Indian Mutiny interest. A very rare portrait of Captain John Tower Nicholson, killed at Lucknow June 1857


Captain John Tower Lumsden, 30th Bengal Native Infantry.

A remarkable and probably unrecorded watercolour portrait on card of the young officer, most likely to have been painted just before he left for India. The half length portrait of the seated figure has an exceptionally well detailed face and although unsigned is probably the work of a professional artist. It is in an old black and gilt oval frame measuring 11 x 9 ins. A note on the back of the frame tells us that Towers married Edith Marshall.
John Tower Lumsden, son of Henry Lumsden, advocate, Aberdeen, was born in 1823. He was commissioned into the 30th Bengal Native Infantry in 1844 but in 1857 was attached as interpreter to Lt. Col John Ewart C.B. commanding the 93rd Highlanders and was one of the first three to enter the Sikandar Bagh according to Lord Roberts, . He was shot dead inside while trying to cut his way through the defenders.   apr3/3
See: Christian Tombs and Monuments in the United Provinces by E Blunt, – page 253.

Colonel Ewart of the 93rd is quoted in Kaye & Malleson’s History of the Indian Mutiny, Lumsden behaved in a most gallant manner, immediately before his fall I saw him waving his sword over his head, at the same time calling out, “Come on, men, for the honour of Scotland.’He belonged to Aberdeenshire, and was a fine fellow. His conduct was the more creditable, as, being only an interpreter, he need not have joined the stormers.”

Two illustrations show entries in our reference copies of The East India Register and Army List 1857. The first edition of the year records his position as interpreter and the second records his death in the casualty list.

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