|LT. COL. HENRY MACK NEPEAN
|3rd Infantry Nagpore Irregular Force
Henry Mack Nepean was born on the 18th of November, 1829, and was
baptized at Madras, India on the 11th of January, 1830. He was the
son of Charles Wedekind Nepean and his wife Anne Nepean (nee Becker).
His father was then a Lieutenant in the 7th Madras Native Infantry.
On the 12th of June, 1850, Henry was nominated as a cadet for the
Madras Infantry by John Shepard, a Director of the Honorable East
India Company, at the request of Henry’s father who by that time has
risen to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Madras Army. Henry
was commissioned an Ensign on the 15th of June, 1850, and arrived in
India on the 19th of September.
Henry was posted to the 37th Madras Native Infantry (Grenadiers),
“doing duty” for a time with the 40th Madras Native Infantry. He was
promoted Lieutenant in the 37th M.N.I. on the 2nd of September, 1853.
On the 22nd of April, 1856 he was order to do duty as Adjutant of
the 3rd Infantry, Nagpore Irregular Force, a local corps.
In May of 1857, the native troops of a majority of the Bengal Army
regiments mutinied against their British officers, starting what was to
become known as the Indian Mutiny. Lieutenant Nepean continued to
serve with the Nagpore Irregular Force throughout the course of the
His War Services for the Mutiny are given as:
“Employed during the Mutiny against insurgents in the Raepore, Rukunpore and Sumbulpore Districts in 1857-58 – Present
at the capture fo Govind-Sing of Sonakhan and fourteen of his armed followers on 11th December 1857 – At the action
with the cavalry at Gringall in Sumbulpore District, and at other minor affairs” (Madras Army List, June – Sept. 1865.)
For his services during the Indian Mutiny, Henry received the Indian Mutiny medal with officially impressed naming to him
as a Lieutenant in the 3rd Nagpore Irregular Infantry. In the 1859 Bengal Army List, Henry is shown still serving as
Lieutenant and Adjutant of the 3rd Infantry, Nagpore Irregular Force and as Officiating Commandant due to the absence
on furlough of the Commandant.On the 3rd of April, 1861, Henry married Julia Hannah, the youngest daughter of the late
Captain Samuel Hughes of the Indian Army at St. Peter’s, Bayswater. They were to have three children together.
Henry was promoted Captain on the 2nd of September, 1861. The Nagpore Irregular Force was disbanded in 1861 as
part of the reorganization of the HEIC troops following their transfer to the Crown following the Mutiny and Henry
was admitted to the Madras Staff Corps shortly thereafter. By 1867 the 3rd Nagpore Irregular Infantry had been
reduced to a cadre′ and Henry was serving on the Staff Corps.
In 1868, Henry received the assignment for which he would be best remembered. Henry was apparently an accomplished
amateur photographer and was relieved of his military duties to assist the Archeological Survey of India by documenting
the cave complexes at Ellora, Daulatabad, Aurangabad and Rauze. Henry produced a small body of photograph work,
primarily albumin prints of approximately 13 by 11 inches in size. The British Library has a collection of the 61 of his
prints. Nepean’s photos do not appear to have been distributed commercially, but occasionally, a original print of one
of his photos comes to market. (See Sotheby’s, Nineteenth Century Photographs of India:The Ehrenfeld Collection,
25 May 2005, Lot 402 Indra Sabha (Cave 32) Ellora, 1868, auction estimate £1,000-1,500.)
Following the completion of this assignment, Captain Nepean returned to England on furlough.
Henry was promoted Major the 15th of June, 1870, and Lieutenant Colonel on the 15th of June 1876. In 1877 he is
listed as serving as Wing Commander with the 37th Madras Native Infantry.
