Gilbert, Walter Raleigh (DNB00)

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GILBERT, Sir WALTER RALEIGH (1785–1853), lieutenant-general, son of the Rev. Edmund Gilbert, vicar of Constantine and rector of Helland, Cornwall, by his wife, the daughter of Henry Garnett of Bristol, was born in Bodmin in 1785. He belonged to the Devonshire family of Gilbert of Compton to which Sir Humphrey Gilbert [q. v.] also belonged. Sir Humphrey's mother was by a second marriage mother of Sir Walter Raleigh. In 1800 Gilbert obtained a Bengal infantry cadetship. In 1801 he was posted as ensign to the late 15th Bengal native infantry, in which he became lieutenant 12 Sept. 1803, and captain 16 April 1810. In that corps, under command of Colonel (afterwards Sir) John Macdonald, he was present at the defeat of Perron's brigades at Coel, at Ally Ghur, the battle of Delhi, the storming of Agra, the battle of Laswarrie, and the four desperate but unsuccessful attacks on Bhurtpore, where he attracted the favourable notice of Lord Lake. Afterwards he was in succession barrack-master and cantonment magistrate at Cawnpore, commandant of the Calcutta native militia, and commandant of the Rhamgur local battalion. He was promoted major 12 Nov. 1820, lieutenant-colonel of the late 39th Bengal native infantry, then just formed in 1824, and colonel of the late 35th native infantry in 1832. He became a major-general in 1841, and lieutenant-general in 1851. He commanded a division of the army under Sir Hugh Gough [q. v.] in the first Sikh war, at the battles of Moodkee and Ferozeshah in December 1845, and at Sobraon 10 Feb. 1846. Gough in his despatch spoke highly of Gilbert's services. Gilbert commanded a division of Gough's army in the second Sikh war, at the battles of Chillianwallah, 13 Jan. 1849, and Goojerat, 21 Feb. 1849. After Goojerat, Gilbert with his division crossed the Jhelum in pursuit of the remains of the Sikh host, part of which surrendered to him at Hoormuck on 3 March, while the rest, sixteen thousand fine troops with forty-one guns, laid down their arms to him at Rawal Pindi three days later. He pursued their Afghan allies to the entrance of the Khyber Pass. Gilbert, who had been made K.C.B. in 1846, was appointed G.C.B. and a provisional member of the council of India in 1850, and created a baronet in 1851. He was colonel of the 1st Bengal European fusiliers.

Gilbert was well known as a sportsman in India, and a supporter of the turf. He married in 1814 a daughter of Major Ross, royal artillery, by whom he had issue. He died in London at Stevens's Hotel, Bond Street, 12 May 1853, aged 68. On the death of his son, Sir Francis Hastings Gilbert, second baronet, British consul, Scutari, Albania, at Cheltenham 17 Nov. 1863, the baronetcy became extinct.

An obelisk in memory of the first baronet was erected by subscription on the Beacon at Bodmin, about 1856.

[Prince's Worthies of Devon and Tuckett's Devonshire Genealogies for notices of the family; Sir John Maclean's History of Trigg Minor, i. 112, 310–3, for pedigrees of Pennington and Gilbert, also i. 112; East India Registers and Army Lists; P. R. Innes's Bengal European Regiment; Shadwell's Lord Clyde, 1881; Thackwell's Second Sikh War; Gent. Mag. new ser. xxxix. 652, 3rd ser. xv. 810.]

H. M. C.