Henry Edward Colvile

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File:Henry Edward Colville Vanity Fair 1895-10-03.jpg
Colonel Colvile as caricatured by Spy (Leslie Ward) in Vanity Fair, October 1895
Returning from the Boer War on the RMS Dunottar Castle, July 1900.[1] Standing L-R: Sir Byron Leighton, Claud Grenfel, Major Frederick Russell Burnham, Captain Gordon Forbes, Abe Bailey (his son John would marry Diana Churchill in 1932), next two unidentified, John Weston Brooke. Seated L-R: Major Bobby White, Lord Downe, General Sir Henry Edward Colvile (a year later Churchill as MP would demand an inquiry over his dismissal from South Africa), Major Harry White, Major Joe Laycock, Winston Churchill, Sir Charles Bentinck. Sitting L-R: unidentified, Col. Maurice Gifford (who had lost his arm in the Second Matabele War).

Major-General Sir Henry Edward Colvile KCMG CB (10 July 1852 – 25 November 1907) was an English soldier.


Colvile was born at Kirkby Hall, Leicestershire. He was the son of Charles Robert Colvile and Hon. Katherine Sarah Georgina Russell.

Colvile was educated at Eton, and entered the Grenadier Guards in 1870. He was appointed A.D.C. to General the Hon. Sir Leicester Smyth, commanding the forces in South Africa, in 1880. He served on the Intelligence Department of the Suakin Expedition of 1884, was present at the Battles of El Teb and the Battle of Tamai, mentioned in despatches, and received the bronze star, medal, and clasp. He was employed on special service in the Sudan prior to the Nile Expedition of 1884-85, and during that Expedition served as D.A.A.G. ; was mentioned in despatches ; received the clasp, and was created C.B. At the close of the Expedition he was Chief of the Intelligence Department of the Frontier Force ; was present at the Battle of Ginnis; was mentioned in despatches, and was promoted to the rank of Colonel. He was then attached to the Intelligence Department at headquarters, and wrote the official history of the Sudan Campaign.

Colvile was the author of a plan, dated 1892, for a military expedition to Abeokuta.[2] However, a settlement was reached between the British and the Egba state without the use of military force. The plan is now held at Derbyshire Record Office among the Colvile family archives (collection D461).

In 1893 he succeeded the late Sir Gerald Portal as Commissioner (Acting) for Uganda, commanded the Unyoro Expedition, which resulted in the inclusion of that country into the Protectorate ; received the Central Africa Medal, was created K.C.M.G., and received the second-class Order of the Brilliant Star of Zanzibar. He was selected for promotion to the rank of Major-General, 12 April 1898.[3]

Later, he became commander, Infantry Bde, Gibraltar 1899; Guards Bde and 9 Div, South Africa 1899-1900; and retired 1901.

He married, firstly, Alice Rosa Daly, daughter of Hon. Robert Daly and Hon. Cecilia Maria A'Court, on 6 August 1878. He married, secondly, Zelie Isabelle Richard de Preville on 30 December 1886. He died after his motorcycle collided with Henry Rawlinson, 1st Baron Rawlinson's car at Bisley.


  • A ride in petticoats and slippers: an account of a journey through Morocco (Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, London, 1884)
  • The accursed land, or, first steps on the water-way of Edom (Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, London, 1884)
  • History of the Sudan campaign (HMSO, London, 1889)
  • The land of the Nile springs; being chiefly an account of how we fought Kabarega (Edward Arnold, London, 1895)
  • The nick of time: a musical romance in 3 acts (Lamley & Co, London, 1896)
  • The work of the 9th Division in South Africa, 1900 (Edward Arnold, London, 1901)
  • The ALLIES, ie England and Japan (Hutchinson & Co, London, 1907)
  • Henry Charles Shelley, Colvile's Case (W Tarrant, London, 1901)
  • The scapegoat: being a selection from a series of articles which have appeared in the review of the week on the case of Sir Henry Colvile (London, 1901)
Government offices
Preceded by
James Ronald Leslie MacDonald
Commissioner of Uganda
Succeeded by
Frederick John Jackson


  1. "FinestHour" (pdf). Journal of the Churchill Center and Societies, Summer 2005. Retrieved 2 August 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Smith, Mark ‘Preparing for war: Colonel Colvile's notes on Abeokuta’, Recordkeeping (April 2009), 28–31
  3. Plarr, Victor (1899). Men and Women of the Time: A Dictionary of Contemporaries. London: G. Routledge.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>