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1169, Private Henry GREGORY — 13th Light Dragoons

Birth & early life

Born at East Retford, Nottinghamshire, c.1825.

Baptised at the church of St. John the Baptist, Clarborough near Retford, on the 17th of April 1825, the son of Thomas and Charlotte Gregory (nee Harwood). His parents were married at St. Peter's, Gramston by East Retford.

1841 Census

Harworth, Notts.

Henry Gregory, 16, is shown as the eldest of 6 children born to Thomas Gregory, aged 50, Labourer, and Charlotte Gregory, 40. The others are Mark, 12, James, 8, Emma, 7, Charlotte, 5, and Anne, 2.


Enlisted at London on the 24th of October 1843.

Age: 18 years 7 months.

Height: 5' 11".

Trade: Servant.

Features: Fresh complexion. Hazel eyes. Brown hair.


Tried by a District Court-martial on the 6th of February 1855 for "disgraceful conduct", and given 50 lashes. He was also sentenced to "forfeit all claims to any additional pay and Good Conduct pay which he might accrue from further service." This order was, however, rescinded by a War Office letter, dated the 17th of November 1860.

Private to Corporal: 10th of July 1863.

Corporal to Sergeant: 17th of February 1866.

Reverted to Corporal on the 5th of May 1866.

Next of kin: (in 1868) Wife, Hannah Gregory. He was shown on the Regimental "Married roll" from the 7th of December 1861. There was one child shown in the family at the time of his discharge.

Birth registered

Henry John Gregory [son], September Quarter 1867, Canterbury.

Discharge & pension

Discharged from York on the 15th of February 1870 as "Free to pension, at his own request." Aged 44 years 1 month on discharge.

Served 26 years 99 days. In Turkey and the Crimea, 2 years.

Conduct: "Very good."

In possession of six Good Conduct badges.

Twenty times entered in the Regimental Defaulter's book. Once tried by Court-martial.

Intending to live at Sheffield, Yorkshire.


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

Documents confirm the award of the Crimean medal with four clasps and the Turkish Medal


Henry Gregory — of the 13th Light Dragoons who was a native of Nottingham. He served in the Crimea at Alma, Balaclava, Inkerman and Sevastopol. He died at Sheffield in April 1875 and was buried at Attercliffe Cemetery, though no gravestone appears to have survived.

[Source: ( https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/libraries/archives-and-local-studies/research-guides/crimean-war.html (accessed 2.6.2014).]]

Life after service

1871 Census

14, Raglan Street, Sheffield.

Henry Gregory, 46, Lodger, Groom, born Retford.

Hannah Gregory, 39, born South Wales.

Henry John Gregory, 3, born Canterbury.

Death & burial

An entry on his record, dated the 4th of October 1875, states: "Man dead — no fund for relief of widow.

Died in the Sheffield Pension District on the 28th of April 1875.

Records held at Sheffield Central Library show that he was buried in the Consecrated section of Atterclife Cemetery in Sheffield, on the 2nd of May 1875, Plot No. D. Grave No. 3833. He was then said to be 50 years of age, a groom, and brought from No. 113 Princess Street, Sheffield.

(There is no entry on the grave registers referring to an erected headstone and a search of the area fails to find one for him. (See photograph of the Plot in the 13th Hussar file.)

Further Information

In January 1855, he wrote a letter to his sister Emily (the original is in the National Army Museum, London):

I dare say you must think I had either forgot you or that I must be killed in action, but Thank God I escaped that dreadful massacre you must have seen in the papers [...] I was through it all and a more dreadful sight was never seen for our poor men was actually mowed down by dozens and as regards myself I was knocked down one or two times right in front of nine guns and them playing on us with the most deadly fire that was ever witnessed, firing nothing but grape and canister. The ground was actually strewn with dead men and horses and men running about in all directions... It was a most horrible sight for any human to witness.

Thank God although I got a knock down at full gallop which nearly broke my neck which caused me to lay for about five minutes almost insensible, my horse lying on my leg but as soon as I could get up I certainly tried to make the best of my way back and that was to get back for them to advance for although we took their guns and cut off all their ground we could not keep them for want of support and I do assure you to return was a dreadful matter although there were very few of us for as we commenced to retire their guns commenced a very heavy fire upon us with nothing but grape and canister cutting down friend and foe mowing down everything in front of them. We should not have been damaged so very much only from the twelve guns cross firing on us. The round shot which knocked me and two more horses down did not hurt my horse except for the fall but scarcely had I got up and began to scramble my way back for my leg was hurt on account of the horse falling on it than there was a shell burst behind us, part of it sticking him in the leg, but not hurting him much but I was almost losing him for he almost got away from me.

And then again just passing the battery that they were occupying I had just picked up one of our men who was wounded in the elbow and scarcely had we got out of range when there was a shot underneath my horse tearing the earth and smothering us with it. Now this was a near touch. But I must tell you I had a nearer one than that for in the charge I had the ring of my sword that was hanging by my side broke right in two by a piece of shell and another escape I had was on the 19th of September the day before the battle of the Alma my sword was bent double in my hand. We lost five horses and four men wounded there and now Dear Sister you will see we have not been idle since our entry into the Crimea. I have been in three general engagements, the Alma, Balaclava and Inkerman and four skirmishes..."

[PB: Did EJB transcribe this? Is there anything more in the letter?]

Besides Emily, there was another sister, Ann, and a brother, George, in the family. Emily married Joseph Baines of Kirkby, Notts, and a daughter, Emma Kate, later married Henry George Hubert Jennings, a chemist, of East Kirby. There were six children in this family, of whom all the three sons served in the Army.

It is to one of these, John William Jennings, that the original of the letter now belongs. Speaking of his great-uncle, he said "When he came back to civilian life he died rather early of ordinary illness. I can remember my mother saying that at one time he was with the Duke of Portland at Selby Hall as a footman, but I have no proof."

EJB: Given that his trade on enlistment is shown as Servant, this is quite possible.

1881 Census

Boys Charity School, East Parade, Camps Lane, Sheffield.

John Henry Gregory, 13, Scholar, born Canterbury.

References & acknowledgements

Census information for 1841, 1871, and 1881, kindly provided by Chris Poole.

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