Cheape, John (DNB00)

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CHEAPE, Sir JOHN (1792–1876), general, son of John Cheape of Rossie, Fifeshire, was born in 1792. He was educated at Woolwich and Addiscombe, and entered the Bengal engineers as a second lieutenant on 3 Nov. 1809. He first served in Lord Hastings's two campaigns against the Pindarrees, and was present at the sieges of Dhamouni and Mondela in 1815 and 1816. He next served with the Nerbudda field force under General Adams in 1817, and under Sir John Doveton and Sir John Malcolm in 1818, and was present at the siege of Asseerghur, after which he was promoted captain on 1 March 1821. In 1824 he was ordered to Burmah, and served through the three deadly campaigns of the first Burmese war. For more than twenty years after the conclusion of the Burmese war he had no opportunity of going on active service, but was employed in civil engineering. His promotion, however, went on, and he became major in 1830, lieutenant-colonel in 1834, and colonel in 1844. In 1848 Cheape happened to be employed in the Punjab when the siege of Mooltan was determined upon; he was at once appointed chief engineer, and conducted the operations which led to the fall of that fortress. He then joined the army under Lord Gough, and though an engineer officer and chief engineer with the army, it was Cheape who directed the murderous artillery fire which won the battle of Goojerat. Lord Gough mentioned his services in his despatches, and Cheape was made a C.B. and an aide-de-camp to the queen.

When the second Burmese war broke out in 1852, Cheape was made a brigadier-general and appointed second in command to General Godwin. As in the first Burmese war, the fatal mistake of despising their enemy led the English commanders into great straits, and the brigand chief Myat-thoon inflicted as severe defeats and menaced the English as seriously as Maha Bundoola had done in the first Burmese war. Just as in the first war General Cotton failed in his attack on Donabew, so did General Steel in this second war fail at the same place, and in February 1853 Cheape took the command and invaded Pegu. He was as successful as General Campbell in the first war, and though Ensign Garnet' Wolseley of the 80th regiment, who led the storming party, was wounded, the stockade was carried. With this success the war was at an end, and the provinces of Pegu and Tenasserim were annexed to the territories of the East India Company. Cheape was promoted major-general on 20 June 1854, received a medal and clasp, and was made a K.C.B., and he then left India after a service of forty-six years. He established himself in the Isle of Wight, and after being promoted lieutenant-general on 24 May 1859, and general on 6 Dec. 1866, and being made a G.C.B. in 1865, he died at Old Park, Ventnor, on 30 March 1875. He married in 1835 Amelia, daughter of T. Chicheley Plowden of the Bengal civil service.

[Laurie's Second Burmese War, 1852–3; Marshman's Hist. of India, chap. xl.; Major Siddons's Siege of Mooltan; Sir Herbert Edwardes's Narrative of the Campaign; Homeward Mail, 25 March 1878; private information supplied by Major-general Barnett Ford and J. R. Stewart, esq., of Edinburgh.]

H. M. S.