Charles Staveley

General Sir Charles William Dunbar Staveley GCB (18 December 1817 – 23 November 1896) was a British Army officer.

Sir Charles Staveley
Sir Charles William Dunbar Staveley
Sir Charles Staveley
Born18 December 1817
Died23 November 1896 (aged 78)
AllegianceUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branchFlag of the British Army.svg British Army
Commands heldCommander of British Troops in China and Hong Kong
Western District
Bombay Army
Battles/warsCrimean War
Second Opium War
Force sent to Abyssinia
AwardsKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath

Early life

He was born at Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, the son of Lt-General William Staveley and Sarah Mather, and educated at the Scottish military and naval academy, Edinburgh.


He was commissioned as second lieutenant in the 87th (Royal Irish Fusiliers) on 6 March 1835. He became a lieutenant on 4 October 1839, and captain on 6 September 1844. From July 1840 to June 1843 he was aide-de-camp to the Governor of Mauritius, where his regiment was stationed, and where his father was acting Governor during part of that time. On his return home, he was quartered at Glasgow, and saved a boy from drowning in the Clyde at imminent risk of his own life, as he was not yet fully recovered from a severe attack of measles.

He exchanged to the 18th Foot on 31 January 1845, and to the 44th on 9 May. From 15 June to 11 May 1847 he was aide-de-camp to the Governor General of British North America. An admirable draughtsman, his sketches proved very useful during the settlement of the Oregon boundary question in 1846. He was assistant military secretary at Hong Kong, where his father was in command, from 20 March 1848 to 27 February 1851.

Crimean War

He had become a major in the 44th Regiment of Foot on 7 December 1850, and went with them to Turkey in 1854. When the regiment embarked for the Crimea he was to have been left behind on account of illness, but he hid himself on board until the vessel sailed.

He was present at Alma and at Balaclava, where he acted as aide-de-camp to the Duke of Cambridge. On 12 December 1854 he became a lieutenant-colonel in his regiment. The 44th belonged to Sir William Eyre's brigade of the third division, and took part in the attempt on the dockyard creek on 18 June 1855, and in the capture of the cemetery - the sole success achieved. Staveley was mentioned in dispatches (London Gazette, 4 July) and was made CB. He also received the Crimean Medal with three clasps, the Sardinian and Turkish medals, and the Medjidia (fifth class).


He commanded the regiment from 30 June 1855. It returned to England in July 1856, embarked for Madras in August 1857, and went on to China in March 1860. He had become colonel of the 44th on 9 March 1858, and on 28 April 1860 he was made brigadier-general, and was given command of the 1st Brigade of Michel's 1st Division during the Anglo-French expedition to Peking. He was present at the capture of the Taku forts, was mentioned in dispatches (ib. 4 Nov. 1860), and received the medal with clasp. On 18 January 1861, he was given one of the rewards for distinguished service.

He was left as Commander of British Troops in China and Hong Kong in 1862. The Taiping Rebellion was then in full career. The rebels had broken their promise not to come within thirty miles of Shanghai and were threatening that city itself. In April Staveley marched against them with a force of about two thousand men, of which about one-third consisted of French and English seamen and marines. He shelled them out of the entrenched camp at Wongkadze and stormed Tsipu, Kahding, Tsinpu, Nanjao and Cholin in the course of April and May. But the Chinese imperial troops were unable to hold all the towns recovered, and he had to withdraw the British garrison from Kahding (ib. 18 July and 5 Aug. 1862). In the autumn Kahding and Tsinpu were again taken, and the thirty-mile radius cleared of the rebels.

In December he was asked by Li Hung Chang to name a British officer to replace the American Burgevine as commander of the disciplined Chinese force which had been formed by Frederick Townsend Ward. Staveley named Charles George Gordon, who had been chief engineer under him in the recent operations, and had surveyed all the country around Shanghai. They had served together before Sebastopol, and Staveley's sister was the wife of Gordon's brother. The appointment had to be approved from England, and was not taken up until the end of March 1863. At that time ill-health obliged Staveley to resign his command and go home.


