Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Staveley, Charles William Dunbar

STAVELEY, Sir CHARLES WILLIAM DUNBAR (1817–1896), general, was the eldest son of Lieutenant-general William Staveley [q. v.], by Sarah, daughter of Thomas Mather. He was born at Boulogne on 18 Dec. 1817, was educated at the Scottish military and naval academy, Edinburgh, and was commissioned as second lieutenant in the 87th (royal Irish fusiliers) on 6 March 1835. He became lieutenant on 4 Oct. 1839, and captain on 6 Sept. 1844. From July 1840 till June 1843 he was aide-de-camp to the governor of Mauritius, where his regiment was stationed, and where his father was acting-governor for part of the time. On his return home he was quartered at Glasgow, and saved a boy from drowning in the Clyde at imminent risk of his own life, as he was not fully recovered from a severe attack of measles.

He exchanged to the 18th foot on 31 Jan. 1845, and to the 44th on 9 May. From 15 June to 11 May 1847 he was aide-de-camp to the governor-general of British North America. An admirable draughtsman, his sketches proved very useful during the settlement of the Oregon boundary question in 1846. He was assistant military secretary at Hongkong, where his father was in command, from 20 March 1848 to 27 Feb. 1851.

He had become major in the 44th on 7 Dec. 1850, and went with it to Turkey in 1854. When the regiment embarked for the Crimea he was to have been left behind on account of illness, but he hid himself on board till the vessel sailed. He was present at Alma and at Balaclava, where he acted as aide-de-camp to the Duke of Cambridge. On 12 Dec. 1854 he became lieutenant-colonel in his regiment. The 44th belonged to Sir William Eyre's brigade of the third division, and took part in the attempt on the dockyard creek on 18 June 1855, and in the capture of the cemetery—the sole success achieved. Staveley was mentioned in despatches (London Gazette, 4 July) and was made C.B. He also received the Crimean medal with three clasps, the Sardinian and Turkish medals, and the Medjidie (fifth class).

He commanded the regiment from 30 June 1855. It returned to England in July 1856, embarked for Madras in August 1857, and went on to China in March 1860. He had become colonel in the army on 9 March 1858, and on 28 April 1860 he was made brigadier-general, and was given command of a brigade in Michel's division during the Anglo-French expedition to Peking. He was present at the capture of the Taku forts, was mentioned in despatches (ib. 4 Nov. 1860), and received the medal with clasp. On 18 Jan. 1861 he was given one of the rewards for distinguished service.

He was left in command of the British troops remaining in China in 1862. The Taeping insurrection was then in full career. The rebels had broken their promise not to come within thirty miles of Shanghai, and were threatening that city itself. In April Staveley marched against them with a force of about two thousand men, of which about one-third consisted of French and English seamen and marines. He shelled them out of their entrenched camp at Wongkadze, and stormed Tsipu, Kahding, Tsingpu, Nanjao, and Cholin in the course of April and May. But the Chinese imperial troops were unable to hold all the towns recovered, and he had to withdraw the British garrison from Kahding (ib. 18 July and 5 Aug. 1862). In the autumn Kahding and Tsingpu were again taken, and the thirty-mile radius cleared of the rebels.

In December he was asked by Li Hung Chang to name a British officer to replace the American Burgevine as commander of the disciplined Chinese force which had been formed by Frederick Townsend Ward. Staveley named Charles George Gordon [q. v.], who had been chief engineer under him in the recent operations, and had surveyed all the country round Shanghai. They had served together before Sebastopol, and Staveley's sister was the wife of Gordon's brother. The appointment had to be approved from England, and was not taken up till the end of March 1863. At that time ill-health obliged Staveley to resign his command and go home.

In March 1865 he was made K.C.B. and was appointed to the command of the first division of the Bombay army. On 25 Sept. 1867 he was promoted major-general, and in November, by Sir Robert Napier's desire, he was given command of the first division of the force sent to Abyssinia. He showed his energy to good purpose in the organisation of the base at Annesley Bay, and he conducted the fight on the Arogye plain, which immediately preceded the capture of Magdala. Napier said in his despatch that Staveley had afforded him most valuable support and assistance throughout the campaign (ib. 16 and 30 June 1868). He received the thanks of parliament and the medal.

Staveley commanded the troops in the western district for five years from 1 Jan. 1869, and in the autumn manœuvres of 1871 round Aldershot one of the three divisions was under him. He was commander-in-chief at Bombay from 7 Oct. 1874 to 7 Oct. 1878, with the local rank of lieutenant-general, which became his substantive rank on 29 April 1875. On 1 Oct. 1877 he became general. He was given the colonelcy of the 36th foot on 2 Feb. 1876, and transferred to his old regiment, the 44th (which had become the first battalion of the Essex regiment), on 25 July 1883. He received the G.C.B. on 24 May 1884. He had been placed on the retired list on 8 Oct. in the previous year.

He died at Aban Court, Cheltenham, on 23 Nov. 1896, and was buried at Brompton cemetery on the 27th. In 1864 he married Susan Millicent, daughter of Charles William Minet of Baldwyns, Kent. She survived him with several children.

[Times, 24 Nov. 1896; Carter's Historical Record of 44th Regt.; Royal Engineers' Papers, new ser. xix. 109; Boulger's Life of Gordon; Markham's History of the Abyssinian Expedition.]

E. M. L.