Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 50.djvu/170

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

He was made a companion of the Star of India on 29 July 1879, and was promoted brevet lieutenant-colonel on 4 Feb. 1880. On visiting Calcutta early in 1880 to confer with the viceroy on Afghan affairs, he was appointed political agent for Southern Afghanistan. He returned to Kandahar in April, and, on the departure shortly after of Sir Donald Stewart with a field force for Ghazni and Kabul, entered on his new appointment.

In July 1880 a force under Brigadier-general Burrows was sent from Kandahar to support the Wali Shir Ali Khan, governor of the province of Kandahar, against the advance of Ayub Khan on Kandahar. St. John, with Brigadier-general Nuttall and the advanced column, arrived at Girishk on 10 July, Burrows with the main body coming up the following day. The wali was encamped on the opposite side of the Halmand river. Disaffection having shown itself in the wali's army, it was arranged by St. John's advice to bring it over the river, and to disarm the disaffected troops on the 14th; but before this could be done they had absconded, carrying with them their arms, and also a battery of guns and ammunition. St. John took part in the pursuit and action of the Halmand, which resulted in the capture of the guns. By his advice Burrows then fell back on Kushk-i-Nakhud. St. John was present at the battle of Maiwand on 27 July, and reached Kandahar with Burrows and the remnant of the force on the following day, having lost three out of his escort of five and had a horse shot under him.

St. John was in Kandahar during the investment, took part in the sortie of 16 Aug., and, on its relief by Sir Frederick (now Lord) Roberts, was present at the battle of Kandahar on 1 Sept. 1880. The governor-general of India in council, in a minute dated 15 Jan. 1881 to the secretary of state for India on the services of officers in the Afghan campaign, mentioned the conspicuous ability, zeal, and energy shown by St. John throughout, and recommended their recognition. St. John was mentioned in despatches (London Gazette, 3 Dec. 1880), and received the medal with clasp. On the evacuation of Kandahar he was appointed officiating agent to the governor-general for Baluchistan, in succession to Sir Robert Sandeman [q. v.], and moved to Quetta in April 1881. On 23 May 1882 he was made K.C.S.I.

St. John went to Kashmir on special duty, and as resident in January 1883. He was promoted to be brevet colonel on 4 Feb. 1884, and in April went temporarily to Haidarabad as acting resident, returning to Kashmir in August. On 7 March 1886 he was promoted to be regimental lieutenant-colonel, and in May he returned to Quetta as officiating agent to the governor-general for Baluchistan. In December 1887 he was appointed resident at Baroda, and in January 1889 resident and chief commissioner at Maisur and Kurg. In May 1891 he left perhaps the pleasantest billet in India to again temporarily officiate as governor-general's agent for Baluchistan, an appointment which gave a better field for his active mind and his keen interest in the frontier question. A fortnight after his arrival at Quetta he died there of pneumonia, following influenza, on 3 June 1891. His remains were buried in the new cemetery at Quetta, with military honours, on 5 June.

To soldierly qualities in the field St. John added the courage and skill of the oriental sportsman, and the tastes and capabilities of the naturalist and scientific traveller. Mr. W. T. Blanford, in his introduction to the ‘Zoology of Persia’ (1876), acknowledges the value of contributions made to his collections by St. John, whom he accompanied in his journey from Gwadar to Teheran in 1872. St. John was a fellow of the Royal Geographical and the Zoological Societies, and he sent the latter many animals, among them a two-humped Bactrian camel, which Ayub Khan left behind him in Kandahar. He made collections of birds and reptiles for various museums. When travelling in Persia he used to lodge in the black tents or houses of the natives, and his memory still lingers among them.

St. John made many contributions to newspapers and journals; among them may be mentioned a paper in the ‘Royal Geographical Society Proceedings’ in 1868 ‘On the Elevation of the Country between Bushire and Teheran.’ There is an oil portrait of him in the residency at Quetta, of which his widow possesses a copy. He married, on 23 Sept. 1869, Jannette, fourth daughter of James Ormond, esq., of Abingdon, Berkshire. She survived him, with three children: Henry Beauchamp, born in 1874, lieutenant 14th Sikhs; Olive Helen, born in 1870; and Muriel, born in 1873.

[India Office Records; Royal Engineers' Records; Despatches; Blue Books; Royal Engineers' Journal, 1879, 1880, and 1881; Proc. of the Royal Geographical Soc. July 1891; London Times, 5 June 1891; Goldsmid's Telegraph and Travel, 1874; private sources.]

R. H. V.

ST. JOHN, PERCY BOLINGBROKE (1821–1889), journalist, the eldest son of James Augustus St. John [q. v.], was born in Camden Town in 1821. He accompanied his