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British Group to

Sergeant William T. Telfer

79th Cameron Highlander; 1848-1860

43th Monmouthshire Light Infantry; 1860-1864

101st Royal Bengal Fusiliers, 1864 - 1870

Group consists of the following:



Crimean War Medal with bars: Alma, Bakalava, and Sebastopol named Engraved to NO. 2857 Corpl. William Telfer, 79th Highlanders

India Mutiny Bar Lucknow named impressed Corpl. Wm. Telfer, 79th Highlanders

Army Long Service and Good Conduct Medal (Victorian) named impressed 1269 Sergt. Wm. Telfer, 101st Foot

Turkish Crimea (Sardinian issue) unnamed with Military General Service (1793-1814) suspension



All mounted with Brooch buckles and group comes with original parchment certificate of Service and Chelsea Hospital out pensioner parchment certificate and lithograph of Sir Colin Campbell.



History



William T. Telfer was born in the parish of Linlithgow at Linlithgow, Midlothian County, Scotland about 15 miles west of Edinburgh between June and Dec. 1829. He appears to have been Baptised on 24 Apr 1831 at Inversek Musselburgh, Midlothian County, Scotland, as the son of James Telfer and Anne Davidson13. Note: John Telfer, Corporal 79th Highlanders served in the Indian Mutiny and received the Medal. This maybe William's brother. William enlisted in the 71st of Foot on 2 March 1848. His original service number was 2851 (no some rolls as 2857). He Entered the 79th from the 71st of Foot in Oct 1848 (when the 79th returned from Gibraltar). His first duty was at Nenagh, Ireland and the County of Cork until July 1849, or 1 year and 5 months He was next shipped to Quebec, Canada arriving on 27 July 1849. He remained in Canada until his return to Dundee Scotland in September 1851 or for 2 years and 1 month. Private Telfer was married 14 Feb 1853 (military record) 17 Feb 1853 (Scottish Church Records) at Saint Cuthbert's, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland to Mary Rodgers12. In Mar 1852 he was stationed at Edinburgh, Scotland where he remained until Mar 1853. In 1852 Lord Reglan took over the board of the ordnance of the British Army. One of his first changes was to create a training camp for brigade and divisional maneuvers, at Chobham, England1. In April 1853 Telfer was stationed at Ashton and Chobham. In July 1853 the 79th was Brigaded with the 19th and 97th of Foot for a few weeks at Chobham Camp for training under the command of Colonel Lockyear, K.H. (Knight of Hanover)2. The 79th was at Chobham and Weedon until Oct 1853 when they were moved to Portsmouth, England until June 1854, when they left for Turkey and the Crimean War. On the 28th of April 1854 Telfer was promoted to corporal.



With the Declaration of War against Russia on the 27th of March 1854 the 79th Highlanders was sent to Scutari, Turkey. The 93rd Highlanders were the first to arrive at Scutari, Turkey the 79th arrived on the 26th of May 1854, and the 42nd arrived on the 7 of June 1854 completing the Highland Brigade under the Command of Sir Colin Campbell3. On the 13th of June the Highlanders left Turkey for Varna, Bulgaria. With the withdrawal of the Russian siege force of 120,000 after their defeat by the Turks, the Allied Army found it had nothing to do in Bulgaria. Lord Raglan and the French commander decided to attack the Russians on the Crimean peninsula with the Russian Naval Base of Sebastopol as their main target. On the morning of the 14th of September 1854 the allied fleets and transports arrived on the west coast of the Crimea, and troops began landing by Old Fort ten miles south of Eupatoria, and about twenty-five miles north of Sebastopol. During the first night it rained heavily, and the British who were without tents suffered accordingly. The French had tents, and knapsacks. The British made do with great coats folded flat with a blanket, with shoes, socks and a forage cap tucked in the folds, and water bottles and linen haversacks containing three days ration of salt pork and biscuits. The Turks had their bell type field tents and like the French were never without shelter; but the British Army lay out in the open air, with the exception of two nights, until the middle of October when tents were issued through Balavlava. The supply and transport for the British Army was almost non existent at this time4.



