Frederick Mackeson

Last updated

Frederick Mackeson
Born(1807-09-02)2 September 1807
Hythe, Kent, United Kingdom
Died14 September 1853(1853-09-14) (aged 46)
Peshawar, British India
Khalid Bin Waleed Park, Peshawar
Allegiance Flag of the British East India Company (1707).svg East India Company
Service/branch Bengal army
Years of service1825-1853
Rank Lieutenant-Colonel
Unit Bengal Native Infantry
Battles/wars First Anglo-Afghan War
First Anglo-Sikh War
Second Anglo-Sikh War

Lieutenant colonel Frederick Mackeson CB (2 September 1807 – 14 September 1853) was an East India Company officer operating in the North West Frontier of British India and one of Henry Lawrence's "Young Men".



He was born in Hythe, Kent to William and Harriett Mackeson. He studied at the King's School, Canterbury and in France, before joining the Bengal Native Infantry in 1825. [1] He was made Lieutenant in 1828, and in 1831 transferred to Ludhiana where he would be based for several years. In 1832, he was appointed assistant political agent at Ludhiana and in that capacity accompanied Claude Martin Wade on a Mission to Lahore and Bahawalpur in connection with the Indus navigation scheme. In 1837 he accompanied Sir Alexander Burnes to Kabul. [2]

In 1838, he was sent to Peshawar tasked with winning local support for Shuja Shah Durrani's attempt to return to power in Afghanistan. He remained in Peshawar throughout the First Anglo-Afghan War responsible for forwarding supplies and money to Sir Robert Sale in Jalalabad, hastening up reinforcements and maintaining British influence in the Khyber region. [3] Mackeson's reputation was enhanced by the war, and a colleague Henry Lawrence described him as an "excellent officer, first-rate linguist, a man of such temper that no native would disturb and of untiring energy" he noted that "his life was spent in discoursing night and day with false Sikhs and Khyberees at Peshawar, and treading almost alone, or attended by Afghan escort, the paths of the Khyber". [4] After the final withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan in 1842, he was appointed acting Superintendent of Buttee, and later assistant to the political agents in Rajpootana and at Delhi.

During the First Anglo-Sikh War Mackeson served under Harry Smith and was present at the Battle of Aliwal. [5] However, after the war when the prestigious position of British Resident to Lahore became available, he was overlooked in favour of Henry Lawrence, who lacked Mackeson's first hand frontier experience. In March 1846, Lord Harding appointed him Superintendent of the Cis-Sutlej territory in the Punjab, an area outside of Lawrence's domain. [6] In the Second Anglo-Sikh War he served as aide to Lord Gough through which he gained the praise of both Lord Gough, and the Governor General Lord Dalhousie. After the Battle of Chillianwala, he swam the treacherous Jhelum river to notify Brigadier Burn's brigade on the other side of the river bank of the danger of an imminent Sikh force, in turn saving the brigade. [7] In 1849 he was made a local Lieutenant-Colonel.

In 1850, Lord Dalhousie selected him, along with his nephew Captain Ramsay, to safely escort the Koh-i-Noor diamond to Britain. The jewel had been ceded to the East India Company in the Treaty of Lahore at the conclusion of the Second Anglo-Sikh War, and was to be presented to Queen Victoria as a gift from the Company. The pair left Bombay on 6 April 1850 on board the steamship Medea captained by William Lockyear and arrived at Portsmouth on 30 June. [8] The voyage was full of hazards, when first an outbreak of cholera and later a devastating gale threatened to destroy all on board. [9] On their arrival in Portsmouth, Mackeson and Ramsay were escorted to the East India Company's headquarters, East India House in Leadenhall Street, where they safely handed the jewel over to Company chairman, John Shepherd. [10]

Mackeson returned to India in 1851, and being then senior captain of his regiment and a brevet Lieutenant-Colonel, he was appointed Deputy Commissioner at Peshawar. For the next two years Mackeson was asked to pacify the frontier tribes, amid fears that subversive Wahhabi agents had been supporting local insurrection. [11] In 1852 he took part in operations against the Yusufzai clans in the Black Mountain region. Two British officers of the Customs department had been hacked to death by a gang of Hassanzais, a Yusufzai clan in the region. [12] The offending clan was threatened with punitive action if they did not hand over the killers, however they refused to surrender the culprits and seized two local forts instead. [13] The Government assembled an expeditionary force under Mackeson's command, including columns led by Robert Napier and James Abbott, which successfully retook the forts.

