HC Deb 05 June 1863 vol 171 cc432-50

said, he rose to call attention to the circumstances attending the death, after four weeks' imprisonment, of Regimental Sergeant Major Lilley, of the 6th Dragoons, at Mhow in India, on the 25th of May 1862, and to the imprisonment at the same time, for a still longer period, of Troop Sergeant Majors Duval and Wakefield, of the same regiment, without either of the three having been, brought to trial, or any formal charge having been preferred against them, and to ask whether the Commanding Officer, under whose authority the above took place, is still permitted to remain in command of the Regiment. The statement he had to make was a very plain and simple one, but before doing so he desired, in the first instance, to disclaim any intention of attacking the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for War (Earl De Grey and Ripon), for whose ability and character he had the highest respect. He felt convinced, that if the disposal of this matter had rested with that noble Lord, and if his hands had not been tied to some extent by the action taken by the military authorities in India, he would not have lost a single day in taking care that full justice was done to the parties concerned. He knew something, however, of the difficulties he had had to contend with; and if the expression of opinion he trusted to elicit from the House should have in any degree the effect of smoothing those difficulties, and enabling him to take the course which his own sense of right and justice would naturally impel him to adopt, his object in bringing forward the subject would have been fully attained. The facts of the case were as follows:—About two years ago the command of the 6th or lnniskilling Dragoons was transferred from Colonel Shute, who now commanded the 4th Dragoon Guards, to Lieutenant Colonel Crawley, who exchanged from the 15th Hussars. It was not long before a change appeared in the good feeling which had previously existed between the lieutenant colonel and the officers under his command. Dissensions, into the origin of which it was unnecessary to enter, arose; and Captain Smales, paymaster of the regiment, wrote a letter to the commanding officer, containing charges of such a nature as hardly left Colonel Crawley any option between admitting the truth of these charges, and thereby admitting his own unfitness to hold the command, or, on the other hand, bringing the officer to a court-martial for making false and malicious charges against him. Colonel Crawley adopted the latter alternative, and a court martial was appointed to try the case. One of the principal features of the charge made against Colonel Crawley was his absence from the monthly parades of the regiment. Among the most important of Captain Smale's witnesses were the non-commissioned officers, because, from their peculiar position, it was almost absolutely impossible for them to make any mistake as to the identity of the officer in command of the parade. Accordingly, three of those non-commissioned officers, Regimental Sergeant Major Lilley, and Troop Sergeant Majors Duval and Wakefield, were regularly subpœnaed by the accused as his witnesses to prove the presence or the absence of the colonel. Before, however, they had an opportunity of giving their evidence, they were sent for by the commanding officer, not to the orderly-room of the regiment, which would have been the proper place, but to his private house, and there subjected to an examination of the most stringent kind, from which the adjutant of the regiment was excluded, and the only persons allowed to be present were witnesses for the prosecution and friends of the commanding officer. From that examination those three non-commissioned officers were marched off, and ordered into close arrest, with sentries placed over them. When any charge was brought against an officer, whether commissioned or non-commission ed, there were three kinds of arrest that might be enforced—he was placed either in ordinary arrest, that was, confined within the barracks or cantonments, which was the usual course; or in close arrest, which involved confinement to his own quarters; or, lastly, what was very rare, and resorted to only in cases of a very grave or criminal nature, in close arrest, with sentries posted over him. To the last sort of confinement were these men subjected on a charge of conspiracy, which His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, in a memorandum lately issued, stated there was not a shadow of evidence brought forward to sustain. What did the 99th Article of War say with respect to confinement? It said— When any soldier or officer commits an offence deserving of punishment, he shall be ordered into arrest or confinement until released by lawful authority; and no officer or soldier shall continue in such arrest or confinement more than eight days, or until such time as a court martial can conveniently be held. And the 79th Article said— Whoever shall unnecessarily detain any prisoner in confinement without bringing him to trial, shall, if an officer, be liable to be cashiered, or to suffer such other punishment as, by the judgment of a general court martial, may be awarded. But those men were kept in confinement without trial not for eight days, but for several weeks: one was liberated only by death; and when the order for release came for the other two, it found one of them a raving lunatic, and he was conveyed to the hospital suffering from brain fever. After four weeks' imprisonment Sergeant Major Lilley was taken ill, and he died within a few hours. No inquest or committee of inquiry, which in India was equivalent to an inquest, was held; but a post mortem examination was made by the regimental surgeon, who certified that the cause of death was apoplexy, brought on by his sedentary life and the peculiar and painful circumstances in which he was placed. How painful and how peculiar those circumstances were, he would now proceed to explain to the House. The place where Sergeant Major Lilley was confined was a single room in a bomb-proof building, formerly used as cavalry stables, and which had since been pulled down as unfit for the occupation of European troops. It was almost impossible that the roof of this building could get cool, as it was so formed that the amount of heat absorbed by it in the day could not be carried off by night. In a room, then, more like an oven than a human habitation was Sergeant Major Lilley imprisoned, and that room was shared by