Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Lockhart, William Stephan Alexander
LOCKHART, Sir WILLIAM STEPHEN ALEXANDER (1841–1900), general, commander-in-chief in India, fourth son of the Rev. Lawrence Lockhart of Wicket-shaw and Milton Lockhart, Lanarkshire, by his first wife, Louisa, daughter of David Blair, an East India merchant, and nephew of John Gibson Lockhart [q. v.], was born on 2 Sept. 1841. His elder brothers were John Somerville Lockhart, Major-general David Blair Lockhart of Milton Lockhart, and Laurence William Maxwell Lockhart [q. v.], the novelist.
Entering the Indian army as an ensign on 4 Oct. 1858, he joined the 44th Bengal native infantry, and was promoted lieutenant on 19 June 1859. His further commissions were dated: captain 16 Dec. 1868, major 9 June 1877, lieutenant-colonel 6 April 1879, brevet colonel 6 April 1883, major-general 1 Sept. 1891, lieutenant-general 1 April 1894, and general 9 Nov. 1896.
He served for a few months in the Indian mutiny with the 5th fusiliers in Oude in 1858-9, and as adjutant of the 14th Bengal lancers in the Bhutan campaigns from 1864 to 1866, when he especially distinguished himself in the reconnaissance to Chirung. In scouting and outpost duty he was very efficient, and had a keen eye for ground and was particularly useful in hill warfare. His services were acknowledged by the government of India, and he received the medal and clasp.
In the Abyssinian expedition of 1867-8 Lockhart was aide-de-camp to Brigadier-general Merewether, commanding the cavalry brigade, and took part in the action of Arogee and the capture of Magdala. He was mentioned in despatches (London Gazette, 30 June 1868) and received the medal.
On his return to India he was appointed deputy-assistant quartermaster-general with the field force, under Brigadier-general (afterwards Sir) Alfred Thomas Wilde [q. v.], in the expedition to the Hazara Black Mountains in 1868, was mentioned in despatches (ib. 15 June 1869), and received a clasp to his frontier medal.
He received the bronze medal of the Royal Humane Society for rescuing two women from drowning in the Morar Lake, Gwalior, on 26 Dec. 1869.
For ten years, from October 1869, Lockhart held the appointments successively of deputy-assistant and assistant quartermaster-general in Bengal, but was twice away in Achin between 1875 and 1877, the second time as military attache to the Dutch army, when he took part in the assault and capture of Lambadde, was mentioned in despatches, offered the Netherlands order of William, which he was not allowed to accept, and received the Dutch war medal and clasp. He was, however, struck down with malarial fever and put on board the steamer for Singapore in an almost moribund condition.
In the Afghan campaigns of 1878 to 1880 Lockhart was first appointed road commandant in the Khaibar to hold the Afridi tribes in check, and, in November 1879, assistant quartermaster-general at Kabul. He was present at the actions of Mir Karez and Takht-i-Shah and other operations under Sir Frederick (now Earl) Roberts round Kabul in December 1879, and was subsequently deputy adjutant and quartermaster-general to Sir Donald Martin Stewart [q. v. Suppl.], commanding in Northern Afghanistan, returning with him to India by the Khaibar pass in August 1880. He was mentioned in despatches (ib. May 1880), received the medal and clasp, and was made a companion of the order of the Bath, military division.
On his return to India Lockhart held the post of deputy quartermaster-general in the intelligence branch at headquarters from 1880 to 1885. In 1884 he was sent to Achin to rescue the crew of the Nisero from the Malays, for which he received the thanks of government. In June 1885 he went on a mission to Chitral, where his firmness and tact had the best effect. He commanded a brigade as brigadier-general in the Burmese war from September 1886 to March 1887, was mentioned in despatches (ib. 2 Sept. 1887), received the thanks of the government, a clasp to his medal, and was made a K.C.B. and a C.S.I.
On his return to India he commanded a second-class district in Bengal, but a severe attack of malarial fever compelled him to return home. For six months he was employed at the India office in the preparation of an account of his explorations in Central Asia, and in April 1889 he took up the appointment of assistant military secretary for Indian affairs at the horse guards. But he did not remain long in England, for he returned to India in November 1890 to command the Punjab frontier force, first as a brigadier-general and then as a major-general, until March 1895. The greater part of this time was occupied by warfare with the hill tribes in a succession of punitive expeditions. Lockhart commanded the Miranzai field force in January and February 1891, then the 3rd brigade of the Hazara field force in March and April, and the Miranzai field force again from April to June. He was mentioned in the governor-general's despatch (ib. 15 Sept. 1891), received two clasps, and was promoted to be major-general for distinguished service. He commanded the Isazai field force in 1892, and the Waziristan expedition in 1894-5, was again mentioned in despatches by the government of India (ib. 2 July 1895), received another clasp, and was made a K.C.S.I. On his return he was given the Punjab command.
In 1897, after Sir Bindon Blood had made a settlement with the fanatics of Swat, the Afridis rose and closed the Khaibar pass; the revolt spread to the Mohmands and the other mountain tribes of the Tirah, and Lockhart was sent in command of 40,000 men to quell the rising. He showed exceptional skill in handling his force of regulars in an almost impracticable country, in a guerilla warfare, against native levies of sharpshooters, who were always trying to elude him, but he outmanoeuvred them and beat them at their own tactics. The campaign consisted of hard marching among the mountains and hard fighting, including the memorable action of Dargai, when the Gordon highlanders and the Ghurkhas greatly distinguished themselves. For his services he received the thanks of the government of India, was made a G.C.B., and succeeded Sir George White as commander-in-chief in India in 1898. He died in harness on 18 March 1900.
A good portrait in oils of Lockhart, painted by a Scotsman, Mr. Hardie, in 1894, is in possession of Major-general D. B. Lockhart of Milton Lockhart.
He married first, in 1864, Caroline Amelia, daughter of Major-general E. Lascelles Dennys; and secondly, in 1888, Mary Katharine, daughter of Captain William Eccles, Coldstream guards, who survived him.[Despatches; Army Lists; obituary notice in Times of 20 March 1900; Lord Roberts's Forty-one Years in India; Rennie's Story of the Bhotan War; Holland and Hozier's Expedition to Abyssinia; Anglo-Afghan War, 1878-80, official account; Shadbolt's Afghan Campaigns, 1878-80; Hutchinson's Campaign in Tirah, with portrait.]