William Jervois

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Sir William Jervois

William Jervois.jpg
Sir William Jervois, circa 1880
10th Governor of the Straits Settlements
In office
8 May 1875 3 April 1877
Preceded by Andrew Clarke
Succeeded bySir William Cleaver Francis Robinson
10th Governor of South Australia
In office
2 October 1877 9 January 1883
Monarch Queen Victoria
Premier James Boucaut (1877–78)
William Morgan (1878–81)
John Cox Bray (1881–83)
Preceded bySir Anthony Musgrave
Succeeded bySir William Cleaver Francis Robinson
10th Governor of New Zealand
In office
20 January 1883 23 March 1889
Premier Frederick Whitaker
Harry Atkinson
Robert Stout
Preceded by The Baron Stanmore
Succeeded by The Earl of Onslow
Personal details
Born(1821-09-10)10 September 1821
Cowes, Isle of Wight
Died17 August 1897(1897-08-17) (aged 75)
Hampshire, England
Civilian awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George
Military service
AllegianceFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Branch/service British Army
Years of service1839–c.1882
Rank Lieutenant General
Battles/wars Seventh Xhosa War
Military awards Companion of the Order of the Bath

Lieutenant General Sir William Francis Drummond Jervois GCMG CB FRS (10 September 1821 – 17 August 1897) was a British military engineer and diplomat. After joining the British Army in 1839, he saw service, as a second captain, in South Africa. In 1858, as a major, he was appointed Secretary of a Royal Commission set up to examine the state and efficiency of British land-based fortifications against naval attack; and this led to further work in Canada and South Australia. From 1875 to 1888 he was, consecutively, Governor of the Straits Settlements, Governor of South Australia and Governor-General of New Zealand.

Lieutenant general, formerly more commonly lieutenant-general, is a senior rank in the British Army and the Royal Marines. It is the equivalent of a multinational three-star rank; some British lieutenant generals sometimes wear three-star insignia, in addition to their standard insignia, when on multinational operations.

Fellow of the Royal Society Elected Fellow of the Royal Society, including Honorary, Foreign and Royal Fellows

Fellowship of the Royal Society is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of London judges to have made a 'substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science, and medical science'.

Captain (Capt) is a junior officer rank of the British Army and Royal Marines and in both services it ranks above lieutenant and below major with a NATO ranking code of OF-2. The rank is equivalent to a lieutenant in the Royal Navy and to a flight lieutenant in the Royal Air Force. The rank of captain in the Royal Navy is considerably more senior and the two ranks should not be confused.


Early life

Born on 10 September 1821 in Cowes in the Isle of Wight, Jervois was the son of General William Jervois (pronounced "Jarvis"), [1] and his wife Elizabeth Jervois née Maitland. Belonging to a military family of Huguenot descent, he was educated at Dr. Burney's Academy, Gosport, before entering the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. [2]

Cowes town on the Isle of Wight, England

Cowes is an English seaport town and civil parish on the Isle of Wight. Cowes is located on the west bank of the estuary of the River Medina, facing the smaller town of East Cowes on the east bank. The two towns are linked by the Cowes Floating Bridge, a chain ferry.

Isle of Wight County and island of England

The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest and second-most populous island in England. It is in the English Channel, between 2 and 5 miles off the coast of Hampshire, separated by the Solent. The island has resorts that have been holiday destinations since Victorian times, and is known for its mild climate, coastal scenery, and verdant landscape of fields, downland and chines.

General William Jervois KH was Commander and Lieutenant Governor of Hong Kong. Jervois Street in Hong Kong was named after him.

Military service

Upon graduating from Woolwich, Jervois was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Royal Engineers in March 1839. From then until 1841, Jervois was trained at the School of Military Engineering at Chatham. [3] In 1842, having been promoted to lieutenant the year before, Jervois was sent to South Africa where he served as a brigade major. [4] As a second captain he saw service in the 7th Xhosa War, 1846–1847 during which he drew military sketches of British Kaffraria (now part of the Eastern Cape Province) in South Africa. [4]

Second lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces, comparable to NATO OF-1a rank.

Royal Engineers corps of the British Army

The Corps of Royal Engineers, usually just called the Royal Engineers (RE), and commonly known as the Sappers, is one of the corps of the British Army.

South Africa Republic in the southernmost part of Africa

South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini (Swaziland); and it surrounds the enclaved country of Lesotho. South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and, with over 57 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Bantu ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of Whites, Asian (Indian), and multiracial (Coloured) ancestry.

