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date: 11 April 2021

Gilbert, Sir Walter Raleigh, first baronetfree

  • H. M. Chichester
  • , revised by Roger T. Stearn

Gilbert, Sir Walter Raleigh, first baronet (1785–1853), army officer in the East India Company, was born on 18 March 1785 at Bodmin, Cornwall, third son of the Revd Edmund Gilbert (d. 1816), vicar of Constantine and rector of Helland, Cornwall, and his wife, the daughter of Henry Garnett of Bristol. He belonged to the Devon family of Gilbert of Compton to which Sir Humphrey Gilbert also belonged. Sir Humphrey's mother was by a second marriage mother of Sir Walter Raleigh. In 1800 Gilbert obtained a Bengal infantry cadetship. In September 1801 he was posted as ensign to the 15th Bengal native infantry, and arrived in India in October, where he became lieutenant, on 12 September 1803, and captain on 16 April 1810. In that regiment, under Colonel John Macdonald, he was present at the defeat of Perron's brigades at Koil, Aligarh, the battle of Delhi, the storming of Agra, the battle of Laswari, and the four desperate but unsuccessful attacks on Bharatpur, where he attracted the favourable notice of Lord Lake. Afterwards he was in succession barrack-master and cantonment magistrate at Cawnpore, commandant of the Calcutta native militia, and commandant of the Ramgarh local battalion. He was promoted major on 12 November 1820, lieutenant-colonel of the 39th Bengal native infantry, then just formed, in 1824, and colonel of the 35th native infantry in 1832. He became major-general in June 1838, and lieutenant-general in November 1851. He commanded a division of the army under Sir Hugh Gough in the First Anglo-Sikh War, at the battles of Mudki and Ferozeshahr (December 1845), and at Sobraon (10 February 1846). Gough in his dispatch spoke highly of Gilbert's services. Gilbert commanded a division of Gough's army in the Second Anglo-Sikh War, at the battles of Chilianwala (13 January 1849), and Gujrat (21 February 1849). After Gujrat, Gilbert with his division crossed the Jhelum in pursuit of the remains of the Sikh army, part of which surrendered to him on 3 March, while the rest, 16,000 fine troops with forty-one guns, surrendered to him at Rawalpindi three days later. He pursued their Afghan allies to the entrance of the Khyber Pass. Gilbert, who had been made KCB in April 1846, was appointed GCB in June 1849. He was military member of the supreme council from December 1852 to February 1853. He was made a baronet in December 1850. In 1832 he was appointed colonel of the 1st Bengal European fusiliers.

Gilbert was well known as a sportsman in India, and a supporter of the turf. He married at Calcutta, on 1 June 1814, Isabella Rose, daughter of Major Thomas Ross, Royal Artillery; they had at least one child. Gilbert died at Stevens' Hotel, Bond Street, London, on 12 May 1853. A memorial obelisk was erected on the Beacon at Bodmin. The baronetcy became extinct on the death at Cheltenham, on 17 November 1863, of his son Sir Francis Hastings Gilbert, second baronet (b. 1816), British consul at Scutari, Albania.


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  • BL, corresp. with Lord Camelford and Lady Camelford, Add. MSS 69298–69300, 69341
  • Duke U., Perkins L., corresp. with Lord Dalhousie


  • T. Lupton, mezzotint, pubd 1852 (after G. F. Atkinson), NPG
  • wood-engraving, NPG; repro. in ILN (1846)
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