General Sir Francis Reginald Wingate, 1st Baronet of Dunbar and Port Sudan (1861-1953)

Sir Reginald Francis Wingate

General Sir Francis Reginald Wingate was a British general and administrator in Egypt and the Sudan. During his long and distinguished career he was awarded many honours including the GBE and the GVCO. He was a cousin to Orde Wingate to referred to him as ‘Cousin Rex’.

Reginald Wingate served in India and the Sudan becoming director of military intelligence in Sudan in 1892

In December 1899 he succeeded Lord Kitchener as Governor-General of the Sudan. Under his administration the colony regained a degree of prosperity with much of its infrastructure being improved.

A less celebrated but nonetheless significant period of Wingate’s life was spent as British High Commissioner to Egypt (1917-1919). In this capacity, some would say he ended up being made the scapegoat of a mess created by the politicians through policies he had actually advised against. During his term he continued to have some influence on Sudan which was technically under joint British and Egyptian tutelage. In conjunction with Wingate’s long influence in Egypt and Sudan, his leadership role, from a distance, in the Arab revolt gives him a truly international significance.

Although born in Port Glasgow, he lived in Dunbar for over 50 years. He maintained an active international role while playing a major part in the life of the town. He was captain of Dunbar Golf Club and supported the founding of Winterfield Golf Club. At the latter, the landward skyline has always been dominated by Knockenhair Hill and his purpose-built house on top. His enthusiasm for Dunbar originated in his love of golf and fresh air. He first came on the recommendation of the Queen’s Equerry for Wingate’s annual summer break from the heat of Sudan. In time, Wingate’s activities brought him further into the life of the town.

Knockenhair House, Dunbar

His death finally occurred when he was long retired and mourning the death of his late wife, in ill health himself and in the care of a maid, in the old Bellevue Hotel at the other end of the town. In his 90s at the end, Wingate also died senior General of the British Army and, partly due to this was honoured with a funeral march, involving an escort of soldiers and a gun carriage for a hearse. The march proceeded from the Episcopal Church, where the service was held, in keeping with his faith, to Dunbar Parish Church for his burial, owing to the overcrowding of other places of burial at the time. The High Street was closed as part of the event and attendees included dignitaries such as Winston Churchill, who had been a junior officer under Wingate for part of the war to conquer Sudan in the late 19th century. The archive holds records relating to the funeral.

His long term as Governor General of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, second sequentially only to Kitchener’s more famous, but shorter and less successful stint, earned him the sobriquet ‘the maker of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan’, which is part of the epitaph on his grave. Aside from the house and his grave in Dunbar Parish Churchyard, there is another public footprint of Wingate’s mutual strong bond with Dunbar – The War Memorial. Among the names is that of his first son, Malcolm Wingate. The monument’s inauguration by his son Ronald was, thus, very fitting.

with grateful thanks to Stuart Thompson for submitting this article

Further Information

Pugh, RJM, Wingate Pasha: The Life of General Sir Francis Reginald Wingate, 1861-1953

Wingate Papers at Durham University Archives