Military Indianization and the Ideology of Anglo-India, 1885-1891" in P.S. Gupta and A. Deshpande, eds., The BRitish Raj and its Indian Armed Forces 1857-1939, (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002, pp. 45-97
  4. ^ London Gazette issue 26008, 2 January 1890
  5. ^ a b Vetch 1901.
Attribution

Further reading[edit]

  • Chandar S. Sundaram, "Reviving a 'Dead Letter': Military Indianization and the Ideology of Anglo-India, 1885-1891" in P.S. Gupta and A. Deshpande, eds., The British Raj and its Indian Armed Forces 1857-1939, (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 45-97.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Alexander William Hall
Member of Parliament for Oxford
18921895
Succeeded by
The Viscount Valentia