Corporal Telfer took part in the Battle of the Alma where the 79th won a Battle Honor. After the landing of the British Army on the 14th of September 1854, it was decided to march on Sebastopol. The Flank March started on the 19th of September. The Army reached the Alma River on the 20th of September 1854 and was confronted by a large Russian force holding the Great Redoubt on Kourgane hill with reinforcements behind. The Light Division moved up the hill and managed to take the Great Redoubt, but the Russian reserves move down and forced the Light division back upon the Scot Fusilier Guards producing a large hole in the center of their line. The Guards managed to reform and moved forward firing as they went. The Russians Drew back. As the attack was made in echelon the Highland Brigade on the left of the guards were the last to enter the fight for Kourgane hill. They had difficulty in advancing through the vineyards and then across the Alma River. The 42nd were the first across and, dressing their line moved straight up the hill. Next came the 93rd as they cleared the river they too reformed. The Russian Infantry went back up slope and had withdrawn from the Great Redoubt, but they now formed two large masses and advanced on the 42nd. The 42nd was too tired to charge them so opened fire while advancing and driving off the original two masses. But now another body of Russians advanced on the 42nd and were dealt with as the first two masses. At this time two more large columns came across from the direct of the Little Redoubt against the 42nd ' s left flank. Just at this moment the 93rd appeared coming up from the river, and attacked these Russian. The 93rd, who were with difficulty withstrained from charging, had only limited time to fire before bodies of fresh troops came boldly against their left flank. But just at this moment the 79th in their turn came up from the river. The 79th went at these troops cheering, and advanced while firing. They caused the Russians great loss and forced them away in confusion. In the mean time the Guards had taken the Great Redoubt. The Russian then retreated ending the Battle of the Alma.



Telfer was also at the Battle of Bakalava on the 25th of Oct 1854. Where Sir Colin Campbell and the 93rd held a hill against a large Russian cavalry Force and saved the supplies and base at Bakalava. Toward the end of the Battle the 42nd and 79th highlander descended the Chersonese plateau and joined Sir Colin Campbell in the defense of Bakalava. Corporal Telfer was also at the Siege of Sebastopol. He suffered through the harsh Crimean winter, and survived the weather, cholera, and starvation, all of which took its toll on the British Expedition, especially in the trenches before Sebastopol. On 21 Feb. 1855 Telfer received his first good conduct pay. It appears after the battle if Inkermann on the 5th of Nov. 1854 and the huge storm of the 14th of Nov 1854 where many ships and supplies were lost, the British Army fell into a depressed state. This seemed to last through out the harsh winter and to the close of 1855. At Camp Kamara about 2.5 miles north west of Bakalava Telfer was in confinement from the 23rd to 26th of Nov. 1855, he was reduced to private and forfeited his 1st Good conduct pay.



After the Battle of the Tchernaya River (or Tractir Bridge) on 16 Aug 1855, where the French and Sardinians defeated a large Russian army, it became obvious that the Russians were beginning to evacuate Sebastopol. The Sardinians had joined the Allies in Jan 1855. Only patience was required to bring the war to a close. This did not suit Emperor Napoleon III and he ordered a final all-out offensive. With Lord Reglan's death on the 28th of June 1855, General Simpson took over command of the British Army. General Simpson and the French Commander General Pleisser planned a joint attack, the French on the Malakoff Bastion and the British on the Redan Bastion. The French succeeded due to working their siege trench line to within 25 yards of the position, and building a camouflaged road through their trench system to carry reinforcements. The Malakoff Bastion fell to the French on the 8th of September 1855. The British conducted neither prearranged plans nor construction, expecting green troops to cross 500 yards of open (fire swept) land to reach the Redan. The British attack was thrown back with 2,447 casualties including 156 officers10.



To correct this embarrassing situation Sir Colin Campbell was ordered to make an attempt on the following morning of the 9th of September 1855 with fresh troops consisting of the Highland Brigade and the 3rd Division. In the early morning hours of the 9th of September it was discovered that the Russians had evacuated Sebastopol. This fact probably saved many members of the Highland Brigade and the 3rd division from death. After a few months of maneuvering and parleying hostilities ended. Then peace was declared on 30 March 185610.



