The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Edwards, Major-General Sir James Bevan

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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography by Philip Mennell
Edwards, Major-General Sir James Bevan

Edwards, Major-General Sir James Bevan, R.E., K.C.M.G., C.B., is the son of Samuel Price Edwards and Jane his wife, and was born on Nov. 5th, 1834, at Wimburn, Staffordshire. He married, in 1868, Alice Anne, only daughter of Ralph Brocklebank, of Childwall Hall, Lancashire. Sir Bevan, who entered the army in Dec. 1852, as second lieutenant in the Royal Engineers, and became lieutenant in Feb. 1854, was ordered to the Crimea in the following year, and for his services in the demolition of Sebastopol docks received the British and Turkish medals. He served in India during the Mutiny, becoming captain in April 1859. For services at the siege and capture of Chandairee and Jhansi, the capture of Calpee, and actions at Betwa Koouch, Gowlowlee, and before Gwalior, he was mentioned in despatches, received the medal with clasp, and was appointed brevet-major in 1860. He served in China in 1864-5 with the late General Gordon, and received a gold medal from the Imperial Chinese Government. Sir Bevan became major in the Royal Engineers in 1872 brevet lieut.-colonel in 1871, lieut.-colonel in the Royal Engineers, brevet colonel and C.B. in 1877. He was employed in 1877, when war was imminent with Russia, on a confidential mission to the east end of the Mediterranean, on behalf of the War Office and Admiralty. In 1882 he was placed on half-pay, but was employed as colonel on the staff commanding the Royal Engineers in the Northern district from 1884 to 1885 in February of which year he went in the same capacity with the expeditionary force to the Soudan, where, for services at the actions at Hasheen and Tamai he was mentioned in despatches and received a medal with clasp. From 1885 to 1888 he was commandant of the School of Military Engineering; and having been promoted to major-general in 1887, commanded the troops in China from 1889 to 1890. It was whilst stationed at Hong Kong that General Edwards received instructions to proceed to Australia and inspect the military forces of the several Australian colonies. Arriving in July 1889, he visited each colony, and recommended a general federation of the local forces for defence purposes, his suggestions forming the basis of Sir Henry Parkes' subsequent action in favour of the political federation of the Australasian group. In addition General Edwards furnished separate reports on the defences of each colony and received the special thanks of the Secretary of State for the Colonies for his valuable services. General Edward returned to England in 1890, and was created K.C.M.G. on New Year's Day 1891.