The British Empire 
                                                              1815-1914

People of the Empire

Bahadur Shah - Lugard

Bahadur Shah Zafar II was the last descendant of the Moghul warrior sovereigns: Babur, Humayan, Akbar. By the time he acceded in 1837 the authority of the Mughal emperors had evaporated as the British took control of their lands in return but negotiating a pension (£200,000 a year for Bahadur). Whilst King, Bahadar maintained the trappings of the monarch until in 1857 when Muslim soldiers involved in the rebellion induced him to become their spiritual leader. When John Lawrence retook Delhi in September 1857, Bahadur was exiled to Rangoon.


Baker SW discovered Lake Albert in 1864. He had previously tried to bring civilisation to Ceylon by setting up an experimental village in the hills importing English craftsmen with himself as the Squire. In the 1860s he sought the source of the Nile. He believed that civilisation might be brought to Africa by commerce and colonisation not through Christianity.


Burton R discovered (with Speke) Lake Tanganyika in 1858. He unlike other explorers of the time was cynical about whether Europeans could bring civilisation to Africa. he later travelled throughout the Middle East and such was his knowledge gained that he became an orientalist.


Carnarvon Lord was Colonial Under Secretary 1858-9 and then Colonial Secretary 1866-7 and 1874-78. He supported Canadian Federation and took action to stamp out slavery along the Gold Coast. He sent Wolseley to natal and Frere to the Cape authorising the annexation of the Transvaal in 1877. He was an early advocate of South African confederation but resigned as Colonial Secretary  in 1878 following a disagreement with Disraeli over the policy on Russia. He continued to campaign for unity between the colonies.


Conrad J wrote 'Heart of Darkness' among other novels. He was ambivalent towards Empire, portraying in 'Heart of Darkness' a green nightmare peopled by black barbarians in need of civilisation yet exposed the fragility of civilisation and stated that Imperialism was just robbery with violence.


Curzon, G  rose to become Viceroy of India. He was parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs in Salisbury's government of 1885 asserting an aggressive pride in Empire. As Viceroy of India 1898-1905 he gave a lot of attention to the improvement of education, public services, communications, agriculture. He strengthened the north west frontier but aroused Indian resentment by his decision to partition Bengal and disagreed with Kitchener over the reorganisation of the Indian army.


Dalhousie, Lord was Governor-General of India 1848-56 who followed a forward policy, annexing Punjab, Pegu and Oudh. These changes, particularly the Doctrine of Lapse which he introduced to enable the government to take over Indian land, alienated  traditionalists and the disaffection produced by his reforms was a cause of the Indian Rebellion in 1857.


Disraeli B was an early spokesperson for the Tory 'Young England' movement. After 1846 he led the Protectionist Tories and then became Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1852, 1858-9 and in 1866. He succeeded Derby as Prime Minister in 1868. His first pronouncements on Empire described colonies as 'a millstone around our necks' but in a speech at the Crystal palace in 1872 emphasised the importance of a colonial empire. Whilst Prime Minister 1874-80 he built up the Empire establishing a protectorate in Cyprus, buying shares in the Suez canal and passing the Royal Titles Act making Victoria Empress of India. It was during his premiership though that the defeats at Isandhlwana and Afghanistan took place.


Eyre E was Governor of Jamaica who declared martial law during a small uprising in Morant Bay and then proceeded to hang and imprison hundreds of black people and burn over a thousand dwellings. He executed a Baptist preacher who he believed responsible for the uprising. He was recalled to London and Jamaica came under direct rule from London.


Frere, B entered the Bombay civil Service in 1834 and then spent 33 years in India becoming the Chief Commissioner of Sind and adviser to Canning, Governor-General. In 1872 he was sent to Zanzibar to suppress the slave trade and in 1877 was persuaded to go to south Africa to promote a confederation. He committed Britain to war against the Zulus against the wishes of the Disraeli government and was recalled in August 1880.


Gordon C became an imperial martyr when he was killed in Khartoum just two days before a relief expedition led by General Wolseley arrived. Gordon had fought in the Crimean War and then helped to quell the Taiping Rebellion earning him the nickname 'Chinese Gordon'. From 1873-1880 he was a military commander in the Sudan, stamping out slavery and exploring the Upper Nile. In 1884 he was asked to organise the relief of the forces left in the Sudan but once there he decided to end the Muslim upheaval. He was though besieged in Khartoum in September 1884 by the forces of the Mahdi, and died before help arrived.


Grey, Sir G was Governor and Prime Minister of new Zealand. He was born in 1812 explored western Australia in 1839 and then became Resident Magistrate in Albany. He was a colonial governor in South Australia, New Zealand and Cape Colony in a career of 27 years but became increasingly autocratic being recalled from Cape Town for advancing a south African federation. He emigrated to new Zeaqland becoming head of the government 1877-79.


Havelock, H was a soldier who entered the army in 1815 going to India in 1823 and remaining for most of his life. he fought in campaigns in Afghanistan, Punjab and in Persia. He commanded the force that relieved Cawnpore in July 1857 but was too late to save the European population that had been destroyed by Nana Sahib. He then led the relief of Lucknow but died in the city of dysentery.


