Arthur Reid Lempriere

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Arthur Reid Lempriere


Millais' picture The Huguenot, for which Arthur Lempriere posed

General Arthur Reid Lempriere was a descendant of
the distinguished Lempriere family of Diélament

A sketch sent by Millais to the Lemprieres as a Christmas card. Arthur Lempriere wrote of it: "It was in 1847 that I remember his drawing all the Lemprière family at Ewell standing round a table in the drawing-room, watching eagerly a Twelfth-night cake being cut by my eldest sister. It was all so cleverly grouped, and included my father and mother, my five brothers, seven sisters, myself, and himself. It was a picture we all greatly valued, as, in addition to the clever grouping, the likenesses were so excellent"

General Arthur Reid Lempriere (1835-1917) was the 4x great-grandson of Parliamentary Bailiff Michel Lempriere. He was an officer in the Royal Engineers. He was in the third and largest group of Engineers to arrive in the Colony of British Columbia in 1859 and served as a lieutenant subaltern in the Columbia Detachment until 1863. He retired as a Major-General in 1882.

Millais' friend

He was a great friend of artist John Everett Millais and posed for the Huguenot man in the artist's famous painting The Huguenot. Millais was on very good terms with the Lemprières, both in Jersey and Surrey. According to his son and biographer J G Millais, the artist spent a lot of time at Rosel Manor, home of Philip Raoul Lemprière, who “took a great fancy to him, making him ever welcome at the house. There, then, he spent much of his time, and… learned unconsciously to appreciate the beauties of Nature and Art”. The seigneur is said to have given the artist his first paintbox, and when he moved to London to continue his training as a painter, he became friends with Arthur and Harry Lemprière, two of the six sons of William Lemprière, brother of the seigneur.

“We always called him Johnny, and he constantly spent the holidays with us at our home in Ewell, Surrey,” said Arthur Lemprière, who later sat for The Huguenot (1852), one of Millais’ most famous paintings. “He always seemed to be sitting indoors, to have a pen, pencil, or brush in his hand, rattling off some amusing caricature or other drawing.”


Part of an illustrated letter from Millais to one of Arthur's sisters

Son of the late Captain William Charles Lempriere and grandson of William Charles Lempriere (1754-1790) Seigneur of Diélament, Advocate, Jurat and Lieut-Bailiff 1781-90 and Elizabeth Gosset, daughter of Matthew and Elizabeth Hilgrove, Arthur Reid Lempriere was born at Ewell, Surrey, in 1835.

He was educated at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, before joinging the Royal Engineers as an officer. An early assignment was to Heligoland, a small rocky island in the North Sea, where Lempriere was sent with sapper carpenters to construct huts to house foreign recruits to the army to fight in the Crimea. It took 104 of these portable houses to accommodate the legion. Tanks were also built to supply water in case of fire, and an apparatus was erected for distilling sea-water so that it might be used for the domestic purposes of the troops. When all these services were completed, the sappers no longer needed at Heligoland were shipped back to England. Lieutenant Lempriere remained to oversee the native workmen in the formation of roads and in executing repairs to the huts. At the conclusion of the war they returned home.

In the late summer of 1858, Lieutenant Lempriere wass taken on as one of the two subalterns of the Columbia Detachment. He travelled to British Columbia with the main party of the Detachment on board the Thames City, arriving at Esquimalt on 12 April 1859. His duties in the Colony included Commissary Officer and also taking charge of the photographic department of the Columbia Detachment.

Mount Lempriere in the North Thompson region of the British Columbia Interior, between Kamloops and Tete Jaune Cache-Valemount, was named after him by 1917. A Canadian National Railway station in this area was also named Lempriere, where there was a post office from 1942 to 1945 when Japanese were interned at a work camp in this area.

Lempriere was promoted to Captain on 3 August 1866, Major on 5 July 1872, Lieutenant-Colonel on 1 October 1877, Colonel on 1 October 1881, and retired with the rank of Major-General on 1 October 1882.

The story of Lempriere's time in Canada

The diary Lempriere kept while in Canada

Letter from Lempriere to his uncle, Bishop Hills


In 1861 he married Annie Gardner, but she died the following year giving birth to their daughter. His second wife was Ellen Marion Hay. They married in 1864 and had four daughters. She died in 1898 and six years later he married Agnes Henrietta Reid.

Lempriere's Uncle is Bishop George Hills, Bishop of the Colony of British Columbia and his aunt was said to be Florence Nightingale, although no genealogical proof can be found for either of these relationships.

Family tree


Lempriere family tree

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