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BANNERMAN, John Alexander
(1759-1819) - Captain

Commissioned: Cadet (HEIC - Madras) 1776; Ensign 9 April 1778; Lieutenant 8 January 1782; Captain 6 August 1794; Major 29 September 1798; Lieutenant-Colonel 17 June 1800; retired 6 August 1803.

Born: 5 June 1759, second son of Reverend David Bannerman (1712-1810), minister of St. Martins and Camusmichael, Perth (Scotland) and Janet (nee Turing).

Bannerman sailed for India on the ship Resolution on 16 January 1777 as a Cadet in the East India Company, and was appointed Ensign in the Madras Army on 9 April 1778. He served with the Madras Native Infantry (1777-1800). Married Ann West, third daughter of James West (Madras army) at Palamcotta, Madras, on 8 September 1789. Eight children: Ann Oram (1793-c.1891); James (c.1794-1866); Edward; Janet; David Roebuck (1799-c.1832); Mary Dione (1800-c.1891); Charlotte (c.1801-c.1880); and Augusta (1808-c.1870).

Took part in the 1796 campaign to seize Ceylon from the Dutch and relieved Major Lachlan Macquarie as commandant of the fortress at Galle in March 1796.

Bannerman's service in the Madras army brought him into contact with Marquess Wellesley during the 1799 Mysore campaign. He returned to Britain in 1800 and, thereafter, regarded himself as an adherent of Wellesley. He sought political office in 1806 in the House of Commons but was unsuccessful. A year later a vacancy was created for him and he succeeded to the seat of Bletchingly in January 1807. He served briefly and without distinction but then failed to secure re-election in the general election of 1807.

As a stockholder in the East India Company he had voting rights and was eligible for one of the highly-coveted positions on the Court of Directors. He was elected a Director in April 1808, but by 1816, he was no longer qualified to remain one. In 1817 he secured appointment as governor of Prince of Wales Island (Penang) - following the death of Governor William Petrie on 27 October 1816.

Bannerman arrived at Prince of Wales Island on board the ship Metcalfe and was sworn in as Governor on 24 November 1817.

In 1819 Colonel Bannerman had an extended dispute (and rivalry) with Sir Stamford Raffles over the establishment of a British garrison/colony at Singapore.

Died: from cholera, on Sunday 8 August 1819, in Penang. Buried in the cemetery of the Church of St George the Martyr, Penang - now referred to as the Northam Road, Georgetown.

Here rest the mortal remains of
Late Governor of this Island
and Lieutenant Colonel in the service of
The Honble East India Company.
Whom he faithfully served forty three years
with unwearied zeal and spotless integrity
He died on the VIII of August MDCCCXIX
aged LX years
after a life passed in the benevolent and active exercise
of every virtue becoming a christian and a Soldier,
universally respected and deeply deplored
by an affectionate family.

There is an additional inscription located inside the Church that reads:

To the Memory of
The Honorable Colonel
Who after an eventful Service of Forty-three Years,
In various important Situations
Under the English East-India Company,
Died Governor of this Presidency, on the 8th of August, 1819, Aged 61 Years.

Of the Spotless Integrity & unshaken firmness
Of his Public Character,
And of the great Utility of his Public Life,
The History of British India
Contains abundant & Honorable evidence.

This Tablet
Is intended by a few friends
As a humble but affectionate Memorial
Of their esteem and veneration
For the manly worth and many
endearing virtues,
Which distinguished & adorned
The Private life and character of
Colonel Bannerman.

[Large Tablet, at ground level, at the North-West side of the West entrance].

Harfield, Alan. Christian Cemeteries of Penang & Perak. London: British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia, 1987 pp.49-50 and 166; Thorne, R.G. The House of Commons 1790-1820. London: Secker & Warburg, 1986 Vol III p.134; Buckley, Charles Burton An Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore.: Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya Press, 1965.
Website: Descendants of James Bannerman:
http://www.mit. edu/~dfm/genealogy/bannerman.html

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73rd Regiment

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