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British colonial officer nicknamed « Great Coffin »? (India, 19th century)


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Hello,

 

I’m conducting a particular research about a British commissioned officer who would have served in India in the second half of 19th century, who would have reached a rank of senior officer (at least), and whose nickname would have been "Great Coffin". That’s all I know (these informations come from family memory on my wife's side)...

 

On the off chance, could you please help me, or orient me to find the exact identity of this officer (assuming he existed)?

 

Thank you very much.

 

Best regards,

 

Laurent

(from France).

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  • 1 year later...
Hello,

Searches led me to identify two possible commissioned officers:

1) lieutenant colonel John Sheffield Gilbert Ryley;

2) And the lieutenant general Gordon Caulfield.

Is it possible to have easily access to their service records?

Thank very much for your help.

Best regards,

Laurent
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LT. COL. JOHN SHEFFIELD GILBERT RYLEY A short history of an Officer in the British Indian Army ‘A grave uncovered, a life rediscovered’ In 2009 as part of a ‘tidy up’ in our churchyard of St.Peter and St.Paul, Bleadon, a gravestone was uncovered which bore an inscription that aroused the curiosity of those who had found it. Although the lettering was very indistinct eventually the following was revealed:- IN LOVING MEMORY OF LT. COL. JOHN SHEFFIELD GILBERT RYLEY LATE OF THE 5TH BENGAL LIGHT CAVALRY DIED IN BLEADON MAY 31ST 1891 AGED 83 After some basic internet research I discovered that the 5 th Bengal Light Cavalry along with other similar regiments had played quite an important role in the Anglo-Afghan and Sikh wars of the 19th century, as well as being heavily involved in the Indian Mutiny. This got me wondering about the life and exploits of this officer from the Indian army, and how he had come to end his days in Bleadon. To this end I posted a notice on the village website asking if anyone knew of the whereabouts of any of his descendants. Earlier this year, having almost forgotten about it all, I was amazed to receive an e-mail from a Mr Hugh Davies informing me that his wife was a descendant of John Ryley, (distaff side), and he sent me some details concerning the life and career of our mystery Indian Cavalry officer. Here is his story as far as we know it; most of the facts may be verified from official records of the time, along with historical details of the battles. Other information has been gleaned from Census records and various registry entries. John was born on August 16th 1808 in London to John and Charlotte Catherine Ryley and was baptised in Marylebone several months later on February 17th 1809. At this time his father was a Justice of the Peace and may have been Deputy Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, therefore a man of good position John attended Harrow school from 1823 -1825 and after becoming a cadet there he went on to pursue a military career, arriving in India in late 1826. Here he took up his post as a Cornet in the 1st Bengal Light Cavalry. This rank was the lowest grade of commissioned officer in the British Cavalry and his duties would have traditionally included carrying the standard or ‘Cornet’. (After the Army Reform Act of 1871 this rank was replaced by that of 2nd Lieutenant). Later in September of that year he was posted to the 2nd Bengal Light Cavalry and after promotion to Lieutenant eventually went on to become the Adjutant to this regiment in 1834, during the Jodhpur Administration. It was at this time that he met Marianne Christian Walker Watkins and they were married in Delhi on September 20th 1838. Marianne herself came from a good army background, being the granddaughter of Mary Cooper (née Skinner) whose brother was Colonel James Skinner, founder of The First Bengal Cavalry, better known as Skinner’s Horse. This was one of the most famous cavalry regiments during the turbulent times of the Raj. In 1839, during the First Anglo- Afghan war John fought in the battle of Ghazni (or Ghuznee), famously a very bloody affair, and was awarded a medal for his services. After the disbandment of the 2nd Light cavalry he went on to do duty with the 3rd Light Cavalry in 1841, following that he was posted to the newly raised 11th Light Cavalry in 1842 and then finally to the 5th Light Cavalry at the end of that same year. We next find him as Station Staff officer at Landour in 1844 where he stayed until 1848, during which time he was involved in the First Sikh War, a conflict between the British East India Company and the Sikh Khalsa Army. He was decorated further for his actions as Battalion captain during the battle of Sobraon in 1846; he went on to be involved in further engagements during the 2nd Sikh War and in 1848 was badly wounded at the battle of Ramnagar. After this time we can only assume that John was no longer able to be a fighting cavalryman as his army record appears to end here and the next time we hear of him he is in Scotland with his family. The census of 1861 shows John and his wife living in Edinburgh along with their 3 young children, and Marianne’s mother, Maria Watkins. They are maintaining a large house and employing at least four servants. 1871 finds them still there although by this time their son Sheffield doesn’t appear on the list – sadly there is no further record of him so there is a possibility that he died in childhood. At some point during the following twenty years John and Marianne moved from Edinburgh to Somerset, where they are listed, in the census of 1891 as living in ‘Seaview’, Bleadon, along with 2 servants. The reasons for the move will never be known but perhaps the sea air in this part of the world may have been more beneficial to their health; Weston- super- Mare at this time certainly had a reputation for being a favoured resort for Victorian society. After John’s death in May of 1891, Marianne moved away from Bleadon to Surrey, where one of her daughters was residing, and she outlived her husband by some 23 years. The registration of her death in 1914 in the Croydon area shows her as being 96 years old at the time. Researched and written by Penny Robinson

