Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Lindsay, James Gavin

LINDSAY, JAMES GAVIN (1835–1903), colonel R.E., born on 21 Oct. 1835, was younger son of Colonel Martin Lindsay, C.B. of Dowhill, CO. Londonderry, who commanded the 78th highlanders.

Educated at Addiscombe from 1862 to 1854, he obtained a commission in the Madras engineers, becoming second lieutenant on 9 Dec. 1854 and lieutenant on 27 April 1858. He served in the Indian Mutiny campaign in 1858 under Sir George Whitlock, and was present at the affairs of Jheejung and Kabrai, the battle of Banda, and the relief of Kirwi. He was in the reserve at the storming of the heights of Punwarree and received the medal and clasp. He was made second captain on 29 June 1863. Subsequently he entered the railway department as deputy consulting engineer, and in April 1870 he was appointed executive engineer of the first grade for the railway survey of Mysore. In 1872 he undertook as engineer-in-chief the construction of the Northern Bengal railway. His administrative capacity was seen to advantage during the Bengal famine of 1873-4, when he employed on public works large numbers who were out of work owing to the failure of the crops. He was promoted captain on 30 July 1871 ; major on 6 July 1872 ; lieut.-colonel on 31 Dec. 1878 ; and colonel on 31 Dec. 1882. During the second Afghan war in 1870-1880 he showed his organising power by building for military purposes the Sokkor-Sibi railway, of which he was engineer-in-chief. It was constructed in three months and opened for traffic on 27 Jan. 1880. He also started the Hamai and Gulistan-Karez sections of the Kandahar railway. Afterwards he took part in the march from Quetta to the relief of Kandahar with the force under Major-general Sir Robert Phayre [q. v. Suppl. I] and in the destruction of the towers of Abu Saiad Khan's fort (cf. Lond. Gaz. 25 Jan. 1881). He again received the medal.

Returning from the frontier at the close of the war, he became chief engineer of the Southern Mahratta railway in 1881, and by exercise of his great organising powers and by his gift of obtaining the devoted services of his staff he finished the railway in 1891. The line proved of great service in ameliorating distress during the subsequent famines. Meanwhile in 1885, when Russian intrigues had caused unrest on the north-west frontier, he as engineer-in-chief made arrangements for carrying out the railroad from Sibi up the Bolan towards Quetta. Incapacitated by breaking his arm, he retired from the service in 1891 before the completion of this line. On returning home he became deputy chairman of the Southern Mahratta railway and in 1896 chairman.

Lindsay, an able and trusted officer, was a leader of railway work in India, his name being identified with the establishment of the North Bengal State railway, the Southern Mahratta, the Ruk-Sibi and Bolan railways. His influence over those who worked with him enabled him to carry out fine work rapidly. He died on board the P. & O. steamship Caledonia near Aden on 19 Dec. 1903 on his way to Bombay, where he had intended to visit railway works with which he was associated. He was twice married, but left no issue. Both his wives predeceased him.

[Royal Engineers Journal, Feb. 1904; Engineer, 1 Jan. 1904; The Times, 23 Dec. 1903; Official and Hart's Army Lists; H. B. Hanna's Second Afghan War, vol. iii. 1910.]

H. M. V.