Sir William Nott - Encyclopedia

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SIR WILLIAM NOTT (1782-1845), English general, was the second son of Charles Nott, a Herefordshire farmer, who in 1 794 became an innkeeper at Carmarthen. William Nott was indifferently educated, but he succeeded in obtaining a cadetship in the Indian army and proceeded to India in 1800. In 1825 he was promoted to the command of his regiment of native infantry; and in 1838, on the outbreak of the first Afghan war, he was appointed to the command of a brigade. From April to October 1839 he was in command of the troops left at Quetta, where he rendered valuable service. In November 1840 he captured Khelat, and in the following year compelled Akbar Khan and other tribal chiefs to submit to the British. On receiving the news of the rising of the Afghans at Kabul in November 1841, Nott took energetic measures. On the 23rd of December the British envoy, Sir William Hay Macnaghten, was murdered at Kabul; and in February 1842 the weak and incompetent commander-in-chief, General Elphinstone, sent orders that Kandahar was to be evacuated. Nott at once decided to disobey, on the supposition that Elphinstone was not a free agent at Kabul; and as soon as he heard the news of the massacre in the Khyber Pass, he urged the government at Calcutta to maintain the garrison of Kandahar with a view to avenging the massacre and the murder of Macnaghten. In March he inflicted a severe defeat on the enemy near Kandahar, and in May drove them with heavy loss out of the Baba Wali Pass. In July he received orders from Lord Ellenborough, the governorgeneral of India, to evacuate Afghanistan, with permission to retire by Kabul. Nott arranged with Sir George Pollock, now commander-in-chief, to join him at Kabul. On the 30th of August he routed the Afghans at Ghazni, and on the 6th of September occupied the fortress, from which he carried away, by the governor-general's express instructions, the gates of the temple of Somnath; on the 17th he joined Pollock at Kabul. The combined army recrossed the Sutlej in December. Nott's services were most warmly commended; he was immediately appointed resident at Lucknow, was presented with a sword of honour, and was made a G.C.B. In 1843 he returned to England, where the directors of the East India Company voted him a pension of r000 per annum. He died at Carmarthen on the 1st of January 1845.

See Memoirs and Correspondence of Sir William Nott, edited by J. H. Stocqueler (2 vols., London, 1854); Charles R. Low, The Afghan War 1838-1842 (London, 1879), and Life and Correspondence of Sir George Pollock (London, 1873); Sir J. W. Kaye, History of the War in Afghanistan (2 vols., London, 1851).

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