Captain Sir Arthur Lawley G. C. S. I., K. C. M. G., G. C. I. E.

Captain Sir Arthur Lawley G. C. S. I., K. C. M. G., G. C. I. E.
Captain Sir Arthur Lawley G. C. S. I., K. C. M. G., G. C. I. E.

Captain Sir Arthur Lawley G. C. S. I., K. C. M. G., G. C. I. E.

Captain Lawley received his first commission as a Lieutenant in the Tenth Hussars on the 9th August 1882, was promoted Captain after seven years and one day’s service on the 10th August 1889, until the date of his retirement, 2rd March 1892.

When Captain Lawley was gazetted the Regiment was stationed at Lucknow, where he joined, as he recently reminded us in a letter, on Christmas Eve, of which the last was the twenty-ninth anniversary.

During his Indian service Captain Lawley was prominent in every regimental pursuit, whether soldiering or sport; it is recorded in The Memoirs of the Regiment that “in 1882 the cricket team was considerably strengthened by the arrival from England of …. The Hon. Arthur Lawley … “ and in a few months after he joined he was playing for the Regiment in the Inter-Regimental Polo Tournament , having been chosen for a substitute for Lieutenant Durham, whose wrist was broken by a blow with a polo stick during the progress of the game with the 9th Lancers. We read “The game then continued in the same determined and magnificent manner, without any advantage accruing to either side, until, within half a minute of time being called, the 9th Lancers made a goal and won.” The 9th easily disposed of the remaining teams and won the Cup.

In January 1884 he accompanied The Regiment on its departure from India. As is well known, the Tenth was intercepted at Aden on the 14th February, ordered to equip at that place and proceed to Suakin, to form part of the Tokar Relief force. Captain Lawley participated in the battle of El Teb on the 29th February, of Tamaai on the 13th march, in the long and trying days, the 26th and 27th March, when a march was performed which demanded the highest physical and moral qualitites of all. It actually commenced on the 25th when at 1.30 pm, the whole Division moved out from Suakin, The Tenth covering the front. The extreme heat caused the Infantry extreme suffering, and greatly impeded the progress. The zariba appointed for the bivouac was not reached until dark, and here half the Cavalry (The Tenth and 19th Hussars) slept on the flanks of the position, the remaining half with their horses. Early next The Cavalry Brigade and Mounted Infantry advanced to the hills, through five miles of bush and scrub, carefully reconnoitring the front and flanks, and ascending every hill from which a view could be obtained. Four miles further the enemy opened fire upon the advanced parties from the position of Tamanieb. Desultory firing took place on both sides, but it was decided that the position was unassailable for mounted troops, and the force fell slowly back.

Retiring to the foot of the hills, General Buller’s Brigade, advancing in support, was met and the whole falling back a short distance, a fresh zariba was formed for the night, in conjunction with General Davis’ Brigade, which had just come up. On the 27th the whole force moved off at 5.30 am, towards the enemy’s position, the Tenth scouting on the right and front, the 19th Hussars on the left. On the appearance of the scouts opposite to Tamanieb the Dervishes opened fire, but he Cavalry held the ground until the arrival of the infantry. The guns of Major Holley’s Battery were brought up, and, firing two guns caused the enemy to disperse. The Mounted branches at once descended to the stream and watered, this being the first opportunity of tasting water for over forty hours. After an hour’s rest, and feeding the horses, the Cavalry and Mounted Infantry proceeded up a dry river bed on the road to Sinkat, destroyed one of Osman Digma’s villages, and captured some cattle. The enemy had entirely evacuated this tract of country, so the whole force retired out of the mountains, and the Cavalry returned to Suakin, a distance of some 24 miles through a waterless country.

The small Arab horses had carried the Regiment well, and with their heads towards home, and the sea-breeze blowing in their faces, came into Suakin still fresh and willing after being mounted, off-and-on, since 5.30 am, having covered 40 miles of rough country, and this with very little water.

On the day after, unexpected orders were received to prepare for embarkation, the English Government being of opinion that the object of the expedition had been attained. On the 29th the Tenth embarked once more on H. M. S. Jumna and preceded home, meeting with adverse winds in the Mediterranean Sea and the Bay of Biscay, which retarded the voyage four days, and arrived at Portsmouth on the 23rd April.

