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LIVES OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE
The E.J. Boys Archive

Last amended 17.3.2012. Minor edits 2.11.15

1382, Private John Henry HARDING — 13th Light Dragoons

Birth & early life

Born in the parish of St. John's, Bath. (The 1881 Census shows his birthplace as Glastonbury.)

See also the entry for his brother, 2034, Robert Harding, 13th Light Dragoons.

Enlistment

Enlisted at Bath on the 15th of December 1850.

Age: 17.

Height: 5' 7".

Trade: Servant.

Service

Tried by a Regimental Court-martial (in 1855, but no date shown) for "absence" and awarded 28 days' imprisonment, with hard labour, of which 17 were remitted.

Extracts from a volume of "Correspondence of the Cavalry Division, Eastern Campaign 1854-6" that formed part of original documents retained by Colonel Charles Shute, when AAG of the Division:

Supposed robbery of a Soldier.

Sardinian Headquarters,

Kadikoi, July 6th 1855.

Sir, I lose no time in informing you that a robbery of money is supposed to have been committed on a Soldier of the French Artillery in the Guard Tent of the water guard at Kadikoi at present mounted by the 13th Light Dragoons.

The facts that I elicited would appear to establish that Piedmontese Soldiers as well as the Frenchman were admitted into the Guard Tent and that liquor was also introduced and drunk there.

I have taken measures to identify the Sardinian Soldiers said to have been present and to have the matter as regards them thoroughly enquired into.

I am satisfied from the evidence of the Sardinian Canteen man in the immediate neighbourhood that the French Soldier was in possession of the sum he states, about 100 francs, shortly before the occurrence; the amount he states to have been stolen from him is about 75 francs, he having spent the rest in the Canteen. He was asleep in the tent at the time the money was taken.

The Corporal of the Guard states that he left the tent with the only spare man of the Guard for the purpose of relieving the sentry, at which time the Frenchman was asleep and 2 Piedmontese were left with him. On the Corporal's return the man was complaining of being robbed.

I should be happy to assist any enquiry you may wish to make as far as my knowledge of what took place goes.

I have the honour to be, Sir,

Your Obedt. humble Sert,

G. Cadogan,

Captain and Col. G.G.

Colonel on the Staff attd. to Sardn. Army.

P.S. The French Soldier's name is Alexre. Merland, 1st Battery of the 9th Regt. of Artillery. He is to be found at what is called "le petit depot" of the 2nd Division in Balaklava Valley. I fear however, that not much more than the fact of his having been robbed whilst asleep would be extracted from him as he had evidently been drinking freely.

To Major Genl. the Honble. J.Y Scarlett,

Commg. Cavalry Division.

Camp near Balaclava,

July 8th 1855.

Sir, I have the honour to report for the information of the Major General Commanding that Private John Henry Harding of the Regiment under my command accounts for the possession of the 33/- found on his person on his being made a Prisoner as follows:

"I received 5/- from my Troop Sergeant Major during the past week as pay, half a sovereign being given between myself and Private Parker and which I changed at the Canteen — the change was in various coins. 6/-, I received for a spare pair of Overalls which I sold to the Canteen Keeper of the 10th Hussars. 1/-. I received from the Capn. of my Troop on Settlement and I was paid 6d by Private Malanfy who owed me the same. 3/-. I received on the sale of a pair of Overalls belonging to Pte. Foreman to the Interpreter at the Commissariat. I was to reserve to myself all over 7/-. I also received 2/6d from the Interpreter for Trenching his Hut. — I have also frequently received money from my Cousin who was a Storekeeper in the Railway Department — he went Home to England about a month ago. I have never been without money in my possession since I came on to this Ground.

I can only account for the different coins produced as having been received in change at the Canteen and other places.

Patrick Tennis states that he has frequently seen Harding with a Quantity of Silver of different Coins, and knows that Harding had a cousin in the Railway Department who used to visit the Hut in which they lived and has frequently seen him give Haring different Articles.

Private Parker, the man referred to above, states that the 5/- which Harding paid to him was chiefly Foreign coin and was his share of the half a Sovereign pay between them, changed the day before Harding went on Guard.

