Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Riddell, Charles James Buchanan

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RIDDELL, CHARLES JAMES BUCHANAN (1817–1903), major-general R.A., meteorologist, born at Lilliesleaf, Roxburghshire, on 19 Nov. 1817, was third son of Sir John Buchanan Riddell, ninth baronet, by his wife Frances, eldest daughter of Charles Marsham, first earl of Romney. With the exception of a year at Eton, Riddell was educated at private schools. In 1832 he entered the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, passing thence (1834) into the royal artillery as second lieutenant. The following year he was transferred to Quebec, receiving promotion as first lieutenant in 1837, after which he returned to England, and was ordered to Jamaica, being however invalided back a year later.

In 1839 Riddell became identified with scientific research. The Royal Society and the British Association were deeply interested in the prosecution of inquiries in terrestrial magnetism and in meteorology, and it was decided to establish stations in certain colonies for the advancement of these objects. Riddell was selected for the post of superintendent of a magnetical and meteorological observatory at Toronto, subject to the instructions of the ordnance department and under Major (afterwards General Sir Edward) Sabine, R.A. [q. v.]. At the end of a year Riddell was invalided home, but he had done excellent service. Soon after, at Sabine's instance, he was appointed assistant superintendent of Ordnance Magnetic Observatories at the Royal Military Repository, Woolwich. During his four years' tenure of this post he assisted Sabine in the reduction of magnetic data and the issue of results of observations made by the directors of the affiliated observatories (see Toronto Observations, vol. i. Introduction; and Rept. Brit. Assoc. 1841, p. 340, and p. 26, 'Sectional Transactions'). He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society on 13 Jan. 1842. In 1844 the admiralty published Riddell's 'Magnetical Instructions for the Use of Portable Instruments adapted for Magnetical Surveys and Portable Observatories, and for the Use of a Set of Small Instruments for a Fixed Magnetic Observatory.' Subsequently he was placed on the staff at Woolwich. During the Crimean war he was deputy assistant quartermaster-general, and of him General Palliser reported that 'To his untiring energy throughout the late war the successful embarcation of the artillery without casualty and the provision of all the necessary supplies are to be mainly attributed.' Riddell served in the Indian Mutiny in 1857–8, commanding the siege artillery of Outram's force at the siege and capture of Lucknow, and the artillery of Lugard's column at the engagement of the Tigree; he was three times mentioned in despatches, was made a C.B., and received the medal with clasps. He retired in 1866 with the rank of major-general. Afterwards he lived quietly at Chudleigh, Devonshire. There he owned a farm, which he managed, and also engaged in parochial and educational work. He died at his home, Oaklands, Chudleigh, on 25 Jan. 1903, and was buried at Chudleigh. He married on 11 Feb. 1847 Mary (d. 1900), daughter of Sir Hew Dalrymple Ross [q. v.], and had issue one daughter.

[Proc. Roy. Soc. lxxv.; Nature, 5 March 1903; The Times, 26 Jan. 1903; Burke's Baronetage.]

T. E. J.