Henry Havelock was born at Ford Hall, Bishopwearmouth (now in Sunderland), the son of William Havelock, a wealthy shipbuilder, and Jane, daughter of John Carter, solicitor, of Stockton-on-Tees. He was the second of four brothers, all of whom entered the army. The family moved to Ingress Park, Greenhithe, Kent, when Henry was still a child, and here his mother died in 1811. From January 1800 until August 1804 Henry attended Dartford Grammar School as a parlour boarder with the Master, Rev John Bradley, after which he was placed with his elder brother in the boarding-house of Dr. Raine, headmaster of Charterhouse School until he was 17. Among his contemporaries at Charterhouse were Connop Thirlwall, George Grote, William Hale, Julius Hare, and William Norris (Recorder of Penang), the last two being his special friends. Shortly after leaving Charterhouse his father lost his fortune by unsuccessful speculation, sold Ingress Hall, and removed to Clifton.
In accordance with the desire of his mother he entered the Middle Temple in 1813, and became a pupil of Joseph Chitty; his fellow-student was Thomas Talfourd. Henry's legal studies having been interrupted by a misunderstanding with his father, Havelock was thrown upon his own resources, and obliged to abandon the law as a profession. By the good offices of his brother William, who had distinguished himself in the Peninsular War and at Waterloo, he obtained on 30 July 1815, at the age of 20, a post as second lieutenant in the 95th Regiment of Foot, Rifle Brigade, and was posted to the company of Captain Harry Smith, who encouraged him to study military history and the art of war. He was promoted lieutenant on 24 October 1821. During the following eight years of service in Britain he read extensively all the standard works and acquired a good acquaintance with the theory of war.
Seeing no prospect of active service, he resolved to go to India, and at the end of 1822 transferred into the 13th Regiment (Light Infantry), then commanded by Major Robert Sale, and embarked on the General Kyd in January 1823 for India. Before embarkation he studied the Persian and Hindustani languages with success under John Borthwick Gilchrist. During the voyage a brother officer, Lieutenant James Gardner, awakened in Havelock religious convictions which had slumbered since his mother's death, but henceforth became the guiding principle of his life.
Havelock served with distinction in the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824–1826), after which he returned to England and married Hannah Shepherd Marshman, the daughter of eminent Christian missionaries Dr. and Mrs. Joshua Marshman. At about the same time he became a Baptist, being baptized by Mr. John Mack at Serampore. He introduced some of his new family's missionary ideas to the army and began the distribution of bibles to all soldiers. He also introduced all-rank bible study classes and established the first non-church services for military personnel.
By the time Havelock took part in the First Afghan War in 1839, he had been promoted to the rank of captain. He was present as aide-de-camp to Willoughby Cotton at the capture of Ghazni, on 23 May 1839, and at the occupation of Kabul. After a short period in Bengal to secure the publication of his Memoirs of the Afghan Campaign, he returned to Kabul in charge of recruits, and became interpreter to General William George Keith Elphinstone.
In 1840, being attached to Sir Robert Henry Sale's force, he took part in the celebrated passage of the defiles of the Ghilzais and in the fighting from Tezeen to Jalalabad. Here, after many months siege, his column in a sortie en masse defeated Akbar Khan on 7 April 1842. He was now made Deputy Lieutenant-General of the infantry division in Kabul, and in September he assisted at Jagdalak, at Tezeen, and at the release of the British prisoners at Kabul, besides taking a prominent part at Istalif. He next went through the Gwalior Campaign as Persian interpreter to Sir Hugh Gough, and distinguished himself at Maharajpur in 1843, and also in the Sikh Wars at the battles of Mudki, Ferozeshah and Sobraon in 1845.
He used his spare time to produce analytical reports about the skirmishes and battles in which he was involved. These writings were returned to Britain and were reported on in the press of the day. For his military services he was made Deputy Adjutant-General at Bombay. He transferred from the 13th Regiment of Foot to the 39th, then as second major into the 53rd at the beginning of 1849, and soon afterwards left for England, where he spent two years and became involved in the running of the Stepney Baptist Academy, soon to move to Regent's Park. He returned to India in 1852 with further promotion: he was appointed Quartermaster-General, promoted to full colonel, and appointed Adjutant-General, India in November 1854.
In that year, he was selected by Sir James Outram to command a division in the Anglo-Persian War, during which he was present at the action of Muhamra against the forces of Nasser al-Din Shah under command of Khanlar Mirza. Peace with Persia freed his troops just as the Indian Mutiny broke out; and he was chosen to command a column to quell disturbances in Allahabad, to support Sir Henry Lawrence at Lucknow and Wheeler at Cawnpore, and to pursue and utterly destroy all mutineers and insurgents. Throughout August Havelock led his soldiers northwards across Oudh (present day Uttar Pradesh), defeating all rebel forces in his path, despite being greatly outnumbered. His years of study of the theories of war and his experiences in earlier campaigns were put to good use. At this time Lady Canning wrote of him in her diary: "General Havelock is not in fashion, but all the same we believe that he will do well." But in spite of this lukewarm commendation Havelock proved himself the man for the occasion and won a reputation as a great military leader.