With the end of the Crimean War in March 1856 the 79th Cameron Highlanders returned to Dover Castle in Jul 1856. Private Telfer had his 1st good conduct pay restored on the 27th of Nov 1856. The 79th were next stationed at Canterbury, Shorncliffe and London until Jun 1857. The 79th was next sent to Dublin, Ireland for July 1857. They were next ordered to India to help put down the Great India Mutiny of 1857-1859. On the 1st of Aug 1857 the 79th sailed on the "Clippership" Walmer Castle from Kingstown harbor for India. They arrived on the 1st of Nov 1857 at the roadstead of Madras, India. Then they sailed on to Calcutta on the 27th of Nov 1857. On 2 Dec 1857 the 79th marched from their quarters in the Town Hall of Calcutta to the railway station to start their journey "up country". On the 3rd of Dec 1857 the 79th Highlanders camped at Raneegunge along with the Queen's Beys (2nd Dragoon Guards - Scots Greys) and a part of the 20th Regiment about 130 miles from Calcutta5.



Sir Colin Campbell was made Commander-in-Chief in India. He left Calcutta on the 27th of Oct. 1857. He arrives in Cawnpore on the 3rd of Nov 1857 with a force consisting of the 9th Lancers, 8th, 75th, 53rd of Foot and the 93rd Highlanders along with detachments of 84th, 90th and Madras fusiliers. On the 12th of Nov 1857 Sir Colin's Force starts for Lucknow. Lucknow is taken on the 17th of Nov 1857. Lucknow is evacuated and Sir Colin's Force retires to Cawnpore on the 29th of Nov 1857.



On the 6th of Dec. 1857 Sir Colin commences operations against Cawnpore (which had been retaken by the rebels). In Jan 1858 the 79th was again under the command of Sir Colin Campbell and took part in the siege and recapture of Lucknow 2 through 22 March 1858 and the subsequence pursuit and capture of the colors of the 7th Oude Irregular Infantry and four of the enemy's guns6. The 79th also participated in the recapture of the Residency in 18586. On the 15th of April 1858 Brigadier General Sir Robert Walpole was in command of an independent column including 3 Highlander Regiments (one of which was the 79th) and suffered a disastorus repulse before the Fort of Rooyia (Rubya), where nearly 100 men were killed. On the 22nd of April 1858 Sir Robert Walpole leads his force in the action at Allygunge11. Sir Colin Campbell took over the command of this column of nearly 7,000 troops with 19 guns and on the 5th of May defeated the rebels at Bareilly7. The Battle for Bareilly lasted 6 hours and was fiercely contested, the rebels finally retired and on the following day the city was occupied. Sir Colin (Now Lord Clyde) pursued the rebels north into the Oude and took Rohelcund. The rest of the time was spent in the final stages of cleanup of the mutiny with the additional capture of several rebel strongholds. On the 31st of Dec 1858 Lord Clyde surprised Beni Madhoo at Banker and slaughtered his followers as they tried to cross the Raptee River. The rebels were pursued to Terai on the Frontier of Nepal and on the 20th of March 1859 at Jerwah Pass the last rebel column of 2,000 men under Bala Roa and Nana Sahib was defeated and dispersed, thus ending the Great India Mutiny. The 79th would remain in India for the next 12 years or until 1871. Private Telfer was re-promoted to corporal on the 1st of May 1858. From the musters rolls of the 79th: Telfer was stationed from Jan to Mar 1858 at Lucknow, April to June 1858 at Futtehghur, Jul to Sep at Cawnpore, Oct to Dec at Camp Peshawur near the Kyber Pass, Jan to Mar 1859 at Camp Ghull, and April to June 1859 at Lahore, India. On the 19th of Dec 1859 Telfer was embarked back to England arriving in Jan 1860. Telfer was stationed at Chatham until discharge on 21 June 1860 "Time expired" at Sterling, Edinburgh District.



It appears Corporal Telfer wanted to try his hand at civilian life for he was discharged with 12 years 2 months service. Telfer probably did not like civilian life for he next enlisted for a second engagement at Chatham with the 43rd Monmouthshire Light Infantry on 13 December 1860 as a private. His service number was 598. Many men who left the service joined other units out of embarrassment rather than go back to their original units. Telfer spent his entire engagement with the 43rd at Chatham. The 43rd had returned from India in 1859. Part of the 43rd Monmouthshire Light Infantry, the "Service Companies" was sent to New Zealand in 1863 through 1866 in the second Maori War. On 12 January 1863 Telfer was promoted to Corporal. In 1864 the Commanding Office was Francis Hutchinson Synge.



