Police Awards From the Collection of John Tamplin

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Date of Auction: 2nd April 2003

Sold for £1,100

Estimate: £600 - £800

The Indian Mutiny Medal to Sir Frank H. Souter, Kt., C.S.I., C.I.E., Commissioner of Police, Bombay, recommended for the Victoria Cross during the mutiny

Indian Mutiny 1857-59, no clasp (F. H. Souter) light contact marks, therefore nearly very fine £600-800


Frank Henry Souter was born in 1831, second son of Thomas Alexander Souter, an Ensign in the 44th Foot and a hero of the disastrous last stand at Gundamuck in 1844, when his regiment was practically annihilated and he saved the Regimental colours.

Frank Souter served as a Volunteer against the rebels in the Nazim’s dominions in 1850, and was appointed Superintendent of Police at Dharwar in 1854. He was District Superintendent of Police in Southern Mahratta during the Indian Mutiny when he captured several rebel chiefs, most notably the rebel chief of Nargund, for which he was presented with a sword of honour.

In 1859 he was engaged in the suppression of the Bhil brigands of the Northern Deccan. This task he successfully completed by killing Bhagoji Naik, the notorious Bhil outlaw, and capturing his chief followers, showing on several occasions so much courage and resource that he was recommended for the Victoria Cross by the Collector of Ahmadnagar, who reported:

‘In this encounter the rebels fought with the greatest determination. Mr Souter was the leader and the only European present. Early in the engagement his horse was shot dead under him; he then seized his rifle, with which, at the head of his police, he shot several of the rebels, and latterly, at the close of the contest, mounted on a Sowar’s horse, charged in, and after maintaining a series of desperate hand-to-hand encounters, in which he cut in two a matchlock clubbed at him, succeeded in disposing to a man of the rebels, who refused all quarter, though repeatedly offered. Mr Souter was first in and last out of the fight, and his escape was most miraculous; his horse fell, pierced almost simultaneously with three bullets, and his tunic was also cut through with a sword while engaged in one of the hand-to-hand combats.’ Sir Hugh Rose, afterwards Lord Strathnairn, fully concurred in the opinion that Mr Souter had earned that coveted distinction, and it would no doubt have been conferred but for the technicality in the terms of the Royal Warrant not extending the distinction to non-military officers.

Frank Souter became Commissioner of Police for the City of Bombay in 1864, and remained as such until his death. He was appointed a Companion of the Star of India on 8 December 1868; was appointed a Knight Bachelor by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales at Government House, Bombay, on 24 November 1875 during the Prince’s tour of India in 1875-76; and finally he was appointed a Companion of the Indian Empire on 1 January 1886. Souter was a Member of the Bombay Municipal Corporation from 1872, and of the Town Council.

He married in 1863 Helena Lovett, daughter of William Lochiel Cameron, by whom he had issue at least four sons and two daughters. Sir Frank Souter died of heart disease on 5 June 1888 at the Nilgiris. He was buried in St Thomas’s Cemetery, Ootacamund. After his death a Souter Memorial Fund was raised. Sold with extensive research including a lengthy memorial published in Representative Men of India.