Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Tylden, William Burton

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TYLDEN, WILLIAM BURTON (1790–1854), colonel royal engineers and brigadier-general, son of Richard Tylden of Milsted Manor, Kent, by his second wife, Jane, daughter of the Rev. Dr. Samuel Auchmuty, was born at Milsted on 8 April 1790. Sir John Maxwell Tylden [q. v.] was his elder brother. After passing through the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, Tylden received a commission as second lieutenant in the royal engineers on 6 Nov. 1806, and was promoted to be first lieutenant on 1 May 1807. He embarked for Gibraltar on 8 Jan. 1808, arriving on 10 March, and was employed in the revision of the fortifications. In September 1811 he went to Malta, and thence, at the end of October, to Messina. He was promoted to be second captain on 15 April 1812.

Tylden was commanding royal engineer, under Lord William Bentinck, at the siege of Santa Maria in the gulf of Spezzia, and at its capture on 29 March 1814, and was thanked in general orders for his exertions. He was mentioned in despatches (London Gazette, 8 May 1814), and Admiral Rowley expressed his indebtedness to him for assistance to the navy at the batteries. Tylden was also commanding royal engineer of the Anglo-Sicilian army under Bentinck at the action before Genoa on 17 April, when the French were defeated, and he took part in the investment of the city and the operations which led to the surrender of the fortress on 19 April 1814. He was thanked in general orders, mentioned in despatches (London Gazette, 8 May 1814), and on 23 June received promotion for his services to the brevet rank of major. He was also appointed military secretary to Bentinck, commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean, and occupied the post until his return to England in August.

In November 1814 Tylden joined the army in the Netherlands, and took charge of the defences of Antwerp. In 1815 he organised and commanded a train of eighty pontoons, with which he took part in the operations of the allies, the march to and capture of Paris, and the occupation of France. He returned to England in 1818. In June 1822 he went again to Gibraltar, and served there as second in command of the royal engineers until May 1823, when he returned to England, and was stationed at Portsmouth. He was promoted to be first captain in the royal engineers on 23 March 1825. In November 1830 he was appointed commanding royal engineer at Bermuda. He returned home in July 1836, and was commanding royal engineer of the eastern military district, with headquarters at Harwich. He was promoted to be lieutenant-colonel of royal engineers on 10 Jan. 1837. In May 1840 he went to Malta as commanding royal engineer, returning to England in October 1844, when he was appointed commanding royal engineer of the south-eastern military district and stationed at Dover. He was promoted to be colonel of royal engineers on 21 Sept. 1850, having arrived at Corfu in June of that year as commanding royal engineer in the Ionian Islands.

From Corfu Tylden was sent in February 1854 to join the army in the east. He arrived at Constantinople on the 12th of that month, and on the 21st was made a brigadier-general on Lord Raglan's staff and commanding royal engineer of the army. He was busy until May with the defences of the lines of Gallipoli. On the change of base from Gallipoli to Varna, Tylden went to Varna, and when the Russians raised the siege of Silistria in the middle of June, and it was decided to invade the Crimea, he prepared the necessary works for embarking and disembarking the army and its munitions of war, and collected siege materials. On the occasion of the great fire at Varna on 10 Aug., Tylden was chiefly instrumental in saving the town from entire destruction by protecting two large gunpowder magazines with wet blankets when the fire had reached within thirty yards of them.

Tylden proceeded to the Crimea with the army, and took part in the battle of the Alma on 20 Sept. 1854. Lord Raglan in his despatch referred to him as being ‘always at hand to carry out any service I might direct him to undertake.’ He was taken ill with virulent cholera on the night of 21 Sept., and died on the evening of the 22nd. He was buried in a vineyard before the army marched on the morning of the 23rd. In the orders issued on the occasion it was stated that ‘no officer was ever more regretted, and deservedly so.’ It was announced in the ‘London Gazette’ of 5 July 1855 that, had Tylden survived, he would have been made a knight commander of the Bath, and in the ‘Gazette’ of 8 Sept. 1856 his widow was authorised to bear the same style as if her husband had been duly invested with the insignia.

Tylden married first, at Harrietsham, Kent, on 20 Aug. 1817, Lecilina, eldest daughter of William Baldwin of Stedehill, Kent; and secondly, at Dover on 20 Feb. 1851, Mary, widow of Captain J. H. Baldwin, and eldest daughter of the Rev. S. Dineley Goodyar, rector of Otterden, Kent. He had two sons by his first wife—William, curate of Stanford, Kent, and

Richard Tylden (1819–1855), born at Stede Hill, Kent, on 22 Nov. 1819. After passing through the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, he received a commission as second lieutenant in the royal engineers on 14 Dec. 1837, and was promoted first lieutenant on 19 March 1840 and second captain on 9 Nov. 1846; in February 1848 he went to the Cape of Good Hope. On the outbreak of the Kaffir war Sir Harry Smith gave Tylden the command of the extensive frontier district of North Victoria, with his headquarters at Whittlesea. The only force he had with which to protect this large territory consisted of a small detachment of sappers and miners, who had been employed under him in surveying operations, about twenty mounted burghers, and between two and three hundred Fingoes. With this small force Tylden attacked and completely routed a body of two thousand Kaffirs under the chief Sandili. In general orders of 8 April 1852 it was stated that the exertions of Tylden and the burghers in this and similar affairs had been most conspicuous. Tylden was further mentioned both in general orders and in despatches by Sir Harry Smith's successor, Lieutenant-general Hon. George Cathcart. He was promoted to be brevet major for his services on 31 May 1853. Returning home in 1854, Tylden proceeded almost at once to Varna to serve on his father's staff as brigade major of engineers. He went with the army to the Crimea, took part in the battle of the Alma on 20 Sept., and was with his father when he died on 22 Sept. On arrival before Sebastopol he resigned his staff appointment to share the more arduous and dangerous duties of the trenches, and on 20 Oct. was given the command of the British right attack. From that time until he received his mortal wound he was never absent from his duty in the trenches, and was in every skirmish and sortie that took place near his batteries. On 12 Dec. 1854 he was promoted to be brevet lieutenant-colonel for distinguished service. In the attack and capture of the enemy's rifle-pits on 19 April 1855 Tylden distinguished himself by his gallantry, and was mentioned in despatches. On 7 June he commanded the royal engineers and sappers and miners in the attack on the ‘Quarries,’ when Captain (afterwards Viscount) Wolseley served under him as an assistant engineer. Tylden was in command of the royal engineers and sappers and miners of No. 2 column in the unfortunate attack on the Redan on 18 June, when he was struck down by grape-shot. For his services at the Rifle-pits, at the ‘Quarries,’ and at the Redan, he was on 3 July appointed aide-de-camp to the queen and promoted to be colonel in the army, and on 5 July he was made a companion of the Bath, military division. At the Redan he was severely wounded in both legs. His wounds were progressing favourably, and he was on his way to Malta, when he was attacked by diarrhœa, and died on 2 Aug. 1855, the day after his arrival at Malta, where he was buried.

[Despatches; War Office Records; Royal Engineers' Records; Gent. Mag. 1853, 1855; United Service Journal, 1854, 1855; Illustrated London News, 16 Dec. 1854 (with portrait of General Tylden); Conolly's History of the Royal Sappers and Miners; Porter's History of the Corps of Royal Engineers; Kinglake's Invasion of the Crimea; Morning Chronicle (London), 16 Aug. 1855; Times (London), 23 April 1851; Holloway's Journal of the Siege of Gibraltar; Theal's South Africa; King's Campaigning in Kaffirland.]

R. H. V.