John Nicholson

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Brigadier-General John Nicholson.

Brigadier-General John Nicholson (1822-1857) was a British soldier who served in India.

Early career

He went to India in 1839 to join the 41st Bengal Native Infantry. He then transferred to the 27th Bengal Native Infantry and served in the 1st Afghan War when he was taken prisoner following the Siege of Ghazni. He also served in the 1st Sikh War and was a protegé of Sir Henry Lawrence who made him a political officer on the North West Frontier. He was revered by local tribesmen and inspired the famous cult of 'Nikal Seyn', or 'Nikal-Seynis' (followers of Nikal-Seyn/Nicholson).

The Indian Mutiny and later career

He commanded the Punjab Movable Column soon after the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny and carrid out numerous indiscriminate executions of suspected rebels. He was responsible for the destruction of the 46th Bengal Native Infantry at Trimmoo Ghat. He took part in the Recapture of Delhi where he led the 1st Column of the storming parties. He was mortally in the assault on the Kashmir Gate of old Dehli and died a few days later[1]. He had close links to the famous Hayat Family of Wah, in northern Punjab, as a prominent member of this family, Nawab Muhammad Hayat Khan, CSI (1833-1901), served under Nicholson's command until his demise[2].

Evening view of Nicholson's Memorial


A Memorial, called 'Nicholson's Memorial' or 'Nicholson's Monument', in the form of an obelisk, was erected in his honour by various friends and admirers later, in the Margalla Pass between Taxila and Rawalpindi in the Punjab. A drinking water fountain was also later on made at the base of this Pass, on the main Grand Trunk Road, to facilitate travellers.


  1. Charles Allen, Soldier-Sahibs:The Men who made the North-West Frontier, London, 2000, p.323 and pp.325-327
  2. Allen, pp. 307, 309, 321, 326 and 337-338

External links

Historical books online