Neville Lyttelton

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Sir Neville Lyttelton
General Sir Neville Lyttelton
Born (1845-10-28)28 October 1845
Hagley, Worcestershire
Died 6 July 1931(1931-07-06) (aged 85)
Royal Hospital Chelsea, London
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1865–1912
Rank General
Commands held Commander-in-Chief, Ireland
Chief of the General Staff
Commander-in-Chief, South Africa
4th Division
2nd Division
4th Brigade
2nd Brigade
2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade
1st Battalion Rifle Brigade
Battles/wars Fenian Raids
Anglo-Egyptian War
Mahdist War
Second Boer War
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
Mentioned in Despatches
Order of Osmanieh (Ottoman Empire)
Relations Charles Masterman (son-in-law)

General Sir Neville Gerald Lyttelton, GCB, GCVO, PC (28 October 1845 – 6 July 1931) was a British Army officer from the Lyttelton family who served against the Fenian Raids, and in the Anglo-Egyptian War, the Mahdist War and the Second Boer War. He was Chief of the General Staff at the time of the Haldane Reforms and then became Commander-in-Chief, Ireland.

Army career[edit]

Born the son of 4th Baron Lyttelton and Mary Lyttelton (née Glynne) and educated at Eton College, Lyttelton was commissioned into the Rifle Brigade in January 1865.[1] As a junior officer he was sent to Canada where he helped defeat the Fenian raids in 1866 and served as Secretary to the Oregon Boundary Commission in 1867.[1] He was promoted to lieutenant on 14 July 1869,[2] to captain on 13 October 1877[3] and to major on 22 February 1882.[4] In 1880 he was made Private secretary to Hugh Childers, Secretary of State for War.[1]

He took part in the Anglo-Egyptian War in 1882 as an Aide-de-Camp to Sir John Adye, from 1 August 1882.[5] He saw action at the Battle of Tel el-Kebir and was mentioned in despatches.[6] He was promoted to brevet lieutenant colonel[7] and awarded the Order of Osmanieh (4th Class) on 17 November 1882.[8]

He became Assistant Military Secretary to Lieutenant General Sir John Adye in his role as Governor of Gibraltar on 1 January 1883[9] and Military Secretary to Lord Reay, Governor of Bombay in 1885.[1] In his young life he made friends, mixing in whiggish aristocratic circles with Edward Grey and Arthur Balfour, later the shapers of imperial foreign policy.[10] He was promoted to brevet colonel on 18 November 1886[11] and became second-in-command of the 3rd Battalion of his Regiment in 1890.[1] Promoted to the substantive rank of lieutenant colonel on 9 November 1892,[12] he became Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion of his Regiment in 1893 and went on to be Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion of his Regiment in Ireland.[1]

The Battle of Omdurman, at which Lyttelton led the 2nd Brigade, during the Mahdist War

He went on to be Assistant Adjutant-General at Headquarters in December 1894 and Assistant Military Secretary there in October 1897[1] and took part in the state funeral of Former Prime Minister William Gladstone in May 1898.[13]

He was given command of 2nd Brigade with the temporary rank of brigadier general on 13 July 1898[14] and led his brigade at the battle of Omdurman in September 1898 during the Mahdist War.[1]

He returned to his role as Assistant Military Secretary at Headquarters on 21 October 1898[15] and then, having become a supernumerary major general for distinguished service in the field on 15 November 1898[16] and promoted to the substantive rank of major general on 10 February 1899,[17] he briefly took back his old command at 2nd Brigade, now based at Aldershot Command, on 1 September 1899.[18]

Lyttelton served in the Second Boer War as Commander of the 4th Brigade in South Africa from 9 October 1899.[19] He temporarily became General Officer Commanding the 2nd Division in February 1900,[20][21] then commanded the 4th Division,[22] and was involved in the Battle of Spion Kop in January 1900 and the Battle of Vaal Krantz in February 1900, leading to the Relief of Ladysmith later that month.[1] Promoted to lieutenant general for distinguished service in the field on 22 March 1900,[23] Lord Roberts in his despatch referred to Lyttelton as an officer "with great coolness under fire, and considerable tactical knowledge and excellent commander in the field."[24] He was in command of the troops in Natal until June 1902, when he became Commander-in-Chief of the whole of South Africa following the end of the Second Boer War the previous month.[25] In this role Lyttelton and his wife sought to repair relations with the Boer community.[1] In the South Africa honours list published on 26 June 1902, Lyttelton was knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB).[26]

