|Dumfries, Roxburgh, Selkirk and Kirkcudbright Militia,
Late 53rd B.N.I. and 17TH Punjab Infantry
Henry Robert Dougal was born on the 12th of
January, 1836 at Allipore, a suburb of Calcutta,
He was the son of George Dougal, a merchant and
his wife Georgina Dougal (nee Forbes).
Robert was baptized at the Old Church at Fort
William, Calcutta on the 9th of February, 1836.
Robert’s father, George Dougal, was an old India hand, having first gone out to India as a merchant in 1823 when he obtained
a surety bond in the amount of £500 which was then required by the East India Company for all Europeans traveling to
India. Robert’s mother died in Garden Reach, India on the 3rd of September, 1843. His father subsequently remarried
Marion Dougal, a native of Canobie, Dumfriesshire, and had three children with her prior to his death in India in 1860.
It appears that although born in India, Robert attended school in England. He received the usual classical and mathematical
education of the times.
In May of 1852 Robert was nominated as a cadet for the Bengal Infantry by HEIC Director Elliot Macnaghton at the
recommendation of Robert’s father, who was then stated to be a merchant living at 31 Gloucester Place, Hyde Park. . Robert
passed the examination on the 2nd of June, 1852, but Colonel Vibart in Addiscombe, Its Heroes and Men of Note, as well as
Robert’s service papers, reflect Robert as having attended the HEIC seminary at Addiscombe from August, 1853 to till June
of 1855. Robert embarked for India on the overland route on the 4th of October 1855, and as was customary, was
commissioned an Ensign in the Bengal Infantry effective as of that date.
Robert arrived at Fort William on the 19th of November, 1855 and was immediately posted to the 49th Bengal Native
Infantry. He was promoted to Lieutenant with that Regiment on the 10th of October, 1856.
On May 10th, 1857, the sowars of the 3rd Bengal Light Cavalry rose against their officers at Meerut in northern India. The
insurrection rapidly spread through the Bengal regiments of the HEIC Army, becoming what is known as the Indian Mutiny.
According to Gimlette, A Postscript to the Records of the Indian Mutiny, London 1927, as a precautionary measure the 49th
B.N.I. was disarmed at Meean Meer on 13th of May, 1857. His regiment having been disarmed, Lieutenant Dougal was
ordered on the 17th of August to do duty with the famous Punjaub Irregular Force. In December, Robert was ordered to do
duty with the 17th Punjab Infantry, one of the then newly raised regiments of the Punjaub Irregular Force. (G.O. 8
According to UBIQUE: WAR SERVICES OF ALL THE OFFICERS OF H.M.’S BENGAL ARMY, Lieutenant Dougal’s services
with the 17th Punjab Infantry during the Indian Mutiny were as follows:
“Lieutenant Dougal served during the Mutiny, 1857. In July 1857, under Major Allen, proceeded to intercept the Sealkot
Mutineers. Present at the disarming of the cities of Poor and Mozuffernuggur, March 1858. Served under Brigadier General
Jones, at the battle of Bhogowallah, 17th, and Nugeena, 21st April; Bareilly, 5th and 6th May; and Mohurpore, 25th May,
On the 30th of April, 1858, Lieutenant Dougal was posted to the 53rd B.N.I., his old regiment, the 49th B.N.I. having been
disbanded. Robert, however, continued to “do duty” with the 17th Punjab Infantry. “Doing duty” was a common event for
HEIC officers at this time and effectively meant that Robert was carried on the books of the 53rd B.N.I. for pay and
promotion purposes while otherwise serving as an officer with the 17th Punjab Infantry in a different location.
For his services during the Indian Mutiny, Robert Dougal received the Indian Mutiny medal, without clasp, officially named
to him as a Lieutenant in the 17th Punjab Infantry. This was the only campaign medal Robert was to receive during his
military career. A roll of the Indian Mutiny medals issued to the European officers of the 17th Punjab Infantry can be
Robert Dougal is shown in The Quarter Army List of Her Majesty’s British Forces on the Bengal Establishment, Calcutta,
July, 1859, as a Lieutenant in the 53rd Regiment of Native Infantry, but doing duty with the 17th Punjab Infantry at
According to the London Gazette of July 18, 1862, the Queen was pleased to permit Lieutenant Robert Dougal, late of the
53rd B.N.I., to resign his commission in the Indian Army. As Robert was shown in the 1861 Census of Scotland as residing
with his father’s widow, Marion Dougal, at Keir, Dumfriesshire, it appears that Robert returned to Scotland on furlough and
then resigned his commission prior to returning to India. Given his age and the fact that he had only served for a few years,
it is probable that Robert’s resignation was due to health problems, probably as a result of hard campaigning during the
On the 25th of July, 1862, Robert was commissioned a Captain in the Dumfries, Roxburgh, Selkirk and Kirkcudbright
Militia. (London Gazette, 5August 1862.)
Robert married Helen Isabella Mitchell on the 30th of June, 1868. She was then 22 years old and was the daughter of
Duncan Mitchell, a wealth farmer from Buchanan, Stirling.
In the 1871 census of Scotland, Robert and Helen were living with her father and mother in Buchanan. In the 1881 census,
Helen is shown as living in Luss, Dunbartonshire with her family. Since Robert is not listed, he must have been outside the
Scotland at the time of the 1871 census.
Robert Dougal died on the 24th
of February, 1886. At the time
of his death, Robert was
residing at the Woodbine Villa
in Bridge of Allan, a small
village near Stirling. As Bridge
of Allan was a popular Victorian
health spa due to its natural
spring waters, it is possible that
Robert was residing there in an
attempt to deal with the health
problems that necessitated his
early retirement from the
Robert was buried in St. Mary’s
churchyard in the nearby village
Robert and Helen were not
destined to have children and he
died without issue, survived by
Helen, leaving an estate of over
|Special thanks to Anne Anderson for the pictures taken at St. Mary's|