James Joseph Magennis VC Frances Elizabeth Clarke Stewart Parker Samuel Beckett Sam Hanna Bell William Carleton John Hewitt Rosamond Praegar Bernard (Barney) Hughes

John Nicholson (1821 - 1857):
Soldier and Colonial Governor


John Nicholson was born in Dublin. His father died when he was nine years old, and his mother moved to Lisburn, County Antrim. He was educated at Dungannon Royal School and in 1837 became an ensign in the Indian army. When serving in the Afghan war in 1842 he met his brother Alexander, and three days later discovered his murdered body. In 1847 he became assistant to Sir Henry Lawrence, Resident at Lahore, and he distinguished himself in the Sikh war of 1848. When he was only twenty-eight years old he was appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Lahore Board. He was Governor of the Punjab for several years, and by 1857, the year of the mutiny, he had been promoted to the rank of colonel and was stationed at Peshawar. He fought ferociously and was said to have been in the saddle for twenty hours during one battle. A Hindu guru deified Nicholson as an incarnation of Brahma. As a result, a sect of 'Nikalsainis' grew up, and though Nichloson in his embarrassment had them whipped and imprisoned, they persisted in worshiping him. Having won various victories against the mutineers, he was soon appointed brigadier-general. He was killed in action at the age of thirty-five.  

In December 1922 a statue of Nicholson, depicting him, sword-wielding, in the thickest of fighting, was unveiled in Market Square, Lisburn; the statue was designed by FW Pomeroy and gifted by Henry Musgrave. It is inscribed: “To Brigadier General John Nicholson who led the assault at Delhi on 23rd September 1857 and fell in the hour of victory mortally wounded at the age of 35.”

Nearly a century later the statue was removed, this necessitated by major redevelopment woks in Market Square. However on 21 April 2015 it was re-erected in Market Square on a few steps from its original site.

Added to the plinth were tablets commemorating two VC winners from the district: engineer William James Lendrim, decorated for his actions on 14 February 1855 at the siege of Sevastopol; and Samuel Hill for valour on 16 November 1857 during the Indian Mutiny.



Born: 11 December 1821
Died: 23 September 1857
Kate Newmann
Acknowledgements:

Additional research: Richard Froggatt (2/2016)

Bibliography:
Captain Lionel J Trotter: "The life of John Nicholson: soldier and administrator" (3rd ed, J Murray, 1898); lisburnmuseum.com; Richard Doherty & David Truesdale: "Irish Winners of the Victoria Cross" (Dublin, 2000)