Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Boswell, John James

BOSWELL, JOHN JAMES (1835–1908), major-general, son of Dr. John James Boswell of the East India Company's Bengal medical service by his wife Anna Mary, daughter of Andrew Moffat Wellwood, was born at Edinburgh on 27 Sept. 1835. He was educated at the West Academy, Jedburgh, and at the Academy, Edinburgh. Boswell entered the Bengal army as ensign on 10 Aug. 1852, and becoming lieutenant on 23 Nov. 1856, joined the 3rd Punjab infantry on field service in the Meeranzai Valley in Dec. 1856. In June 1857, on the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny, he proceeded in command of a detachment of the 3rd and 6th Punjab infantry to join the movable column under John Nicholson [q. v.] at Amritsar. Accompanying the column on its forced march of forty-four miles to Gurdaspore, he commanded the native infantry in the actions with Sialkot mutineers on 12 and 16 July at Trimmu Ghat, and for his service there he received the medal. With his regiment he joined General Sir Sydney John Cotton's field force in 1858 in the expedition to Sittana over the Eusofzai border in the north-west to root out a colony of fanatics and rebel sepoys, Promoted captain on 10 Aug. 1864, he took part in the Hazara campaign of 1868, and was engaged with Colonel Keyes's force against the Bezotis in Feb. 1869, receiving the North-West frontier medal with clasp. He became major on 10 Aug. 1872, and lieut.-colonel on 10 Aug. 1878. Boswell attended the Delhi durbar (1 Jan. 1877), when Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India, and received the Kaiser-i-Hind medal. Throughout the Afghan war of 1878-80 he commanded the 2nd Sikh infantry, and was present in the battle of Ahmed Khel (19 April 1880), being mentioned in despatches. He was also at the engagement at Ursu near Ghazni (23 April) under Sir Donald Stewart [q. v. Suppl. I]. Subsequently he accompanied Sir Frederick (afterwards Lord) Roberts on the march to Kandahar and was present at the battle of Kandahar, being mentioned in despatches and receiving the medal with two clasps and bronze decoration. He was made C.B. on 28 Feb. 1881, and colonel on 10 Aug. 1882. He retired as honorary major-general, 1 May 1885, and was appointed J.P. for Roxburghshire. He died at Darnlee, Melrose, on 9 Oct. 1908, and was buried at Greyfriars, Edinburgh. He married in 1860 Esther, daughter of John Elliot, solicitor, Jedburgh. She survived him without issue.

[The Times, 19 Oct. 1908 ; Hart's Army List; H. B. Hanna, The Second Afghan War, 1910, vol. iii. ; Sydney John Cotton's Nine Years on the North- West Frontier, 1868 ; private information.]

H. M. V.