|Major General John Upperton, C.B.
|Order of the Bath, C.B. (Military) breast badge, 18 carat gold and enamels, hallmarked London 1881.
Indian Mutiny 1857-59, 1 clasp, Delhi (Lieut. I. Upperton, Towana [sic] Horse).
China 1857-60, 2 clasps, Taku Forts 1860, Pekin 1860 (Lieut. J. Upperton, Adjt. Regt. of Fane’s Horse).
Egypt & Sudan 1882-89, 1 clasp, Tel-el-Kebir (Lieut. Col. J. Upperton, 6th B.C.).
Order of the Medjidie, 3rd Class neck badge.
Khedive’s Star 1882.
John Upperton, the son of Robert
Upperton, a solicitor, and his wife
Elizabeth (nee Stuart), of Lansdowne
Place, Brighton, was born on the 10th
of June, 1836.
He was educated at Brighton College
of Technology from 1849 to1853 and
was nominated a cadet for the Bengal
Army by HEIC Director D. C.
Marjoribanks, Esq., on the
recommendation of the Marquess of
Arriving at Fort William in September
1854, Ensign Upperton was posted to
the 46th Native Infantry in October.
On the 10th of May, 1857, the Indian Mutiny erupted at the large military cantonment at Meerut in Northern India and
soon spread to most of the other Bengal native regiments. At the time of the mutiny at Meerut, Ensign Upperton was
stationed with his regiment at Sealkote. Upperton was promoted to Lieutenant on the 9th of July, 1857, and coincidentally,
on the same day, the sepoys of his regiment rose against their European officers when it became apparent that they were
about to be disarmed. As the uprising was a planned attack, Lieutenant Upperton was fortunate to escape with his life.
While attempting to flee from Sealkote following the uprising, the mutinous troops of 46th N.I. were overtaken by General
Nicholson’s movable column and virtually annihilated.
Following the mutiny of his regiment, Lieutenant Upperton joined an irregular cavalry unit recently raised by Captain Wale
and with that unit took part in operations around Delhi. The regiment, officially the 1st Sikh Irregular Cavalry, but more
commonly known as Wale’s Horse, subsequently became Probyn’s Horse following the appointment of Major Dighton Probyn
to command of the regiment following Captain Wale being killed by a sniper’s bullet in March of 1858.
In January 1858, Lieutenant Upperton ‘in spite of his youth’ was appointed to command a locally raised cavalry unit, the
Tiwana Horse, which he commanded until February 1859. The Tiwana Horse served throughout the Oudh Campaign and was
present at the capture of the forts of Amethee and Shunkergahr, and the action of Dundeakeira. In 1859, the Tiwana
Horse was merged into the newly raised 2nd Mahratta Horse commanded by F.H. Smith. Lieutenant Upperton was then
appointed officiating Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General at Lucknow.
Appointed Second- in-Command of the 16th Bengal Cavalry in January 1873, Upperton was promoted Major in June of 1874 and
was again employed on political duty from June of that year until October, when he was placed in charge of Shere Ali’s Envoy to
India. Two years later he was made Extra Aide-de-Camp to the Viceroy, Lord Northbrook, for the duration of the visit to India
of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII. Lord Northbrook and his staff met the Prince at Bombay in
November 1875, but it being desirable to reduce to a minimum the number of occasions on which the Viceroy, as the supreme
authority in India, was obliged to overshadow the Heir Apparent, he soon took his leave. Lord Northbrook and his immediate
staff did not meet the royal party again until the fortnight of Christmas festivities at Calcutta, which included “balls, dinners,
polo and fireworks, a Chapter of the Star of India and a State performance of a farce entitled My Awful Dad.”
Promoted Commandant of the 6th Bengal Cavalry in October 1876, Major Upperton set out that same month on a Special Mission
to Baluchistan with Colonel Colley, the Viceroy’s Military Secretary, who was later to perish on Majuba Hill during the First
Boer War. On his return in December, Upperton was seconded to the staff of Lord Northbrook’s successor, Lord Lytton, who,
to coincide with Queen Victoria being proclaimed Empress of India, presided over a massive durbar at Delhi held over the
Christmas season of 1876. Known officially as the Imperial Assemblage, the event was a bizarre mixture of eastern
magnificence and pageantry, in keeping with the Victorian pre-occupation with the Age of Chivalry; its purpose to unite
the Indian princes in loyalty to the British Crown. Lord Lytton gained the princes “fealty after a careful study of the native
character”, by a few acts of inexpensive liberalty such as the issuing of gold medals, the presentation of banners, and
allowing them additional guns in their salutes.
In 1882, Upperton, having been promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1880, commanded the 6th Bengal Cavalry in the force under
the command of Lieutenant-General Sir Garnet Wolseley in the campaign against Arabi Pasha in Egypt. The regiment took part
in the battle against the forces of Arabi Pasha at Tel-el-Kebir, the last major action of the campaign. For his services in the
Egypt campaign, Lieutenant-Colonel Upperton received a mention in despatches by Sir Garnet Wolseley, was awarded the 3rd
Class of the Order of the Medjidie by the Khedive of Egypt and made a Companion of the Order of the Bath.
Promoted Colonel in June 1884, Upperton was appointed to serve as the liaison officer to the representatives of the foreign
nations attending the Indian Army Manoeuvres of 1885-86. Upperton was advanced to Major-General on the 20th of
|6th Bengal Cavalry
(Late 16th Bengal Cavalry,Fane’s Horse and Tiwana Horse)
Major-General Upperton returned to England upon his retirement from the
Army and took up residence in London, where he died at
age eighty-eight on the 2nd of July, 1924. His obituary was printed by The
Times on the 4th of July, 1924 and Reynold’s Weekly
Newspaper on the 11th of July.
Census Returns of England and Wales 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901;
Hodson Index, National Army Museum, London;
IOL L/MiIL/10/59, 90 & 91;
Who Was Who 1916-1928;
The Times, 4 July 1924;
G.H.D. Gimlette, A Postscript to the Records of the Indian Mutiny, London,
Reynold’s Weekly Newspaper, 11 July 1924.
Upperton returned to India with Fane’s Horse in 1861. Transferring to the Bengal Staff Corps on the reorganization of
the Army, Upperton was appointed officiating second-in-command of Fane’s Horse. Promoted to Captain in June of 1866,
in February of 1869 Captain Upperton took part in a punitive expedition against the Bazotee Black Mountain Tribes,
who although they had been the subject of a punitive action the previous October by a force under Major-General A. T.
Wilde, were still causing the Government considerable trouble. Members of the earlier expedition received the India
General Service medal with North West Frontier clasp, but members of this later expedition did not.
In March 1869, Captain Upperton was seconded for political duty when Shere Ali, who had defeated his brother and rival
to become the undisputed Amir of Afghanistan, paid a visit to India. The meeting took place at Ambala, where Shere Ali
was flattered with royal honours and presented with a jeweled sword, which he promised never to draw except in the
service of Britain. Upperton was subsequently thanked for his services by the Government.
The photo depicted below was taken at that event. Upperton is standing on the extreme right. (photo copyright of British
|In June 1859, Upperton was ordered|
to do duty as Adjutant of the newly
raised Fane’s Horse.
As a member of that
regiment, Lieutenant Upperton
participated in the Anglo-French
expedition to China. He was present
at the action of Sinho, the capture of
the Taku Forts, and the action of
Chang-kia-wan, on which occasion
he was thanked for his services by
General Montauban, the French
Left: Upperton photographed in
China in 1861 with other members
of Fane's Horse