his wife, who was confined to her bed by a diarrhœa attending the last stage of consumption; in fact, she only survived her husband two or three days. A sentry was placed over the sergeant major, with strict injunctions to keep him constantly in sight, and not to allow him to receive any communications from without. The adjutant, with proper feeling, had in the first instance placed the sentry outside the room; but in consequence of a sergeant's wife having attempted to communicate with the sick woman—to give her some flowers, he believed—Colonel Crawley, incredible as it might appear, ordered the sentry to be stationed inside the room; and there, in the presence of strange men, renewed from day to day and from hour to hour, and posted three feet from her bed, all the functions of nature had to be performed by this dying woman. Colonel Crawley had pleaded ignorance of those circumstances, professed to be shocked when he heard of them, and attempted to throw the blame of this indecent and inhuman proceeding upon the adjutant who received the orders. Unfortunately for him, there were witnesses to prove that it was distinctly brought under his notice at the time that Lilley was a married man, and also that his wife was ill. To these representations Colonel Crawley replied, in language he did not choose to repeat to the House, that he did not care—married or single, officer or soldier, the duty should be done; and it was done. Those facts were not imaginary; he had drawn them from documents placed in the hands of the military authorities, and he might almost say he knew every word he uttered might be fully proved from the evidence of witnesses now in this country. An attempt had been made to prove that the death of Lilley resulted from excessive drink, and a native suttler's Bill was brought forward to show that a large quantity of wine and spirits had been supplied to him during his confinement. That assertion had been adopted by Sir Hugh Rose, who gave it general currency in his remarks upon the court martial, which were read at the head of the regiment. But it turned out, on investigation, that the spirits had been consumed not by the sergeant major, but by his sick wife, who was entirely kept alive for some weeks by taking, under medical advice, large doses of wine and spirits. The evidence of the sentries and of the medical officer proved conclusively that neither during his lifetime nor after his death were there the slightest signs of excess on Lilley's part. And his Royal Highness had endorsed that statement, and vindicated Lilley's memory from the imputation sought to be cast upon it. He would not dwell upon the character of the deceased, or the esteem in which he was held in the regiment, nor on the testimony borne to his character by the two commanding officers under whom Lilley had previously served. For redress and reparation it was unhappily too late; for Lilley was dead, his wife was dead, his children were dead. But if it was too late for reparation, it was not too late for punishment, such punishment as he trusted that House would force upon the reluctant authorities at the Horse Guards. The death of Lilley had excited a very painful feeling in India; the matter had been taken up by the press, and it became clear that the discussion of it could not be con fined to that country. It was at last brought under the notice of His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, who, while censuring Colonel Crawley in his memorandum in terms of well-deserved severity, had, with the most incomprehensible leniency, still left him in possession of that command for which he had shown himself so manifestly unfit. Let the House mark the varying measure of justice dealt out in military offences according to the rank of the offender. Paymaster Smales, for writing a letter which was considered insubordinate, though the charges brought forward in it had been fully established, was brought to a court martial, tried, condemned, and cashiered. His professional prospects were blasted; while the commanding officer, for an offence, which, however it might be viewed elsewhere, no one in that House would dispute was far graver, alike in its character and its consequences, was visited with no severer punishment than a simple reprimand. But he could not believe that in the face of such facts as had been brought forward this strange leniency would be persisted in. He hoped Colonel Crawley would not be left the power, as he had shown he had the will, to inflict tyranny and persecution on those beneath him. So persuaded were the Serjeant's relatives that his blood lay at Colonel Crawley's door that he had authority for saying they were determined to indict him for manslaughter so soon as he appeared in this country, unless the Government took the matter up earnestly. Before he sat down there were two objections he wished to meet. He hoped it would not be said that he was attacking an absent man who had no opportunity of defending himself. The charges he had made against Colonel Crawley were not only contained in documents in the possession of the War Office, they had been for months the property of the public papers, they were widely circulated and widely believed; and it was from no wish to blacken his character, but rather to enable him, if he possibly could, to clear it, by means of a proper investigation, that he brought the facts before the House. He had no knowledge of him, he did not even know of his existence until he saw him named in connection with these transactions, and it was the natural feeling which such transactions had aroused in his mind that had determined him to bring forward the case. The other objection which might be urged was, that it was not the province of that House to interfere with the ordinary administration of justice, which should rest with the usual tribunals. In that view, as a general rule, he entirely concurred; but if the House, as a general rule, was bound to abstain from interference with the ordinary administration of justice, it was not only warranted, but imperatively called upon, to interfere in case of the administration of injustice. It was in those exceptional cases where redress had been sought, and sought in vain, at the hands of the ordinary tribunals, that a last appeal had to be made to that public opinion of which the House was the highest representative; and it was the full belief that that appeal would not be made in vain that had induced him to bring the matter before the House of Commons.


