Gubbins, Martin Richard (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 23
Gubbins, Martin Richard

by Edward James Rapson

GUBBINS, MARTIN RICHARD (1812–1863), Anglo-Indian official, born in 1812, went out to India as writer in 1830, and became assistant under the chief commissioner and resident at Delhi 26 April 1831. He subsequently held posts at Allahabad, Muttra, and other places, and went to Oudh on its annexation by Lord Dalhousie in 1856 as a member of the British commission. During the cold season of 1856-7 he made a tour as financial commissioner through the whole of Oudh to test the summary settlement of the land revenue, which had just then been completed. In this revision he did much to redress the grievances of the landowners; but at the same time his disputes with the chief commissioner, Coverley Jackson, retarded the improvement of the country.

During the mutiny Gubbins took a prominent part in affairs at Lucknow, and from the beginning managed the intelligence department until the British position was beleaguered. By his advice the residency was garrisoned with European troops in place of the native guard. He urged Sir Henry Lawrence to send a reinforcement to aid Sir Hugh Wheeler, and when this was refused he tried in vain to dissuade Wheeler from entrusting to the Nana Sahib of Cawnpore the protection of the treasury. From the beginning of the mutiny Gubbins urged on Lawrence the disarmament of the native troops at Lucknow. His advice was not taken, and on 30 May 1857 most of the troops rose in revolt. On the following morning the 7th native cavalry also revolted, and in the pursuit which took place Gubbins, with his servant and two followers, took six prisoners. On 9 June Gubbins was appointed head of a provisional council during the absence of Sir Henry Lawrence through ill-health, and proceeded to carry out his scheme of disarmament with the remaining native troops. His orders were, however, countermanded by Lawrence on his return a few days later.

Gubbins strongly advised an attack on the rebel troops in the neighbourhood of Lucknow; but when Lawrence consented, the attack was made without proper preparation. The result was the disaster at Chinhut on 30 June, which led to the siege of Lucknow. After the relief of Lucknow, Gubbins accompanied the army of Sir Colin Campbell to Cawnpore, and was forced by ill-health to proceed thence to England round the Cape.

Gubbins returned to India at the end of 1858, and became judge of the supreme court of Agra. He resigned through ill-health, and returned to England in January 1863. After his return he suffered from mental depression, and committed suicide at Leamington on 6 May in that year.

An account of the mutinies in Oudh which Gubbins prepared during the siege of Lucknow he sent in two parts to England for publication. The steamer conveying one of these parts, which contained an account of Havelock's campaign written by his son, was wrecked, and that part was rewritten by Gubbins on his arrival in England in 1857. 'The Mutinies in Oudh' was published in June 1858, and reached a third edition in October of the same year.

[Gubbins's Mutinies in Oudh; Holmes's Indian Mutiny; Kaye's Sepoy War; Malleson's Indian Mutiny; Allen's Indian Mail, 8 May 1863.]

E. J. R.