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The E.J. Boys Archive

Amended 17.5.11. Addition of Census and other data, and editorial changes 10.9.2013. Minor edits 2.1.2015. Additions 16.1.2015.


. Portrait of George Garnham 134LD Click to enlarge.
(Click on image to enlarge)

1480, Private George GARNHAM — 13th Light Dragoons

Birth & early life

Born at Wickham Market, near Woodbridge, Suffolk, and baptised at Framlingham, Suffolk, on the 24th of January 1836 [PB, 8.9.2013: Notes also say 1834.]. He was one of twins, the other dying very young.

According to muster rolls, he sent money from the Crimea to his father, a "Henry" Garnham, "At the Railway Station, Elmswell, Bury St Edmunds".

But from Canon Lummis comes the information that he was in fact the son of William Garnham and his wife, Rachel (nee Smyth), who were married at Wickham Market, Suffolk, on the 12th of October 1830.

According to research carried out by the family, his father was William Garnham, formerly an Ostler but later a Railway Porter (born at Wickham Market in 1806), and his mother was Rachel (nee Smith or Smythe), born at Pestridge in 1804. His parents were married at Wickham Market in 1830.

1841 Census

Nearthehill, Wickham Market.

William Garnham, aged 35, Ostler.

Rachel Garnham, 35.

John, 9.

George, 4.

Emma, 3.

Charity, 1.

1851 Census

Elmswell, Suffolk.

William Garnham, aged 44, Railway Porter, born Pettistree, Suffolk.

Rachel Garnham, 47, born Framlingham.

George, 15, born Wickham Market.

Charity, 11, born Wickham Market.

Mary Ann, 7, born Wickham Market.

John William Garnham [brother]

George Garnham's brother, John William, became a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Royal Artillery. He was born on the 26th of September 1831, also at Wickham Market, and enlisted at the age of 16 years 7 months on the 26th of April 1848.

He rose through the ranks to Sgt. Major, and was commissioned as a Lieutenant on the 18th of October 1864, Captain in October 1877, Major in September 1882, and Hon. Lieutenant-Colonel on the 26th of April 1885, retiring on full-pay on the same day. His service was mainly with the Coastal Brigades.

He was later Secretary to the Western Australia Railway Company. There was an obituary in the Wimbledon Borough News, 3rd of February 1906. He was buried at Dovercourt, Essex.


Enlisted at Westminster, London, on the 28th of July 1852.

Age: 19.

Height: 5' 7".

Trade: Servant.

Fresh complexion. Hazel eyes. Brown hair.

George Garnham's elder brother, John William Garnham, was already in the Army at this time.


From Private to Corporal: 6th of October 1855.

Discharge & pension

Discharged from Newbridge on the 14th of October 1857:

"Suffers from secondary syphilis of an aggravated nature, attributable to a syphilitic virus contracted some time ago. Not aggravated by intemperance."

Served 5 years 179 days. In Turkey and the Crimea, 2 years.

Conduct: "good". In possession of one Good Conduct badge.

Aged 24 years 3 months on discharge.

Awarded a pension of 7d per day for eighteen months.

Sent money from the Crimea to his father, Henry Garnham [sic], "At the Railway Station, Elmswell, Bury St Edmunds".


Entitled to the Crimean medal with clasps for Alma, Balaclava, Inkerman and Sebastopol.

A supplementary roll (undated) signed by Major Henry Holden shows him as having been issued with the Crimean medal (with clasps for Alma, Balaclava, and Inkerman) on the 7th of October 1855.

Further medal information archived.


Attended the first Balaclava Banquet in 1875.

Member of the Balaclava Commemoration Society in 1877 and 1879.

Signed the Loyal Address to the Queen in 1887.

Attended the Annual Dinners in 1895-97 [PB: does this include 1896?] and 1899.

Although invited to the Jubilee celebrations held in the Fleet Street offices of T.H. Roberts in June of 1897 he does not appear to have been present, nor did he sign the testimonial given to Mr. Roberts on that occasion.

George Garnham wrote to Roberts on the 30th of July 1897 apologising for not being able to be present at the Jubilee celebrations and enclosing a P.O. for 5/-, saying that he "would continue to do so at intervals".


Life after service

To live at Bury St. Edmunds when discharged.

1861 Census

Dartmoor Convict Prison, Tavistock.

George Garnham, unmarried, 26, Asst. Warder, Dartmoor Prison, born Wickham Market.

No trace can be found of Maria [surname unknown], his future wife, at this time. She is said to have been a teacher in the National School at Princetown when he was a Warder there.

Births registered

George William Garnham, December Quarter 1871, Warwick.

Elizabeth Rachel Garnham, December Quarter 1873, Warwick.

Ronald Ernest Garnham, December Quarter 1875, Warwick.

Edna Maria Garnham, June Quarter 1878, Warwick.

1871 Census

Warwick Union Workhouse, St Nicholas, Warwick.

George Garnham, aged 35, Master of Workhouse, born Wickham Market.

Maria Garnham, 33, Matron, born Salisbury.

Adeline Grace, 3, born Warwick.

Hamilton Davey, 1, born Warwick.

From the Gazetteer and Directory of Warwickshire, 1874 on the Union Workhouse:

"This is situated in Packmore Lane in the parish of St. Nicholas, and was erected in 1838 at a cost of £9,000... The average number of inmates is 250... George and Maria Garnham are Master and Matron."

1881 Census

Warwick Union Workhouse, The Packmores, Warwick.

