Herbert Stewart

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Sir Herbert Stewart
Engraving in the The Illustrated London News, February 1885
Born30 June 1843
Sparsholt, Hampshire, UK
Died16 February 1885 (aged 41)
Near Jakdul, Sudan
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Years of service1863-1885
RankMajor General
Commands heldGordon relief expedition
Battles/warsAnglo-Zulu War
First Boer War
Mahdist War
AwardsKnight Commander of the Order of the Bath, Order of Saint Sava[1]

Major-General Sir Herbert Stewart KCB ADC (30 June 1843 – 16 February 1885) was a British Army officer and English first-class cricketer.

He was mortally wounded leading one of the columns to relieve the Siege of Khartoum during the Mahdist War

Early life[edit]

Stewart, the eldest son of the Rev. Edward Stewart, was born at Sparsholt, Hampshire. He was the grandson of Edward Richard Stewart and great-grandson of John Stewart, 7th Earl of Galloway.[2] He was educated at Brighton College and then Winchester College[3] Stewart played first-class cricket in 1869 as a wicket-keeper for Hampshire and the Marylebone Cricket Club.[4] His debut first-class match came for the MCC against Oxford University at Oxford. Three further matches followed, two for the MCC against the South and Cambridge University, with his solitary appearance for Hampshire coming against the MCC at Lord's.[5] In his four first-class matches, he scored 28 runs with a highest score of 8, in addition to taking two catches and making a single stumping.[6]

Military career[edit]

He entered the British Army in 1863. After serving in India with his regiment (37th Foot) he returned to England in 1873, having exchanged into the 3rd Dragoon Guards. In 1877 he entered the staff college and also became a barrister in the Inner Temple. In 1878 he was sent to South Africa, served in both the Anglo-Zulu War and the Second Sekhukhune War in 1879. As the chief staff-officer under Sir George Pomeroy Colley, he was present at British defeat in the Battle of Majuba Hill (27 February 1881) which ended the First Anglo-Boer War. He was taken prisoner by a Boer patrol and detained until the end of March.[4]

In August 1882, he was placed on the staff of the cavalry division in Egypt during the Anglo-Egyptian War. After the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir (13 September 1882), he headed a brilliant advance upon Cairo, taking possession of both the town and citadel. He was three times mentioned in despatches, and made a brevet-colonel, CB, and aide-de-camp to the Queen. In January 1884, he was sent to Suakin (Sudan) in command of the cavalry under Sir Gerald Graham, and took part as brigadier in the actions from El Teb to the advance on Tamai. His services were recognized by him being knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath, and he was made assistant adjutant and Quartermaster General for the South-Eastern District of England from April to September 1884.[4]

He then joined the expedition for the relief of Khartoum. In December, news from General Gordon led to Lord Wolseley's decision to send a column across the desert of Metemma (Bayuda Desert) and Stewart was entrusted with the command. On 16 January 1885, he found the enemy in force near the wells of Abu Klea, and brilliantly repulsed their fierce charge on the following morning. Leaving the wounded under guard, the column moved forward on the 18 January through bushy country towards Metemma, 23 miles distant.[4]

Meanwhile, the enemy continued their attacks, and on the morning of the 19 January, Stewart was wounded in the Battle of Abu Kru and had to hand over command to Sir Charles Wilson, the intelligence officer.[4]

He lingered for nearly a month, living long enough to hear of his promotion to the rank of major-general "for distinguished service in the field."[7] He died on the way back from Khartoum to Korti on 16 February, and was buried near the wells of Jakdul. In the telegram reporting his death, Lord Wolseley summed up both Stewart's character and career with the words: "No braver soldier or more brilliant leader of men ever wore the Queen's uniform."[4] A similar sentiment was felt by the Chief: "A finer soldier never existed in HM Service. He was a young officer, who by his own merits and his personal bravery had brought himself into a prominent position in the Army much earlier than usually happened in the ordinary course of events."[8] Stewart seemed to epitomize the selfless spirit of the age, embodying the heroic sacrifice for Queen and Country that was supposed to symbolize a civilized Empire. A bronze cenotaph[citation needed] was erected in St Paul's Cathedral, London; it was unveiled by Lord Wolseley in July 1888.[9]

Medallion on the memorial to Stewart at Hans Place, London


  1. ^ Acović, Dragomir (2012). Slava i čast: Odlikovanja među Srbima, Srbi među odlikovanjima. Belgrade: Službeni Glasnik. p. 596.
  2. ^ The Scots Peerage, vol. IV (1907) pp. 168–169.
  3. ^ Sabben-Clare, James. Winchester College. Paul Cave Publications, 1981. p. 144
  4. ^ a b c d e f One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Stewart, Sir Herbert". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 25 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 914.
  5. ^ "First-Class Matches played by Herbert Stewart". CricketArchive. Retrieved 11 September 2023.
  6. ^ "Player profile: Herbert Stewart". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 11 September 2023.
  7. ^ "No. 25437". The London Gazette. 30 January 1885. p. 429.
  8. ^ Cambridge, p. 112
  9. ^ Sinclair, W. (1909). Memorials of St Paul's Cathedral. London: Chapman & Hall, Ltd. p. 346, 460.


  • George, HRH Duke of Cambridge (1906). Egar Sheppard (ed.). George, A Memoir of his Private life: based on the journals and correspondence of His Highness. Vol. 1 (1819-1871), Vol.2 (1871-1904). Longmans & Co.

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