MAJOR GENERAL HENRY BEVILLE
27TH BOMBAY INFANTRY AND BOMBAY STAFF CORPS
Henry Beville’s HEIC cadet papers state that
he was born on 18th April 1828 at St. Thomas,
Salisbury, the eldest son of Captain Henry
Edward Beville of H.M. 5th Dragoon Guards
and his wife, Charlotte, daughter of George
What is unstated, however,
is that his mother’s pregnancy with him had
created a national scandal in 1828. While her
husband was serving in India in the East India
Company Civil Service, Henry’s mother, Charlotte,
the wife of John Hadley D’Oyly, later Sir John
Hadley D’Oyly, 8th Bart., was found to be
pregnant and living as man and wife with Captain
Henry Edward Beville of the 5th Dragoon Guards.
John Hadley D’Oyly sued Captain Beville for
trespass, assault, and criminal conversion.
Newspapers printed scathing editorials and
the trial with all of its salacious details was
widely reported with some papers even going so
far as to print verbatim the attorneys’ closing
arguments. The jury in the case deliberated for
less than ten minutes before returning a
judgment for Charlotte’s husband and Captain
Beville was ordered to pay £1,000 in damages to
John Hadley D’Oyly.
Worse yet, John D’Oyly was awarded custody of his and Charlotte’s three children in the divorce action.
Following her divorce from John Hadley D’Oyly, Charlotte and Captain Beville married in June of 1831, living at Calcot Park,
Berkshire. Henry was the child Charlotte was carrying at the time of the discovery of her infidelity and he was born almost
three years prior to the marriage of his parents, who would to go on to have 8 more children together.
Henry received a classical and mathematical education, from 1839 to 1841 attending King William’s College on the Isle of Man.
Upon the founding of Cheltenham College in July of 1841, Henry was one of the original 146 students admitted. Henry’s
younger brother, Granville Reresby Beville, who was fours year younger than Henry, was also admitted to Cheltenham College at
that time, but tragically drowned the following year in the River Avon while unsuccessfully attempting to save the life of his
younger brother William Wilbraham, age 9.
In February 1844 Henry entered Addiscombe, the East India Company’s military seminary. However, before completing the
normal course of study, in early 1845 Henry withdrew from Addiscombe, having been nominated for a direct appointment in the
Bombay Infantry for the 1844/45 season by EIC Director William Butterworth Barley. Having passed the examination by the
Military Committee at East India House on the 26th of March 1845, Henry embarked for India aboard the Gilmore on the 31st
of May 1845. Commissioned an Ensign in the Bombay Infantry effective the 14th of June, Henry arrived at Bombay on the 21st
of August, 1845.
In January of 1846 Henry received his posting as an Ensign to his regiment, the 8th Bombay Native Infantry and in February
of 1848 was promoted to lieutenant. In May of 1852, while still serving in the 8th BNI, Henry was appointed to do duty as the
Adjutant of the 1st Belooch Battalion (later brought into the Bengal line as the 27th Bombay Native Infantry). In May of 1854,
while still a Lieutenant, Henry was appointed Second-in-Command of the Battalion.
The Belooch Battalion recruited Balochis, Sindhis and Pathans. The Balooches are an Iranian people who mainly speak the
Balochi language, a branch of Northwestern Iranian languages. A large percentage of the Balooch people reside in East
Baluchistan in what is now Pakistan and in India.
In 1856 Henry married Mary Anne Goslin Lambert. Mary Anne, born in Karachi, Scinde (now Pakistan), was the daughter of
Thomas Lambert of Ireland.
Left: Officers of the
Henry is center right
in the photo
Following the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny in May of 1857, Henry continued to serve throughout the Mutiny with the 1st
Belooch Battalion. Commanding the Left Wing of the Battalion throughout the campaign in Rohilcund, Henry was present with
General Penny’s column in the action at Kukrulee. Serving with the force under Sir Colin Campbell the 1st Belooches formed
part of the front line of the attacking force in the action before the town of Bareilly and in the subsequent capture
of the town. Henry commanded the Left Wing of the Battalion at the actions of Bunnee, Mahomdee, the attack made by the
rebels on Shahjehanpore, and several other hard fought smaller affairs.
While in command at Jellalabad in August of 1858, acting on intelligence he had received, Henry dispatched a party under
the command of Subadar Khyroolla Khan of the Battalion which captured a Dafadar wanted for the murder of Brigadier
Sibbold, C.B., and also killed the rebel brother-in-law of the Nawab of Shajahanpore. For his action, Khyroolla Khan
received the Indian Order of Merit, Third Class, often referred to as the equivalent of the Victoria Cross for native
soldiers of the East India Company.
In September of 1858 Henry was appointed Commandant of the 13th Punjab Native Infantry, but by January of 1859 he
had been posted back to the regiment, now known as the 27th (1st Belooch Battalion) Bombay Native Infantry. However, he
was to return with an appointment as Commandant of the regiment, a position he would hold until his retirement from the military.