observed, that the memorandum which had just been issued by the Horse Guards had completely altered the aspect of the case. By continuing Colonel Crawley in command, the Horse Guards had become responsible for his conduct, and he sincerely trusted that the weight of public indignation, and the reprobation of that House would be expressed in clear and measured terms with reference to the proceedings of his Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief on that occasion. He would quote one or two passages from the memorandum of his Royal Highness— His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge has read, with deep regret, the proceedings of the court martial on Mr. Smales, late paymaster of the 6th Dragoons, and in reviewing the proceedings of the court and the subsequent remarks his Royal Highness regrets that on some points he has been under the necessity of differing from officers high in command"—(alluding, he supposed, to one high in command in India, but who had a powerful friend on the Treasury bench)—"on whose judgment, on all other occasions heretofore, his Royal Highness has had the greatest confidence. Nevertheless, for the interest of the service, his Royal Highness has but one course to pursue, And what would the House believe was that course? To retain the colonel in command of a distinguished regiment to which he was such a disgrace. His Royal Highness went on to say that Colonel Crawley appears to hare taken exception to certain practices in the regiment detrimental to its esprit de corps, and the language he made use of on several occasions his Royal Highness considers as exceedingly injudicious. Colonel Crawley's rejoinder to Mr. Smales's defence his Royal Highness considers as exceedingly vindictive, and likely to raise a spirit of resistance among his officers. It is only from the high opinion expressed of Colonel Crawley by the Major General under whose immediate command he is serving, that his Royal Highness allows Colonel Crawley to remain in the regiment; but it will be on trial only. His Royal Highness hopes that the report of the statements made by Colonel Crawley, on the occasion of his reading out the remarks of his Excellency Sir Hugh Rose, may prove to be incorrect, or it would add very much to his already very reprehensible conduct, and would necessitate his Royal Highness taking serious notice of the circumstances. As regards the confinement of the three non-commissioned officers, his Royal Highness views it with extreme displeasure. It should be remembered that Colonel Crawley, by the imprisonment of these men, had rendered himself liable to be tried by a court martial. They were placed under arrest for conspiracy, when, it appears, there was no charge preferred against them, or the shadow of evidence produced to that effect; and it would almost appear that his Excellency Sir Hugh Rose had been misinformed of the circumstances of the case, or he would not have dealt with the subject as he did, and would not have attributed the death of Regimental Sergeant Major Lilley to excess. Was that a state of things to be permitted and maintained by the Horse Guards? If anything could sap the discipline of the British Army and lower the high spirit of the British soldier, it would be such conduct as this, should it receive the sanction of that House. He therefore hoped the noble Lord, in his reply to his hon. Friend, would not confine himself to the conduct of Colonel Crawley, but justify, if he could, the Commander-in-Chief, who, by the issuing of the memorandum to which he had referred had made himself responsible for every act Colonel Crawley had committed.


said, he would first reply to the Question which had been put to him by the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. H. Baillie), the forms of the House having prevented his doing so at an earlier hour of the evening. It was perfectly true that considerable delay had occurred in proceeding with the Ordnance Survey in Scotland. In consequence of the necessity to have certain districts on the coast of England surveyed preparatory to the erection of the fortifications, the force was partially reduced in Scotland. That survey, however, was now finished, and the force would be restored to Scotland in the same strength as before the change. The more cultivated districts in Scotland having been for the most part surveyed, it was intended in future to employ in Scotland a large force during the summer months, when the weather and length of the day were favourable to the survey of the mountainous districts, and during the winter that force would be removed to England, where it could be more advantageously employed. He hoped that explanation would be satisfactory to the hon. Gentleman.