Gordon Caulfield (1862-1922)


Colonel,17th Battalion Durham Light Infantry.


 

Gordon Napier Caulfield was born in India in 1862. His father was Colonel Robert Caulfield, of the Indian Army. He moved to England when he was a child, living in Sussex with his aunt Christina Mainwaring (according to 1871 census).

During his long military career, he occupied different ranks and served in several battalions:
Second Lieutenant in 50th Foot, 22/1/1881.
Captain, 22/1/1892
Major, 22/1/1902
Lieutenant Colonel, 1/6/1904
Brevet Colonel, 11/6/1911
Temporary Lieutenant Colonel in 17th DLI, 19/11/1914; then in 2nd Training Reserve Battalion from 1/9/16 to 3/10/17.
Whilst forming 17th DLI, he was attached to 4th DLI from 9/11/13 to 10/11/1914.

Colonel Caulfield commanded 17th Battalion Durham Light Infantry in 1915 and was awarded Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for his services.

Birth date: 1862-Jan-27

Death date: 1922-Mar-17

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India (birth place)
39 Brunswick Street, Hove, Sussex (1871 census)
Calcutta, India (1912)
20 Pembroke-park, Dublin County
Baldoyle, Dublin County (death place 1922)

Organisation membership: 17th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry

Family: Wife: Mildred (daughter of Philip O’Reilly from Weastmeath, Ireland), married the 21st of May 1902
Offspring: Irene Mildred
Father: Robert Caulfield
Mother: Caroline Henriette (daughter of William Magill)
Siblings: Francis William John, Charles Trevor, Alice Marion Caroline, George Robert Sanderson, Violet, Hilda Louisa Hamilton

Military service:

Colonel
17th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry

Medal(s): Distinguished Service Order
British War Medal
Victory Medal

Gender: Male

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Hi Peter,

he asked for more info - you can read it by highlighting the text.

 

Hello,

Searches led me to identify two possible commissioned officers:

1) lieutenant colonel John Sheffield Gilbert Ryley;

2) And the lieutenant general Gordon Caulfield.

Is it possible to have easily access to their service records?

Thank very much for your help.

Best regards,

Laurent
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Hello Marco,

Thanks again for your help. 

The lieutenant general which I'm looking for is born about 1812, according to the England 1891 England Census (where his name is Gordon Caulfield):

https://www.geneanet.org/rootspoint/view/rootspointp1891uk/RG12_0516_0112

At that time he was retired... Can that be enough to identify this commissioned officer?