Returning to Britain in 1848, he commanded a company of Sappers and Miners at Woolwich and then in June 1849 was ordered to Alderney with instructions to manage the construction of substantial fortifications. [5] Following a visit by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to inspect the progress of the fortifications in 1854, [5] :272 he was promoted to the rank of major. [4] Having been refused permission to go to the Crimea he returned to London in January 1855, he became the Commanding Royal Engineer (Major) for the London District and Assistant Inspector-General of Fortifications in April the following year. [6] [7] Jervois became Secretary of a Royal Commission set up on 20 August 1859 to examine the state and efficiency of British land-based fortifications against naval attack. [8] It was specifically tasked to consider Portsmouth, Spithead, the Isle of Wight, Plymouth, Portland, Pembroke Dock, Dover, Chatham and the Medway. [8] The commission's report was published on 7 February 1860. Amongst other things, it proposed several options for a ring of defences around London, none of which were adopted, although elements were used in the later London Defence Scheme. [8] Jervois went on to oversee the design of the resulting fortifications that became known as the Palmerston Forts. [9]

Alderney Channel Island, part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey

Alderney is the northernmost of the inhabited Channel Islands. It is part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, a British Crown dependency. It is 3 miles (5 km) long and 1 12 miles (2.4 km) wide. The area is 3 square miles (8 km2), making it the third-largest island of the Channel Islands, and the second largest in the Bailiwick. It is around 10 miles (15 km) from the west of La Hague on the Cotentin Peninsula, Normandy, in France, 20 miles (30 km) from the north-east of Guernsey and 60 miles (100 km) from the south coast of Great Britain. It is the closest of the Channel Islands to the United Kingdom. It is separated from Cap de la Hague by the dangerous Alderney Race.

Fortifications of Alderney

Apart from a Roman Fort, there were very few fortifications in Alderney until the mid 19th century. These were then modified and updated in the mid 20th Century by Germans during the occupation period. Alderney at 8 km2 is now one of the most fortified places in the world.

Queen Victoria British monarch who reigned 1837–1901

Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. On 1 May 1876, she adopted the additional title of Empress of India.

Promotion to lieutenant colonel came in 1861, [4] and in 1864 and 1865, he was sent to Canada to review its fortifications and at the conclusion of his inspection he submitted what became a politically controversial report that stated that the Great Lakes and Upper Canada were not defensible. He then lectured about iron fortifications, and inspected and provided advice regarding the defences of various British colonies including Gibraltar and the Andaman Islands. [1] He was promoted to colonel in 1867. [4] In 1871 he was sent to India; [10] [11] and then worked on the defences of Cork harbour, which were completed in 1874. [4]

Lieutenant colonel (pronounced Lef-ten-ent Kernel or Loo-ten-ent Kernel ) is a rank of commissioned officer in the armies, most marine forces and some air forces of the world, above a major and below a colonel. The rank of lieutenant colonel is often shortened to simply "colonel" in conversation and in unofficial correspondence. Sometimes, the term, 'half-colonel' is used in casual conversation in the British Army. A lieutenant colonel is typically in charge of a battalion or regiment in the army.

Canada Country in North America

Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Canada's southern border with the United States, stretching some 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border. Its capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. As a whole, Canada is sparsely populated, the majority of its land area being dominated by forest and tundra. Consequently, its population is highly urbanized, with over 80 percent of its inhabitants concentrated in large and medium-sized cities, with 70% of citizens residing within 100 kilometres (62 mi) of the southern border. Canada's climate varies widely across its vast area, ranging from arctic weather in the north, to hot summers in the southern regions, with four distinct seasons.

Great Lakes System of interconnected, large lakes in North America

The Great Lakes, also called the Laurentian Great Lakes and the Great Lakes of North America, are a series of interconnected freshwater lakes primarily in the upper mid-east region of North America, on the Canada–United States border, which connect to the Atlantic Ocean through the Saint Lawrence River. They consist of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario. Hydrologically, there are only four lakes, because Lakes Michigan and Huron join at the Straits of Mackinac. The lakes form the Great Lakes Waterway.

Following the withdrawal of British garrison troops from Australia in 1870, Jervois and Lieutenant Colonel Peter Scratchley were commissioned by a group of colonies to advise on defence matters. They inspected each colony's defences and produced the Jervois-Scratchley reports of 1877 and 1878. [12] These emphasised the importance of shore-based fortifications to defend against naval attack and also led to the establishment of local infantry and artillery units. In the 1880s many of the reports' recommendations were implemented by the various colonial governments and they went on to form the basis of defence planning in Australia and New Zealand until Federation. [13] [14] Jervois was raised to the rank of major general in 1877; he received a final promotion to lieutenant general in 1882. [4]

Peter Scratchley british Army officer

Major General Sir Peter Henry Scratchley was special commissioner for Great Britain in New Guinea 1884–1885 and defence adviser for Australia.

Colonial forces of Australia

Until Australia became a Federation in 1901, each of the six colonial governments was responsible for the defence of their own colony. From 1788 until 1870 this was done with British regular forces. In all, 24 British infantry regiments served in the Australian colonies. Each of the Australian colonies gained responsible government between 1855 and 1890, and while the Colonial Office in London retained control of some affairs, and the colonies were still firmly within the British Empire, the Governors of the Australian colonies were required to raise their own colonial militia. To do this, the colonial Governors had the authority from the British crown to raise military and naval forces. Initially these were militias in support of British regulars, but British military support for the colonies ended in 1870, and the colonies assumed their own defence. The separate colonies maintained control over their respective militia forces and navies until 1 March 1901, when the colonial forces were all amalgamated into the Commonwealth Forces following the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia. Colonial forces, including home raised units, saw action in many of the conflicts of the British Empire during the 19th century. Members from British regiments stationed in Australia saw action in India, Afghanistan, the Maori Wars of New Zealand, the Sudan conflict, and the Boer War in South Africa.