He then came to the unfortunate occurrences which took place last year in India, and to which the attention of the House had been called. It was not necessary that he should go back to the history of the 6th; Dragons further, than to the court martial which sat in April last in Calcutta, on Captain Smales, paymaster of the regiment. Very shortly after the commencement of the proceedings of that court martial the president was informed that the proceedings had been furnished by some person who had been present, and had been read by the sergeant majors in the house of one of them previous to their examination. Colonel Crawley represented to the president that such a course set at naught all the regulations for the conduct of the court and the president, while he did not attach blame to any one for what had taken place, strongly denounced the practice, and forbade any person connected in any way with the court martial to make public the proceedings until they were officially closed. On the 26th of April, acting on information given him, Colonel Crawley summoned Regimental Sergeant Major Lilley and Troop Sergeant Majors Duval and Wakefield before him, and in presence of some of the officers of the regiment they were called in to be examined. That examination was an irregular one, and the sergeant majors were not warned that what they stated might be used as evidence against themselves. However, as the result of the examination, Colonel Crawley placed the three sergeant majors under arrest on a charge of conspiracy; that arrest was not, as has been said by the hon. Member, close arrest; they were simply placed under ordinary arrest. At the same time, Colonel Crawley informed Major General Farrell of the charge on which he had arrested these officers, and requested his instructions as to their trial, and instructions as to placing them under close arrest. On the 28th of April General Farrell wrote to Sir William Mansfield, Commander-in-Chief of the district, and referred the question which had been asked of him by Colonel Crawley for his decision. At the same time, he informed Colonel Crawley of the reference which he had made, and with regard to the application as to placing the sergeant majors under close arrest, he added that Colonel Crawley had been verbally instructed that pending the decision of the Commander-in-Chief the arrest should be close. On May 6th Sir William Mansfield wrote, that having examined the evidence which had been sent to him by General Farrell, which consisted of Colonel Crawley's letter, the testimony of the sergeant major who had informed on his comrades, and the examination of the sergeant majors, in his opinion the evidence would not support the charge for conspiracy, his opinion to that effect being principally based on the fact that the sergeant majors had not been warned as to the use that would be made of what they might say in evidence. He went on, however, to say that their conduct hail been most improper, but whether Sergeant Major Lilley and the other sergeant majors had acted in the spirit of hostility to Colonel Crawley, or from other motives, Sergeant Major Lilley had grossly derogated from his duty by participating in what had taken place, and in allowing such occurrences to go on without bringing them to the notice of his commanding officer. Sir William Mansfield said that under such circumstances Sergeant Major Lilley was totally unqualified to occupy his position as sergeant major, and should be dismissed; and he concluded by stating that he wished the sergeant majors should he kept in arrest until the end of the court martial upon Paymaster Smales. Shortly afterwards, at the beginning of May, the court martial was adjourned on account of the illness of Captain Smales, and some other causes. The court martial not being concluded, the sergeant majors were still kept under close arrest. On the 24th of May Sergeant Major Lilley was reported to be sick; and on the 25th he died. On the 2nd of June Sir William Mansfield wrote to General Farrell that he had heard through the public newspapers that the confinement of the sergeant majors had been not only close, but of an absolutely penal nature, and that during that confinement Sergeant Major Lilley had died. He said that when he issued his directions of the 6th of May he was under the impression that the court martial would be terminated at or about the time when those directions would reach Mhow, and that consequently the sergeant majors would he at once liberated. He said also, that on the adjournment of the court martial the General commanding the division—Major General Farrell—should either have acted on his own responsibility and released the sergeant majors, or, if he did not deem that within his power, he should have made another reference to him by telegraph, and have obtained their enlargement. Sir William Mansfield inclosed in that letter a memorandum which he directed to be read to the troops at Mhow, stating his extreme regret that the unfortunate circumstance should have occurred, and explaining the reasons which had induced him to order the sergeant majors to be continued under close arrest. Those reasons were:—First, that from the evidence produced before him those sergeant majors had narrowly escaped—if they had indeed escaped—the commission of a most serious crime; and that it was necessary, in his judgment, to keep them from the temptation which, if set at liberty, they would have been under of repeating that crime. Secondly, that in his opinion it was necessary that they should be confined in close arrest in order to prevent parties concerned in the court martial from tampering with them, and concocting the evidence which they were to give. His third reason was, that it was necessary that the charge which had been brought against them by Colonel Crawley should not be condoned by the release of the prisoners until it clearly