Best regards,

Laurent 

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THE LONDON GAZETTE, DECEMBER -8, 1888. r203 Malcolm William Rogers. Jeremy Taylor Marsh, William Oshorn. ' - Thomas Brown Blake Savi. William Sedgwick. 1 Andrew Wilson Baird. MEMORANDA. General Lord Alexander George Russell, C.B., has-been placed on retired pny. Dated 16th December, 3883. 7 Lieutenant-General Napier George Campbell, Colonel Commandant Royal (late Madras) Artillery, to be placed on the Unemployed Supernumerary List. Dated 31st December, 1888. The following promotions to be trade in succession to Lieutenant-General Napier George Campbell, Royal (late Madras) Artillery :— To.be Lieutenant-Generals. Dated 31st December, 1888 :— •Major-General James Edward Cordner, Royal i. (late Bengal) Artillery, upon the Unemployed Supernumerary List. Major-General Elliot Minto Playfair, Royal (late Madras) Artillery, upon the Unemployed Supernumerary List. Major - General Walter D'Oyly Kerricb, Royal '' (late Madras) Artillery, upon the Unemployed Supernumerary List. Major-General David MacFarlan, Royal (late Bengal) Artillery. ' Lieutenant - Colonel and Colonel Brabazon Henry Pottinger, Royal (late Bombay) Artillery, to be Major-General. Dated 31st December, 1888. . ' Colonel Charles Thomas Haig, Royal (late Bombay) Engineers, to be Major-General, vice J. Bonus, retired. Dated 30th November, 18S8 The undermentioned Lieutenant-Colonels to be Colonels :— G. J.,Hamilton, the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). ••'. Dated loth December, 1888. The Honourable Heneage Legge, 9th Lancers. Dated 15th December, 1888. T.'G. Craw ley, the King's (Liverpool Regiment). '"Dated 17th December, 1888. John Henry Crowdy, Royal Engineers. Dated - ; - Dated 20th December, 1888. Honorius Sisson Sitwell, Royal Engineers. Dated J '20th December, 1888. Lieutenant-Colonel Edmund Morton ManselPleydell, half-pay, retires on retired pay. Dated 19th "December, 1888. c .Major and Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Theobald, retired pay, has been permitted to commute.'his retired pay. Dated 3rd December, 1888. - The undermentioned Quartermasters and Honorary-Lieutenants have been granted the honorary rank of Captain :— A. Reeves, the Norfolk Regiment. Dated 30th , November, 1888. AvClay, the Lincolnshire Regimen I. Dated 30th • November, 1888. G. T. Savage, the Royal Irish Rifles. Dated 4th December, 1888. Deputy Commissary and Honorary Captain John Murray, Bombay Establishment, is granted the honorary rank of Major. Dated- 19th December, 1888. INDIAN STAFF CORPS. : The following transfers and promotions -are dated 1st December, 1888 :— G'erieVal Sir Henry Wylie Norman, G.C.B., ;G.C.M.G,, C.I.E., Bengal, to be transferred to the Unemployed Supernumerary List. Lieutenant-General Charles Curcton, C.B., Bengal, to be General. Major-General Thomas Nuttall, Bombay, to Le Lieutenant-Genernl. Colonel William Turton Fagan, Bengal, to be Major-General. Major-General William Turton Fagan, Bengal, to be transferred to the Unemployed Supernumerary List. Colonel Clement John Smith, Madras, to be Major-General. The undermentioned Lieu tenant-Generals to be Generals on the Unemployed Supernumerary List :— Sir Henry Dominick Daly, K.C.B., C.I E., Bombay. Sir John Luther Vaughan, K.C.B., Bengal. Sir Samuel James Browne, K.C.B., K.C.S.I., V.C., Bengal. The undermentioned Colonels to be MajorGenerals on the Unemployed Supernumerary List :— John Brenton Cox, Bengal. Rowland Robert Wallace, Bombay. Ernest Augustus Green, Bombay. Octavius Ludlow Smith, Bengal. John Durham Hall, Bombay. Thomas Wolrich Stansfield, Madras. Adam Hugh Montgomery Dickey, Madras. Clements Robert Shaw, Bengal. INDIAN LOCAL SERVICE; The following Promotions are dated 1st December, 1888 : — Lieutenant-General Robert John Hawthorne, Retired List, Bengal Cavalry, to be General, on the Retired List. The undermentioned Lieutenant-Generals to be Generals on the Unemployed Supernumerary List: — Sir Dighton Macnaghten Probyn, K.C.B., K C.S.I., V.C., Bengal Cavalry. Brooke Boyd, Bengal Infantry. John Liptrott, Bengal Infantry. Stephen Francis Macmnllen, Bengal Cavalry. William Vine, Madras Cavalry. William George Owen, Madras Infantry. Samuel Brougham Faddy, Bengal Infantry. Richard Andrew Doria, Madras Infantry. Gordon Caulu'eld, Bengal Infantry. David Scott Dodgson, C.B, Bengal Infantry. Alexander Crornbie Silver, Madras Infantry. John Penrose Coode, Madras Infantry. Edward Dayot Watson, Bengal Infantry. John William Schneider, C.B., Bombay Infantry. Douglas Hamilton, Madras Infantry. David Brown, Madras Infantry. Arthur Newbolt Rich, Madras Infantry. Henry Augustus Adams, Bombay Infantry. William Warden Anderson, Bombay Cavalry. John Field, C.B., Bombay Infantry. John Gustavus Halliday, Madras Infantry. John Gordon, C.B., Bengal Infantry. William Thomas Williams, Madras Infantiy. Francis Walker Drummond, Bengal Cavalry. William Wilkinson Taylor, Bombay Infantry. George S'rangwavp, Bengal Infantry. • Frederick Charles Maiscy, Bengal Infantry. Henry Borlase Stevens, Bengal Infantry. James Buchanan, Madras Cavalry. William Henry Watts, Madras Infantry. George Travis Radclifle, Madras Cavalry.