On 10 September 1853 while listening to appeals in his veranda, he was greeted with a low salaam and presented with a piece of paper by a religious fanatic from Swat who proceeded to stab him with a large knife. [14] [15] Mackeson died four days later on 14 September 1853. [16] It was generally understood that a price had been set on Mackeson's head, although the government denied that was the case.[ citation needed ] His assassin was tried, and on 1 October 1853 was hanged. By the advice of John Lawrence the murderer's body was burned after it was cut down, and the ashes thrown into a running stream. [17]

Frederick Mackeson tomb plate Frederick Mackeson tomb plate.jpg
Frederick Mackeson tomb plate
Frederick Mackeson Tomb in Peshawar, KP, Pakistan Frederick Mackeson tomb.jpg
Frederick Mackeson Tomb in Peshawar, KP, Pakistan


Frederick Mackeson was buried in Khalid Bin Waleed Garden in Peshawar. A monument was erected in his memory within the Peshawar Cantonment paid for by his friends. [18]

The lasting legacy of Mackeson's influence around Peshawar can be noted by the words of Robert Warburton, himself a frontiersmen in the region over twenty five years later: [19]

"Wherever I have been, in every part of the Peshawar district, in the Khyber range, the name of Mackeson has been honoured and respected by all the residents of those lands above that of any other Englishmen who has been on the Peshawar border."

There is a large memorial plaque in Canterbury Cathedral, "erected to his memory by his friends and admirers in India".

He was known by locals by the name Kishin Kaka – Kishin being a corruption of his surname Mackeson. [20]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Koh-i-Noor</span> Large cut diamond

The Koh-i-Noor, also spelled Kohinoor and Koh-i-Nur, is one of the largest cut diamonds in the world, weighing 105.6 carats (21.12 g). It is part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. The diamond is currently set in the Crown of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Khyber Pakhtunkhwa</span> Province of Pakistan

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa commonly abbreviated as KP or KPK, is one of the four provinces of Pakistan. Located in the northwestern region of the country, KPK is the smallest province of Pakistan by land area and the third-largest province by population after Punjab and Sindh. It shares land borders with the Pakistani provinces of Balochistan to the south, Punjab to the south-east and de facto province of Gilgit-Baltistan to the north and north-east, as well as Islamabad Capital Territory to the east, Autonomous Territory of AJK to the north-east. It also shares an International border with Afghanistan to the west. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is known as the tourist hotspot for adventurers and explorers and has a varied landscape ranging from rugged mountains ranges, valleys, plains surrounded by hills, undulating submontane areas and dense agricultural farms.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Harry Burnett Lumsden</span> British Indian Army general (1821–1896)

Lieutenant-General Sir Harry Burnett "Joe" Lumsden was a British military officer active in India.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Henry Montgomery Lawrence</span> British Army officer

Brigadier-General Sir Henry Montgomery LawrenceKCB was a British military officer, surveyor, administrator and statesman in British India. He is best known for leading a group of administrators in the Punjab affectionately known as Henry Lawrence's "Young Men", as the founder of the Lawrence Military Asylums and for his death at the Siege of Lucknow during the Indian Rebellion.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Herbert Benjamin Edwardes</span> British Soldier and Statement in Punjab region of British India

Major-General Sir Herbert Benjamin EdwardesDCL was a British administrator, soldier, and statesman active in the Punjab region of British India. He is best known as the "Hero of Multan" for his pivotal role in securing British victory in the Second Anglo-Sikh War.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Lawrence, 1st Baron Lawrence</span> English British Imperial statesman from 1864 to 1869

John Laird Mair Lawrence, 1st Baron Lawrence,, known as Sir John Lawrence, Bt., between 1858 and 1869, was an English-born Ulsterman who became a prominent British Imperial statesman who served as Viceroy of India from 1864 to 1869.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Military history of the North-West Frontier</span> Historical aspect of modern-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan

The North-West Frontier was a region of the British Indian Empire. It remains the western frontier of present-day Pakistan, extending from the Pamir Knot in the north to the Koh-i-Malik Siah in the west, and separating the modern Pakistani frontier regions of North-West Frontier Province, Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Balochistan from neighbouring Afghanistan in the west. The borderline between is officially known as the Durand Line and divides Pashtun inhabitants of these provinces from Pashtuns in eastern Afghanistan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Nicholson (East India Company officer)</span> Anglo-Irish British Army officer

