Benefactions, Festivals and letters from the War in India

1849 – Christmas Benefactions at Kingsland

The Rev. R.D. Evans presented his usual gift of beef to the deserving poor of Kingsland.  On Christmas day, he gave the Church choir a wonderful dinner, tea and supper.

The farmers of Kingsland gave all their workmen and servants a dinner of roast beef, plum pudding and mince pies.  This is a custom that Kingsland farmers always follow, and it was one day that they could rise from the table and say that they had had enough!

Normally, a labourer with a family to support out of just 7s or 8s a week must be careful how much bread he eats in case there is not enough for the following day, and perhaps would never dare eat nearly enough to give him enough strength for the day’s toil.

1851 – Kingsland Church School Festival

The Rector of Kingsland and his lady gave their annual treat to the schoolchildren at the Rectory.

At 4 p.m. 90 children went to the Rectory along with their master and governess;  after singing Grace they were provided with plum cake and tea which was served by the daughters of Colonel Halifax and Sir. H. Cuyler.

Having eaten their fill, the children played games, sang and danced until 9 p.m., when, it was reported,  over a hundred were liberally supplied with cider and bread and cheese.  Now, I assume that these were adults who had joined the party…….but maybe not??!

The National Anthem was then sung, and the children went home happy and contented.

Two days later, the school was inspected by the Rev. Waring, the diocesan inspector, and it was declared to be progressive and well disciplined, with careful attention being paid to each child.  The number of children was 120, with an average attendance of 88.

1854 – Postie Has a Dunking

The postman delivering letters between Kingsland and Wigmore had to cross the River Lugg by means of a narrow plank which was the only bridge.  Some mindless clot had thought it clever to saw through the bottom of the plank, so that when postie reached the middle it broke in two, sending him and the letter straight into the river.

He managed to regain the bank, but had to run the rest of the way in order to be in time to deliver the letters, all of which were now soaked.

The incident was reported in the hope that the person who destroyed the bridge could be caught, and also to explain to those who received wet letters the reason why.

1858 – Letters Home from a Soldier in India

John Powell, a native of Kingsland who had been a ploughboy, enlisted with the 5th Dragoon Guards at the age of 18.

Two of his letters home were given to the Hereford Times, the first to his mother and the second to a friend:

Camp Jugdespore, 16 Miles from Arrah, May 30 1858

“My dear Mother, I know you are very uneasy of not receiving some news from me sooner than you can expect, but, my dear mother, the way everything is going on of late is shocking to be seen.  But I sincerely hope for this to find you and brothers and sisters to be in the enjoyment of good health and spirits, as this leaves me, thanks be to the Almighty for his goodness.  The last letter I sent to you was in Boodlepore on lst February on my way to Lucknow under General Ranks, commanding the division.

Boodlepore and Lucknow

Between Boodlepore and Lucknow we fought three engagements with the Sepoys.  At Chandy was the first on 19th February;  and on 23rd February at Sultanpore.   The other was on 4th March, on our way, and the same day we arrived at Lucknow.  Our loss was, in the three engagements, only two killed and sixteen wounded, but the enemy’s loss was great.  My dear mother, I must say but little about what has taken place since I left quarters, for there is no time for anything, only very hard duty and fighting up to this day.  We arrived at Lucknow on the 4th March 1858 and we finished the taking of Lucknow on 20th of the same month.  The loss in my regiment was very trifling all through, considering.  We had 12 killed and 36 wounded but several died of their wounds.  I was very near being shot many times, but luckily escaped unhurt.

Azingurh and Jugdespore

On 28th March the Commander in Chief gave out the distribution of the army which was a great sight to see such an army in one camp together was was before Lucknow.  My regiment, the 34th and the 84th with the 2nd Battalion Military Train, some Royal Artillery, and Madras ditto, under General Lugard, were marched to Azingurh, where the rebels held possession of, but most of them were away before we came.  We had one man killed and three wounded.  We left the 34th Regiment there.  The rebels made their way to Jugdespore and the remainder of us came here after them.  There is a large jungle all around this place, about 16 miles in length and three in width.  We left Anan on 7th of this month, without a bed or change of clothing, and we have been in that state until today.  I was ten days and nights at the taking of Lucknow, without a bed or a change, but this has been worse.

