Alexander Jack

Birth: 1805


Alexander Jack (1805-1857), brigadier, a victim of the Cawnpore massacre, was grandson of William Jack, minister of Northmavine, Shetland. His father, the Rev. William Jack (d. 9 Feb. 1854) (M.D. Edinburgh), was sub-principal of University and King's colleges, Aberdeen, 1800-15, and principal 1815-54. Principal Jack married in 1794 Grace, daughter of Andrew Bolt of Lerwick, Shetland, by whom he had six children.

Alexander, one of four sons, was born on 19 Oct. 1805, was a student in mathematics and philosophy at King's College, Aberdeen, in 1820-2, and is remembered by a surviving class-fellow as a tall, handsome, soldierly young man. He obtained a Bengal cadetship in 1823, was appointed ensign in the (late) 30th Bengal native infantry 23 May 1824, and became lieutenant in the regiment 30 Aug. 1825, captain 2 Dec. 1832, and major and brevet-lieutenant-colonel 19 June 1846.

He was present with his battalion at the battle of Aliwal (medal), and acted as brigadier of the force sent against the town and fort of Kangra in the Punjab, when he received great credit for his extraordinary exertions in bringing up his 18-pounder guns, which he had been recommended to leave behind. The march was said 'to reflect everlasting credit on the Bengal artillery' (Buckle, Hist. of the Bengal Art. p. 520). Some views of the place taken by Jack were published under the title 'Six Sketches of Kot-Kangra, drawn on the spot' (London, 1847, fol.).

Jack was in command of his battalion in the second Sikh war, including the battles of Chillianwalla and Goojerat (medal and clasps and C.B.) He was promoted to lieutenant-colonel in the (late) 34th Bengal native infantry 18 Dec. 1851. He became colonel 20 June 1854, and on 18 July 1856 was appointed brigadier at Cawnpore, the headquarters of Sir Hugh Wheeler's division of the Bengal army.

On 7 June 1857 the mutiny broke out at Cawnpore. Wheeler maintained his position in an entrenched camp till the 27th, when an attempted evacuation was made in accordance with an arrangement entered into with Nana Sahib. After the troops had embarked in boats for Allahabad, the mutineers treacherously shot down Jack and all the Englishmen except four. During the previous defense of the lines a brother, Andrew William Thomas Jack, who was on a visit from Australia, had his leg shattered, and succumbed under amputation.

[Information supplied through the courtesy of the registrar of Aberdeen University; East Indian Registers and Army Lists; Buckle's Hist. of the Bengal Art. ed. Kaye, London, 1852; Kaye's Hist. of the Indian Mutiny, ed. (1888-9) Malleson, ii. 217-68; Mowbray Thomson's Story of Cawnpore, London, 1859; Gent. Mag. 3rd ser. iii. 565.]


Henry Manners Chichester, Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 29. pg. 85.

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