Corporal Telfer transferred to the 101st Royal Bengal Fusiliers on 30 April 1864, just after their Umbeyla campaign of 1863. His service number was 1269. The 101st was originally the East India Company's 1st Bengal European Fusilier. After the India Mutiny the British government took over the rule of India from the East India Company and the 1st Bengal European Fusilier was taken into the British Army as the 101st Royal Bengal Fusiliers in 1861. From Jul 1864 to April 1865 Telfer was stationed at Chatham. Telfer was promoted to Sergeant on 19 September 1864. Sgt Telfer was stationed at Walmer from April 1865 to Sept 1866 when he was sent to Cawnpore, India until Dec 1867. Sgt Telfer was next stationed at Naini Tal Depot, India until Dec 1868 when he returned to Netley, England via the Cape with the 101st. Regiment. Sergeant Telfer received his Long Service and Good Conduct medal after 20 years service in Aug 1868.



Sergeant Telfer's final discharge was on 26 April 1870 at Gosport on which date he was admitted as an out pensioner of Chelsea Hospital. This second period of service was for 9 years and 133 days reckoned toward his total of 21 years and 240 days or 21 years 8 months. From his parchment Certificate of Service: He served in Canada for 2 1/12 years, Turkey and the Crimea 2 2/12 years, East Indies (India) 5 5/12 years or a total of 9 years 8 months overseas service. His character of Service: "Conduct very good, and he was when promoted in possession of three good conduct badges and had he not been promoted would now be in possession of four good conduct badges, Medal for Long Service and Good conduct" (awarded). He was on the married establishment Roll with wife Mary and 5 children ages 3 to 15. Sergeant Telfer was 40 years 4 months old on retirement. His description then was: height 5' 8 3/4", hair Black, eyes blue, complexion fresh and his trade that of a groom. His intended place of residence was Forfar, Scotland. The "79th News" of March 1908 contains a "list of pensioners and men of the 2nd class reserve, who served with the Cameron Highlanders throughout the Crimea and India Mutiny Campaigns". On this list is Telfer, W. T. living at Forfar, Angus County, Scotland. Telfer was 78 years old in 1908. I have a post card showing the "Indian Mutiny & Crimea Veterans At Royal Review, 18th Sept. 1905".



References:

Original parchment certificate of service Sergeant William Telfer dated 26 Apr 1870

Original parchment certificate Chelsea Hospital out pensioner's dated 27 Apr 1870

Public Records Office/ War Office 12/8419-8431 Musters Roll 79th Highlanders

Public Records Office/ War Office 12/5615-5619 Musters Rolls 43rd Regiment of Foot

Public Records Office/ War Office 12/9884-9881 Musters Rolls 101st Regiment of Foot



Note: John Telfer, Corporal 79th Highlanders served in the Indian Mutiny and received the Medal. This maybe William's brother. Indian Mutiny Medal roll 50,700. Copy of Roll:



Telfer

James

Gunner or Driver

J Royal Artillery

Telfer

John

Corporal

79th Foot (Cameron Highlanders)

Telfer

William

Corporal

79th Foot (Cameron Highlanders)



http://users.rootswe...gw/MutinyT1.htm



1."The Destruction of Lord Raglan" by Christopher Hibbert 1961 pg 8.

2. Website India Families, History of the 19th of Foot.

3 "Balaclava Gentlemen's Battle" by John Selby 1970 pg 29

4 "Balaclava Gentlemen's Battle" by John Selby 1970 pg 45

5.The 79th New, magazine, March 1908 pg 105

6. Website reenactment website, History of the 79th Highlanders

7. "Battles of the British Army" by Charles Rathbone Low 189

8. Website Simpson paintings

9. "Hammonds Ambassador World Atlas" 1960 (India)

10."Balaclava Gentlemen's Battle" by John Selby 1970 pg 222-225

11. The 79th New, magazine, March 1908 pg 107

12. . Scottish Church Records (CD) Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. Marriage William Telfer

13. Scottish Church Records (CD) Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. Baptism William Telfer

14. "The Invasion of the Crimea" 8 Volumes, by Kingslake 1868.