appeared during the progress of the court martial whether any further evidence could be produced upon which they could be tried. These, then, were the chief facts connected with this most unfortunate case, and which were substantiated and contained in the documents before the Horse Guards and the War Office. Upon them the opinion of the learned Judge Advocate had been taken. It would not be in accordance with precedent for that opinion to be laid on the table of the House, but there was no objection to his stating its substance. Having had these documents before him, the learned Judge Advocate had given it as his opinion:—First, that Colonel Crawley had not sufficient grounds on which the charge of conspiracy brought by that officer against the sergeant majors could be established. Secondly, he was of opinion that the continued arrest as sanctioned by Major General Farrell and Sir William Mansfield was illegal under the Articles and the section of the Mutiny Act which had been read, and that the reasons alleged in Sir William Mansfield's memorandum were not valid. It would be obvious from that statement that in this matter some one had been very much to blame. But he would submit to the House that it was necessary to inquire how the responsibility for what had occurred was distributed among the officers concerned. Colonel Crawley, it was perfectly clear, thought that he had evidence to prove a charge of conspiracy against the sergeant majors. He placed them under arrest, simple ordinary arrest, and he immediately forwarded a report to the General commanding the division, stating the offence of which they were accused, requesting that officer's instructions with regard to that charge, and asking his sanction before taking the step of placing them under total or close arrest. Major General Farrell appeared to have been wrong, in the first instance, in ordering that they should be placed under close arrest. He was probably wrong, also, in not at once perceiving that there were not sufficient grounds for the charge of conspiracy, and in referring the matter at all to Sir William Mansfield. Still more, however, was he wrong in obeying the letter and not the spirit of the instructions which he received from Sir William Mansfield. Those instructions were, that the sergeant majors should be kept under arrest till the conclusion of the court martial. Sir William Mansfield considering, and fairly considering, that when an entirely unforeseen occurrence, such as the indefinite adjournment of the case, took place, Major General Farrell ought to have taken that circumstance into consideration, and either have acted on his own responsibility, or at any rate made another reference to him. Then Sir William Mansfield appeared to have been wrong in the legal view he took of the evidence submitted to him. He was wrong in stating, that though the charge of conspiracy could not be supported, yet that in the interest of discipline it was expedient that the sergeant majors should be continued under arrest. Sir William Mansfield appeared to have acted under the impression that in ordering that continued arrest he was doing something in the nature of a remand—that he was, in fact, only doing what a police magistrate did when he remanded a prisoner in order that further evidence should be produced against him. In that impression Sir William Mansfield was quite wrong, and that seemed to be the extent of his error. Such being the manner in which these officers divided the blame and responsibility to which they had rendered themselves liable, the next consideration was, what could possibly be done by the home authorities in the matter? If Colonel Crawley was covered, as in the opinion of the Government he was, by the command of his superior officer, it was quite evident that he did not render himself liable to be tried, and that it would be perfectly useless to attempt to try him by court martial; for his act was sanctioned by his superiors. Major General Farrell also appeared to be covered technically in what be had done by the authority of his superior officer. But the conduct of these officers and the illegality of the course which they pursued was a subject which it would be perfectly in the power of the Commander-in-Chief, in conjunction with the Secretary of State, to point out to them, and bring under the notice of the army in such terms of reprimand and reprehension as might seem to be advisable. But what be wished to point out was, that it was incumbent on His Royal Highness to act with the greatest care and caution when he was dealing with so distinguished an officer as Sir William Mansfield. There were few officers in the army who had more distinguished themselves or done better service to their country than Sir William Mansfield. If he was right in the view which he had tried to place before the House, it would be evident to all that Sir William Mansfield acted under a misapprehension, and that he was in no way mixed up with the miserable squabbles and petty jealousies which had distracted the 6th Dragoons. It must be evident that, though wrong, Sir William Mansfield acted for what he supposed to be the best interests of the discipline of the army. Under these circumstances, it was the duty of His Royal Highness to deal not only with care and caution, but also with the greatest moderation and leniency. As it appeared that the confinement, and especially the close confinement, of Sergeant Major Lilley and his comrades was clearly illegal—as it also appeared that the death of Sergeant Major Lilley was probably caused by his confinement, and as a claim had been made by his surviving relatives, who were persons in poor circumstances, having been entirely supported by him, it seemed to the Government to be right that some reparation should be made to them for the loss they had sustained. The Government had therefore determined, with the sanction of