Henry Saint Clair Wilkins

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General Henry Saint Clair Wilkins (3 December 1828 – 15 December 1896) was a British army officer who served the East India Company in India, Aden and later in Abyssinia. He was also a noted architect and is credited with having designed several buildings.[1]


Frere Hall is one of Karachi, Pakistan's most iconic sights, and was designed by Wilkins

He was the son of George Wilkins, Archdeacon of Nottingham and was born on 3 December 1828.[1] After passing through the military college of the East India Company at Addiscombe he received a commission as lieutenant in the Bombay Engineers on 11 June 1847. He was promoted as Captain in 1858; Lieutenant-colonel in 1867 Colonel in 1868, Major-general in 1877, Lieutenant-general in 1878 and finally as a General 1882, when he retired.[1]

He served with the field force from Aden against the Arabs in 1858. He commanded the Royal Engineers throughout the Abyssinian campaign of 1868, and was mentioned in despatches by Lord Napier of Magdala for his ‘invaluable and important services during the expedition.[2] He was appointed aide-de-camp to Queen Victoria, with the rank of Colonel in the army, and received the medal.[1]

An accomplished draughtsman and artist, Wilkins was employed in architectural and engineering works in the public works department of British India, and his designs were remarkable for their fitness and beauty.[1][3][4]

Among them may be noted:[1]


Wilkins published the following books:-

  • ‘Reconnoitring in Abyssinia,’ 1868;
  • ‘The Indian Civil Engineering College: Remarks’, 1871;
  • ‘Report on the state and requirements of the Kurrachee harbour works’, Sind Public Works Deptt. 1878;
  • ‘A Treatise on Mountain Roads, Live Loads, and Bridges,’ 1879.


He died suddenly on 15 December 1896 at his residence at Queen's Gate, South Kensington. Wilkins was married in 1856 to Violet, daughter of Colonel Colin Campbell McIntyre, C.B., of the 78th Highlanders. He is buried with his wife in Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey.


Architecture by Wilkins:


  1. ^ a b c d e f  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainVetch, Robert Hamilton (1900). "Wilkins, Henry St. Clair". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 61. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 263-264.
  2. ^ Royal Engineers Records and Professional Papers, vol. xvii. (1869); Despatches; Times, December 1896; Memoir by General John Fuller, R.E., in Royal Engineers' Journal, 1897.
  3. ^ Islamic Art in the 19th Century: Tradition, Innovation, And Eclecticism edited by Doris Behrens-Abouseif, Stephen Vernoit, 2009, pp:390
  4. ^ Report on the state and requirements of the Kurrachee ...by Sind publ. works dept, Henry St. Clair Wilkins - Page 1, 1878
  5. ^ Bhuj: art, architecture, history by Azhar Tyabji, Environmental Planning Collaborative (Ahmadābād, India) - 2006 - Part 4 - Page 281