Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Collett, Henry

COLLETT, Sir HENRY (1836–1901) colonel Indian staff corps, born on 6 March 1836 at Thetford, Norfolk, was fourth son of the Rev. W. Collett, incumbent of St Mary's, Thetford, Norfolk, by his second wife. Ellen Clarke, daughter of Leonard Shelford Bidwell of Thetford. Educated at Tonbridge school and at Addiscombe, he entered the Bengal army on 8 June 1855, and joined the 51st Bengal native infantry on 6 Aug. 1855 at Peshawar. He served with the expeditions under Sir Sydney Cotton [q. v.] on the Eusofzai frontier in 1858, being present at the affairs of Chingli and Sittana and receiving the medal with clasp. He next saw service in Oude during the campaign of the Indian Mutiny there, 1858-9, and was at the storm and capture of the fort of Rampur Russia by Sir Edward Robert Wetherall [q. v.] on 3 Nov. 1858, for which he received the medal. During the rebellion of 1862-3 in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, Assam, he was present at the storm and capture of Oomkoi, Nungarai and at Oomkrong, where he was severely wounded in the ankle. He was mentioned in despatches. Promoted captain in 1867, he served in the Abyssinian campaign of 1868, was again mentioned in despatches (Lond. Gaz. 30 June and 10 July 1868), and received the medal. He became major in 1875 and lieutenant-colonel in 1879. In the Afghan war of 1878-80 he acted as quartermaster-general on the staff of Sir Frederick (afterwards Lord) Roberts, and was present at the capture of the Peiwar Kotal, in the operations in Khost Valley and round Kabul in Dec. 1879. Subsequently he accompanied General Roberts on the march from Kabul to Kandahar (Aug. 1880) and commanded the 23rd pioneers at the battle of Kandahar on 1 Sept. 1880. In the course of these operations he was further mentioned in despatches and was made C.B. on 22 Feb. 1881 and received the medal with three clasps and the bronze decoration (Lond. Gaz. 4 Feb. 1879, 4 May, 30 July, and 3 Dec. 1880). He was promoted colonel in 1884. During 1886-8 he was in command of the 3rd brigade in the expedition to Burma. He took part in the Karenni expedition in 1888 and commanded the eastern frontier district during the Chin Lushai expedition in 1889-90, receiving for his services the thanks of the government of India (Lond. Gaz. 2 Sept. 1887, 15 Nov. 1889, 12 Sept. 1890).

In 1891 he played a prominent part in the expedition to Manipur [see Quinton, James Wallace], and was left in command when the rebellion of the Manipuris was suppressed, acting there temporarily as chief commissioner of Assam and showing much resolution. He received the thanks of the government of India (Lond. Gaz. 14 Aug. 1891) and was promoted K.C.B. on 19 Nov. 1891. From 1892-3 he commanded the Peshawar district with the rank of major-general. He was given the reward for distinguished service and was placed by his own wish on the unemployed list on 8 June 1893. His military reputation stood at the time very high, but increasing deafness unfitted him in his opinion for active duty.

Collett was a keen student of botany. He first became interested in this subject in 1878 during the Kuram Valley expedition at the opening of the Afghan war. He published the results of his botanical work in the southern Shan States, Burma, in the 'Journal of the Linnean Society' (Botany, xxviii. 1-150). He was an original member of the Simla Naturalists' Society. After his retirement he worked assiduously at Kew, and at Ms death was preparing a handbook of the flora of Simla, which appeared posthumously, edited by W. B. Hemsley, F.R.S., as 'Flora Simlensis' (Calcutta and Simla, 1902). He died, unmarried, at his residence, 21 Cranley Gardens, South Kensington, on 21 Dec. 1901, and was buried in Charlton cemetery, Blackheath. His herbarium was presented by his family to Kew.

[Memoir by Sir W. T. Thiselton-Dyer prefixed to Flora Simlensis, 1902; Dod's Knightage; The Times, 24 Dec. 1901; Hart's and Official Army Lists; Official Account of the Second Afghan War, 1908; Lord Roberts, Forty-one Years in India, 30th edit. 1898; Sir James Willcocks, From Kabul to Kumassi, 1904, p. 120 seq.; Parl. Papers, C. 6353 and 392, correspondence relating to Manipur, 1891; E. St. C. Grimwood, My Three Years in Manipur, 1891, p. 315; private information.]

H. M. V.