that House, to make such a grant to the relatives of Sergeant Major Lilley as would be about equal in amount to the pension to which the deceased would have been entitled had he received his discharge at the time of his death. These were the main facts in the case, and upon them it appeared that no further light could be thrown. There were, however, certain collateral circumstances, with respect to which it was necessary that further inquiry should be made. So far as he had yet gone, his statement, as the House would have perceived, had entirely coincided with that of the hon. Member for Andover; but there was a marked discrepancy between the statements of Colonel Crawley, as made in his address to the court martial, and the allegations of Lieutenant Fitzsimon, the adjutant of the regiment, whose declaration had very recently been brought before the Secretary of State. Lieutenant Fitzsimon entirely denied the allegation of Colonel Crawley, that it was he, the adjutant, and not Colonel Crawley himself, who gave the order that the sentry should be posted inside and not outside of the room in which Sergeant Major Lilley was confined, and in which his wife was lying ill. That was a point which bore strongly on the character and moral guilt of Colonel Crawley; but when Colonel Crawley affirmed one thing, and Lieutenant Fitzsimon affirmed exactly the reverse, it was obviously impossible for any one at home to come to any decision on the matter until it had been thoroughly investigated on the spot. It was necessary that the conduct of Colonel Crawley with respect to these charges, and also the circumstances which accompanied the withdrawal of the letter from Lieutenant Fitzsimon, in which he contradicted the statement of Colonel Crawley, should be made the subject of an investigation. [Mr. CONINGHAM: What about the memorandum?] The memorandum published by His Royal Highness condemned in very strong terms the conduct of Colonel Crawley, chiefly with reference to the internal discipline of the regiment; but at the data of its publication His Royal Highness was not in possession of the opinion of the Judge Advocate General, or of all the facts, as they now appeared before the House. It was evident, if the facts were as he had stated them, that Colonel Craw- ley, though there might be great moral guilt resting upon him, could not be punished, except on that collateral point which he had said was the subject of an investigation. It would have been a great deal more satisfactory to himself, and doubtless to the House likewise, if he could have come down that night and handed over to them a victim who should atone for the wrongs and sufferings of Sergeant Major Lilley and his comrades. Although he could not produce a victim to the House, his consolation was, that he had told them without any reserve the facts of that most painful case; but he was sure that, on reflection, the House would agree with him, that not even the horror which such a tragedy inspired, or not even the disgust which was caused by a contemplation of such mismanagement and such military scandals as had been revealed in the case of the 6th Dragoons, would justify the Commander-in-Chief, or the Secretary of State, in departing one hair's breadth from the strict rules and principles of justice.


said, that he thought that sufficient evidence had been laid before the House to warrant the conclusion that a gross injustice had been perpetrated. He did not participate in the warmth of the hon. Member for Brighton, who had expressed, in honest and indignant terms, his great astonishment that His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief—knowing and reprobating the circumstances of this deplorable case—should allow Colonel Crawley to remain one day at the head of his regiment; but he was satisfied, that if such an outrage as that to which Sergeant Major Lilley had been subjected were to be committed among civilians, no mere rank would save the guilty party from an immediate judicial inquiry. It was not satisfactory to be told that Colonel Crawley was continued in command of his regiment simply because he enjoyed the confidence of his superior officer. Why, according to the statement of the noble Marquess, that superior officer was himself implicated in the affair; and it must never be admitted that the rank of Sir William Mansfield or General Farrell should be accepted as a set-off to the offence perpetrated at Mhow. He took leave respectfully to tell that House and the Commander-in-Chief, that if the British army was to enjoy the confidence of the country, they must be allowed to have the freedom from injustice and military tyranny that civilians enjoyed. He hoped, therefore, that the noble Marquess would be prepared to give an assurance that something more than mere collateral inquiry should be made. There ought to be a strict investigation into all the circumstances of the case; and if the guilt of this man's death was traceable to any one, inasmuch as the Judge Advocate General had declared that the imprisonment was illegal, punishment should follow. Never had a crime more flagrant been committed under circumstances of greater indecency. One fact the noble Lord had not made any allusion to, and that was, that Sergeant Major Lilley's wife, who had been placed in the same cell, died in her confinement, which took place under circumstances of the grossest indecency. Who knew what that poor creature suffered in her last moments? No more horrible case had ever been known in the annals of the country, and it passed all comprehension how English men and women could be subjected to such brutal treatment at the hands of their brother Englishmen. The answer of the noble Lord was not, in his opinion, sufficient, and nothing less than an immediate inquiry, and a suspension at all events of Colonel Crawley during the inquiry, would satisfy the just indignation of the country.