The National Archives UK - CO 1069-5-108
Sir C. Staveley and staff during the British Expedition to Abyssinia

In March 1865 he was made KCB and was appointed to the command of the first division of the Bombay Army. On 25 September 1867, he was promoted major-general, and in November, by Sir Robert Napier's desire, he was given command of the first division of the force sent to Abyssinia. He showed his energy to good purpose in the organisation of the base at Annesley Bay, and he conducted the fight on the Arogye plain, which immediately preceded the capture of Magdala. Napier said in his dispatch that Staveley had afforded him most valuable support and assistance throughout the campaign. He received the thanks of Parliament and the medal.

Later life

Staveley commanded the troops in the Western District for five years from 1 January 1869,[1] and in the autumn manoeuvres of 1871 round Aldershot, one of the three divisions was under him. He was Commander-in-Chief of the Bombay Army from 7 October 1874 to 7 October 1878, with the local rank of lieutenant-general, which became his substantive rank on 29 April 1875. On 1 October 1877 he became general. He was given the colonelcy of the 36th foot on 2 February 1876, and transferred to his old regiment, the 44th (which had become the first battalion of the Essex Regiment), on 25 July 1883. He received the GCB on 24 May 1884. He had been placed on the retired list on 8 October in the previous year.[2]

He died at Aban Court, Cheltenham, on 23 November 1896, and was buried at Brompton Cemetery, London on 27 November.

Memorial plaque at Capel Le Fern, Kent
Memorial plaque at Capel Le Fern, Kent.


In 1864, Charles married Susan Millicent, daughter of Charles William Minet of Baldwyns, Kent. They had five sons: William, Charles, Henry, Arthur and Cecil, who later became a Vice-Admiral. Cecil's son Sir William Staveley became an Admiral of the Fleet. They also had three daughters: Rose, Leila and Susan.


  1. ^ "Army Commands" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  2. ^ "No. 25280". The London Gazette. 19 October 1883. p. 5009.
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir John Michel
Commander of British Troops in China and Hong Kong
Succeeded by
William Brown
Preceded by
Sir Augustus Spencer
GOC Western District
Succeeded by
Henry Smyth
Preceded by
Sir Augustus Spencer
C-in-C, Bombay Army
Succeeded by
Sir Henry Warre
44th (East Essex) Regiment of Foot

The 44th Regiment of Foot was an infantry regiment in the British Army, raised in 1741. Under the Childers Reforms it amalgamated with the 56th (West Essex) Regiment of Foot to form the Essex Regiment in 1881.

Augustus Spencer

General The Hon. Sir Augustus Almeric Spencer (25 March 1807 – 28 August 1893) was a British Army officer and a member of the Spencer family.

Bombay Army

The Bombay Army was the army of the Bombay Presidency, one of the three presidencies of British India within the British Empire.

The presidency armies, like the presidencies themselves, belonged to the East India Company until the Government of India Act 1858 (passed in the aftermath of the Indian Rebellion of 1857) transferred all three presidencies to the direct authority of the British Crown.

In 1895 all three presidency armies were merged into the Indian Army.

Cecil Staveley

Vice Admiral Cecil Minet Staveley, CB, CMG (3 April 1874 – 27 May 1934) was a Royal Navy officer who became Commander of the 1st Battle Squadron.

Charles George Gordon

Major-General Charles George Gordon CB (28 January 1833 – 26 January 1885), also known as Chinese Gordon, Gordon Pasha, and Gordon of Khartoum, was a British Army officer and administrator. He saw action in the Crimean War as an officer in the British Army. However, he made his military reputation in China, where he was placed in command of the "Ever Victorious Army," a force of Chinese soldiers led by European officers. In the early 1860s, Gordon and his men were instrumental in putting down the Taiping Rebellion, regularly defeating much larger forces. For these accomplishments, he was given the nickname "Chinese Gordon" and honours from both the Emperor of China and the British.

He entered the service of the Khedive of Egypt in 1873 (with British government approval) and later became the Governor-General of the Sudan, where he did much to suppress revolts and the local slave trade. Exhausted, he resigned and returned to Europe in 1880.

A serious revolt then broke out in the Sudan, led by a Muslim religious leader and self-proclaimed Mahdi, Muhammad Ahmad. In early 1884 Gordon had been sent to Khartoum with instructions to secure the evacuation of loyal soldiers and civilians and to depart with them. In defiance of those instructions, after evacuating about 2,500 civilians he retained a smaller group of soldiers and non-military men. In the buildup to battle, the two leaders corresponded, each attempting to convert the other to his faith, but neither would accede.

