All pictures Copyright
 E & BJ Capper Nagold 2017

 

Indian Mutiny and afterwards - Peshewar, Bareilly, Delhi and Gwalior

Indian Mutiny/Sepoy Rebellion:

Here is just a brief summary. For more see Wikipedia article:
Indian Mutiny, SepoyRebellion (May 1857 - June 1858), was the uprising against rule of the East India Compny by native soldiers (sepoys). Bengalese troops resented the 1856 annexation of Oudh, their homeland, were angered by issue of cartridges coated with fat of cows (sacred to Hindus). The revolt spread over north central India, Delhi captured, Lucknow besieged and entire British colony massacred at Cawnpore. Mutiny subdued by March, 1858. Resulting reforms included transfer of rule from East India Co. to British Crown.
The uprising is also called India’s First War of Independance.

On the map in the Wikipedia article mentioned above, each of the following places where John Capper was stationed are shown as principle centres of the mutiny: Peshewar, Bareilly, Delhi and Gwalior. See also an old map with all his stations in India marked on it. His army paybook only records his location at the beginning of each year.

Peshewar, (modern map) now in Pakistan, was then on the north-western frontier of colonial India to Afganistan. The city controls the eastern end of the Khyber Pass, which has played a significant strategic role is many invasions in the area, (Darius 1, Alexander the Great, Ghengis Khan etc.).

Quote from an article about Peshawar and its history:
“During the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857, the 4,000 members of the native garrison were disarmed without bloodshed; the absence of brutality meant that Peshawar was not affected by the  widespread devastation that was experienced throughout the rest of British India and local chieftains sided with the British after the incident. British control remained confined within the city walls as vast regions of the Frontier province outside the city were claimed by the Kingdom of Afghanistan.”

John Capper in Peshewar:
The Indian Mutiny took place between May 1857 and June 1858. After being recorded as stationed in Karachi at the beginning of 1858, John moved to Peshawar and was there at latest from the beginning of 1859 to the beginning of 1862 or longer. No children were born in this period, so it was probably not safe for his wife Ann to be with him.

 

Bareilly (modern map) is a city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
Quote from the Wikipedia article about Bareilly and its history:

Bareilly was a centre of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The rebellion began ... on 10 May 1857 in Meerut. It expanded into other mutinies and civilian rebellions, primarily in the major north-central Indian river valleys; local episodes extended northwest to Peshawar ... and southeast (beyond Delhi). There were riots in many parts of Uttar Pradesh, and Muslims in Bareilly, Bijnor and Moradabad called for the revival of a Muslim kingdom.

The Rohillas actively opposed the British, but were disarmed. Khan Bahadur Khan Rohilla, grandson of Hafiz Rahmat Khan, formed his own government in Bareilly in 1857 and a widespread popular revolt in Awadh, Bundelkhand and Rohilkhand took place. In 1857, Khan Bhadur Khan issued silver coins from Bareilly as an independent ruler. When the rebellion failed, Bareilly was subjugated. Khan Bahadur Khan was sentenced to death, and hanged in the police station on 24 February 1860.

John Capper in Bareilly:
After Peshewar, John’s next recorded station was Bareilly - at the beginning of 1863 and of 1864. There Ann was able to join him as in October 1863 son John was born there. The two daughters Mary Jane - now 11 - and Annie - now 7 - would presumably have been with them as well.

 

Delhi (modern map) now the ‘National Capital Territory of Delhi’ and a huge conglomeration with a population of over 25 million people, is only about 70 km from Meerut, where the Indian Mutiny started. Delhi was itself the scene of bloody struggles in 1857, first taken over by the rebelling sepoys and then being recaptured by the British forces. There is a dramatic and detailed account in the Wikipedia article Siege of Delhi. This siege and the recapture of the city broke the back of the rebellion.

John Capper was stationed in Delhi at the start of 1865, not long after the dramatic events of the mutiny. The city had now been taken from the East India Company and placed under direct control of the British Government. The scars of the struggle would certainly have been very visible not only in the damaged buildings but also in the relationship with the local people. Nothing further is known of his or the families’ activities here. In August of that year he received his last promotion from corporal to sergeant, but whether that took place in Delhi or in Gwalior, where he was located at latest by November, (birth of daughter Rosina), is not known.

 

Gwalior (modern map) and Morar are only 5km apart and are now part of the same city of Gwalior, (pop. ca. 2 million), in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

Quote from the Wikipedia article about Gwalior on the ‘Rebellion of 1857’:

“Gwalior is also known for not participating in the 1857 rebellion, mainly due to non cooperation with Rani Lakshmibai. After Kalpi (Jhansi) fell into the hands of the British on 24th May 1858, Lakshmibai sought shelter at Gwalior Fort. The Maharaja of  Gwalior was not willing to give up his fort without a fight as he was a  strong ally of the British, but after negotiations, his troops capitulated and the rebels took possession of the fort. The British wasted no time in attacking Gercest, the battle was fought by  Lakshmibai, the bloodiest battle ever fought on Indian soil. Indian forces numbered around 20,000, and British forces around 1600 assisted by Maharaja of Gwalior troops. Lakshmibai's example is  remembered to this day by Indian nationalists. She died fighting, and Gwalior was free from rebels.”

Rani Lakshmibai is known today known as the Joan of Arc of India. She fell in combat at the Gwalior fortress on 18th June 1858.

John Capper’s army station is referred to as Morar, Gwalior. It was a cantonment (military location) of the British Army, nowadays of the India Army. He was stationed here at the beginning of the years 1866 and 1867, but before that, on 30th Nov. 1865, a daughter Rosina Elisa was born in Gwalior, so they must have moved from Delhi sometime during the year 1865, maybe with his promotion to sergeant in August. For some reason this birth was not recorded with the other children in the army paybook. Unfortunately Rosina died only 9 months later on 2nd Sept. of the following year.

John, wife Ann, (about 7 months pregnant), and the other children Annie (11) and John (almost 4) were probably still in Gwalior  when the next family event occurred - the marriage of the 15 year-old daughter Mary Jane to William Benton, who at 30 was twice her age. (See note about Mary Jane.) William was presumably also a soldier, as further events in Mary Jane’s life took place at military locations.
There are several possible reasons for the marriage at this age, which was not particularly unusual in Victorian times. Mary Jane may have been pregnant - a child William died in Oct. 1868, but his birthdate is not known. Maybe the wedding took place quickly because a move to the south was pending. Ann’s next baby - Adelaide - was born late in November ‘67 in Madras and that is also where Mary Jane’s baby died.