Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Taylor, Reynell George

658248Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 55 — Taylor, Reynell George1898Ernest Gambier-Parry

TAYLOR, REYNELL GEORGE (1822–1886), general of the Indian army, was the youngest son of Thomas William Taylor of Ogwell, Devonshire, who served with the 10th hussars at Waterloo. Taylor was born at Brighton on 25 Jan. 1822. From Sandhurst, where his father was lieutenant-governor, he was gazetted cornet in the Indian cavalry on 26 Feb. 1840. He first saw service with the 11th light cavalry in the Gwalior campaign of 1843, and at the close of the war was appointed to the bodyguard. In the first Sikh war he was severely wounded in the cavalry charge at Moodkee, 18 Dec. 1845, and on his recovery was transferred from the army to the desk as assistant to the agent at Ajmir. Thence, in 1847, he was sent to Lahore, and became one of that famous body of men who worked under Henry Lawrence, and subsequently John Lawrence, in the Punjab. The same year, and when only twenty-five years of age, he was left, at a critical period, hakim-i-wukt (ruler) of Peshawur, in charge of ten thousand Sikh troops and the whole district. His firmness and the justice of his decisions in criminal cases earned him the love of the people, insured perfect discipline, and gained the praise of his superiors. When it was decided to occupy the province of Bunnoo, Taylor organised the column proceeding from Peshawur, and led four thousand men in safety through the Kohat Pass (November and December 1847). The outbreak of the second Sikh war found Taylor in charge of Bunnoo. On hearing of the murders of Patrick Alexander Vans Agnew [q. v.] and W. A. Anderson at Mooltan on 20 April 1848, he at once despatched all his most trustworthy troops to the assistance of Sir Herbert Benjamin Edwardes [q. v.], and remained alone at his post. In July he was ordered to proceed to Mooltan, then being besieged, and thence he set out as a volunteer to rescue the English captives at Peshawur. His efforts being frustrated by treachery, he endeavoured to help Herbert, who was besieged at Attock. With this end in view, he gathered an irregular force of 1,021 foot, 650 horse, and three crazy guns, and laid siege to the fort of Lukkee, the key to the Derajat, on 11 Dec. 1848. Though far removed from all possibility of support, and unaided by a single fellow-countryman, he reduced the fort on 11 Jan. 1849. For his services he was promoted captain on 15 Dec. 1851, and major the next day.

In 1855, after a prolonged visit to England, he was appointed commandant of the guide corps. During the mutiny he was in charge of the Kangra district, and in 1859 he was appointed commissioner of the Derajat. He was promoted lieutenant-colonel on 21 Dec. 1859, and in 1860 he took part, as chief political officer, in the Waziri expedition. Before retiring from the Derajat, in order to become commissioner of Peshawur in the spring of 1862, he induced the Church Missionary Society to establish a station in the district at considerable cost to himself. In 1863 he served throughout the Umbeylah war, was gazetted colonel on 3 April 1863, and C.E. the following month; but it was not until June 1866 that he was granted the order of the Star of India. After a short visit to England in 1865 he returned for the last time to India, to become commissioner of the Umballah division, and in 1870 of the Umritsur division. He retired in 1877 as major-general, becoming lieutenant-general that year, and general on 15 Dec. 1880. He died at Newton Abbot on 28 Feb. 1886. His bravery in the field had won him the title of ‘the Bayard of the Punjab;’ the natives called him always their ferishta (good angel), and his charity had made him a poor man. On 11 Dec. 1854 he married Ann, daughter of Arthur Holdsworth of Widdicombe, Devonshire. She survived him with a numerous family.

[Gambier-Parry's Reynell Taylor.]

E. G.-P.