Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Sanford, George Edward Langham Somerset

SANFORD, GEORGE EDWARD LANGHAM SOMERSET (1840–1901), lieut.-general, born on 19 June 1840, was son of George Charles Sanford.

After education at the Royal Military College, Woolwich, he entered the royal engineers as lieutenant on 18 Oct. 1856, when little over sixteen. As a subaltern he saw much service in China, where he arrived in 1858. He took part in the occupation of Canton, in the expedition to Pei-ho, and in the demolition of forts at the mouth of the river and advance to Tientsin. Subsequently he was engaged in the campaign in the north of China in 1860, and received the medal with clasp. In 1862 Sanford joined Charles George Gordon [q. v.] in the operations against the Taipings, and played a useful part in the capture of the stockades of Nanksiang, and in the escalade of the walled cities of Kahding, Singpoo, and Cholin, and of the fortified town of Najow. He did useful survey work during the campaign, and assisted Gordon in drafting a 'Military Plan of the District round Shanghai under the Protection of the Allied Forces' (London, 1864; Shanghai, 1872). Gordon described him as the best officer he had ever met. He was promoted second captain on 8 Feb. 1866 and captain on 5 July 1872.

Returning to England, Sanford served in the ordnance survey in England until 1872. Next year he proceeded to India as executive engineer in the public works department there, becoming major 10 Dec. 1873. In 1878 he served in the Afridi expedition as assistant quartermaster-general Peshawar district (medal with clasp). Later in 1878-9 he took part in the Afghan war, and was present at the capture of Ali Masjid. He was mentioned in despatches (Lond. Gaz. 7 Nov. 1879) and received the medal with clasp and brevet of lieut.-colonel (22 Nov. 1879). Sir Frederick (afterwards Earl) Roberts rewarded his efficiency by appointment as assistant quartermaster-general of 1st division in the Peshawar Valley field force. Thenceforth his work lay long in the quartermaster-general's department. In 1880 he was deputy quartermaster-general of the newly formed Indian intelligence department, and during the absence of Sir Charles Macgregor [q. v.] he officiated for a year (1882-3) as quartermaster-general in India. He showed great ability in despatching the Indian contingent to Egypt in 1882, becoming lieutenant-colonel on 26 April of that year. Sanford had previously prepared excellent intelligence reports on Egypt as a possible theatre of war, and the success of the transport arrangement was largely due to him.

On completion of his term as deputy quartermaster-general at headquarters in Dec. 1885, Sanford, who was promoted colonel on 22 Nov. 1883, saw service as commanding royal engineer in the Burmese expedition of 1885-6, and received the thanks of the government of India, being mentioned in despatches (Lond. Gazette, 22 June 1886). He was rewarded with the clasp and was made C.B. on 25 Nov. 1886.

From March 1886 till 1893 he was director-general of military works in India, and held office during a period of great activity in connection with frontier defences. On 1 Jan. 1890 he was nominated C.S.I. On leaving the military works department he was in command of the Meerut district in India till 1898. He had been made major-general on 1 Jan. 1895, and became lieut.-general on 1 April 1898. He was mentioned in 1898 for the Bombay command, when it fell to Lieut.-general Sir Robert C. Low [q. v. Suppl. II]. A first-rate soldier and an accomplished man, he died, while still on the active list, at Bedford on 27 April 1901.

He married in 1867 Maria Hamilton (d. 1898), daughter of R. Hesketh of Southampton.

[The Times, 11 May 1901; Hart's and Official Army Lists; S. Mossman, General Gordon's Private Diary, 1885, p. 209.]

H. M. V.