Wyllie, William (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search


WYLLIE, Sir WILLIAM (1802–1891), general, colonel of the royal Dublin fusiliers, third son of John Wyllie of Holmhead House, Kilmarnock, surveyor of taxes, by Elizabeth, daughter of William Brown of Kilmarnock, was born at Kilmarnock on 13 Aug. 1802. His four brothers were subsequently all in the Indian army. Educated at the Kilmarnock academy, William received a commission as ensign in the Bombay native infantry on 30 April 1819, was promoted the next day to be lieutenant, and arrived in India in August. Wyllie's further commissions were dated: captain, 24 Dec. 1833; brevet major, 13 Nov. 1839; major, 23 Nov. 1841; lieutenant-colonel, 10 May 1847; brevet colonel, 1 Feb. 1854; colonel, 14 March 1857; major-general, 28 Nov. 1854; lieutenant-general, 24 Oct. 1862; general, 24 Feb. 1871.

Wyllie served in 1822 and 1823 in the Dakhan, Konkan, and Gujrat. He was in command of a detachment of 300 native infantry sent against the rebel chief Rup Sing, who in 1822 gave trouble in the South Maratha country. He became interpreter in Hindustani, and quartermaster to the second battalion of the 11th Bombay native infantry on 9 May 1823, and was transferred in the same capacity to the 19th Bombay native infantry on 29 July 1824. He served throughout the operations in Kach in 1825 and 1826. In May 1825 he received the thanks of Sir Charles Colville [q. v.], commander-in-chief, for his spirited conduct, when acting as adjutant of his regiment, in an attack on a large body of rebels strongly fortified on the heights of Jiran. In December 1826 he was appointed brigade-major to the Malwa field force, and on 20 Feb. 1829 was posted to Sholapur.

In 1838 Wyllie was appointed brigade-major of the first brigade under Major-general (afterwards Sir) Thomas Willshire [q. v.] of the Bombay column of ‘the army of the Indus’ for the invasion of Afghanistan. He went with the column by sea to Vikkar on the Indus, about fifty miles east of Karachi, and then marched up the right bank of the Indus to Sakkar, following the Bengal column through the Bolan Pass to Shalkot or Quetta, and thence through the Khojak Pass, arriving at Kandahar in May 1839. After a rest of six weeks he marched with the army under Sir John, first Baron Keane, through Afghanistan, was present at the assault and capture of Ghazni on 23 July, and at the occupation of Kabul on 7 Aug. He returned to Quetta with the Bombay force as assistant adjutant-general under Willshire, leaving Kabul on 18 Sept. and marching through the Ghilzai country by Tokarak. The column arrived at Quetta on 31 Oct. and left again to attack Kalat on 3 Nov. Wyllie accompanied the storming party in the successful assault and capture of that fortress on 13 Nov. After the capture he found in the citadel the dead body of Mahrab Khan, and had it conveyed to the tent of Willshire, who was unaware that the Kalat chief had fallen. Wyllie was mentioned in despatches, was thanked for his services by Willshire (London Gazette, 13 Feb. 1840), and received brevet promotion from the date of the storm of Kalat.

He returned to his staff appointment at Puna in February 1840, and in August was appointed brigade-major of the second brigade of the Sind force. On 8 Dec. he joined Major-general (afterwards Sir) Richard England's column as brigade-major, marching with it early in March 1842 from Dadar to convey supplies of money, ammunition, and medicines to Major-general (afterwards Sir) William Nott [q. v.] at Kandahar. The enemy was encountered at Haikalzai on 28 March, and the column was obliged to fall back on Quetta. It again advanced on 26 April, defeated the enemy on the 28th at Haikalzai, and, the Khojak Pass having been cleared by Colonel Wymer, sent from Kandahar by Nott, the column arrived safely at Kandahar on 10 May.

Wyllie returned in August with the Bombay column through the Khojak and Bolan passes to Sind, withdrawing the garrisons from Quetta and Kala Abdullah on the way, and was mentioned in despatches (ib. 10 Jan. 1843). On 4 Nov. 1842 he was appointed assistant adjutant-general of the forces in Sind and Baluchistan, took part in the operations under Sir Charles Napier [q. v.] and was severely wounded in the early part of the battle of Miani on 17 Feb. 1843. Napier mentioned in his despatch of the following day that Wyllie was wounded when leading up the bank, ‘gloriously animating the men to sustain the shock of numbers,’ and that no man had been more serviceable to him in all the previous operations (ib. 11 April and 9 May 1843). Wyllie received for his services the Afghan and Sind medals and a brevet lieutenant-colonelcy, and was made a C.B. (military division) (ib. 4 July 1843).

