WILSON, CHARLES ROBERT (1863–1904), historian of British India, born at Old Charlton, Kent, on 27 March 1863, was only son of Charles Wilson, army tutor, by his wife Charlotte Woodthorpe Childs. Educated at the City of London School, where he gained the Carpenter scholarship on leaving, he was elected to a scholarship at Wadham College, Oxford, in 1881. He graduated B.A. in 1887, having been placed in the first class in mathematical moderations in 1883 and in the final classical school in 1886. On leaving Oxford he entered the Indian educational service in Bengal, being successively professor at Dacca and at the Presidency College, Calcutta, principal of the Bankipur College, Patna, and inspector of schools. In 1900 he was appointed officer in charge of the records of the government of India, an appointment which carries with it that of assistant secretary in the home department. Soon afterwards his health broke down, and he died unmarried at Clapham on 24 July 1904 and was buried in Streatham cemetery.
Wilson was a devoted student of the early history of the English in Bengal, ransacking the documentary evidence in India, at the India Office, at the British Museum, and wherever else it might be found. He was admitted to the degree of D.Litt. at Oxford in 1902. Apart from several articles in the ‘Journal’ of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, dealing chiefly with the tragedy of the Black Hole, his published works are:
- ‘List of Inscriptions on Tombs or Monuments in Bengal possessing Historical Interest,’ Calcutta, 1896.
- ‘Descriptive Catalogue of the Paintings, etc., in the Rooms of the Asiatic Society of Bengal,’ Calcutta, 1897.
- ‘The Early Annals of the English in Bengal,’ being the Bengal public consultations for the first half of the eighteenth century, vol. i. 1895; vol. ii. pt. i. 1900, and pt. ii. 1911, posthumous.
- ‘Old Fort William in Bengal,’ a selection of official documents dealing with its history, 2 vols. 1906, posthumous.
[Memoir by W. Irvine prefixed to vol. ii. pt. ii. of Early Annals.]
WILSON, Sir CHARLES WILLIAM (1836–1905), major-general royal engineers, born at Liverpool on 14 March 1836, was second son of Edward Wilson by his wife Frances, daughter of Thomas Stokes, of Hean Castle, Pembrokeshire, a property which Edward Wilson bought from his wife's brother. Sir Charles's grandfather, also Edward Wilson (d. 1843), of a West Yorkshire family, owned property in America, where one of his sons, Thomas Bellerby Wilson, Sir Charles's uncle and godfather, lived, devoting himself to science; he founded the Entomological Society of Philadelphia and proved a munificent benefactor to that society and to the Academy of Natural Science in the same city.
Charles spent seven years at Liverpool College, and two years at Cheltenham College, which he left head of the modern side in June 1854. He then passed a year at Bonn University. In a special open competitive army examination held in Aug. 1855, Wilson, youngest of forty-six candidates, passed second, (Sir) Robert Murdoch Smith gaining the first place. The two obtained the only commissions given in the royal engineers, Wilson becoming lieutenant on 24 Sept. 1855.
After instruction at Chatham Wilson was posted to a company at Shorncliffe Camp in April 1857, and soon after was employed on the defences at Gosport. In February 1858 he was made secretary of the commission to delimitate the boundary between British Columbia and the United States of America, from the Lake of the Woods westward to the Pacific Ocean. With Captain (afterwards General Sir) J. S. Hawkins, R.E., the British commissioner, Wilson arrived at Esquimalt, by way of Colon and Panama, on 12 July. For the next four years Wilson was engaged in marking a straight boundary from the Pacific, through prairie and primeval forests, over mountains 7000 feet high, and in a climate of extreme temperatures, almost uninhabited and unknown. Astronomical stations were formed at suitable points. The outdoor work was finished at the end of 1861 in the hardest winter known, the thermometer down to 30° below zero at night. The commission returned to England on 14 July 1862 to draw up the report.
After eighteen months' employment on the defences of the Thames and Medway, and being promoted captain on 20 June 1864, Wilson volunteered for the duty of surveying Jerusalem. The secretary for war had agreed to appoint an engineer officer for the service, without paying his expenses. Wilson reached Jerusalem with a few sappers from the ordnance survey early in October 1864, and the work progressed steadily. At the