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Educated from a young age for the military profession of arms, John Blakiston was sent to the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, becoming an Engineer assigned to East India Company army. Thereafter he transferred into the British army in Europe and then into the Portuguese service fighting in the Peninsula.
He wrote his military memoirs in two volumes; each focussing on a period of his service in the military. The first volume concentrated on his time with the East India Company; it is very valuable not only for its own narrative, but also for the rarity of any narrative that describes the initial campaigns of the then Colonel Wellesley in command of a sizeable force and in semi-independent command.
At the time of his commission into the East India Company, a new administration in India led by Marquess Richard Wellesley (the future Duke’s elder brother) was just installed and was to come into conflict with the armies of not only Tippoo Sultan, ruler of Mysore, but also with numerous bands of rebels.