Whish, William Sampson (DNB00)

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WHISH, Sir WILLIAM SAMPSON (1787–1853), lieutenant-general, Bengal artillery, son of Richard Whish, rector of West Walton and vicar of Wickford, Essex, by a daughter of William Sandys, was born at Northwold on 27 Feb. 1787. He received a commission as lieutenant in the Bengal artillery on 21 Aug. 1804, and arrived in India in December. He was promoted to be captain on 13 May 1807, and commanded the rocket troop of horse artillery of the centre division of the grand army under the Marquis of Hastings in the Pindari and Maratha war at the end of 1817 and beginning of 1818, after which he took the troop to Mirat, where, on 26 July 1820, he was appointed to act as brigade-major. He was promoted to be major on 19 July 1821.

He commanded the 1st brigade of horse artillery in the army assembled at Agra, under Lord Combermere, in December 1825, for the siege of Bhartpur. The place was captured by assault on 18 Jan. 1826, and Whish was mentioned in despatches and promoted to be lieutenant-colonel for distinguished service in the field from 19 Jan. On 23 Dec. 1826 he was appointed to command the Karnal and Sirhind division of artillery. He was made a companion of the order of the Bath, military division, on the occasion of the queen's coronation in 1838; appointed a colonel commandant of artillery, with rank of brigadier-general and with a seat on the military board, on 21 Dec.; and in February 1839 succeeded Major-general Faithful in command of the presidency division of artillery at Dum Dum. He was promoted to be major-general on 23 Nov. 1841, and went on furlough to England until the end of 1847.

Whish was appointed to the command at Lahore of the Punjab division on 23 Jan. 1848. In August he was given the command of the Multan field force, eight thousand strong, to operate against Mulraj, and towards the end of the month took up a position in front of Multan. The siege commenced on 7 Sept., but, owing to the defection of Shir Singh a week later, Whish withdrew his forces to Tïbi, and a period of inaction followed, which enabled Mulraj, the defender of Multan, to improve his defences and to increase his garrison. In the beginning of November Mulraj threw up batteries which threatened Whish's camp, and on 7 Nov. a successful action resulted in the destruction of Mulraj's advanced batteries and the capture of five guns. On 21 Dec. Whish was reinforced by a column from Bombay, and on Christmas day was able to occupy his old position. On 27 Dec. the enemy were driven from the suburbs. The siege recommenced on the 28th, the city was captured on 2 Jan. 1849, and the siege of the citadel pressed forward. On 22 Jan. all was ready to storm when Mulraj surrendered.

Leaving a strong garrison in Multan, Whish marched to join Lord Gough, capturing the fort of Chiniot on 9 Feb. on which day the advanced portion of his force reached Ramnagar. Anticipating Lord Gough's orders, Whish secured the fords of the Chenab at Wazirabad, and on 21 Feb. commanded the 1st division of Lord Gough's army at the battle of Gujrat. For his services he received the thanks of the governor-general of the court of directors of the East India Company, and of both houses of parliament. He was promoted to be a knight commander of the order of the Bath, military division (London Gazette, 23 March, 19 April, 6 June 1849), and was transferred to the command of the Bengal division of the army in March. In October 1851 he was appointed to the Cis-Jhelum division, but before assuming command went home on furlough. He was promoted to be lieutenant-general on 11 Nov. 1851. He died at Claridge's Hotel, Brook Street, London, on 25 Feb. 1853.

Whish married, in 1809, a daughter of George Dixon, by whom he left a family. His eldest son, G. Palmer Whish, general of the Bengal staff corps, served with his father at Gujrat. Another son, Henry Edward Whish, major-general of the Bengal staff corps, served with his father at the siege of Multan, and was in the Indian mutiny campaign.

[India Office Records; Stubbs's Hist. of the Bengal Artillery; Edwardes's Year on the Punjab Frontier, 1848-9; Gough and Innes's The Sikhs and the Sikh Wars; Lawrence-Archer's Commentaries on the Punjab Campaign, 1848-9; Times (London), 1 March 1853; Gent. Mag. June 1853; Men of the Reign.]

R. H. V.