Edited by Nick

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Bravo!!! Excellent write up and a fantastic group!! :cheers:

Ahem-have you ever published that? It would make a nice article in the JOMSA or OMRS journal.

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Bravo!!! Excellent write up and a fantastic group!! cheers.gif

Ahem-have you ever published that? It would make a nice article in the JOMSA or OMRS journal.

I have though about it, just haven't gotten to it, more busy doing research. I have a German Rear Admiral, survivor of the Battles of Coronel and the Falklands, I have 100 pages on. He's turning into a book. I will try to get some more articles into JOMSA. I also have been writing on California National Guard history and medals. Lieutenant A. B. Adams is one, also his 10 year service medal with the gold and diamonds 25 year bar was in JOMAS.

Thanks Captain George Albert

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For a history of William Telfer see "Sergeant William Telfer" in this section.

This does not happen very often, I would have to say this is a one in the million. I have been lucky finding images of relatively recent people -exceptions are Konteradmiral Walter Koehler, who is in a Bundesarchive photo as a Midshipman in a group photo (1903-04) on the S.M.S. Hertha at Tsingtao, but he died in 1970 and was relatively high ranking. The same applies to a number of U.S. groups.

This is a case of finding a British SGT. born in 1831 died post 1908. He was not noteworthy (No valor decorations, nor an extraordinary or unique medal grouping). He was an enlisted man. The chances of locating a picture (in any condition) of this man have to be one in a million. Well to make a long story short - here is what happened. I bought this group of 4 medal, and 2 parchment documents in May 1999. I have done a lot of research on the man (25+ pages). I bought a postcard of Crimea and Indian Mutiny Veterans at the Royal Review of 1905 from a dealer in England in Apr 2001. I though it was a nice display piece, and nothing more. I did examine it, but back then you couldn't get a very good high resolution scan. On top of that the postcard was printed (dot pattern - like a newspaper).

This week I was thinking of selling this group, because I specialize in photographic documented groups, and this did not fit in. I figured I would make one last try at analyzing the postcard. I broke the card into 4 sections scanned at 4800 dpi. I knew that Telfer was still alive in 1908 from a 79th Highlander News Letter. There were 250,000 British Crimea Medals awarded, so this was a real long shot. Then I analyzed the veterans. I found only one wearing a Glengarry cap (Scottish), with what looked like a white or white topped hackle. The Glengarry cap was introduced as the undress cap for Scottish Regiments in the year 1852. This head-dress was of blue cloth with a diced border (red and white), except for the 42nd, 71st and 79th Regiments, who wore a plain blue Glengarry. The cap was bound at the bottom with black silk and on the left side was a black silk rosette or bow on which was fixed the regimental badge. The tails were also of black silk.

So I had one Scottish soldier (from the Glengarry cap, probably from a Highlander Regiment) with a white or white topped hackle. There were only 8 Regiments of foot Highlander Regiments in the Crimean War (the 3rd Scots Guards, the 1st Royal Scots, 42nd Black Watch, the 71st Highland Light Infantry, the 72th Highlanders, the 79th Cameron Highlanders, the 90th Highlanders, and the 93rd Gordon Highlanders). The man in the postcard is wearing the Glengarry cap without dicing so he was in the 42nd Black Watch, 71st Highland Light Infantry, or 79th Cameron Highlanders. The 71st Highland Light Infantry only earned one bar (Sebastopol). The 42nd wore a Red hackle (in a black and white photograph red appears black). This leaves only the 79th Cameron Highlands. Telfer had served in the 79th in the Crimea, and India Mutiny. I could only find one veteran wearing 4 medals. This veteran was the one wearing the Glengarry cap! I enlarged this veteran and it appeared that he had two medals with ribbon brooches (silver rectangles similar to Telfer’s), one medal (looks like the India Mutiny by the ribbon did not have a brooch bar, and the 4th was mounted below the top three, and hard to see.

