Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Chamberlain, Crawford Trotter

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CHAMBERLAIN, Sir CRAWFORD TROTTER (1821–1902), general, born in London on 9 May 1821, was third son of Sir Henry Chamberlain, first baronet, sometime consul-general and chargé d'affaires in Brazil, by his second wife. Sir Neville Bowles Chamberlain [q. v. Suppl. II] was an elder brother.

After education at private schools and under tutors Crawford obtained a cadetship in the Bengal army in 1837, and was posted to the 28th Bengal native infantry. From this corps he was transferred to the 16th Bengal native infantry, and with the outbreak of the Afghan war in 1839 his active service began. He was present at the siege of Ghazni (23 July 1839) and at the operations around Kandahar. In Sept. 1841 he was appointed to the command of the 5th Janbaz cavalry, and in the following month he became adjutant of Christie's horse. Until the end of the Afghan campaign he was engaged in constant and severe fighting. In 1843 he was sent to Scinde with two squadrons of Christie's horse as an independent command, to be known as Chamberlain's horse. In 1845 he was invalided to the Cape, where he married. Next year he returned to India as second in command of the 9th irregular cavalry, into which his own corps had been absorbed. During the Sikh war (1845-9) he was constantly in action. He was at the battle of Chillian walla on 13 Jan. 1849, receiving the medal and clasp. On 30 Jan. he was again engaged in the neighbourhood; here he was wounded, and was made the subject of a special despatch by Lord Gough (31 Jan.) (Forrest, Sir Neville Chamberlain, pp. 236-7). At the battle of Gujarat on 21 Feb., he had to be lifted into the saddle, where he remained throughout the day. He was awarded the clasp, was mentioned in despatches, and, being promoted to captain and brevet major in Nov. 1849, was given the command of the 1st irregular cavalry, formerly Skinner's horse. He served with them in the Momund expedition of 1854 and received a medal and clasp.

With 1857 came more serious work. On the outbreak of the mutiny Chamberlain displayed the utmost courage and resolution. The force of his influence and the fine state of discipline in his regiment were made manifest when his men, in the midst of mutiny, suspected and overt, volunteered to shoot condemned rebels at Jullundur (4 June 1857). Stronger proof still was forthcoming, when Chamberlain, although not the senior officer on the spot, was entrusted with the dangerous duty of disarming the 62nd and 69th regiments at Mooltan. He executed this commission on 11 June with what was described as 'an extraordinary mixture of audacity and skill.' Sir John Lawrence in his report declared that 'the disarming at Mooltan was a turning-point in the Punjab crisis second only in importance to the disarming at Lahore and Peshawur.' At Cheechawutnee (Sept.) Chamberlain was attacked by an overwhelming force of the enemy, . and was compelled to take the unusual course of housing his cavalry in a caravanserai. The situation required great promptness and the firmest exercise of discipline. Chamberlain himself was sick, but he succeeded in maintaining the defence, until he was relieved three days later.

For his services in the mutiny he was promoted to be lieutenant-colonel, a reward which was generally regarded as inadequate. The oversight was admitted and rectified long afterwards. In April 1862 he was made colonel, in 1864 he was appointed honorary A.D.C. to the governor-general, and two years later was made C.S.I., and was included in the first list of twelve officers for good service pension. In 1866, too, he was transferred to the command of the central Indian horse, and next year to the command of the Gwalior district with the rank of brigadier-general. In 1869 he was officiating political agent at Gwalior, and received the thanks of government for his services. From Oct. 1869 to Feb. 1870 he was acting political agent at the court of Scindia until his promotion to major-general. During his unemployed time as major-general he served on various commissions and courts of inquiry; and from 1874 to 1879 he commanded the Oudh division. He became lieutenant-general in Oct. 1877 and general in Jan. 1880. In 1880 he returned to England for the first time since 1837; with the exception of his visit to the Cape, he had never left India in the interval. In 1884 he was retired from the active list. In 1897, on the occasion of Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee, he was made G.C.I.E. Sir Crawford, who retained his splendid physique till near the end, died at his residence, Lordswood, Southampton, on 13 Dec. 1902, and was buried at Rownhams. He was married twice: (1) in 1845, at the Cape, to Elizabeth, daughter of J. de Witt; she died on 19 Jan. 1894; and (2) in 1896 to Augusta Margaret, daughter of Major-general John Christie, C.B., who survived him. There was no issue by either marriage.

[Broad Arrow, 20 Dec. 1902; Nav. & Mil. Gazette, 15 Feb. 1896 and 20 Dec. 1902; Major-gen. O. Wilkinson and Major-gen. J. Wilkinson, Memoirs of the Gemini Generals, 2nd edit. 1896; Lord Roberts, Forty-one Years in India, 30th edit. 1898, p. 70 seq.; R. Bosworth Smith, Life of Lord Lawrence, 1901, i. 538; T. Rice Holmes, History of the Indian Mutiny, 5th edit. 1898; G. W. Forrest, Life of Sir Neville Chamberlain, 1909.]

R. L.