|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
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 December 1857).
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, 1858.”
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 found here.
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 Bareilly.
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 Indian Mutiny.
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 Army.
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|