The British Empire

People of the Empire

Mahdi - Wolesley

Mahdi was accorded this title (from Mohammed bin Abdullah). He roused the people of the Sudan in a religious war against their Egyptian overlords. He drove the Egyptians out of Kordofan and on 5 November 1883 destroyed an army led by General Hicks. His Dervishes then cut off Khartoum before taking it and killing General Gordon who had been sent to withdraw Egyptian forces.

Milner, Alfred was brought up in Germany before attending Balliol College, Oxford. He became the principal adviser to Goshen, Chancellor of the Exchequer 1886-92. He spent three years in Egypt helping to improve its finances before becoming Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue. In 1897 he became High Commissioner in south Africa. He decided that Kruger had to reform or be destroyed in a war. His belligerent diplomacy persuaded Kruger of the need to opt for war. In 1900 he was appointed Governor of Transvaal and the Orange Free State. He signed the Treaty of Vereeniging in May 1902. During the period of reconstruction in South Africa he alienated Liberal opinion by encouraging Chinese migration of Chinese labourers to South Africa. he joined Lloyd George's War Cabinet in December 1916, became War Secretary in 1918 and then Colonial Secretary 1919-1921. Throughout his life he supported the idea of an Imperial Council and self government of colonies.

Napier R Sir served in India and distinguished himself during the siege of Lucknow. He served in the 1860 Chinese war and as General he invaded Ethiopia in 1868 to rescue hostages taken by the Ethiopian Emperor, Theodore. In 1870 he became Commander -in-Chief of the Indian  Army and was later Governor of Gibraltar.

Napier CJ Sir conquered Sind following the Battle of Miani in 1843. He had previously served in Ireland, Portugal (1810),and against the USA (1813). He became Governor of Sind in 1844 and later returned during the Sikh wars during which whilst Commander in Chief of the Indian army he quarrelled with Governor-General Dalhousie over military reform. He returned to England in 1851.

Outram, Sir James was commissioned into the Indian Infantry in 1819. He was political agent in Gujerat before serving in the First Afghanstan War. He was known for his courage and chivalry. He defended the Residence of Hyderabad in 1843 against 8,000 Sikhs. In the Indian Rebellion he defended Lucknow during its second siege.

Papineau, Louis was a member of the legislative assembly in Lower Canada and later Speaker. He opposed the union of Lower and Upper Canada and presided over meetings in Quebec which listed grievances, especially the question of land tenure. He encouraged his followers to rebel in November 1837 but after early shots were fired he fled to the USA returning in 1847 following an amnesty.

Pretorius, A was a Boer leader of the Great Trek into Natal. He led the Boers in the defeat of the Zulu king Dingale, 16 December 1838 at the Battle of Blood River. He helped to secure Transvaal from the British in 1852. Pretoria was founded and named in his honour.

Pretorius,M was President of the Transvaal 1857-1871. He had tried to unite the Transvaal and the Orange Free State in 1862-3 and took up arms against the British in 1877.

Riel, L was a Canadian rebel leader, born into a Roman Catholic family in Manitoba. he opposed the implementation of the agreement by which the British government took over the land of the Hudson Bay Company and in November 1869 led a rebellion setting up a republic at Fort Garry (Winnipeg). He went into hiding but was eventually given an amnesty. He was elected to the federal government in 1873 but prevented by Protestants from taking his seat. He became a popular leader of those opposing further settlement in Manitoba, leading a rebellion in 1885. He was arrested and hanged on 16 November 1885.

Rhodes, C  was a vicar's son brought up in Bishop Stortford. Poor health (TB) brought him to Natal in 1870 just as the Diamond Rush began. He sought his fortune in Kimberley and then gained admittance to Oxford's Oriel College. He helped found De Beers Company in 1880 and became a member of the Cape Colony legislature. He founded the British South Africa company in 1889. He embraced the idea of a British dominated Cape to Cairo railway and area of influence. By July 1889 he held a monopoly of diamond sales on the London market. He used a Royal Charter to develop the land north of Bechunaland and negotiated exclusive mining rights in Matabeleland and Mashonaland. He became Prime Minister of the Cape Colony in 1890 and was subsequently implicated in the Jameson Raid, designed to bring about the end of a Boer dominated Transvaal. He put down revolts by the Ndebele and Shona tribes in 1896. During the Boer War he was besieged in Kimberley and he died i26 march 1902 of heart disease. His fortune was left mostly in trust to Oxford University. His house, Groote Schurr became a home for South Africa Prime Ministers.