He rejoined his regiment in November, and commanded the troops employed on the coast during the rebellion in the South Maratha country in 1844 and 1845, receiving the government's approval of his measures, and especially of the capture of rebels in the village of Kandauli on 28 March 1845. In May he went on furlough to England, and, on his return to India, was appointed deputy adjutant-general of the Bombay army on 17 Jan. 1849. In April 1850 he was made a brigadier-general of the second class, and given the command of the Bombay garrison. In February 1855 he was appointed to the command of the brigade at Ahmadnagar.

Wyllie left India for good in 1858. He was appointed colonel commandant of the 12th Bombay infantry on 14 March 1857, colonel of the 109th Bombay infantry on 30 Sept. 1862, made a knight commander of the order of the Bath (military division) on 28 May 1865, transferred to the colonelcy of the royal Dublin fusiliers on 14 Feb. 1873, received the grand cross of the order of the Bath (military division) on 2 June 1877, and retired from the service on a pension on 1 Oct. of that year. He died of influenza after a few days' illness at his residence, 3 Queensborough Terrace, London, on 26 May 1891, and was buried at Kensal Green on 30 May.

Wyllie married, in 1831, at Sholapur, in Bombay Presidency, Amelia (b. 1806), daughter of Richards Hutt of Appley, Ryde, Isle of Wight, and sister of Sir William Hutt [q. v.] She died in January 1891. They had issue: (1) John William Shaw (see below). (2) Francis Robert Shaw (b. 1837), under-secretary to government of Bombay, retired in 1876; secretary to the army purchase commission, 1886–91. (3) Sir William Hutt Curzon, K.C.I.E., C.V.O. (b. 1848), lieut.-colonel Indian staff corps, companion of the Indian Empire, and political resident in Jodhpur, Rajputana. (4) Emily Eliza, married in 1856 William Patrick Adam [q. v.], N.B.: she was given in 1882 the rank of a baronet's widow, and appointed a member od the order of the Crown of India; and (5) Florence Amelia Julia.

John William Shaw Wyllie (1835–1870), the eldest son, was born at Puna, Bombay Presidency, on 6 Oct. 1835. He came home in 1841, was educated at the Edinburgh Academy, and afterwards with his brother Frank at Cheltenham College. He won an open scholarship at Trinity College, Oxford (1854), resigning one previously gained at Lincoln. In 1855, having obtained a first class in moderations, he entered the Indian civil service, and was appointed on 25 Jan. 1858 third assistant political agent in Kathiawar. His services there, particularly in translating Colonel Lang's ‘Mulk Sherista,’ a Gujarati collection illustrating the common law of the 224 native states which then made up the province of Kathiawar, were favourably noticed.

After serving as an assistant commissioner in the Bara Banki and Lucknow districts, he became early in 1861 assistant secretary to Sir George Yule, then officiating as chief commissioner of the province, and in May 1862 was selected for the Calcutta secretariat. On his return to India after furlough (1864–5) he gained the confidence of the governor-general, Lord Lawrence, and at his request became the exponent of his foreign policy in an article published in the ‘Edinburgh Review’ in January 1867, and entitled ‘The Foreign Policy of Lord Lawrence,’ which powerfully affected public opinion. Wyllie made all the arrangements for the grand durbar at Agra in November 1866. Failing health compelled him to return home in 1867, and in the following year he was persuaded by his uncle, Sir William Hutt, to give up his Indian career for home politics. He successfully contested the city of Hereford in the liberal interest in 1868, but was unseated on petition. On 2 June 1869 he was made a C.S.I. for his Indian services. He died in Paris on 15 March 1870, and was temporarily interred at Montmartre, his remains being removed to Kensal Green cemetery when the Franco-German war was over. A memorial tablet, bearing his effigy in marble by Woolner, was erected in the school chapel at Cheltenham, and a scholarship of 70l. a year, to be held by Cheltenham boys proceeding to Trinity College, Oxford, was founded in his memory by friends and old schoolfellows. His early death was lamented in speeches in the House of Commons by Sir Mountstuart Grant Duff and Sir George Trevelyan.

Of his periodical essays the best known were ‘Masterly Inactivity’ (Fortnightly, December 1869), succeeded in March 1870 by ‘Mischievous Activity.’ He also contributed to the ‘Cornhill,’ and to the ‘Edinburgh’ and ‘Calcutta’ reviews, besides letters to the ‘Times’ and other journals on the affairs of Central Asia. Some of his ‘Essays on the External Policy of India’ were published in 1875 in a volume edited, with a short memoir, by Sir W. W. Hunter, and a portrait.

[Black and White, 6 June 1891 (with portrait of General Wyllie); India Office Records; Despatches; Times (London), 29 May 1891; Kilmarnock Standard, 30 May 1891; Irving's Book of Scotsmen; Professional Papers of the Corps of Royal Engineers, vol. iii., Occasional Paper Series, ‘Afghanistan;’ Stocqueler's Memorials of Afghanistan; Kaye's History of the War in Afghanistan, 1838–42; Life and Opinions of Sir Charles James Napier; The Conquest of Sind; private information.]

R. H. V.