Three times he advanced for the relief of the Lucknow, but twice held back rather than risk fighting with troops wasted by battle and disease. Reinforcements arrived at last under Outram, and he was able to capture Lucknow on 25 September 1857. However, a second rebel force arrived and besieged the town again. This time Havelock and his troops were caught inside the blockade.
There he died on 24 November 1857 of dysentery, a few days after the siege was lifted. He lived long enough to receive news that he was to be created a Baronet for the first three battles of the campaign; but he never knew of the major-generalship which was conferred shortly afterwards. With his baronetcy was a pension of £1,000 a year voted by Parliament. He was also appointed Colonel of the 3rd (East Kent) Regiment of Foot ("The Buffs") in December, as the news of his death still had not reached England. The baronetcy was afterwards bestowed upon his eldest son, Henry in the following January; while to his widow, by Royal Warrant of Precedence, were given the rights to which she would have been entitled had her husband survived and been created a baronet. Parliament awarded pensions of £1,000 a year to both widow and son.
There is a statue of Havelock (by William Behnes) in Trafalgar Square, London. The plaque on the plinth reads:
To Major General Sir Henry Havelock KCB and his brave companions in arms during the campaign in India 1857. "Soldiers! Your labours, your privations, your sufferings and your valour, will not be forgotten by a grateful country." H. Havelock
In 2000, there was a controversy when the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone suggested that the Trafalgar Square statue, together with that of General Charles James Napier, be replaced with "more relevant" figures.
William Behnes also designed the statue of Havelock at the top of Building Hill in Mowbray Park Sunderland. Two cannon (replicas of cannons presented to Sunderland after the Crimean War in 1857) stand beside the statue, facing north commanding the view over the park. The statue, however, looks west towards Havelock's birthplace. The statue reads: Born 5, April 1795 at Ford Hall Bishopwearmouth Died 24 November 1857 at Dil-Koosa Lucknow.
An imposing monument to Havelock's memory was erected by his sons, widow, and family. These verses are inscribed on his tomb: " His ashes in a peaceful urn shall rest; His name a great example stands, to show How strangely high endeavours may be blessed, When piety and valour jointly go." Havelock MRT Station and Havelock Road along Singapore River, Singapore
Namesake of Havelock, Nova Scotia
Havelock Road in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, United Kingdom
Havelock Road in Cawnpore is a popular tourism destination.
Havelock Street in West Perth, Western Australia.
Havelock Memorial Church in Cawnpore.
The Havelock neighborhood, formerly a city, in Nebraska is named after him.
"H" a play about Havelock by Charles Wood was performed at the National Theatre, London in 1969. Harold Hobson in the Sunday Times called it: "One of the National Theatre's outstanding achievements".
Havelock Road and Havelock Road Colony in Lucknow are named as a tribute to General Havelock. This is situated next to Hazratganj.
Havelock Road in Dartford, the town whose school he attended.
Havelock is the name of a house at his former school, Dartford Grammar School. The House system was introduced in 1916 with four Houses (a fifth, Gwyn House, being added in the 1990s). D’Aeth, Gwyn and Vaughan are named after the three founders of the School: William D'Aeth, Edward Gwyn and philanthropist William Vaughan. Havelock and Wilson are named after distinguished former pupils.
Havelock is a Senior Wing House at St Paul's School, Darjeeling in India, where all the Senior Wing Houses are named after colonial era military figures.
Havelock, in the South Island of New Zealand, and Havelock North, a town in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand are both named after him.
Havelock Island, in the Andaman Islands is also named in his honour
Several public Houses in England are named "The General Havelock": Burnley, Lancashire; Haydon Bridge, Northumberland; High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire; Ilford, Essex; South Shields, South Tyneside (Demolished 2010). The Haydon Bridge pub sign bears his portrait.
Havelock Road in Addiscombe, Croydon, part of the site of the Addiscombe Military Seminary.
Havelock Road in Biggleswade with the first houses being built in 1902.
Havelock Road in Singapore
A 'havelock' is the name for the piece of cloth that hangs from the back of a kepi to protect the neck from sunburn.
Havelock has a prominent place in all of the series of The Flashman Papers novels set in the sub-continent. He is given the nickname "Gravedigger."
The Havelock Terrace at the old Lansdowne Road stadium in Dublin was so named as it backed onto the small 19thC Havelock Square. The roof of the new Aviva Stadium, currently under construction, dips dramatically in response to the proximity of the square.
The city of Havelock, in North Carolina is named after him.
The General Havelock, a hotel on Hutt Street in Adelaide, Australia is named after the General.
Havelock Community Centre in Southsea, Hampshire UK – Named after Sir Henry Havelock
The township of Havelock-Belmont-Methuen, particularly the town of Havelock Ontario, is named after him.
The town of Havelock, Quebec is named after him.
Havelock Crescent in Morningside, Durban, South Africa is named after him.
Havelock Park a Satellite Housing Estate, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom close to where he was born was built in 2005 and named after him.
His name hangs above two of the rooms in Main Block at Regent's Park College, Oxford and his portrait hangs outside the Library
Havelock Road in Luton is claimed to be named after him. page 23. The road appears on The 1887 1st edition and 1901 2nd edition OS maps
Havelock Guest House in Jersey.
Havelock House in Aldershot in Hampshire.