The Nicholson Cemetery, Delhi named after “imperial psychopath” known for his brutality

Grave of Brg.Gen.John Nicholson, Delhi. St.James

Located near the historical  Kashmere Gate Metro Station and west of the Inter State Bus Terminal, Delhii is the  Nicholson Cemetery, which was formerly known as the Old Delhi Military Cemetery. Presently being managed by The St. James' Church,  the oldest one built for the Christian community of Delhi, the cemetery has links with the history of India's early freedom struggle  against the misrule of the East India company that ran an unjust and tyrannical proxy government in collusion with the Crown administration, London. 

Nicholson Cemetery, Delhi

Entrance to Nicholson Cemetery, Delhi
The frustration among the people, in particular in the northern states led to violent rebellion  against the  English rule and this one was the site of the earliest known Christian burials in Delhi NCR. It  is named after Brigadier-General John Nicholson, who played a crucial role in the 1857 revolt, first war of independence. The burials here bear  testimony to an orgy  of violence that was let loose by the oppressors and the oppressed. 

Gen. John Nicholson,EIC army,

Above image: Gen. John Nicholson who commanded a section of the English troop during the siege of Delhi in September, 1857. he was related to  Sir James Weir Hogg, a successful East India Company lawyer and for some time Registrar of the Calcutta Supreme Court, and later a Member of Parliament.  Nicholson was the youngest brigadier-general in the Bengal Army.While in Pakhtunkhwa (now pat of Pakistan)  as Commissioner, he  was ruthless in bringing peace and order to the region with a zero tolerance attitude on crime or any perceived disrespect shown towards the colonial government, often using flogging or other similar methods to both punish and humiliate any who dared infringe the law.(wikipedia). ..................

Born on 11 December 1821 in Dublin, Ireland, with the help of his maternal uncle, he  got a job as a cadet in Bengal Infantry and later got promotion for his valor and hardwork. In December 1839, he was posted to the 27th native infantry at Firozpur. He served in the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839–1842) and First Anglo-Sikh War (1845-1846), but he made a mark in 1857  during the Siege of Delhi where the assault took place on September 14.  He  commanded   the storming party to free Delhi from the rebels  and got shot at  and died  on September 23, while on duty. He was just 36.

Being Irish  Nicholson was tagged  a controversial person  in life and in death.  Many of of his  fellow men never liked him for his haughty and arrogant manner and the way he treated the natives. However  he was revered by a large section of soldiers and people at home ; to them  he was  more or less a cult-figure.  Reports say  to a fellow officer, he proposed “the flaying alive, impalement or burning of the murderers of (British) women and children. The idea of simply hanging the perpetrators of such atrocities is maddening”.

According to  Historian William Dalrymple, in his book “The Last Moghul”, ''Nicholson an “imperial psychopath” with a “merciless capacity for extreme aggression and brutality”.

Despite his hatred for the Indians who wanted the English to leave the country for good as their unjust rule reached the fag end, the  Archaeological Survey of India  has designated his  grave a national monument. Neither the Indian government nor the ASI or historians have made any attempt to remove his tomb in the grave.  

Father Jesuario Rebello, head of the Delhi Cemeteries Commission aptly said, “We don’t bear any grudges,”