Roberts, F was one of the most famous soldiers of the Victorian era eventually becoming Commander in Chief of the British army. Born in Cawnpore he spent most of his military in India. He was convinced that Russia intended to attack India through Afghanistan. As a Lieutenant he won a VC during the Indian Rebellion. In September 1879 he was dispatched to Kabul to seek revenge for the death of Sir Louis Cavagnari, the British envoy there.  He was also given the local rank of lieutenant-general on 11 November 1879. After completing his mission to occupy Kabul, he was appointed commander of the Kabul and Kandahar field force and led his 10,000 troops across 300 miles of rough terrain in Afghanistan to relieve Kandahar. He became Commander in Chief of the British army in India 1885-1893 and then commanded the forces in south Africa during the Second Anglo-Boer War following Buller's demotion in January 1900. He led the march on Pretoria and returned to Britain in January 1901 becoming commander in Chief of the British army, 1901-1904 after which he campaigned for compulsory military service.

Salisbury, Lord was a British Prime Minister at the time of the scramble for Africa. He was mistrustful of democracy and in his early life wrote much on High Church Anglicanism, European power politics and India. He was Secretary of State for India 1866-7, and 1874-78, Foreign Secretary 1878-80 and Prime Minister 1885, 1886-92 and 1895-1902. He also  served as his own Foreign Secretary whilst he was Prime Minister in hi s last two spells as Prime Minister. He avoided foreign commitments seeking practical agreements to assist British imperial expansion in China, Egypt, Sudan, west Africa. He encouraged the Cape to Cairo idea and encouraged the scramble for Africa through private chartered companies. He came close to war with France and Russia in 1898 but his career was overshadowed by the Boer War which he did not anticipate nor want.

Shaw, F was born in 1852 in Woolwich,  London and as a British journalist  became the first female editor of a major newspaper when she became colonial editor for the Times. She began to write novels early in her life at the same time as she worked as a housekeeper, social worker and teacher. She had published enough novels to be able to live independently by the age of 30 and soon was reporting on British rule in Egypt. Becoming a correspondent for the Manchester Guardian she began writing on colonial affairs. She met some of the most important men of the day (greatly admiring Cecil Rhodes) and travelled widely.  She was a strong supporter of the empire as a source of economic growth for Britain and supported the growth of a more politically  unified Empire. She married Frederick Lugard in 1902 when he was Commissioner for northern Nigeria and worked with him to establish British authority there. Flora later moved to Hong Kong where her husband was Governor from 1907 and then back to Nigeria in 1914 when Frederick was appointed Governor.

Smuts, J was a Boer leader who red law at Oxford before becoming State Attorney to Kruger in the Transvaal. He commanded Boer commandos who penetrated the Cape Colony. He helped draft the constitution of the Union of South Africa and was elected to its parliament in 1910. He later served as Minister of Defence creating the South Africa army which conquered SW Africa in 1915 during WW1. He served in the War cabinet 1917-18 and played  a leading role in the Versailles Peace Conference.

Wakefield, E entered the Diplomatic Service in 1814 but had a chequered career eloping with a ward of court during his service in Turin and then whilst serving in Paris abducted an heiress. He was imprisoned in Newgate and wrote a tract on systemising colonisation. He promoted settlement in New South Wales and accompanied Durham to Canada. Returning to London he became agent for the New Zealand Land Company. He emigrated to new Zealand in 1853 and helped to establish self government there.

Wellesley, R was the elder brother of the Duke of Wellington. He was an MP 1784-97 during which time he supported campaigns against slavery. He was Governor-General of India 1797-1805 and secured the defeat of Tipu Sultan and then crushed Maratha resistance. Whilst Governor-General he doubled the revenues of the East India Company. He was later ambassador in Madrid, Foreign Secretary and Lord Lieutenant in Ireland.

Wolseley, G was the archetypal imperial Victorian soldier. He was born in Dublin and entered the army in 1852 serving in Burma where he was wounded and then in the Crimea led attacks on the Redon Fort, losing an eye. he took part in the relief of Lucknow and was part of operations in China in 1860 when Peking was taken. He commanded the operation against Riel's independent republic crushing the resistance without any loss of life and in 173-4 commanded a campaign against the Ashanti people. Wolseley was Britain's first administrator in Cyprus, 1878 and was called upon to re-establish British authority in Zululand. He improved the British army whilst Quartermaster General. He commanded the force that defeated Arabi Pasha at Tel-el-Kebir, 1882, which established British control of the Nile. He was appointed to lead the expedition to save General Gordon, 1895 arriving two days after Gordon had been killed. He was Commander in Ireland befoe becoming Commander-in-Chief of the British army in 1895. He was in post during the Second Boer War and took much of the post war criticism for the lack of contingency plans for the campaign. He is regarded as the 'soldier who made the empire'.

David Livingstone

General Robert Napier

General Charles Napier

Cecil Rhodes

Lord Salisbury

Flora Shaw

General Garnet Wolseley

Andries Pretorius

Alfred Milner