Brigadier General John Nicholson, was an Anglo-Irish officer in the British Army who rose to prominence during his career in British India. Born in Ireland, Nicholson moved to the Indian subcontinent at a young age and obtained a commission in the East India Company where he spent the majority of his life helping to expand Company rule in numerous conflicts such as the First Anglo-Afghan War and the First and Second Anglo-Sikh War. Nicholson created a legend for himself as a political officer under Henry Lawrence in the frontier provinces of British India, especially in the Punjab, and he was instrumental in the establishment of the North-West Frontier. Nicholson's most defining moment in his military career was his crucial role in suppressing the Indian Rebellion of 1857, a conflict in which he died.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nau Nihal Singh</span> Third Maharaja of Sikh Empire from 1839–1840

Kunwar Nau Nihal Singh was the third Maharaja of the Sikh Empire. He was the only son of Maharaja Kharak Singh and his consort, Maharani Chand Kaur. He was known as Yuvraj Kunwar Nau Nihal Singh. He was also known as Bhanwar Singh or Bhanwar Sa or Kunwar Sa means Respected Young Prince. Bhawar means Son of Kunwar or Son of Thakur His reign began with the dethronement of his father Maharaja Kharak Singh and ended with his death at the age of 19 on the day of his father's funeral.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sikh Empire</span> Empire on the Indian subcontinent (1799–1849)

The Sikh Empire was a state originating in the Indian subcontinent, formed under the leadership of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who established an empire based in the Punjab. The empire existed from 1799, when Maharaja Ranjit Singh captured Lahore, to 1849, when it was defeated and conquered in the Second Anglo-Sikh War. It was forged on the foundations of the Khalsa from a collection of autonomous Sikh misls. At its peak in the 19th century, the Empire extended from the Khyber Pass in the west to western Tibet in the east, and from Mithankot in the south to Kashmir in the north. It was divided into four provinces: Lahore, in Punjab, which became the Sikh capital; Multan, also in Punjab; Peshawar; and Kashmir from 1799 to 1849. Religiously diverse, with an estimated population of 3.5 million in 1831, it was the last major region of the Indian subcontinent to be annexed by the British Empire.

Jamrūd or Jam is a town in the Khyber District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Located in the Valley of Peshawar, on the western fringe of Peshawar city, Jamrud is the doorway to the Khyber Pass which is just to the west of the town. The pass connects Jamrud with Landi Kotal to the west, located near the border of Afghanistan's Nangarhar Province.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Saidu Baba</span>

Akhūnd Abdul Ghaffūr, commonly known as Saidū Bābā or the Akhund of Swat, was a prominent religious saint or priest, and Emir of the former Yusufzai State of Swat.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kabul Expedition (1842)</span> Punitive campaign, British v. Afghanistan

The Battle of Kabul was part of a punitive campaign undertaken by the British against the Afghans following the disastrous retreat from Kabul. Two British and East India Company armies advanced on the Afghan capital from Kandahar and Jalalabad to avenge the complete annihilation of a small military column in January 1842. Having recovered prisoners captured during the retreat, the British demolished parts of Kabul before withdrawing to India. The action was the concluding engagement to the First Anglo-Afghan War.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sikhism in Pakistan</span> Overview of the role and impact of Sikhism in Pakistan

Sikhism in Pakistan has an extensive heritage and history, although Sikhs form a small community in Pakistan today. Most Sikhs live in the province of Punjab, a part of the larger Punjab region where the religion originated in the Middle Ages, with some also residing in Peshawar in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak Sahib Ji, the founder of Sikhism, is located in Pakistan's Punjab province. Moreover, the place where Guru Nanak Dev died, the Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib is also located in the same province.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hari Singh Nalwa</span> General of the Sikh Empire (1791–1837)

Hari Singh Nalwa (1791–1837) was Commander-in-chief of the Sikh Khalsa Fauj, the army of the Sikh Empire. He is known for his role in the conquests of Kasur, Sialkot, Attock, Multan, Kashmir, Peshawar and Jamrud. Hari Singh Nalwa was responsible for expanding the frontier of Sikh Empire to beyond the Indus River right up to the mouth of the Khyber Pass. At the time of his death, the western boundary of the empire was Jamrud.