----------------------------

In the Wikipedia listing of British Army full generals there is a Gordon Caulfield who got promoted on december 1st. 1888 / so the one highlighted in red could be your man, can't find much else about him - sorry.

Marcon1.

 

2622 THE LONDON GAZETTE, MAY 4, 1869 Lieutenant-Colonel George Thomas Field, Royal Artillery, Inspector of Studies and Second Commandant at the Royal Military Academy. Dated 7th April, 1869. Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Hutchinson Synge, 43rd Foot. Dated 1st May, 1869. The following promotions to take place in succession to Brevet-Colonel Samuel N. Lowder, SJoyal Marine Light Infantry, promoted MajorGeneral on 24th March, 1869 :— Major Edward Buller Thorp, 89th Foot, to be Lieutenant-Colonel. Dated 24th March, 1869. Captain Allan Sievwright, R.A., to be Major. Dated 24th March, 1869. The following promotions to take place in succession to Major-General James Robert Brunker, who died on 24th March, 1869 :•— Brevet-Colonel John Douglas, C.B., from Lieutenant-Colonel, half-pay Depot Battalion, to be Major-General. Dated 25th March, 1869. To be Lieutenant-Colonels. Captain and Brevet Major]'Edmund Palmer, halfpay Royal Artillery. Dated 25th March, 1869. Major Frederick Dobson Middleton, half-pay late 29th Foot. Dated 25th March, 186P. Major E. Armitage Hardy, 21st Hussars. Dated 25th March, 1869. Major Keith Ramsay Maitlaud, 79th Foot. Dated 25th March, 1869. Major William Henry Kerr, Dep6t Battalion. Dated 25th March, 1869. Captain and Brevet'Major Charles Edward Johns, Military Train. Dated 25th March, 1869. Major Horatio Page Vance, 38th Foot. Dated 25th March, 1869. Captain and Brevet Major Charles Frederick Young, Royal Artillery. Dated 25th March, 1869. Captain and Brevet Major Henry Foster, 95th Foot. Dated 25th March, 1869. Major Charles Darby, 86th Foot. Dated 25th March, 1869. Major Arthur James Nixon, Rifle Brigade. Dated 25th March, 1869. Major The Honourable Charles John Addington, 38th Foot. Dated 25th March, 1869. Major Henry Holford Stevenson, half-pay UnV attached. Dated 25th March, 1869. Major James Herne Wade, half-pay late 53rd Foot. Dated 25th March, 1869. Major Robert Crosse Stewart, half-pay, late 2nd Foot. Dated 25th March, 1869. Major William Drummond Scrase Dickins, 31st . Foot. Dated 25th March, 1869. Major H. R. Legge Newdigate, Rifle Brigade. Dated 25th March, 1869. Captain and Brevet-Major Henry Lynch Talbot, Royal Artillery. Dated 25th March, 1869. Captain and Brevet-Major Honourable L. W. Milles, half-pay, late Rifle Brigade. Dated 25th March, 1869. Captain and Brevet-Major William Tedlie, 60th Foot. Dated 25th March, 1869. Captain and Brevet-Major