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Chute, Sir Trevor (1816–1886)

by Chris McConville

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

Sir Trevor Chute (1816-1886), soldier, was born on 31 July 1816 at Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland, the third son of Francis Chute of Chute Hall near Tralee, and Mary Anne, daughter of Trevor Bamford of Dublin. He entered the army in 1832 and after some years in the Ceylon Rifles he joined the 70th Regiment. By 1839 he was captain and in 1847 became a major. He served with the regiment during the troubles in Ireland in 1848 and next year went with his regiment to India. He was promoted lieutenant-colonel and commanded the regiment at Peshawar. In 1854 he was promoted colonel and in the Indian mutiny his initiative and resource in organizing several flying columns to disperse mutineers and settle the country earned him the thanks of the Indian government and an officer's medal.

Chute left with his regiment for New Zealand, and arrived at Auckland in June 1861. In 1863 he was placed on half-pay and in March was promoted brigadier-general in command of troops stationed in Australia. In October 1865 he returned to New Zealand as major-general commanding the forces in Australia and New Zealand. He quickly embellished the reputation he had won in India by conducting an action which, if rough, was bold, vigorous and effective. His most decisive and most unorthodox campaign was his forest march from Ketemarae to New Plymouth, around Mount Egmont and returning by the westward route. He captured several Maori pas in the course of his march and put an end to resistance. His reputation was somewhat tarnished by accusations of undue severity but they were withdrawn, and on 1 December 1866 Governor Grey's intrusions into military affairs ended and sole control was placed in the hands of the commanding officer.

After his successful operations in New Zealand Chute returned to Australia, and administered the government of New South Wales from 24 December 1867 to 8 January 1868. In 1867 he was appointed K.C.B. for his services to New Zealand. In Australia he took a lively interest in the volunteer movement, attending camps and supervising the officers, tasks for which he was peculiarly qualified: 'His was a rough school where rough tuition was needed'. Reputed one of the best drills in the British army he would, by one account, 'use most terrible language to some … senior officers, and then, at the top of his voice, shout out, “Very well, men … if only you had officers to command you”.' This made a very deep impression.

In August 1870 the 'Kerry Bull', as Chute was known, supervised the withdrawal from Victoria of the last British garrison and himself followed them to England in October. He was afterwards colonel of the 22nd Regiment and in 1877 was promoted general. In 1881 he was placed on the retired list. Throughout his career he had revealed a remarkable talent for organizing frontier operations. His originality and dash made him an ideal commander; perhaps his only fault was his willingness to risk heavy casualties.

In 1868 he had married Ellen, eldest daughter of Samuel Browning of Auckland. He died suddenly on 12 March 1886 at Binfield near Reading.

A portrait is in the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Select Bibliography

  • T. W. Gudgeon, The Defenders of New Zealand (Auckland, 1887)
  • J. M. Templeton, The Consolidation of the British Empire (Melb, 1901)
  • H. W. Pearse, A History of the East Surrey Regiment, vol 1 (Lond, 1916)
  • J. Cowan, History of the New Zealand Wars, vol 2 (Wellington, 1922)
  • A. J. Harrop, England and the Maori Wars (Lond, 1937)
  • Argus (Melbourne), 22 Aug 1870, 16 Mar 1886
  • Times (London), 15 Mar 1886
  • Illustrated London News, 1 May 1886.

Citation details

Chris McConville, 'Chute, Sir Trevor (1816–1886)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/chute-sir-trevor-3208/text4827, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 20 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

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