Besieged by the Mahdi's forces, Gordon organised a citywide defence lasting almost a year that gained him the admiration of the British public, but not of the government, which had wished him not to become entrenched. Only when public pressure to act had become irresistible did the government, with reluctance, send a relief force. It arrived two days after the city had fallen and Gordon had been killed.

Commander British Forces in Hong Kong

The Commander British Forces in Hong Kong (CBF) was a senior British Army officer who acted as Military Advisor to the Governor of Hong Kong and was in charge of the Hong Kong British Forces. The officeholder of this post concurrently assumed the office of the Lieutenant Governor of Hong Kong before the abolishment of the position.

Edward Arthur Somerset

Lieutenant-General Edward Arthur Somerset CB (2 February 1817 – 12 March 1886) was a British soldier and Conservative Party politician, the son of Lord Edward Somerset.

Henry Smyth (British Army officer, born 1816)

General Sir Henry Smyth KCB (5 April 1816 – 1891) was a British Army officer who became General Officer Commanding Western District.

Henry Warre

Lieutenant-General Sir Henry James Warre (1819 – 3 April 1898) was a British Army officer.

Hercules Robinson, 1st Baron Rosmead

Hercules George Robert Robinson, 1st Baron Rosmead, (19 December 1824 – 28 October 1897), was a British colonial administrator who became the 5th Governor of Hong Kong and subsequently, the 14th Governor of New South Wales, the first Governor of Fiji, and the 8th Governor of New Zealand. From June 1859 until August 1896, he was known as Sir Hercules Robinson.

John Michel

Field Marshal Sir John Michel (1 September 1804 – 23 May 1886) was a British Army officer. He commanded the 6th Regiment of Foot during the Eighth Xhosa War in 1851 and served as Chief of Staff of the British Army's Turkish contingent during the Crimean War in 1854 before transferring to India where he commanded the Malwa Field Force which pursued Tatya Tope in the aftermath of the Indian Mutiny. He then commanded the 1st Division at the Battle of Taku Forts in August 1860 during the Second Opium War and took part in the burning of the Old Summer Palace at Peking in October 1860 as a reprisal for the torture and murder of British prisoners before being appointed Commander of British Troops in China and Hong Kong in 1861. He later commanded the forces in British North America playing a key role in the organization of the militia volunteers in resistance to the Fenian raids invasions in 1866. His last appointment was as Commander-in-Chief of Ireland in 1875.

Michel was also an English cricketer with amateur status.

Lieutenant Governor of Hong Kong

The Lieutenant Governor of Hong Kong (Chinese: 香港副總督) held the second-highest position during the British colonial rule in Hong Kong from 1843 to 1902.

List of British Army full generals

This is a list of full generals in the British Army since the Acts of Union 1707. The rank of general (or full general to distinguish it from the lower general officer ranks) is the highest rank currently achievable by serving officers in the British Army. It ranks above lieutenant-general and below field marshal which is now only awarded as an honorary rank. The annotation "Held rank in the East Indies." indicates that the officer served in India in the East India Company's army.

This list is incomplete after 1874; you can help by expanding it.

List of Governors of Plymouth

The Governor of Plymouth was the military Captain or Governor of the Fortress of Plymouth. The Governorship was abolished in 1842. The Lieutenant Governorship was vested in the General Officer Commanding Western District from 1793 to 1903, and in the Officer Commanding Plymouth Garrison from 1903 until that post was abolished.

Staveley (surname)

Staveley is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Amanda Staveley (born 1973), British businesswoman

Cecil Staveley (1874–1934), Royal Navy officer, son of Charles Staveley

Charles Staveley (1817–1896), British general, son of William Staveley

Lilian Staveley (1871–1928), Christian writer and mystic

Miles Staveley (fl. 1846–1870), English cricketer

Ralph Staveley, English lord

William Staveley (1784–1854), British general

William Staveley (Royal Navy officer) (1928–1997)

Western District (British Army)

Western District was a command of the British Army.

William Gustavus Brown

General William Gustavus Brown (3 February 1809 – 27 November 1883) was Commander of British Troops in China and Hong Kong.

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