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Julian St. John Hovenden

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Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Julian St. John Hovenden, (1831-1870)


1871 Obituary [1]

BREVET LIEUTENANT-COLONEL ST. JOHN HOVENDEN was born at Florence on the 24th of June, 1831.

He was educated privately for several years, and afterwards at Brighton College.

He joined the East India Company’s Military Seminary at Addiscombe in January, 1849 ; and obtained his commission in the Engineers at the public examination in December, 1850, being gazetted a lieutenant on the 9th of that month.

After the usual course of studies at the Royal Engineer Establishment at Chatham, Lieutenant Hovenden proceeded to Bengal in the early part of 1853. At that time the Burmese war was in progress, and he was detained in Calcutta in readiness for service with the army in Burmah, in ease additional Engineer officers should be required, being in the meanwhile attached to the office of the Garrison Engineer of Fort William.

In November, 1853, Lieutenant Hovenden was appointed an Assistant Engineer in the Public Works Department, and was posted to the Peshawur Division. He remained in this appointment until the outbreak of the Indian mutiny in May, 1857, when his services were required with the army. He was at first appointed Deputy Assistant Quartermaster-General of the Peshawur Division, and took an active part in disarming the disaffected. and mutinous native regiments in garrison there and in the neighbouring forts ; and he subsequently joined the besieging force before Delhi as a Field Engineer.

At the assault of Delhi on the 14th of September he was in charge of a ladder party and was severely wounded. Colonel Baird Smith, commanding the Engineer Brigade before Delhi, in his official report to General Sir A. Wilson says : 'Lieutenant Hovenden (severely wounded) led the ladder party of the Second Division with the same gallantry and intelligence which throughout the siege had made his services of so much value.' Lieutenant Hovenden was then employed with a regiment of Sikh pioneers, which he for some time commanded. He served at the siege and capture of Lucknow (on which occasion he was again mentioned in despatches), and he was with the Commander- in-Chief‘s force in Rohilkund.

In August, 1858, Lieutenant Hovenden was promoted to the rank of captain, and then immediately received the brevet rank of major for his services before Delhi, &c.

On the conclusion of active military operations, Major Hovenden rejoined the Public Works Department, and was posted to the Benares Division as Executive Engineer, and subsequently on promotion he was transferred in a similar capacity to Gwalior, his principal duty in both places being the rapid erection of temporary barracks for European troops.

In 1862 Major Hovenden was appointed Deputy Consulting Engineer and Assistant Secretary to the Government of Bengal in the railway department, which appointment he held until May, 1867, when he visited England on leave of absence for six months.

On his return to India in November, 1867, he was appointed Consulting Engineer and Joint Secretary to the Chief Commissioner of Oudh in the railway department, a new appointment formed when the Oudh and Rohilkund Railway Company were about to commence operations in those provinces. The duties of the officers of the Government railway department in India consist in exercising the Government control and supervision over the operations of the several railway companies whose capital is guaranteed by the State.

In March, 1868, Major Hovenden was appointed to officiate as Consulting Engineer and Joint Secretary to the Government of Bengal in the railway department- the highest appointment in that branch of the public service in India. He held that appointment for nearly two years, and at the end of 1869 he left India on furlough to England, having been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in 1868.

Under medical advice he spent the winter and early spring of 1870 in Italy and the South of France. He arrived in England on the 2nd of May, and died at Bath, of typhoid fever, on the 16th of the same month, at the early age of thirty-nine, sincerely regretted by his brother officers, and, indeed, by all who had known him, as he, in an eminent degree, obtained the esteem and affection of all with whom he was thrown in contact.

Lieutenant-Colonel Hovenden was elected an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers on the 5th of December, 1865.


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