Colonel George Timins
|34th BNI and United Malwa Contingent
The men of the Malwa Contingent when ordered to refused to act against the mutineers and eventually began to fraternize
with them. Being joined by additional mutineers from Mhow, they marched off to Gwalior, forming into what became known as
the Indore Brigade, and collecting a miscellaneous rabble of budmashes on the way.
Following reports of mutinies at Nimach and Nasirabad, four troops of the Mulwa Cavalry were dispatched against the
mutinous troops from those stations. The Cavalry mutinied on the way, killing Lieutenants Brodie and Hunt before joining the
rebels. They later fought against General Polwhele at Sassiah on July 5th.
The main body of the United Malwa Contingent remained stationed at Mehidpore under its British Officers until November
1857, when it was attacked by a crowd of Velatees and Rohillas, together with the budmashes of the city. The Contingent
fought for over eight hours with the rebels before the mutineers finally captured the Contingent’s artillery, at which point,
the native enlisted men of the Contingent turned on their officers, killing Captain Mills who was in command of the infantry
and Surgeon Carey.
There are numerous contemporaneous accounts of Major Timins’ experiences during the mutiny of the Malwa Contingent.
Thomas Lowe in his book, Central India During the Rebellion of 1857 and 1858 wrote:
“Mahidpore, once so beautiful a cantonment, presented the general melancholy features of rebellion and destruction.
Every house was burnt down and among their ruins were the shattered remains of carriages, palkies, chairs, boxes and
other furniture. Empty ammunition boxes lay here and there about the place, and beneath a fine grove of trees were
several large guns spiked by the officers on the day of the mutiny; beneath these trees, too, were about thirty
fresh-dug graves; here the enemy had buried their dead. In a nullah, on one side of the parade ground, were several
human skulls, most of them bore marks of saber cuts. On the bank of the river was another gun, its carriage and limber
destroyed. Separated from the cantonment by a small stream, a tributary of the Seepra, is the town of Mahidpore,
a dirty, deserted, ill-built place…
The house lately occupied by the commandant, Major Timmins (sic), had been a very beautiful place. He had expended
considerable sums of money upon it, and beautified the grounds around it in a most superior home-like style. He had
stabling extensive enough for twenty horses, and every other arrangement equally as good. Beyond his lovely garden
was a paddock, surrounded on three sides by a fine-grown, well-trimmed hedge, fir and cypress trees, and separated
from the garden by white posts and chains, and a wicket gate. Exquisite taste was displayed everywhere around the
heap of ruins where his house once stood.
…On the morning of the dreadful outbreak of the Contingent, there was little hope of life save flight. Capt. Mills was
slain. Dr. Carey was wounded, and butchered as he was being carried away on a cot; the Serjeant-Major and family were
slain, and the Major (Timins) with a few faithful sowars escaped by flight. Lieutenant Dysart of the late Bengal 23rd,
which mutinied in Mhow, was acting Adjutant, and a second time escaped death with the faithful remnant of the
Contingent. Mrs. Timmins (sic) escaped, and was concealed by her dursi (tailor). She was afterward rescued by Major Orr.”
The Intelligence Branch of the Chief of Chief of Staff of Army Headquarters in The Revolt in Central India 1857-59 in
discussing the mutiny of the Contingent stated:
“On arrival at Noyla, two fugitive British officers came into camp from Mehidpur, the headquarters of the Malwa
Contingent, which was attacked by a body of the Mandesar rebels on the 8th November. The Cavalry had already
mutinied on the way to Neemuch in June and murdered their two officers. Major Timins, Commandant of the Contingent,
had six guns, but the infantry did not defend them well. They expressed a great dread of the Walayatis and did not
wait to receive their charge. Major Timins having in vain endeavored to rally his men, left the station accompanied by
Lieutenant Dysart and thirty-five men of the 2nd Cavalry, Gwalior Contingent. The infantry dispersed in various
directions, and some of them went over to the enemy. The rebels set fire to the hospital, which was full of sick and
wounded men; and forty crushed and burnt bodies were afterwards taken from the ruins. Captain G. L. Mills, who
commanded the infantry, was deliberately shot by one of Holkar’s sepoys as he was lying wounded in a litter; Dr. H. T.
Cary, in medical charge of the Contingent, was also murdered. Mrs. Timins, whose horse was shot under her as she was
attempting to escape with her husband, was concealed in the town by a faithful tailor, and so escaped…
Colonel Malleson in his History of the Indian Mutiny, however, was highly critical of Major Timins, stating that “Major
Timmins (sic), who commanded the contingent, imprudently permitted the rebels, without offering opposition, to take up a
strong position close round his guns and infantry.” No other commentator seemed to share Col. Malleson’s view and Major
Timins was not the subject of any official criticism for his conduct and indeed, was promoted Lieutenant Colonel a little
over one year later .
Interestingly, the Malwa Contingent mutineers did not escape unmolested. The Hyderabad Contingent troops under Major
Orr were sent to cut them off from Mundeesoor. They overtook them as they were passing a river close to Cassegaum, and
cut up three to four hundred, taking ninety-four prisoners, and a number of guns with ammunition. In this action, the Staff
Officer was very dangerously wounded, and Captains Clarke and Murray had their chargers shot under them.
Following the conclusion of the Mutiny, the United Malwa Contingent, like most of the Bengal regiments which had mutinied,
was officially disbanded. Major Timins returned to duty with the 34th BNI. He was promoted Lieutenant Colonel on 5
March 1859. Timins was promoted to Honorary Colonel on 31 December 1861, and retired the same day. His Indian Mutiny
medal, officially impressed to him as Major and Commandant of the United Malwa Contingent, was the only medal he received
during his thirty-one years of service.
Colonel George Timins died at his residence in Newstead, Torquay on the 2nd of March, 1875. He was 66 years old.
George Timins was born at Newton Flotman, Norfolk on 1 February 1809. He was the son of
George Timins of Liverpool, a Commander in the Royal Navy and his wife Mary (nee Sayer).
He was the nephew of John Timins of the East India Company Naval Service, the Commander
of the Royal George East Indiaman. George Timins was baptized at St. Anne’s in Liverpool
on 13 August 1809.
George Timins entered the service of the Honorable East India Company as a Cadet in
1824. He was commissioned as an Ensign on 25 January 1825, and arrived in India on
12 June 1825. He first posting was for detached duty with the 16th Bengal Native
Infantry until later in 1825 when he was appointed an Ensign with the 34th Bengal Native
Infantry, the regiment he would serve with until his retirement. He was promoted to
Lieutenant on 7 April 1828.
Lieutenant Timins served with the 34th BNI in the operations against the Kols and Chuars
in 1832 and 1833. No medals were authorized for these actions. As was common practice,
while still holding his rank in his primary regiment, the 34th BNI, Lieutenant Timins was
seconded to act as the Second in Command of the United Malwa Contingent in 1838. The
United Malwa Contingent was a composite force of a regiment of infantry, cavalry and a
battery of artillery. In October of 1842, Captain George Timins married Jane Sandys, the
eldest daughter of Lieut. General Frederick Sandys of the Bengal Staff Corps. Timins
was promoted to Captain in January of 1845, and was appointed Commandant of the United
Malwa Contingent on 15 December 1845.
In 1857, the United Malwa Contingent was stationed at Mehidpore, thirty miles from Augur
in Central India. Following the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny on May 10, 1857 at Meerut,
a detachment of some 200 sepoys of the United Malwa Contingent was at Indore when a
revolt broke out there. An attack was made by some mutinous troops of the Holkar, the
ruler of Malwa, on the Residency at Indore on July 1st.