George Garnham, aged 45, Workhouse Master, born Wickham Market.

Maria Garnham, 43, Matron, born Salisbury.

Adeline G, 13.

Hamilton, 11.

Geo Wm, 9.

Rachel E, 7.

Ronald E, 5.

Edna, 2.

[All six children born in Warwick]

From Robert Spennel's Directory of Leamington and Warwick, published 1900:

"Union Workhouse, Packmore Street, Warwick... Master, George Garnham, Matron, Maria Garnham."

The building, more recently known as Lakin House, had been demolished by 1985 but the brass tablet erected to Garnham's memory in the chapel there was removed and is now in the possession of the 13th/18th Hussars Regimental Museum. The text reads:

"In grateful recognition of the faithful services rendered to this Union by Mr. George Garnham, late of the 13th Light Dragoons, who rode with that Regiment under the Earl of Cardigan, K.G. on the 25th October 1854. Thus he served his Queen and Country, and upon his retirement from the Army was Master in this house for 35 years.

This brass was erected to his memory by many of the Guardians and Officers of this Union. He died Feb. 28th 1900. 'The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy with the Lord, in that day.' Aged 64 years."

Death & burial

George Garnham committed suicide on 28th of February 1900, while he was still Master of the Warwick Union Workhouse.

SAD DEATH OF A BALACLAVA HERO. Mr. George Carnham, one of the survivors of the historic charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava, committed suicide this morning by drowning himself in the canal at Warwick. The deceased had become depressed on resigning the mastership of Warwick Union, a position he had held 37 years. He retired on a liberal pension. and, in addition, possessed private means. His son is a soldier with the British garrison in beleaguered Ladysmith.

Deaths registered

George Garnham, 64, March Quarter 1900, Warwick.

He was buried in the Town Cemetery at Warwick on the 2nd of March 1900.

There are full reports in the 13th Hussar files of his death, inquest, funeral, and testimonials paid to him taken from local newspapers of the period, and a photograph of his grave and tombstone.

His wife was also later buried in the same grave space.

George and Maria Garnham's gravestone in the Town Cemetery, Warwick. Photograph by EJB, date unknown, but probably 1980s.

(Click on image to enlarge)

The inscription on the stone reads:

"In loving memory of George Garnham, who entered into rest, Feb 28th 1900, aged 64. 'My Grace is sufficient for thee.' Also of Maria Garnham, wife of the above, who entered into rest, June 13th 1910, aged 72. 'O Death, where is thy sting, O Grave, thy victory.'"

Report of George Garnham's suicide, and of his life and family, in the Leamington Spa Courier, 3 March 1900.

A transcript can be viewed here.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Further information

1901 Census

Chaplin Road, Wembley.

Maria Garnham, 63, widow, own means, born Salisbury.

Edna Garnham, 22, born Warwick.

Deaths registered

Maria Garnham, aged 72, September Quarter 1910, Oldham.

Hamilton D Garnham [son], 59, March Quarter 1929, Liverpool.

Ronald E Garnham [son], 55, December Quarter 1930, W. Derby.

George W Garnham [son], 70, December Quarter 1941, Uxbridge.

George William Garnham [son]

One of George Garnham's sons, George William, enlisted into the 5th Dragoon Guards on the 9th of July 1886, at Canterbury. He served in India and South Africa with the regiment, and later Natal with the Transvaal Mounted Rifles (retiring as R.S.M. on 4th of July 1913).

George William was later transport manager with the Rockware Glass Company in West London for a number of years and died in St. Bernard's Hospital at Hanwell in 1941.

Ronald Garnham [son]

Another son, Ronald, served in the 2nd (Volunteer Bn) of the Warwickshire Regiment before enlisting into the 2nd Dragoon Guards as No. 3661 on the 3rd of March 1891. He transferred into the 1st Dragoon Guards, Regtl. No. 3460, on the 5th of June 1891, transferred to the Army Reserve on the 2nd of March 1896, and "recalled to the Colours" in 1899. He was discharged on the 29th of March 1903, having served in South Africa 1901-02.

References & acknowledgements

Additional birth registrations, and Census information for 1861, 1871, 1881, and 1891 kindly provided by Chris Poole.

PB, January, 2015: We are very grateful to Roy Barwick, George Garnham's great grandson, for contacting the archive. He was previously in contact with EJB, and helped him locate some graves of survivors of the Charge who were buried in India. He recalls,

"My grandfather, who was GG's son-in-law, told me that at the reunion dinners the hoof of Lord Cardigan's charger Ronald was displayed on the table. He would have heard this story from GG... My grandfather died in 1946, so I was a very young boy when told this."

I was told the following by my grandmother Rachel (nee Garnham), GG's daughter:

1. When traveling by train if her father found himself in a compartment alone with a young woman he would change to a compartment occupied with other people.

If a woman made a complaint of improper behaviour, however false, her word be taken against that of a soldier. Such was the low esteem in which the private soldier was held. (This was before the days of corridor trains.)

2. At some point GG was employed in moving the wounded back behind the lines for medical treatment. He told my grandmother that if a solder was suffering abdominal wounds, it was usual practice to remove his belt, extend it to its full length and draw his knees up to his chest in order to hold him together during transport back by wagon.

I would have been about 12 years old when told this, at that age one does not realise the significance of these memories.

Until I met your father I was not aware that GG had committed suicide, neither was my mother. Such matters were never discussed, certainly not in front of the children. It was no doubt regarded as a serious sin to take ones life. Of course our attitudes are very different today.

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