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John Rait Moncur (1847-1885), murder victim or war casualty?

Amongst the Moncurs who I may be related to (work progresses on this front) are those who were merchants in Alyth from at least the early 18th century. One line of descent runs via Hope Park, Rattray, and on to Dundee.

John Rait Moncur (1847-1885) was the son of David Moncur, a Dundee merchant, and Isabella Crichton Williamson. He was involved, in some capacity, in the Bombay Burmah Corporation, who were a major factor in the Third Anglo-Burmese War (18851887). My understanding of this conflict is at present very limited. Further investigation is needed to understand John's death at the hands of another, as described below, in its proper context.


MANDALAY, Thursday. - Major Walker, while reconnoitring with an advance party of Major Cillins' column, was suddenly attacked by Dacoits. Major Walker was woulded, and one native soldier killed. Three Europeans named Roberts, Allen and Mount Kerr* were murdered while their steamer was anchored in Chindwin River.

Dundee Courier & Argus and Northern Warder (Dundee, Scotland), Friday, December 18, 1885

* An apparent mis-hearing of 'Moncur'

News received from the Government agent at Munipoor confirms the report previously sent from Upper Burmah that Messrs. Allen, Moncure, and Roberts had been murdered in cold blood. The other missing Europeans were alive on December 14, when they wrote. They owed their lives to the protection of the local Burmese officials, who will be handsomely rewarded .......... It is now certain that Messrs. Allan, Roberts, and Moncure, of the Bombay Burmah Corporation, were killed while captives in the Chindwin River. Allan was killed with swords on the steamer. Another who had been wounded by a bullet, jumped into the river to avoid Allan's fate, and disappeared. Moncur similarly jumped overboard, was cut in the neck by swords ......

Taken from article "Burmah", Derby Mercury (Derby, England), Wednesday, December 30, 1885

On December 17th, I at last received a letter from Mr. A.S. Morgan, the chief agent of the Bombay-Bimnah Corporation at Kendat, acknowledging my letter of November 12th. He told me that three Europeans, Messrs. Allan, Roberts and Moncur, had been murdered on the River Chindwin by the Queen's Secretary; that he and Messrs. Ruckstuhl and Bretto had been protected by the Kenut Woon, and four others by the Mengin Woon. He said the Chindwin valley was filling with dacoits, i.e., brigands, and that their position was very precarious. I at once wrote to the Woon thanking him warmly for the protection he had accorded to my fellow-subjects, and sent him a pair of handsome double-barrelled guns, one of them a rifle, as a present, also five hundred rupees, which I asked him to give to Mr. Morgan.

Taken from Johnstone, James, "My Experiences in Manipur and the Naga Hills" (London, Sampson Low, Marston & Co. Ltd., 1896), Chapter XXVII (e-Book online at, accessed 23 Jan 2012)

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