said, he thought that the speech of the noble Lord would be read in India with some displeasure, or at any rate with great regret, by all the officers composing the Indian army, because the noble Lord had endeavoured to shift the blame from one to another. He had left it upon nobody, but had implicated those general officers in India who had distinguished themselves on all occasions, and who, he had hoped, would have received from the noble Lord complete exoneration in this matter. He had hoped also that the noble Lord would have been able completely to exonerate Colonel Crawley. ["Oh, oh!"] He was not acquainted with that officer, and only defended him as he would defend any other absent man who was unjustly attacked. Many statements had been made in this country; but it should be borne in mind that they were all on one side. He would appeal to the House of Commons not to condemn a man unheard, and he believed that Colonel Crawley was both anxious and willing to meet the charge in every particular. He was satisfied that it was only from a sense of duty towards officers higher in command than himself, that Colonel Crawley had refrained from answering the statements which had appeared in the papers. With the exception of the noble Lord, every speaker had denounced him, and the hon. Gentleman who had spoken first had declared that he was not fit to command the regiment; but India was a distant country, and there were many circumstances attending the court martial at Mhow which they had not been able to arrive at These sergeant majors were certainly believed to be guilty by Colonel Crawley and General Farrell; and when the evidence and the charges preferred were forwarded to Sir William Mansfield, though that officer thought the evidence insufficient to prove the charges against them, he still said, that under the peculiar circumstances of the case, these men were to be kept in closer arrest until the termination of the court martial. If that were so, surely Colonel Crawley had some reason for what he did, and neither he nor any other officer ought to be hastily judged. It should be remembered that men in the army were under a different rule from civilians, and that they had not the same ready methods of redress which civilians enjoyed. A man who was serving his country abroad ought not therefore to be assailed in his absence, unless sufficient reasons for so doing existed. On previous occasions Colonel Crawley had shown great kindness towards the regimental sergeant major. He (Colonel Barttelot) was not going to blacken the memory of the sergeant major. All he wished was to show that Colonel Crawley was not answerable for the death of the sergeant major. The fact was that circumstances had conduced to his death which no one could control. He was an exceedingly large man; it was, as they all knew, a very hot climate, and apoplexy was often fatal in a very short time. The day before his death Colonel Crawley had asked General Farrell whether the close arrest might not be changed to ordinary arrest, and that request was granted, so that at the time of Sergeant Major Lilley's death he was in ordinary arrest. With regard to the adjutant, Lieutenant Fitzsimon, to whom allusion had been made by the noble Lord, it did not appear from the remarks of Sir Hugh Rose upon the court martial that this officer stood very high in his opinion, for he said that the evidence of the adjutant was evasive and unsatisfactory, and showed his entire unfitness for the post. The Commander-in-Chief in India was not likely to be prejudiced or to have any bias upon such a matter; and that to his neglect of duty might be traced the annoyance caused by putting a sentinel in the quarters of Sergeant Major Lilley when he was under close arrest, [Mr. CONINGHAM: That was the statement of Colonel Crawley himself.] He thought that nobody would believe that the Commander-in-Chief in India would be prejudiced by what might be written by Colonel Crawley, or that he would even read it; and besides he was many hundred of miles away from where the inquiry took place. General Farrell, who was in this country, in a letter which he held in his hand said— You will perceive that another letter has appeared in The Times of this morning, signed "Civilian," wherein a gross misrepresentation of the truth has been made in regard to Lieutenant Fitzsimon. The case is as follows:—Lieutenant Fitzsimon wrote, commenting, as I conceived, in a disrespectful manner on Sir Hugh Rose's order; and this letter I advised him privately, at my office in Mhow, to withdraw. He said he would do so on my order. 