1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Colvin, John Russell

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COLVIN, JOHN RUSSELL (1807-1857), lieutenant-governor of the North-West Provinces of India during the mutiny of 1857, belonged to an Anglo-Indian family of Scottish descent, and was born in Calcutta on the 29th of May 1807. Passing through Haileybury he entered the service of the East India Company in 1826. In 1836 he became private secretary to Lord Auckland, and his influence over the viceroy has been held partly responsible for the first Afghan war of 1837; but it has since been shown that Lord Auckland's policy was dictated by the secret committee of the company at home. In 1853 Mr Colvin was appointed lieutenant-governor of the North-West Provinces by Lord Dalhousie. On the outbreak of the mutiny in 1857 he had with him at Agra only a weak British regiment and a native battery, too small a force to make head against the mutineers; and a proclamation which he issued to the natives was censured at the time for its clemency, but it followed the same lines as those adopted by Sir Henry Lawrence and subsequently followed by Lord Canning. Exhausted by anxiety and misrepresentation he died on the 9th of September, his death shortly preceding the fall of Delhi.

His son, Sir Auckland Colvin (1838-1908), followed him in a distinguished career in the same service, from 1858 to 1879. He was comptroller-general in Egypt (1880 to 1882), and financial adviser to the khedive (1883 to 1887), and from 1883 till 1892 was back again in India, first as financial member of council, and then, from 1887, as lieutenant-governor of the North-West Provinces and Oudh. He was created K.C.M.G. in 1881, and K.C.S.I. in 1892, when he retired. He published The Making of Modern Egypt in 1906, and a biography of his father, in the “Rulers of India” series, in 1895. He died at Surbiton on the 24th of March 1908.