Jervois-Scratchley reports

The Jervois-Scratchley reports of 1877 concerned the defences of the Australian colonies, and influenced defence policy into the twentieth century.

Diplomatic career

Governor of the Straits Settlements

In April 1875, Jervois was appointed the Governor of the Straits Settlements, a British dependency which included Penang, Malacca and Singapore. He took office in Singapore on 8 May 1875, and served until 3 April 1877. [15] Decisions he made during his tenure cemented Britain's foothold on the Malay peninsula; he was instrumental in the formation of a local militia and the quelling of a Malay uprising. Although distrustful of Malays, he was sympathetic to the Chinese and would later bolster public support for oriental immigration during his time as Governor of South Australia. [1]

Governor of South Australia

During an 1877 inspection of Australian maritime defences, Jervois was appointed Governor of South Australia. He was given notice of his "promotion" while in Melbourne in June, although the true reason for his reassignment was that the Colonial Office disliked his interference on the Malay mainland. Jervois arrived in South Australia on HMS Sapphire on 2 October 1877. [1]

Jervois arrived in the colony during a time of political crisis. Later in October, the Colton Ministry resigned over a disagreement with the Legislative Council about the new Parliamentary buildings. Jervois resisted the pressure to dissolve parliament, and James Boucaut became Premier. Jervois' term also coincided with unusually good rainfall and a massive agricultural expansion. He laid the foundation stones of the University of Adelaide, the Institute and the Art Gallery, and commissioned a new vice-regal summer residence at Marble Hill. [1]

Governor of New Zealand

Jervois then served as Governor of New Zealand from 1883 to 1888. [15] [16] In this role, Jervois provided advice on harbour defence, guided the colonial government on Imperial matters, was active in the country's social life, and worked to promote equality. He officiated at the opening of Auckland University College in 1883, declaring that it would be accessible to all New Zealanders, and recognised the service of nurses in the Zululand conflict, awarding a Royal Red Cross to a New Zealand woman for the first time. He also engaged with the Maori leadership. He also served as president of the New Zealand Institute and patronised many sporting institutions, including the New Zealand Amateur Rowing Association. [3] [4]

Later life

At the conclusion of his term as governor-general in New Zealand, Jervois returned to England in 1889. [1] The following year, he was appointed to serve on the Stanhope Commission, which again reviewed the state of Britain's fortifications. [4] He returned to New Zealand briefly in 1892, [3] before being appointed the colonel commandant of the Royal Engineers the following year. [1] His wife, Lucy, with whom he had had three daughters and two sons since their marriage in 1850, died in 1895. [3] Jervois died on 17 August 1897, at the age of 75, as a result of injuries sustained in a carriage accident and was buried at Virginia Water, Surrey. [1]


Jervois received numerous honours for his military and diplomatic service. He was invested Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1863, Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1874, [1] and Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1888. [17] He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1888. [18] Several streets were also named after him, including: Jervois Quay in Wellington, [3] and Jervois Close and Jervois Road in Singapore. [19] In Australia, a bridge in Adelaide, a mine and Jervois, a locality on the Murray River in South Australia were named for him. [1] [20]

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Winks, Robin. "Jervois, Sir William Francis Drummond (1821–1897)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
  2. "Jervois, Sir William Francis Drummond". Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. University of Toronto/Université Laval. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 McGibbon, Ian. "Jervois, William Francis Drummond (1821–1897)". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "William Francis Drummond Jervois". "UBIQUE". Retrieved 13 November 2010.
  5. 1 2 Watson, Colonel Sir Charles (1914). History of the Corps of Royal Engineers Vol II. Chatham: The Institution of Royal Engineers.
  6. Crick 2012, p. XVIII.
  7. Watson 1954, p. 273.
  8. 1 2 3 Porter 1977 , pp. 217–220
  9. Watson 1954, p. 274.
  10. Crick 2012, p. XIV.
  11. Crick 2012, p. 2.
  12. Watson 1954 , pp. 360–362
  13. Grey 2008, pp. 44–45.
  14. Dennis et al 1995, pp. 325–326.
  15. 1 2 Porter 1977 , p. 310
  16. Watson 1954 , p. 231
  17. "Lieut.-Gen. Sir William F. D. Jervois, G.C.M.G., C.B., F.R.S." The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 75. New Zealand Electronic Text Collection. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  18. "Library and Archive catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 6 March 2012.
  19. Savage & Yeoh 2003, p. 202.
  20. "Placename Details: Jervois". Government of South Australia, Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure. 4 March 2010. SA0009678. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
Government offices
Preceded by
Andrew Clarke
Governor of the Straits Settlements
Succeeded by
Sir William Robinson
Preceded by
Sir Anthony Musgrave
Governor of South Australia
Succeeded by
Sir William Robinson
Preceded by
The Lord Stanmore
Governor of New Zealand
Succeeded by
The Earl of Onslow