Hobson, W was new Zealand's first Governor in 1840. As Commanding officer of HMS Rattlesnake he was sent to New Zealand in 1837 to safeguard the interests of the settlers and again in 1840 to bring order to the chaotic land sales system which was threatening to cause conflict between the various interests. He arrived in January 1840 and declared all land sales invalid. His discussion with local Maori chiefs led to the Treaty of Waitangi. Failing health led to his early death in 1842.


Horton JAB was a west African doctor who in 1865 published 'Vindication of the African Race'  an answer to Hunt's thesis. Horton stated that Africans had been isolated from civilisation and he compared their position to that of the Ancient Britons after the landing of Caesar.


Hunt J published in 1863 'The Negro Place in Nature' arguing that Africans possessed no art and were mentally and morally underdeveloped. He typified the latent racial prejudices of the time and helped to sustain the stereotypes of the negro in the debates which followed the publication of Darwin's book in 1859 on evolutionary theory.


Johnstone H explored the Congo basin and the Kilimanjaro region. He had a scheme to establish a colony in the Kilimanjaro area but it was rejected. He became Consul for Cameroon and the Niger delta in 1885 and later worked with Rhodes over Nyasaland. He became Commissioner for south and central Africa 1891-6 and later built up the administration in Uganda, 1899.


Kitchener, H was a  soldier who was born in Ireland and educated at the Royal Military College. He was an engineer in Palestine and Cyprus (1878-82) before becoming 2nd in charge of the Egyptian cavalry during a stay of 17 years in Egypt. He was involved in the Gordon relief expedition and then Governor of  Sudan. He commanded the British forces at the Battle of Omdurman, 1898, then confronted Captain Marchand at Fashoda. He was Chief of Staff to General Roberts in south Africa 1900 and took over when Roberts returned to Britain. He developed the blockhouse system and the great drives which with concentration camps brought the Boers to sign the Treaty of Vereeniging in May 1902. He was Commander-in-Chief India and effective ruler of Egypt as the British agent 1911-1914.


Kipling, R was born in India and educated in Westward Ho, before returning to India in 1882 to work for the Pioneer and the Civil and Military Gazette. By the time he left India in 1889 he had written more than 30 short stories in imperial themes. Back in London he published barrack Room Ballads before settling in the USA after his marriage to Carrie. Returning to England in 1896 he wrote 'Recessional' for the Diamond Jubilee and the 'The White Man's Burden'. by the time he settled in Sussex in 1897 he was regarded as the nation's Imperial Poet and Prophet.


Kruger P became President of the Transvaal in 1882. As a young boy he had taken part in the Great Trek. He became a Commandant of the South African Republic of the Transvaal and then was on the executive council of the Transvaal in 1872. As President he was wary of the influx of foreign investment and men to exploit the gold discovered on the Witwatersrand in 1886 but sought to develop relations with Germany to counter the threat from Britain, especially after the Jameson Raid on 1895. fearing an attack from Britain, he issued an ultimatum in October 1899 precipitating war. The Boer forces did not take advantage of their early successes and when the British finally counter attacked Kruger was forced to leave south Africa and go to Europe where he lived in Holland.


Lawrence, Sir Henry was educated at Addiscombe before joining the Bengal Artillery in 1823. He saw active service in Burma, Afghanistan and the Punjab. IN 1856 he became Chief Commissioner to the Governor of Oudh and in 1857 was in command of troops in Oudh. He was in Lucknow during the siege enabling 1,8900 to hold out against 7,000. He was mortally wounded by a shell splinter.


Lawrence, John was educated at Haileybury and entered the HEIC as an assistant magistrate in Delhi. He became Chief Commissioner for Punjab in 1853 and during the Indian Rebellion secured the recapture of Delhi in September 1857. He returned to London to help set up a new India Office before becoming the third Viceroy 1864-69. He oversaw improvement in India in communications, especially railways, health and introduced new irrigation projects.


Livingstone, David was self educated whilst working in a mill. He became a medical student and offered his services to the London Missionary Society, working in Bechuanaland 1841-49. He explored Victoria Falls and during 1858-64 led a government expedition into central Africa discovering Lake Nyasa during which his wife died. In his final expedition he traced the source of the Nile but only discovered the river Lualaba which fed the Congo. He was discovered by Stanley in Ujiji in May 1871.He was shocked at the slave trade which operated in central Africa and whilst seeking a route southwards died in present day Zambia in May 1873. His body was brought back to England and buried in Westminster Abbey.


Lugard, F was educated at Sandhurst and then commissioned into the Indian Army. He hunted big game in India and saw action in Burma and the Sudan before returning to London. After time spent in the London Fire Service he commanded a force in Malawi tracking down slave traders. In 1890 the Imperial East Africa Company sent him to Kampala where he negotiated a treaty with the Kebaka of Buganda. He returned to England and campaigned for a protectorate in East Africa. From 1894-1906 he worked in west Africa helping to secure Nigeria for Britain.




These pages are being constantly updated and added to. Please let me know if there are glaring omissions.

Bahadur Shah

Lord Carnarvon

Benjamin Disraeli

Joe Chamberlain

Henry Havelock

Horatio Kitchener

David Livingstone

Paul Kruger