For his services during the Indian Mutiny, Henry was twice mentioned in despatches, received the Indian Mutiny medal, and
granted a brevet promotion to Captain. In February of 1861 Henry was admitted to the Bombay Staff Corps and promoted
substantive Captain in the same month. Granted a twenty-month medical furlough to England in March of 1863, Henry was
promoted Major within three months of his return to duty in India late 1864.
In 1866 General Robert Napier was appointment to lead a force comprised primarily of Indian regiments against King
Theodore of Abyssinia, Henry arrived with his regiment in Abyssinia on the 5th of December 1867. Four months later, in
early April of 1868, after a long and incredibly difficult march over rugged, mountainous terrain, General Napier’s army
finally reached the vicinity of King Theodore’s stronghold at Magdala. On the 9th of April, Henry and his Beloochees joined
the 1st Battalion of the 4th King’s Own Regiment, the 10th Company of the Royal Engineers, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Companies
of the Bombay Sappers, and K Company of the Madras Pioneers in following General Napier’s orders “to cover the head of
the pass”. This spot was to become the very epicenter of the fighting on the Arogi ravine when inexplicably abandoning
their defensive advantage, King Theodore’s force of an estimated five thousand men suddenly poured out of their seemingly
impregnable stronghold to attack the British troops on the open plain. General Napier described the scene this way:
The 4th R. O. Regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Cameron, closely followed by Beville's Beloochees and the Royal
Engineers, commanded by Major Pritchard, and the Bombay Sappers, under Captain MacDonnell, R.E., descended rapidly the
steep path leading down to the Arogie Plain, with unrestrained expressions of delight at having, at last, their enemy before
Opening into skirmishing order they ascended a suitable slope which separated them from the Plain of Arogie, and
immediately came in contact with the enemy, drove them back, in spite of the efforts of their leaders, in masses, on which
the fire of the Snider told with terrible effect.
Several gallant attempts were made by the Abyssinians to rally, but many of their Chiefs fell, and they were driven down the
slopes of Arogie, towards the ravines on our left front.
A portion of them withdrew up the sides of Fahla, and taking cover in a thicket of cactus trees, opened a teasing fire on
Staveley's right, causing some casualties.
Captain Fellowes having maintained the fire of his rockets until masked by the advance of the Infantry, had been sent to
support Sir Charles Staveley.
The fire of the rockets together with volleys from Beville's Beloochees and the Royal Engineers, supported by two of
Penn's ' guns, under Lieutenant Taylor, cleared Staveley's flank from further annoyance…
While the British losses were only two dead and eighteen wounded, they had inflicted heavy casualties upon the enemy.
Following up on the victory at Arogie, on the 13th of April the 27th (1st Beloochees) Regiment participated in the assault
on the fortress of Magdala. According to General Napier’s dispatch, “A detachment of the Beloochees, under Lieutenant
Beville, ascended by the spurs of Fahla, and occupied that important position, where they were reinforced from the Second
Brigade by the Head Quarters’ Wing of the 10th Native Infantry, under Colonel Field.” However, almost as soon as Napier
started his attack, the defenders rapidly began surrendering. King Theodore was soon found dead by his own hand and the
campaign was at an end.
For its part in the campaign, the 27th (1st Beloochees) Regiment received the Battle Honour “Abyssinia.” Henry was several
times mentioned in despatches, received the Abyssinia medal and was awarded a brevet promotion to Lieutenant Colonel.
He was also invested as a Companion of the Order of the Bath, Military Division.
Promoted a substantive Lieutenant Colonel in June of 1871 and a brevet Colonel in February of 1874, Henry was appointed
to command the Hyderabad station from February 1876 till May of 1878. In December of that year he was appointed
Officiating Commandant of the Southern Frontier Force, a position he held until May of 1879.
Upon retiring on full pay on the 15th of December 1880, Henry received the honorary rank of Major General. Returning
to England, Henry resided at Burfield Hall, Wymondham, Norfolk, a Grade II building still in existence, where Henry took
up the life of a country gentleman. He was a member of the United Service Club and the Constitutional Club and was
appointed a member of the Board of Directors of The New Oriental Bank Corporation, Ltd., headquartered at 40
Threadneedle Street, London. In the 1891 Census Henry and Mary Anne are shown as still living Burfield Hall with
Mary Anne, their widowed daughter-in-law, four grandchildren and five domestic servants.
Major-General Henry Beville, C.B., died at Exeter on the 12th of June 1897. His obituary was reported in the 9 October
1897 edition of the Illustrated London News. He was 69 years old. A veteran of two bloody conflicts and 35 years of the
Indian climate, Henry had lived to what was then a ripe old age.
In the 1901 Census Mary Anne is shown living with her daughter Rose and her husband Colonel John Gastell at Bournemouth.
Mary Anne Goslin Beville died on 11 January 1902 at Sydenham, Kent, age 74
Henry’s younger brother George Francis Beville, who served with him in the 27th (1st Baloochees) Regiment in Abyssinia
campaign, would go on to become a full General, become a Commander of the Bath. and be knighted as Knight Commander
of the Indian Empire. George died on 18 January 1913.