Lyttelton was present at the Siege of Ladysmith

On 12 February 1904 he was appointed Chief of the General Staff and a member of the newly formed Army Council.[27] This new post was created following the abolition of the post of Commander-in-Chief of the Forces as recommended by Lord Esher in the Esher Report.[1] Lyttelton was promoted to general on 9 April 1906.[28] This was the time of the Haldane Reforms which sought to implement both a new expeditionary force and a new territorial force, but according to Edward M Spiers, Lyttelton was not up to the task – he was "feckless, malleable, and failed to lead the Army Council".[1]

Lyttelton moved on to become Commander-in-Chief, Ireland on 10 May 1908.[29] He took part both in the funeral procession following the death of King Edward VII in May 1910[30] and the coronation procession for King George V in June 1911.[31] He was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order on 12 July 1911[32] and retired on 10 August 1912.[33]

In retirement he was a member of the Mesopotamia Commission which sat in 1916/17.[34]

The King insisted he was appointed as Governor of the Royal Hospital Chelsea from 10 August 1912[35] until his death there on 6 July 1931.[1]

"4th Division". Caricature by Spy published in Vanity Fair in 1901.


In 1883 he married Katharine Sarah Stuart-Wortley; they had three daughters, the eldest being Lucy Blanche.[36]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Neville Lyttelton". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  2. ^ "No. 23516". The London Gazette. 13 July 1869. p. 3957. 
  3. ^ "No. 24517". The London Gazette. 30 October 1877. p. 5923. 
  4. ^ "No. 25085". The London Gazette. 17 March 1882. p. 1214. 
  5. ^ "No. 25134". The London Gazette. 1 August 1882. p. 3580. 
  6. ^ "No. 25162". The London Gazette. 2 November 1882. p. 4879. 
  7. ^ "No. 25169". The London Gazette. 17 November 1882. p. 5174. 
  8. ^ "No. 25169". The London Gazette. 17 November 1882. p. 5168. 
  9. ^ "No. 25175". The London Gazette. 8 December 1882. p. 6250. 
  10. ^ D.Owen, "The Military Perspective", p.35
  11. ^ "No. 25645". The London Gazette. 16 November 1886. p. 5530. 
  12. ^ "No. 26343". The London Gazette. 8 November 1892. p. 6238. 
  13. ^ "No. 26980". The London Gazette. 22 June 1898. p. 3845. 
  14. ^ "No. 26988". The London Gazette. 19 July 1898. p. 4355. 
  15. ^ "No. 27015". The London Gazette. 18 October 1898. p. 6056. 
  16. ^ "No. 27023". The London Gazette. 15 November 1898. p. 6689. 
  17. ^ "No. 27064". The London Gazette. 21 March 1899. p. 1906. 
  18. ^ "No. 27113". The London Gazette. 1 September 1899. p. 5443. 
  19. ^ "No. 27126". The London Gazette. 13 October 1899. p. 6180. 
  20. ^ "The War - Natal". The Times (36067). London. 16 February 1900. p. 5. 
  21. ^ "No. 27282". The London Gazette. 8 February 1901. p. 937. 
  22. ^ "No. 27282". The London Gazette. 8 February 1901. p. 962. 
  23. ^ "No. 27306". The London Gazette. 19 April 1901. p. 2703. 
  24. ^ "No. 27282". The London Gazette. 8 February 1901. p. 976. 
  25. ^ "Latest intelligence – The South African command". The Times (36792). London. 12 June 1902. p. 7. 
  26. ^ "No. 27448". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 June 1902. p. 4191. 
  27. ^ "No. 27645". The London Gazette. 12 February 1904. p. 939. 
  28. ^ "No. 27907". The London Gazette. 24 April 1906. p. 2798. 
  29. ^ "No. 28137". The London Gazette. 15 May 1908. p. 3578. 
  30. ^ "No. 28401". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 July 1910. p. 5481. 
  31. ^ "No. 28535". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 September 1911. p. 7095. 
  32. ^ "No. 28513". The London Gazette. 14 July 1911. p. 5265. 
  33. ^ "No. 28634". The London Gazette. 9 August 1912. p. 5921. 
  34. ^ "'Appendix 1', Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 10: Officials of Royal Commissions of Inquiry 1870–1939 (1995), pp. 85–8". British History Online. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  35. ^ "No. 28634". The London Gazette. 9 August 1912. p. 5919. 
  36. ^ "Neville Lyttelton". The Retrieved 18 February 2012. 


External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Lord Roberts
(as Commander-in-Chief of the Forces)
Chief of the General Staff
Succeeded by
William Nicholson
Preceded by
Lord Grenfell
Commander-in-Chief, Ireland
Succeeded by
Sir Arthur Paget
Preceded by
Sir John Glyn
Colonel-Commandant of the 4th Battalion,
Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort's Own)

Succeeded by
Sir Victor Couper
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir George White
Governor, Royal Hospital Chelsea
Succeeded by
Sir Walter Braithwaite