Henry’s marriage to his wife Julia was not destined to end happily. The Times reported the decision of the Court in
Nepean v. Nepean v. Leach on the 28th of February, 1878, as follows:
“This is a petition by Lieutenant-Colonel Nepean, of the Madras Staff Corps, for dissolution of his marriage with
respondent by reason of her adultery with the co-respondent. He married respondent at St. Peter’s Church Baywater,
in April, 1865(sic), and there were three children born of the marriage. In June, 1875, Mrs. Nepean returned from
India with her youngest child, and took up her residence at Shirley, near Southhampton. Colonel Nepean came to
England in September, 1877, and a few days after his arrival in London, where he was joined by respondent,
information reached him which caused him to cease cohabitation with her. He then instituted inquiries as to her
mode of life while they had lived apart between 1875 and 1877, and he discovered that in January, 1877, she gave
birth at Haslemere, in Surrey, to an illegitimate child, of which the co-respondent, a young man, whose acquaintance
she had made at Shirley, was the punitive father. The Court pronounced a decree nisi, with costs”
Lieutenant Colonel Nepean retired from the Army on the 23rd of April 1880. Following his retirement, Henry Nepean
was to again to become involved in the legal system. The Times of 1 June 1881, reported the following case:
“The Assault on Lord Edward Thynne.—Yesterday, the Marquis Townshend, Colonel
Nepean, and Mr. Francis Ellis were charged on remand, at the Salisbury Petty Sessions, with assaulting Lord Edward
Thynne on the highway, between Laverstock and Salisbury. Lord Edward stated that as he was driving to Salisbury
he saw the three defendants on the road, but did not know who they were. The person who described himself as the
Marquis Townshend struck him with the butt end of a whip several times and drew blood from his right cheek.
Replying to Mr. Tatlock, barrister, who appeared for the Marquis, he said Colonel Nepean held the pony’s head while
the assault was being committed. He asked Mr. Ellis for his stick to defend himself with, but Mr. Ellis refused to
grant the use of it. He admitted having frequently gone to the Marquis’s house in 1872, but not to see him or to
partake of his hospitality. He had eloped with the marquis’s wife, but did not see what that had to do with this affair.
He was attacked when abroad by two men, one of whom was Lord Macduff, in connection with this same affarid. He
had not prosecuted Lord Macduff for the assault, either abroad or in England. He was not aware that the Marquis
Townshend had ever taken proceedings against him in the Divorce Court. Eventually, the defendants were committed
for trial at the county quarter sessions, bail accepted for their appearance.”
The Times of 30 June 1881, reported the following disposition of the case:
“The Assault upon Lord Edward Thynne.—At the Wilts Quarter Sessions, yesterday, the marquis Townshed,
Colonel Henry Nepean, and Mr. Francis Ellis were indicted for assaulting Lord Edward Thynne, under circumstances
already reported. Lord Thynne was called in support of the indictment, and in effect repeated the evidence he gave
before the Magistrates. In cross-examination, he said he visited the Marquis Townshend’s house in 1872. He took
away his host’s wife, but not in a felonious manner. He took her to France, where her brother met him. The jury
found the defendant’s guilty of the assault. The Marquis of Townshend addressed the court in mitigation of sentence,
and Mr. Lopes for the other defendants. The magistrate fined the Marquis Townshend £500, with the alternative
of three months’ imprisonment, and ordered him to pay the costs of prosecution, and also bound him over to keep the
peace for 12 months. The other defendants were each fined £100 or one month’s imprisonment. Upon the
announcement of the decision the Marquis Townshend refused to pay the fine, calling the chairman a disgrace to
the Bench. He was detained in custody for four hours, and then paid the fine and was liberated. The other
defendants also paid their fines.”
Perhaps given Henry’s own experiences with an unfaithful wife, it is understandable why he joined in the assault upon Lord
Thynne by Marquis Townshend.
Henry is shown in the 1901 census enumeration as living alone at 244 Uxbridge Road, Hammersmith, London.
Lieutenant Colonel Henry Mack Nepean died in 1914, living to the age of 84.
|Ellora was excavated between the sixth and tenth centuries, and |
can be grouped into Buddhist, Hindu and Jain styles. This
dramatic composition illustrates the marriage of Shiva and
Parvati from the Hindu group of caves which had been
excavated. The eyes have been illuminated to add the the
Interior of the Dumar Lena, Cave #29, Ellora, by Henry Mack
Albumen print, circa 1868.
Sold Sotheby’s, 25 May 2005, Sale Number LO5432, Lot 403
at a hammer price of £2,160, before buyer’s premium.