Thursday, 3 May 2018

#52Ancestors - Week 18 - Up Close

When I saw the prompt, Up Close, this week I immediately thought of the story recalled by my great grandfather, George Hutton, in the 1930s when George wrote an account of his father's encounter with an elephant in India. William Forbes Hutton was an officer in the British Army when this event occurred and the story was later told to his son who recorded it many years later.

W. F. Hutton had an adventure in India when a young man, that few men have had and lived to speak of. He was chased, when on foot, by an elephant and escaped and this is how it happened.
He was camped with a few troops near a village at the foot of the hills and the natives complained that a rogue elephant was destroying their crops - a rogue elephant is usually an old bull that has been driven out of the herd by younger and stronger males and is invariably savage and bad tempered. 
W F heard of this brute and, being keen on sport, determined to go after him. This was a serious undertaking as he had to go on foot through a thick jungle to get near the elephant, and his weapons were two single barrelled smooth bore guns. Rifles were practically unknown in those days (1840-1850) so he had to get within at least 80 yards to make sure of his shot. Accompanied by a native carrying his second gun, he followed a track up a hill to a spot where the elephant  was known to frequently camp in the day time, a little open space on the top of a hill.

They made as little noise as possible when approaching this place and found their quarry standing sideways to them under a tree about 70 yards away. W. F. took careful aim at a spot just behind the elephant's ear and fired. The elephant did not fall but appeared dazed and he (W. F.) turned for his second gun, to find that the native had bolted taking the gun with him and making such a noise in his flight that he attracted the notice of the elephant who charged straight for the pathway.

W. F. ran for his life down the path, but his pursuer was gaining on him fast, when he tripped over the root of a tree and fell, rolling behind the tree. The elephant was going too fast to stop and thundered past down the hill. W. F. got up as soon as he got his wind and made down the hill to the village, where he picked up the native and retrieved his second gun.

Two days later he was told the elephant was dead, so went out to collect the tusks, but found the natives had carried them off, so all he got out of the adventure was a tooth and a determination to let the natives kill their own elephants in future.

The above story, of course, describes events that occurred in another era when some of the attitudes and values were different from today, but it is still part of the family story. 


  1. Terrific to have the family story passed on and you in turn have passed it on :)

  2. Anne, we are very lucky that my great grandfather, in his final years, took time to record in a notebook his first few years in Australia. He also wrote down some of the family stories, such as this one, that he knew. Unfortunately the story of his life once he moved to NSW was not recorded by him so I have had to rely on official records, stories from my mother and articles in Trove to piece together the rest of his story. Meanwhile he did leave some great material about his family, some of which I have been able to verify in other sources.

  3. I have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at
    Thank you, Chris