For those living in 21st-century Britain, this article must be read against the background of the nation’s colonial history, particularly its involvement in India. It was to that country that the young Charles Scott was posted in the early days of his military career, but it was, in the grace of God, also the place where Scott was converted and where he served the Lord as well as his country for much of his adult life.
Major-General Sir Charles H. Scott was born at Portsmouth in 1848, the son of Dr. Edward John Scott and Helen Robertson. He was baptized as an infant on 26 October 1848 at St. John’s, Portsea, Hampshire. He was privately educated before entering the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, London.1 From there he joined the Royal Artillery as an officer in 1868 although but nineteen years of age. This was the commencement of an illustrious military career.
His first posting was to a battery in India, serving in several campaigns on the north-west frontier of that sub-continent. He was made a Colonel in 1892 and served in the Tirah Expedition, 1897-98. His main responsibilities were in the supervision of ordnance, crucial to the work of any armed force. His roles included: Superintendent, Gunpowder Factory, Bengal, 1881-92; Ordnance Consulting Officer for India, 1892-95; Inspector-General of Ordnance, Punjab, 1895-1900; Director-General of Ordnance, India, 1902-05 before he was made a Military Supply Member of the Council of the Governor-General of India from 1905-09. This latter position was abolished by Lord Morley and Lord Kitchener, leading up to Scott’s retirement in 1910.
It is interesting that during his early years Scott had not felt any spiritual need. His training at Woolwich passed without his being conscious of any sense of conviction: he thought little of what so soon was to become the focus of his life. Although few details are given, it was not long after his arrival in India that he became aware of his need of a Saviour. It was at this point he became an earnest seeker and student of the Bible to find the truth. His search was not in vain!
Soon after his conversion he came under the influence of Mr. Henry Dyer, a Trustee of Echoes of Service, and came into fellowship with a local assembly. Scott was a man of conviction. He took a very decided stand for Christ, and was prepared to suffer any reproach associated with that stand. He was also fastidious about the use of any spare time he may have had from his official duties. This was given unreservedly to the work for his heavenly Master. Apart from his untiring work amongst the believers at Ishapore, near Calcutta, he also immersed himself in the work of missionaries, work among soldiers, seamen, ships’ apprentices, the Young Men’s Christian Association, and other agencies. All of this work he conducted with the full support of his wife.
Upon his retirement and return to England in 1910, Sir Charles was awarded the honour of Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. His wife, the daughter of the late General J. G. Halliday, who was long associated with him in Christian work, had predeceased him. Settling in a south-eastern suburb of London, Scott became involved in many different aspects of gospel outreach, including: The Shrubbery Road Mission, Lewisham, the Gray’s Yard Mission, the Victoria Homes for Working Men, Miss Perks’ Soldiers’ Homes, and the Soldiers’ Christian Association.2 Although a man of some social standing and honour, he was not distant or detached from those of a lower rank in society. Indeed, one wrote of him, ‘The influence of his wonderful Christ-like spirit was felt everywhere. One who served under him writes: “I do not know another such perfect specimen of a noble-hearted gentleman in every sense of the word. He spent his life in doing good and helping others, and none who knew him ever spoke of him but in terms of the deepest affection and love”’.3 He was generous in giving his time and energy to further any cause, or to cheer and help any of the very many who came to him for advice or assistance.
On 30th August, 1919, Scott became ill with influenza. Whether this was part of the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-20 is not documented, but the outcome was that Scott passed into the presence of the Lord in his seventy-second year. It is said that the hope of Christ’s coming was very real to him, and at his funeral, at Wadhurst, 10th October, the congregation sang Francis Ridley Havergal’s hymn, ‘Thou art Coming, O my Saviour’. This devoted servant was with the Saviour that he had longed to see.
C. Hayavadana Rao, The Indian Biographical Dictionary, 1915.
Source: Henry Pickering, Chief Men among the Brethren, Pickering and Inglis, pg. 199. The author acknowledges the help of this book in the compilation of this article.
Quoted from: Henry Pickering, Chief Men among the Brethren, Pickering and Inglis, pg. 199.