Captain Lawley was awarded the medal with clasp “El-Teb- Tamaai” and the bronze Khedivial Star.

In England there was no regimental undertaking in which he did not take an active part, contributing substantially to the un-interrupted successes achieved at Military engagements, at polo, cricket and mounted sports.

He was one of the team that played for the Regiment in the Inter-Regimental Polo Tournament at Hurlingham in 1885. We drew the 15th Hussars in the first round and beat them easily, being left in, in the final, with the 7th Hussars, the winners in 1883 and 1884. A very even and exciting game was the result. In the first twenty minutes no goal was scored; in the second there was a suspension owing to an accident to one on the Seventh, Mr Hone. On resumption he made a gaol within a few minutes of time, making the game one goal all. Two minutes before the call of time Mr Haig added another goal for the Seventh, who thus won “one of the most even contests ever played.”

Captain Lawley was one of the quintet of Officers representing the Regiment in the first point-to-point race, for the Cup presented by His late Majesty King Edward VII, then The Prince of Wales. The rival team was of “The Blues”. Major Hughes-Onslow gave Gazette readers a thrilling and graphic account of the race, which resulted in victory for the Tenth. He describes how Captain Lawley had some difficulty in doing the weight, and how “he managed all right by the aid of a pair of racing boots and breeches, and a thin alpaca coat.”

In September 1886 he, with a detachment under the command of the late Earl of Airlie, proceeded from headquarters at Aldershot to Kensington Barracks, to take up the orderly duties in London. He remained there until 21st April 1888, when the detachment, under his command, marched to Hampton Court; there joined “B” and “D” Troops, and on the 23rd marched via Maidenhead, Aylesbury, Stony Stratford, Northampton, Market Harborough, Leicester, Nottingham, Mansfield, Worksop, Doncaster, Pontefract to York, arriving on the 4th May.

During the prolonged stay here, regimental cricket reached a very high standard, many games against such first class teams as The Gentlemen of Northumberland, York, regimental elevens, and a strong team from Scarborough, a two days’ match at Welbeck Abbey, matches at Babworth, Hovingham, Escrick, Everingham, Deighton Grove, Warter Priory etc. resulting in the majority of instances in wins for our elevens. In most of the games Captain Lawley was one of our representatives, and in 1889, he took over the captaincy on the retirement from the services of Captain Allsopp. It is worthy of note that, as recently as last year (1911), he won three point-to-point races in Ootacamund. In 1890 at York he succeeded to the appointment of Adjutant, relinquishing it only on his retirement from the army. At this period, when the composition of a Cavalry regiment was eight troops, the Adjutant had a much wider range of duties, more responsibility and much greater powers than in these days, when the Squadron Leaders exercise control over so many drills and duties which were formerly directed by, or under the direction of the Adjutant For this reason the adjutant of twenty years ago found his job no sinecure, and it may be added, his influence was potent and felt by every man of the regiment. It may also be asserted that the influence of Captain Lawley was a factor for good, which was existent, and felt, as long as the old regime lasted. It was keenly regretted by all ranks when, in August twenty years ago, although perhaps he was better serving the Empire by doing so, he left us; it is no exaggeration to say our loss seemed irreparable; that behind it was the admiration of all who had worked for him, and the respect and affection of all with whom he had been associated; whilst Lady Lawley left nothing but warm feelings in the hearts of all who had the privilege of knowing her during her seven years with the Tenth.

In our minds naturally, the regimental history of Sir Arthur Lawley appeals with greater force than does his far more important services to the British Empire’ which have been acknowledge in the British Press’ and earn for him the title of



Under this heading in a recent issue of The Pall Mall Gazette appears the following appreciation of the life-work of the subject of the article.

There arrived in England today’ one of the band of men who are real makers and upholders of the British Empire. Sir Arthur Lawley returns to these shores after a practically continuous absence of fourteen years. They have been years spent in arduous toil; but the toil has produced good fruit. In Africa, in Australia and in India Sir Arthur Lawley has inscribed his name permanently upon “the broad stone of empire.”

Lawley’s career has been like a romance. He began life as a soldier in the dashing Tenth Hussars, but fate willed that he should become an administrator. Nor only did the smart Cavalryman enter civil employ, but it fell particularly to his lot, time after time, to figure as a potent peacemaker, a skilful composer of differences, a builder in the years that followed strife.