'No, no,' I said, 'you can send it on if you like. If you wish to withdraw it, it must be your own act and deed;' and as his own act and deed he did withdraw it. If I recollect right, my assistant adjutant general, Major Champion, and my aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Gayer, were present. With reference to Colonel Crawley's dropping the charge of conspiracy against Sergeants Lilley, Wakefield, and Duval, he had nothing to do with it. I, as General commanding the division, received orders from the Commander-in-Chief directing them to be forgiven, and a warning order to be read out to all the non-commissioned officers assembled for the purpose. This order I duly read, and Sergeants Wakefield and Duval were released accordingly. Sergeant Duval had been in hospital for a short time with fever, which was very prevalent in the regiment at the time—nothing more. A summary of evidence was sent in by Colonel Crawley to me, against the sergeants, which summary I forwarded to the Commander-in-Chief, and it was his order that no prosecution against them should take place, and that they should he forgiven. This showed that Colonel Crawley was not to blame, and he was sure that the sense of justice entertained by Englishmen would lead them to feel that this was not a case to be decided in any hurry or upon any one-sided view. The sick wife of Sergeant Major Lilley died, and he was sure that no one deplored her loss and that of the sergeant major more than Colonel Crawley must have done. But Colonel Crawley's wife was now in this country, and annonymous letters had been sent to her declaring that on her husband's arrival in this country a charge of manslaughter would be preferred against him. Every one must deprecate such conduct. It had been said that Colonel Crawley ought to be removed from the command of his regiment; but was it probable, that if he were unfit for the command, he would be retained in it by the Commander-in-Chief? That was primâ facie evidence that he was not guilty, and in his opinion he was rightly and justly retained in the position he occupied. In conclusion, he would appeal to the House and to the country not, for the sake of doing what was alleged to be an act of justice to a man who had died in the service, to do an act of injustice towards a man who was still serving his Queen and country to the best of his ability.


was surprised that the hon. and gallant Officer should have charged the noble Lord with not having done his duty towards these officers; for he certainly thought, after hearing the circumstances of the case, that the noble Lord had dealt very tenderly with them; because, though to some extent blame was cast on each of them, they were all acquitted by the noble Lord of any share in the blame. The hon. and gallant Member had told the House that Colonel Crawley was not to blame; but he wished the hon. and gallant Gentleman had gone one step further, and informed the House, if Colonel Crawley was not to blame, who was? The undertaking by the Government to make a little compensation by a sum of money to the family of Sergeant Major Lilley had very little to do with the great question under consideration. It was of the last importance that those in command, having liberty and life at their disposal, should use their great power with tenderness and with an extreme desire to do justice; and if justice was altogether neglected and set at nought, as it had been in that particular case, some one must be responsible, and an inquiry should be instituted until the reponsible individual was found. That there might be extenuating circumstances, he was quite willing to admit; and, in the absence of the guilty party, he was willing to believe that the lamentable occurrence was the result of some mistake on the part of one, perhaps of many persons; but surely no officer could be ignorant of the Articles of War, and that they had no right to hold an individual under arrest for a period of a month, without bringing that individual to a court martial. He believed, that eight days was the limit, unless under special circumstances. If Sergeant Major Lilley happened to be a large man, and liable to apoplexy, there was the more reason for caution in the selection of the place of confinement. Under all the circumstances, he thought that the noble Marquess had exercised great fairness towards the officers; but he still hoped that a rigid inquiry would be instituted into the affair.


said, that after the statement of the noble Marquess, that further inquiry was to take place, no good purpose could be gained by prolonging the present debate; but, as an old Inniskilling officer, he felt for the character of the regiment, and he therefore regarded with satisfaction the testimony borne to its former good condition by the Commander-in-Chief. He hoped, that when the matter before the House was brought to a conclusion, the Inniskilling Dragoons would be restored to their previous state of discipline and efficiency. He did not think that under no circumstances could a commanding officer be removed from his command without committing some crime; for when a regiment, whose discipline and good conduct had been remarkable in every respect, became afterwards in such a state as the Inniskillings were in subsequently to their arrival in India, the fact of that unfavourable change taking place, might of itself, under the circumstances, be a sufficient cause for the removal of the commanding officer.


observed, that the reason why Colonel Crawley was not removed, was because what he did was sanctioned by his superiors in command. After that fact had been ascertained, it was impossible to remove him.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question put, and agreed to.