Memoir of the Right Hon. Sir John McNeill, G.C.B.
and of his Second Wife Elizabeth Wilson by their Grand-Daughter.
First edition. Important and uncommon biography of military and diplomatic service in India and Persia. Appointed an Assistant Surgeon to the HEIC he was posted to the Bombay Army in 1816 seeing action with the Baroda Field Force in that year. He was then involved in the Third Mahratta War, present at the capture of Bhuj and Rari; in 1819-20 he was in Persia at the capture of Forts Ronis and Zaiga; and in 1824-35 he was attached to the HEIC Legation to Persia, “at first in medical charge, and latterly as political assistant to the envoy, in which post he displayed great ability” (ODNB) Transferring to the Foreign Office he served as Secretary on the mission to Tehran “to congratulate Mohammed Shah on his accession to the Persian throne,” and 1836-42 he served as Minister to Persia, but his intervention in the siege of Herat, and his efforts to “mak[e] Persia the agent of British influence” in the region ended in failure. In 1842 he returned to Britain and took up the post of Chairman of the Board of Supervision of the Scottish Poor Law, supervising a special inquiry at the time of the potato famine “nearly as disastrous in the western highlands as in Ireland.” In 1854 he joined A.M. Tulloch in the commission enquiring into the disastrous conduct of the commissariat in the Crimea. He died in 1883. ODNB concludes that, “Despite some recognition, neither his diplomatic nor his military work quite fitted his abilities and he found himself always in an awkward, adversarial relationship to the English establishment.”
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Octavo. Original mid-blue cloth, title gilt to the spine and to the upper board together with a signature cartouche with his name in Persian, top edge gilt. Photogravure portrait frontispiece and 9 other plates, one of them a photogravure, 2 folding maps, one of them coloured. Ownership inscription of Hester McNeill, Kilmelford 1913 to the front free endpaper. Slightly rubbed, spine relined, hinges repaired, light browning, otherwise a very good copy.