William Howley Goodenqugh, Royal Artillery. Dated 25th March, 1869. Captain and Brevet-Major Godfrey Clerk, Rifle Brigade. Dated 25th March, 1869. Major W. M. Sloane Bollon, Iu6th Foot. Dated 25th March, 1869. Captain and Brevet-Major Charles Powlett Lane, 21st Hussars. Dated 25th March, 1869. Major the Honourable Ivo de Vesci Twisleton Wykeham Fiennes, 9th Lancers, Dated 25th March, 1869. Captain and Brevet-Major Percival Ashley Brown, Military Train. Dated 25th March, 1869 To be Major. Captain George Sapte Burnand, 5th Dragoon Guards. Dated 25th March, 1869. India Office, Zrd May, 1869. The Queen has been pleased to approve of the undermentioned promotions and alterations of rank amongst the Officers of the Staff Corps and of Her Majesty's Indian Military Forces, made by the Governments in India: — BREVET. To be Colonels. Lieutenant-Colonel John Hennessy, Bengal Infantry. Dated 18th February, 1866. Lieutenant-Colonel George Burd Reddie, Bengal Infantry. Dated 18th February, 1866. Lieutenant-Colonel John Barrett, Bengal Infantry. Dated 18th February, 1866. Lieutenant - Colonel Robert John Hawthorne, Bengal Cavalry. Dated 18th February, 1866. Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen Francis Macmullen, Bengal Cavalry. Dated 18th February, 1866. Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Christopher Tytler, Bengal Infantry. Dated 18th February, 1866. Lieutenant - Colonel Samuel Brougham Faddy, Bengal Infantry. Dated 24th February, 1866. Lientenant-Colonel John William Carter, Bengal Infantry. Dated 24th February, 1.866. Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon Caulfield, Bengal Infantry. Dated 23rd March, 18C6. To be Lieutenant-Colonel. Major Charles Doveton Wetherall Seafield Grant, late 50th Madras Native Infantry. Dated 20th August, 1868. To be Majors. Captain William George Grove, 32nd Madras Native Infantry. Dated 20tli December, 1868. Captain Sussex William Lennox, 23rd Madras Native Infantry. Dated 27th December, 1868 • To be Captains. Lieutenant John McMullin, Madras Staff Corps. Dated 16th November, 1867. Lieutenant Edmund Alexander Campbell, llth Madras Native Infantry. Dated 23rd September, 1868. Lieutenant Henry Smith Daniell, 3rd Bombay Light Cavalry. Dated 4th November, 1868. Lieutenant -John Dalrymple Clark, late 8th Madras Light Cavalry. Dated 4th November, 1868. Lieutenant Henry Gage De Lancey Groves, late 7th Madras Light Cavalry. Dated 20th November, 1868. Lieutenant Henry Bennett Edwards, late 2nd Bombay European Regiment. Dated 12th December, 1868. Lieutenant Charles Grant, 2nd Bombay Light Cavalry. Dated 12th December, 1868.

-----

same man !

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