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The E.J. Boys Archive

Amended 17.5.2011. Minor edits 16.2.14, 13.4.14, 30.6.16.


1301, Private Thomas GRIFFITHS — 13th Light Dragoons

Birth & early life

Born at Cheltenham c.1827.

Baptised 1827 in Cheltenham, the son of Thomas Griffiths, a Waiter, and his wife Mary.

He had an elder brother, John Austin Griffiths (baptised 1824, died 1873).

Baptism of Thomas Griffiths, Cheltenham, 7th of May 1827.

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7 May 1827, no. 1521, Thomas, son of Griffith & Mary Griffiths, Waiter.

Thomas Griffiths and family in the 1841 Census, St Mary Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

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1841 Census

St Mary Cheltenham.

Grifith Grifiths [sic], 50, Waiter.

Mary, do, 50, Cook

John, do, 15, Cl [meaning?].

Thomas, do, 14.

All born "in same county", i.e. Gloucestershire.

Enlistment [first]

Enlisted at Cheltenham on the 4th of August 1846.

Age: 19.

Height: 5' 7".

Trade: Valet.


1851 Census

Piershill Barracks [Edinburgh].

Thomas Griffiths, 24, Private Soldier, born Cheltenham.

Thomas Griffiths sent money home from the Crimea to his wife, Mary, then living at 50, Great Brook Street, Birmingham.

Sent to Scutari on the 3rd of October 1855 and invalided to England on the 13th of December 1855.

Discharge & pension [first]

Discharged, from Cahir, Ireland, "by purchase", on the 20th of August 1856 by payment of £10.

Served 10 years 12 days.

Conduct and character: "Good".

In possession of two Good Conduct badges.

Enlistment [second]

Re-enlisted into the 18th Hussars on the 23rd of March 1858. Regimental No. 240. At that time he was described as 29 years 11 months old, 5' 8" tall, and by trade a Valet. He had a fresh complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair.

His former service in the 13th Light Dragoons was allowed to reckon towards his pension etc., by War Office Authority, dated 23rd of February 1859.

From Private to Corporal: 1st of January 1861.

Corporal to Sergeant: 17th of September 1866.

Confined, tried by a Regimental Court-martial and reduced to Private on the 25th of September 1875:

"Expressed his desire to continue his service after the expiration of his limited service engagement, in accordance with Paragraph 10th of the Army Enlistment Act of 1870. [Signed by] Richard Knox, Colonel.

From Private to Corporal: 12th of May 1875.

Discharge & pension [second]

Discharged from Colchester on the 17th of May 1876:

"Free to pension, after 28 years service."

Served a total of 28 years 61 days.

Conduct "very good".

Aged 48 years 1 month on discharge.

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

In Turkey and the Crimea, 8 months [sic]. India, 11 years 7 months.


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

Awarded the Long Service & Good Conduct medal on the 24th of December 1870, with a gratuity of £5.

Further detailed medal information archived.

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Auction: 7012 — Orders, Decorations, Medals & Militaria Lot: 713

A Light Brigade Crimea and Long Service Group of Three to Private T. Griffiths, 13th Light Dragoons, Later 18th Hussars Crimea 1854-56, four clasps, Alma, Balaklava, Inkermann, Sebastopol (Pte. Thos Griffiths. 13: Lt. Dgs.), neatly and contemporarily engraved in upright serif capitals; Army Long Service & G.C., V.R. (240. T. Griffiths. 18th Hussars), officially impressed; Turkish Crimea, Sardinia die, pierced as issued, with silver claw suspension, engraved in similar style to campaign medal 'T. Griffiths. 13th Light Dragoons', very fine or better (3) Estimate £ 3,000-3,500

1301 Private Thomas Griffiths, born Cheltenham; enlisted 13th Light Dragoons, 1846; served in the Crimea and was sent to Scutari 2.10.1855 leading to him being invalided back to England, 15.12.1855; discharged by purchase at Ballincollig, Ireland, 20.8.1856; re-enlisted for service with the 18th Hussars, 23.3.1858; Corporal 1875; discharged 1876, after 28 years and 61 days with the colours.

Although Private Thomas Griffiths does not appear on the list of the members of the Balaclava Society in either 1877 or 1879 and he does not appear to have attended any of the functions arranged by, and for, the veterans, this does not preclude him from having taken part in the Charge of the Light Brigade. Most members of the Light Brigade entitled to the Balaklava clasp, in the absence of any evidence or status details to the contrary, took part in the Charge.

Provenance: The Crimea and L.S. & G.C. appeared at Glendinings, 1906, and again, this time with the Turkish Crimea, at Sotheby, 1938.

Sold for £2,400


His name is not on the list of members of the Balaclava Society in either 1877 or 1879 and he does not appear to have ever attended any of the functions arranged by, and for, the veterans.


Life after service

Lived in [No. ?] Sherborne Street, Cheltenham, after his discharge from the Army. This house was still standing in 1989.

1881 Census

A man of this name is shown in the 1881 Census as living in Butt Road, Parish of St. Giles, Colchester, Essex, a Publican, aged 55, born at Cheltenham Gloucestershire, with his wife, Jane, aged 54, born at Appleby, Westmoreland. A General Domestic Servant is also shown.

[If this is he, he would appear to have been twice married, as his wife's name given at this time, Jane, was not the same as his shown wife, Mary, to whom he sent money from the Crimea.]

On the 1st of March 1886, at the age of 58, he appeared before a Royal Hospital Chelsea Board for possible entry as an In-Pensioner. He was then described as being "of a good character", "a widower", with one son in the Army. He had previously lived in the Bristol Pension District. Application "Cancelled" — no further comment.

Death & burial

Death registered

Thomas Griffiths, aged 62 years, December Quarter 1890, Nantwich.

Death of Thomas Griffiths reported in Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 25th October 1890.

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Thomas Griffiths, aged 62, died in the Railway Hospital, Crewe, on Thursday, from a shocking accident in Crewe works. He fell off a boiler and alighted on a projecting rail, which crushed his ribs. The deceased claimed to have been in the Balaclava charge and to have had two horses shot under him.

[Source: Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 25th October 1890.]

References & acknowledgements

Newspaper clipping for Thomas Griffith's death, death registration, and Census information for 1841 and 1851 kindly provided by Chris Poole.

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