His real life-work began when he became Administrator of Matabeleland in 1898, at the time when the Imperial Government was placing Rhodesia under settled control. The echoes of the Jameson Raid were still reverberating in South Africa. The country in Lawley’s charge was only just emerging from the effects of the Matabele rebellion; the settlers had lost heavily and were dispirited. For over three years he toiled without ceasing, always building up, always encouraging, always conciliating mutually hostile interests. He made his mark in Matabeleland.


In 1901 he was suddenly called to be Governor of Western Australia. Great movements were in progress, but his stay on the banks of the Swan River was short, for in the following years he was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the Transvaal, at Lord Milner’s special request. The part he played in that great, rapid, anxious task of conciliation and reconstruction is written in South African history. His four years in Pretoria constituted, perhaps, the sternest test Lawley has ever had to face, but he emerged from the ordeal with the esteem of Britain and Boer alike.

There is no rest for the warden of Empire. In 1906 Lawley went, almost without pause, from South Africa to India, where he succeeded Lord Ampthill as Governor of Madras. After his strenuous days in the Transvaal, the prospect of stately life in the Government House of Madras, and the long, annual retreats into the hills of Ootacamund, seemed to hold out a promise of a haven of rest. But it was not to be.

Everybody knows now something of the wave of unrest which passed over India a few years ago. The conspiracies and the murders, the stealthy spread of sedition, and the cult of anarchy perplexed, and at first bewildered even, men who had grown grey in the service of British rule in India. When trouble began in the Punjab, in Bengal, and in the Bombay-Deccan, it as murmured by way of consolation that at least madras was safe enough. The grave outbreaks at Tuticorin and Tinnevelly, a series of disturbances in other parts of the province, and at the final tragedy of the Murder of Mr Ashe, all told a different story. The “quiet backwater” as Madras is called, had not escaped from the virulent propaganda against British control. During the greater part of his sojourn in Southern India, Sir Arthur Lawley had to fight against the persistent forces of sedition and their visible consequences.


He faced the situation with characteristic calmness. His policy has been in turn assailed by both sides; on the one hand because, it was alleged, he was too vigorous in repression, on the other hand, because he seemed at times reluctant to act, and never ceased to hold out olive branches to men who were not too deeply committed. His ultimate success is his best vindication. The man who had won the rebellious hearts of the Matabele, who had soothed the pangs of defeat from the Boers by his frankness and his honesty, without ever forfeiting the confidence of the British, was not dealing with an unfamiliar situation. He knew his ground better than his critics; knew when to strike and when to placate. Had it not been for his mingling of firmness with discretion, Madras might have been in a very different condition today.

But he had other work to do as well, and did it with his wanted energy. It fell to his lot to settle, by The Madras Estates Act, a problem which had disturbed the province for a quarter of a century; and it is notable that he settled it in favour of the peasantry, who need so much protection, and in the past have received so little. He added 2,500 schools to the Presidency, and increased the number of pupils by a quarter of a million. He did much for the development of Madras industries, and would have done far more had he not been thwarted by the India Office. He inaugurated a new and valuable fisheries Department, he developed Madras Harbour, he improved the Police Force, he revived agriculture from its long stagnation. In a hundred was the results of his zeal were visible, but in agriculture most of all. And in his handling ofd the delicate problems raised by Lord Morley’s and Lord Minto’s reforms, he loyally carried into practice the generous spirit in which they were conceived.

To every man who toils for India there comes some share of sorrow. Madras rejoiced that it had a Governor virile enough to win the cup (presented long ago by his own brother) in a race that has become famous; and it shared its ruler’s grief when, two years ago, his only son was killed whilst hunting at Ootacamund. He had won the affection of the whole province when he relinquished office; and a leading Indian newspaper truly said that “India has seldom seem more admirable examples of what English women should be than sir Arthur Lawley’s wife and daughters.”

Here then is the story in brief of the exile who returns today. It is the story of a brilliant and varied career, the end of which must surely be far distant. For it remains to add that Sir Arthur Lawley is little more than fifty; he is of those who in a short time have accomplished so much.

To this, as Tenth Hussars, who have watched his career with acute interest, and enjoyed the reflected glory of his regimental associations, we have only to add our fervent wish that Sir Arthur Lawley may be spared for many years; which granted, there can be no doubt that he will amply fulfil the predictions of The Pall Mall Gazette.