Present-day Firozpur [Ferozepore] is a city of some 100,000 people on the left bank of the Sutlej, in the Punjab, India. Partition in 1947 placed it a few miles on the Indian side of the border with Pakistan.

Ferozepore came under the rule of the East India Company in 1835, when the British took control of it from the Sikh ruling family by an instrument of escheat (ownership passing to the Crown when an estate has no heir). Ferozepore Fort (Cantonment) was established four years later.

I have a family connection to the area, through my 1st cousin four times removed, George Bannatyne Wymer (1839–1908), who was the third child of my third great aunt Emily Crespigny Wymer née Hindes. George was born on 10 December 1839 and christened on 5 January 1840. (Emily’s previous children had died in infancy.)

Emily Hindes (1813–1891) was the illegitimate daughter of my fourth great grandfather, Charles Fox Champion de Crespigny (1785–1875). Charles sponsored her trip to India in 1830, almost certainly with the expectation that she would find a husband there. On 1 December 1832 at Neemuch, in what is now Madya Pradesh, she duly married George Petre Wymer (1788–1868), a Major of the Honourable East India Company.

India – The Town and Fort of Ferozepore coloured lithograph 1846 by Henry Pilleau – published by Dickinson & Sons, London, after a sketch by H. Pilleau Esq. late 16th Lancers, C. 1846. Image retrieved from Mullock’s Auctions.

Wymer had entered military service in the East India Company in August, 1804, by 1833 gaining the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He was active in the first Anglo-Afghan War of 1838–42, fought between the British and the Emirate of Kabul over a succession dispute.

The British achieved their objective of re-installing the former emir and occupying Kabul, but with a fragile peace and continuing hostility toward them, a military expedition with Wymer in command was sent to Kabul, leaving Ferozepore in February and arriving in the first week of April.

The Bombay Gazette 8 January 1840 reported:

Colonel Wymer proceeds with the 2d Regiment N. I. from Ferozepore, in command of the grand convoy.

The convoy was reported in the Asiatic Journal And Monthly Register (1840) Vol.32 page 17

A letter from Ferozepore, dated 24th January, says, “the grand convoy about to proceed into Affghanistan, under the command of Brigadier Wallace, will probably move from this in the first week in February. The troops composing the convoy will amount to about 2,000 fighting men. The force consists of the 2d Reg. N. I., six depot companies of native regiments, drafts for H. M.’s 13th Light Infantry and drafts for the 1st European regiment, and the mountain-train for the service of his majesty Shah Soojah ul Moolk, with upwards of 200 remount horses, 21 lakhs of rupees, with some 800 camels with stores, &c., will accompany the troops, besides numerous private stores, merchandise, &c.”

In addition to regular and Bengal Army troops there were about 4,000 camp followers and 2,000 camels.

A convoy to Afghanistan pictured in 1839, the year before Wymer led the convoy. The Army of the Indus forcing the Bolan Pass, 1839 Tinted lithograph from ‘Sketches in Afghanistan’, 1838-42, after James Atkinson. Image in the collection of the National Army Museum

I do not know if Emily Wymer and little George were part of the convoy, but it seems likely, for Wymer was posted to many different places in the course of his career in India and it was usual for the wife of a senior officer to accompany her husband. In 1840 we find him in Kandahar [Candahar], Afghanistan, under Sir William Nott, and in 1843 Emily gave birth to a daughter in Mussoorie, a Himalayan hill station near Dehradun, north of Delhi. If she was with him then she probably had been with him earlier.

Firozpur (formerly Ferozepore) is close to the present day border with Pakistan and 75 km to Lahore.The distance as the crow flies between Firozpur and Kabul is 402 miles (647 kilometers).

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