Henry Lawrence's "Young Men", also known as "the Paladins of the Punjaub", were a group of East India Company officers sent to act as "advisers" to the Sikhs after the First Sikh War in 1846. In the words of George Lawrence, his duties were "to act as a friendly adviser to the native officials". They served under the command of Sir Henry Lawrence, initially the Agent to the Governor General and later also the Resident at Lahore.

The Peshawar Valley Field Force was a British field force. It was the largest of three military columns created in November 1878 at the start of the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-1880), each of which invaded Afghanistan by a different route. The Peshawar force initially consisted of around 16,000 men, a mix of both British and Indian Army regiments, under the command of Lieutenant General Sir Samuel J. Browne.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Nowshera</span> 1823 Sikh–Afghan battle

The Battle of Nowshera was fought in Nowshera in March 1823 between the Yusufzai Afghans, supported by the Peshawar sardars, alongside Azim Khan Barakzai, the Afghan governor of Peshawar, where they would face the Sikh armies led by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Azim Khan was a half-brother of Dost Mohammad Khan, founder of the Barakzai dynasty. The battle was a victory for the Sikhs, successfully defeating the Peshawar Sardars. This victory allowed them to begin to their occupation of the Peshawar Valley.

This article details events occurring in the year 1839 in India. Major events include the reduction of the Khanate of Kalat to a subsidiary ally of the British, and the capture of Aden in Yemen by the East India Company, creating an important stopover for voyages between Europe and India.

<i>Koh-i-Noor: The History of the Worlds Most Infamous Diamond</i>

Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World's Most Infamous Diamond is a 2017 book on the Koh-i-Noor diamond written by William Dalrymple and Anita Anand. The gem is one of the largest cut diamonds in the world, weighing 105.6 carats (21.12 g), and part of the British Crown Jewels. Koh-i-Noor is Persian for "Mountain of Light"; it has been known by this name since the 18th century. It changed hands between various factions in modern-day India, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, until being ceded to Queen Victoria after the Second Anglo-Sikh War, which resulted in the Punjab region falling under Company rule in 1849.


  1. Buckland, C.E., Dictionary of Indian Biography. London, 1906
  2. George Bellas GREENOUGH, Address to the Royal Geographical Society of London delivered at the Anniversary meeting on the 27th May, 1840. By G. B. G., President, 1840, page 15
  3. Earl Frederick Sleigh Roberts Roberts, Forty-one Years in India: From Subaltern to Commander-in-chief, Asian Educational Services, 1897, page 14
  4. Charles Allen, Soldier Sahibs: The Men Who Made the North-West Frontier, Hachette UK, 21 June 2012
  5. Buckland, C.E., Dictionary of Indian Biography. London, 1906
  6. Charles Allen, Soldier Sahibs: The Men Who Made the North-West Frontier, Hachette UK, 21 June 2012
  7. R. Bosworth Smith's Life of Lord Lawrence, i. 412-13
  8. Leavitt, Trow, & Company, 1853, The Eclectic Magazine of Foreign Literature, Science, and Art, Volume 28, University of Iowa,p.15
  9. William Dalrymple, Anita Anand, William Dalrymple, Anita Anand, Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 12 September 2017
  10. William Dalrymple, Anita Anand, William Dalrymple, Anita Anand, Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 12 September 2017
  11. Jules Stewart, The Savage Border: The Story of the North-West Frontier, The History Press, 22 February 2007
  12. Jules Stewart, The Savage Border: The Story of the North-West Frontier, The History Press, 22 February 2007
  13. Jules Stewart, The Savage Border: The Story of the North-West Frontier, The History Press, 22 February 2007
  14. Jules Stewart, Khyber Rifles, The History Press, 22 June 2006
  15. Tejwant Singh, The Bold Brave and Fearless, Trafford Publishing, 2003, page 155
  16. Earl Frederick Sleigh Roberts Roberts, Forty-one Years in India: From Subaltern to Commander-in-chief, Asian Educational Services, 1897, page 15
  17. Earl Frederick Sleigh Roberts Roberts, Forty-one Years in India: From Subaltern to Commander-in-chief, Asian Educational Services, 1897, page 15
  18. Earl Frederick Sleigh Roberts Roberts, Forty-one Years in India: From Subaltern to Commander-in-chief, Asian Educational Services, 1897, page 15
  19. Jules Stewart, Khyber Rifles, The History Press, 22 June 2006
  20. Charles Allen, Soldier Sahibs: The Men Who Made the North-West Frontier, Hachette UK, 21 June 2012