We have been engaged four times since we left Anan, on 9th of this month we took Jugdespore;  on the llth about eight miles away;  on 20th, near to this;  and again on 26th we hunted them through the jungle but it was a pity neither our cavalry nor artillery could come through with us, but each day we killed a great many of them.”

The Second letter:

Bankepore, near Patna, 30th June 1858

“My dear friend, I dare say by this time you will think me numbered with the many that have been slain in this dreadful mutiny.  Thanks be to God for his mercies to us poor creatures in this country, for let me tell you, during the severe campaign I have not been a day sick all the time.

Chandia and Sultanpore

On 23rd December 1857 my regiment received an order from the Commander in Chief to proceed to join a brigade which was forming in the Oude territory under command of Brigade-General Franks, C.B.  After a little hard marching and fatigue, we formed on 1st February 1858.  The brigade was composed of 10th, 21st and 9th Regiments besides six battalions of Ghurkas, with guns in proportion.  The brigade being supplied with everything for a long march left Budlepore some 13 days afterwards and proceeded to intercept some rebels at another strong fort called Chandia, which we completed on 19th taking their possession and seven field guns, with a very little loss on our side.  Report of the enemy loss was eight hundred killed and wounded.

We set off in the direction of Sultanpore (a native station) when it was known there was a very large body of the enemy in a good position with lots of guns.  On the morning of the 23rd we marched in battle array until we came about two miles from the town;  when the old chief and staff started off to reconoitre.

After finding out the exact place their batteries were stationed, he rode back and ordered the brigade to take ground to the left by fours so by that means it took us out of their range, and before they could bring their guns around in the proper position or direction, I should say, we were out of their range and close under their batteries, and in a very few moments possession of some of their guns and put them to flight.  We followed them up from day break until 12 noon and captured 21 field pieces of cannon with a great portion of their baggage and stores, and besides killed and wounded estimated to about 200.  We lost on this occasion 2 officers killed, also 6 men killed and 16 wounded, which is very little considering the loss on the other side.

Lucknow and Kisme Baugh

After halting one day we proceeded on and took up our encampment, thinking we were going to stop some time, but behold our surprise on fine morning there came in a despatch from the Commander in Chief ordering our General to march forthwith in the direction of Lucknow and concentrate our brigade with that of his.  But that was no easy matter, for there was lots of the enemy between us and the old Chief (Sir Colin Campbell), and our brigade had a skirmish nearly every other day.  But on 4th March we joined the army before Lucknow and a more beautiful sight I never saw, to see the whole of the English Army in camp, before one of the greatest cities in India.  To speak of this great place would fill a newspaper, suffice it to say it is called the city of palaces, and indeed a more approriate name could not be given to it.  Well to go on with the siege, it commenced on 2nd March two days before we joined, but on 5th our brigade was ordered to take their place, and from that date to the 19th we were hard at work my regiment taking a very active part in it.  On the 14th my regiment took a very large palace, called the Kisme Baugh, and indeed if I say it was the most handsomest building I ever see I cannot be wrong, and I am sorry to say the regiment suffered rather severe, I cannot exactly say how many were killed, but killed and wounded about 30.  We got great praise and we occupied the palace some days, until the whole of the enemy was routed out of the town, and then we went to camp and remained there until 28th when the army was broke up and sent in different directions.  My regiment was sent to a flying brigade under General Lugard K.C.B. composed of 10th 34th and 84th regiments with artillery in proportion, and 2nd battalion military train besides some Sikh cavalry.  And away go Jack again.

The Azimgurh District and Kooer Sing

We started on the 29th in the direction of Dinapore, great part of the same road I went up, and it was known the Azimgurh district was unsettled by Kooer Sing and his rebels.  We marched 30 miles that first day and it was no joke but to our surprise we had to force march all the way, going eighteen twenty and twenty five miles a day, I assure you it was a very severe march – so long and in the heat of the sun that even the elephants, camels, bullocks and horses died under their burden.  On our arrival at Azimgurh, true enough the rebels were there, but they did not stand their ground long for we soon routed them and killed a great number of them by following up a few miles.  Our loss was 2 killed and several slightly wounded.  Well, on they went, crossed the Ganges and into the Shaabad district where Kooer belong to;  but he died shortly afterwards from a wound he received from us.