In the postcard this man appears he is wearing the British Crimea on a long ribbon (3-4 bars), possible, with ribbon brooch Turkish Crimea on shorter ribbon with ribbon brooch, India Mutiny on longer ribbon with no ribbon brooch, and the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal centered below the first three, not overly displayed. When I bought this group it had 4 silver ribbon brooches, one for each medal (see photo) – these medals appear to have original ribbons (c. 1900s). The ribbon brooch bars for the India Mutiny and Long Service and Good Conduct Medal had broken mounting pins and still do! After all this I came to the conclusion the veteran in the Glengarry cap with 4 medals of which two had ribbon brooch bars (British Crimea and Turkish Crimea), and at least one did not have a ribbon brooch bar (India Mutiny), and the last was unknown as to having a brooch bar or not (Long service and Good conduct Medal), was in fact SGT. William T. Telfer, wearing his original Glengarry cap, at the age of 74 attending the Royal Review of 1905 in Edinburg. The Royal Review was held in (the King’s or Queen’s Royal) Holyrood Park, Edinburg Scotland. Telfer was living in Dunfliers only 73.4 miles from Edinburg at this time again the 79th Highlander news letter of 1908. A further note: Telfer left the 79th in 1860 for civilian life. He did not do well, so re enlisted in the 43rd of Foot. Many men that left a unit would not go back to that unit because of a certain amount of shame at not being able to make it in civilian life, therefore the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal was not prominently displayed by Telfer.

Scottish Foot Regiments in the Crimean War:

Scots Fusilier Guards: now the Scots Guards, diced bands.

1st Royal Regiment: Royal Scots, diced bands.

42nd Royal Highlanders: The Black Watch, no diced band, red hackle.

71st Highland Light Infantry: no diced band.

72nd Highlanders: Seaforth Highlands, diced band.

79th Highlanders: Cameron Highlanders, no diced band, white topped hackle.

90th Regiment: later the Scottish Rifles; diced band.

93rd Regiment: Gordon Highlands, diced band.

The vast majority of the Scots Fusilier Guards received 4 bar Crimea medals.

The 1st Royal Regiment received thee bars (Alma, Inkermann, and Sebastopol).

The 42nd Royal Highlanders, in the Crimea were part of the Highland Brigade with (79th , and 93rd Regiments). All 3 Regiments received three bars (Alma, Balaklava, and Sebastopol).

The 71st Highland Light Infantry only received the Sebastopol bar.

The 72nd Highlanders receiver 4 bar Crimea medals.

The 79th Highlanders, In the Crimea part of the Highland Brigade with (42nd, and 93rd Regiments). Received 3 bars (Alma, Balaklava, and Sebastopol).

The 90th Regiment only received the Sebastopol bar.

The 93rd Regiment in the Crimea part of the Highland Brigade with (42nd, and 79th Regiments). Received 3 bars (Alma, Balaklava, and Sebastopol).

The 42nd’s hackle was Red, so it does not appear to be the man in the postcard

The 71st Highlanders were at the Siege of Sebastopol from September 1854 and the Kerch Expedition to Eastern Crimea from May to June 1855. They only received the Sebastopol Bar. It does not appear that the man in the postcard was in the 71st .

This leaves only the 79th Cameron Highlanders.

Captain George Albert

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I could not add this. So new topic. William Telfer is marked with red X above him. Captain George Albert

Edited by army historian

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Hoping you are still a member. Is William Telfer a family member? He is my great-great grandfather. i found your article very interesting and informative. It filled in a quite a few gaps in William's timeline and explained the birthplaces of some of his children. I saw his medals for sale online some time ago but i dont know where they ended up. Thanks again.

 

 

 

 

 

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JayBeth

Welcome to the GMIC!

I just checked Army Historian's profile and he last visited the GMIC on Feb 28, 2014, so you may need to try contacting him directly.  If you click on his 'name' the site should let you write him a private message which he may or may not get, as he was apparently quite an active poster - 3,000+ posts - up to that time but has not posted since.  But perhaps you've already thought of that.

The other option may be to try and track him down at the California Center for Military History, where he is apparently a Captain, first name George.

Anyway, try that and if it doesn't work we'll try to think of something else.  Perhaps other members know of him? 

Peter

Edited by peter monahan

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You mentioned in your first article that William Telfer married Mary Rodgers in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1853. This William Telfer died shortly after the photograph you posted was taken, He died in Lunanhead, Forfar, Scotland on November 10th 1905. He had lived in Forfar since leaving the Oxford Militia in the 1870's.

Thanks Peter. Great suggestions. I'll try those suggestions.

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JayBeth

You're very welcome.  Good luck with the hunt!

Peter

Edited by peter monahan

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