11 July 1842|
A British military fort, Afghanistan
22 April 1899 (age 56)|
Number 3, Russell Road, Kensington, London, England
Warburton was the son of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Warburton (1812-1863), a younger son of Richard Warburton, of Garryhinch, Queen's County, Ireland. The latter's father, John Warburton MP, served under General Wolfe at Quebec in 1759.
Warburton's father, then in service with the Bengal Artillery, was taken prisoner at Kabul in 1842. His mother was an Afghan lady, sometimes said to be a "niece" of Dost Mahommed Khan, the Amir of Afghanistan, but there is no evidence for this assertion; it is common in Afghanistan to refer to a person of importance as "uncle." She had a son by a previous marriage, Jan Dad Khan (1840-1919), who later took the surname of his stepfather, and became John Paul Warburton. It is likely that the lady escaped from her Afghan husband and was given asylum by the British. These British interferences with Afghan women (rather than cases of outright lechery, which must have been exceedingly rare) were a major factor in inflaming Afghan sentiments and precipitating the revolt against the British. Warburton's date of birth would indicate that the wedding (invalid according to Islamic law) is likely to have taken place precisely around the time of the massacre of Sir Alexander Burnes and his party in November, 1841. Jan Dad (John Paul) was a distinguished detective of the Punjab police, received the CIE, and was the model for Rudyard Kipling's character Strickland.
Warburton was educated at Kensington Grammar School, Addiscombe Military College (one term) and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich (two terms), after which he was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in December 1861. He took part in the Abyssinian War of 1867-68, and then joined the Bengal Staff Corps. He served with distinction in the expedition against the Utman Khel in 1878 and in the Second Anglo-Afghan War of 1878-80.
Soon after the British government had made permanent arrangements for keeping open the Khyber Pass, Warburton was appointed as political officer for the district. He held this post from 1879 to 1882 with intervals of other duty, and continuously from 1882 until 1890, discharging its duties with conspicuous ability. He turned the rude levies which formed the Khyber Rifles into a fine corps, ready to serve the Indian government wherever they might be required. He made the road safe, kept the Afridis friendly, and won the thanks of the Punjab government for his good work, expressed in a special order upon his retirement.
When the Afridis began to cause anxiety in 1897, Colonel Warburton was asked by the government of India if he would assist in quieting the excitement amongst them. He declared himself ready to do so, but in the meantime the trouble had come to a head and control over the Khyber Pass was lost. Colonel Warburton took part in the campaign which followed; at its close his active career ended.
- 1842-1862: Robert Warburton
- 1862-1880: Second-Lieutenant Robert Warburton
- 1880-1881: Brevet Major Robert Warburton
- 1881-1887: Major Robert Warburton
- 1887-1890: Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Warburton
- 1890-1893: Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Warburton, CSI
- 1893-1898: Colonel Robert Warburton, CSI
- 1898-1899: Colonel Sir Robert Warburton, KCIE, CSI
- Companion of the Order of the Star of India (CSI), 1890
- Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire (KCIE), 1898
- Carlyle and Falkner 2004.
- Warburton 1900.
- Carlyle, E.I.; Falkner, James (reviewer) (2004). "Warburton, Sir Robert (1842–1899)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. Digital object identifier:10.1093/ref:odnb/28677. (subscription required)
- Warburton, Robert (1900). Eighteen years in the Khyber, 1879-1898. John Murray. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6LUcAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA17&dq=Robert+Warburton&as_brr=1&redir_esc=y#PPA3,M1.
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