Azimgurh, Anah and Jugdespore

We remained in Azimgurh a few days to get everything ready to proceed again;  here we left the 34th to do duty, and on the remainder of us went, force marching as usual, to a ghaut at the River Ganges between Bucar and Anah, crossed over, and arrived in Anah on 5th May.  Our General found out here that the rebels were gone to Jugdespore, some 16 miles;  and on 7th we left Anah taking only part of our tents, and leaving all our beds behind.  Before this time we had thrown away our coats by the Colonel’s order, and we went away in just the clothing we stood in.  On our approaching Jugdespore the General soon formed us in battle array, and we had to fight hard for our lives;  the enemy was that numerous that our brigade was surrounded on all sides.  They had one gun.  We followed them up when they got together, beat them clean out of the town, and took their gun.

Sad fate of H.M.’s 35th

I was very near to forgetting to let you know the sad fate that befel of a party of H.Ms 35th, a week or so near this place.  There were some sailors, I believe 200 in all. They were sent from Anah to intercept the rebels, but I am sorry to say they were mistaken and found themselves overpowered.  They had two guns.  They retired to come back, but Jack Sepoy cut nearly the whole of them up and also too the guns.  This of course made the rebels spring up.


Well, after we gaining the day on 9th, the rebels formed up again at a place called Chutoure, 8 miles from the latter town.  There is a wood from Jugdespore about 16 miles in length.  On the 11th we marched on Chutoure.  Here a very hard engagement took place.  We did not bring the 84th here, they were left to guard all the camp.  The fight lasted two hours as fas as ever we could load and fire;  but we routed them clear away.  The enemy’s loss was great, ours trifling.  1 killed and 6 wounded.  Two days afterwards we marched back to camp.  On 20th was the next battle at a village two miles from our camp where they came, there cavalry and infantry at first showed a good front, we first opened fire, it was sharp on both sides, but only a short time, as usual they retired, but we ran a great number down.

More Skirmishes

On the morning of 26th we had another battle, the General took us in skirmishing order through the jungle as we call it, only six miles away;  we found the lads again in readiness;  here we had sharp work also, they stood well for some time, and no mistake, a good many of them was killed.  This day we took the two guns the 35th lost, no one on our side killed but a few wounded.  On 2nd June another battle took place in the midst of the wood, not knowing the exact spot where they was, and this part was very thick with bushes, we could not see very far in front, and not easy to keep our distance.  Behold to our surprise the enemy was kneeling musket in hand, and let a volley into us skirmishers in front before we could see them, on 50 yards from them, but very lucky only one man wounded at this instant.  At them we went, following up to an open plain where our rifle balls told tales on them.

On 4th June was the 6th and last battle in and around the jungle of Jugdespore, this battle we fought at Chuturie where they formed up again;  we heard that they were determined to fight well at this place and to kill every one of us and not retire any more;  and on our arrival at this place at the edge of the wood, behind a deep ditch, they was ready and waiting, and there is no mistake I assure you, they stood very well.  A file fire was kept up for some time, but they did not stand to what they said, for when they was closed tight they began to retire, and after them at the charge, with our cavalry on the right also at the charge, for the direction they took was an open plain, all the better for us, and the battle was over.

The ground was strewed well with their dead and blood for about ten miles;  the enemy’s loss was very great, ours was but little after all.  1 man killed of my company and 1 wounded, 1 officer killed and several men wounded.

On all these occasions we took great part of their baggage and stores.  During all the time moving about here we was 23 days without our beds or even a change of clothing, but exposed to the severe heat, cold ground when it rained, and but little time to have any rest.  We came back to Anah on 16th and arrived in Dinapore on 19th.  Welcome back by the inhabitants, played in by the band of H.M. 35th Regiment.  We only remained three days in Dinapore.

Your well wisher and friend,

John Powell”