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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Major General Sir Charles Metcalfe MacGregor

Other: Charles Metcalfe MacGregor 
Dates:  1840, 12 August - 1887, 5 February
Born:  India, Agra
Died:  Egypt, Cairo

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John Falconer, British Library 
A Biographical Dictionary of 19th Century Photographers in South and South-East Asia

Amateur, India Personal: 2nd son of Robert Guthrie MacGregor. Educated at Marlborough 1853-55; ensign, 57th Bengal Native Infantry 5 Jan 1857; commanded a squadron of Hodson’s Horse during Indian Mutiny 1858 and second-in-command 1861-64; served in Fane’s Horse during China Campaign 1860; Afghan War 1878-80; Assistant Quartermaster General in India 1865-67 and in Abyssinian Campaign 1867-68; commanded Punjab Frontier Force 1885-87. Died at Shepheard’s Hotel, Cairo and buried at Glengyle on shores of Loch Katrine.
Author: Mountain warfare, an essay (2nd ed. 1866); A military report on the country of Bhutan (1873); Narrative of a journey through the province of Khorassan (2 vols, 1879); Wanderings in Balochistan (1882); compiled History of the Second Afghan war (6 vols, 1885-86), suppressed by Indian Government;The defence of India (1884), suppressed by Indian Government; compiled the Gazetteer of Central Asia (1868).
Photographic: Learned photography in 1871:
Oct 10. – I went yesterday to the Surveyor-General’s Office and saw Captain Waterhouse, who is in charge of the Photographic Department, and he sent for his head man and asked him to undertake to teach me. He agreed willingly, and to-day he came down here, and I had a preliminary talk. He seemed most intelligent and nice. He is a Scotchman, and I really think they are the most reliable people in the world; only don’t give this opinion out, as people might think one prejudiced.
Mr Makenzie says I must have a native to help me, so I am going to try and get one here, who is to go to the photographic studio and be taught to do all sorts of things, such as cleaning plates, etc. This will be a great help. I think if I can get a month with Mr Mackenzie I shall get on all right, as he seems a quiet practical man. It will be a great thing if I can really become a good photographer by the time I go to the frontier, as my report will then be ever so much more useful and interesting…’[1]
Oct 28. – I had a regular outing this morning with my photographic things. Of course one is not good at it yet; but I took four views, which I am going to print on Monday, and will send you. One is a view across the water of the pagoda in the Eden Garden, another the pagoda close up, the third a little bridge over some water, and the fourth the statue of Sir William Peel, with the promenade and the shipping in the background.’[2]
Dera Ghazi, Jan. 11 [1872]. - …One meets a good many Afghans of sorts down here, as they come in the cold weather to get work. They are splendid-looking fellows, but lazy-looking. I mean to photograph a lot of them.’[3]
[Jan 1872]. ‘At Rajanpur MacGregor was able to photograph some views and a group of Baluchis, a chief and his followers.’[4]
Feb. 3 [1872]. – I took photos of the post at Sanri yesterday, and one of a Jat encampment, which came out fairly.[5]
Mangrota, March 1 [1872]. – I got here about nine this morning, took two photos of the fort, a place large enough for 2000 men…’[6]
During his journey through Khorassan in 1875, MacGregor evidently took camer equipment, but left it at Shiraz, since he writes:
‘Among the cooking things I espied a jar, which I had used for photography, but which I had ordered to be left behind at Sheeraz with the rest of my apparatus, but which had been brought in and used as a cooking pot…’[7]
MacGregor clearly continued with photography, since his widow records that, during the summer of 1882, he took his ten year old daughter Viva, ‘on a tour through the most beautiful parts of England, and amused himself with sketching, painting, and photographing lovely bits of scenery which took his fancy, and places and objects of historical interest.’[8] 

  1. Λ (ed.) Lady MacGregor, The life and opinions of Major-General Sir Charles Metcalfe MacGregor (2 vols, William Blackwood and sons, Edinburgh and London, 1888), vol 1, p. 326. 
  2. Λ Lady MacGregor, pp. 328-329. 
  3. Λ Lady MacGregor, p.331. 
  4. Λ Lady MacGregor, p. 332. 
  5. Λ Lady MacGregor, p. 334. 
  6. Λ Lady MacGregor, p. 340. 
  7. Λ C.M. MacGregor, Narrative of a journey through the province of Khorassan and on the N.W. frontier of Afghanistan in 1875 (2 vols, W.H. Allen and Co., London, 1879), vol 1, p. 104. 
  8. Λ Lady MacGregor, vol. 2, p. 308. 

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