With reference to the pair of Overalls sold to the Canteen Keeper of the 10th Hussars, I find on Enquiry that he left there a week ago, but is known to have been in the habit of purchasing cast-off Clothing.

As to the pair of Overalls which Harding states he sold to the Commisst. Interpreter, I find that his statement is perfectly correct, as also to the 2/6d said to have been received by him for Trenching the Interpreter's Hut.

Private Foreman moreover states that living in the same Hut with Harding he has repeatedly seen him with money and is aware that he used to work occasionally at the Commissariat.

Upon Examination the money found upon Harding proves to be 2. 5 franc pieces, 3. 1franc pieces and 1. 25 cent piece, 5.2/- pieces, 7. shillings, 8.6 pences. 1.4d. piece, 1.3 penny pieces and a half penny, 4.E in Kreuzer Copper and 1 Silver Russian Coin, 1 piastre, 2 half piastres and 1 silver piastre.

With respect to the Corporal who is still under arrest, as there is no complaint against him excepting his irregularity in allowing Pte. Parker into the Tent, but who bears an excellent character. I shall feel obliged by receiving your further instructions.

I have the honour to be, Sir,

Your most obedt. Sert.

Chas. Doherty,

Lt Col Commandg 13th Lt. Dragoons.

However, it does not appear that any actual charge was levied against Harding for the above, only the result of an enquiry made by Colonel Doherty into the allegation. Neither does the muster roll for the period show any.

Shown as being at the Cavalry Depot there from the 4th of August "On 'Duty", from a nominal roll of the 9th of November 1855. From this he did not serve in Eupatoria with the regiment.

He sent money from the Crimea to his father, Robert Harding, living at 16, Angel Street, Cardiff, South Wales.

Tried by a District Court-martial at Edinburgh on the 20th of October 1859 for "Theft", but found "Not guilty."

Discharge & pension

Discharged, "time expired", from Edinburgh on the 7th of February 1863.

Served 12 years 53 days.

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

Next of kin (in 1863): a brother (no name shown), living at No. 16 Angel Street, Cardiff.

Medalss

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

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.

Commemorations

Attended the first Balaclava Banquet in 1875.

Member of the Balaclava Commemoration Society in 1879.

Further detailed medal information archived.

Commemorations

Life after service

1871 Census

Public Canteen, Castle Road, Cardiff.

John Henry Harding, 39, Publican, born Glastonbury.

Elizabeth Harding, born Redmarley, Worcs.

Four children shown: Emily 8, John 5, William 3, James 4 months.

1881 Census

5, West Street, Bedminster, Somerset.

John H. Harding, Commission Agent, 49, born 1833 in Glastonbury, Somerset. He was married to Elizabeth, aged 43, born Bedmarley, Worcester.

Five children are shown:

John H.L., 15, born Shrewsbury.

William J.N., 13, born Shrewsbury.

James H., 11, born Bonner City, Hereford.

Elizabeth A., 6, born Cardiff.

Matilda J., 5, born Cardiff. [RM]

Information from the Superintendent of Cardiff Cemetery:

"[F]rom about 1872 to 1876, Harding kept an Inn called the "Military Canteen" sited in what is now called "The Parade". In 1886 he was keeping an establishment called the "Alexandra" at No. 37 Upper George Street. There were possibly two factors which might have accounted for Harding's straitened circumstances. The first was the transfer of the Barracks from Longcross Street, near the "Military Canteen" to Maindy, in Whitchurch Road, some two miles away. The second was the passing of the Welsh Licensing Act in 1881, which brought about Sunday closing, and the emergence of the drinking clubs.

The "Alexandra" was one of three in the same street, and probably the competition was too great, or the police closed the place down. Upper George Street, or Wyverne Road, as it is now, is only a short distance from Minney Street.

The parish register does not show a number for the house in which he died. John Harding, presumably a son of John Henry Harding, was living in the Union at the time of his death in November of 1893. Mrs. Somerset, to whom the graves were transferred in 1940, died several years ago. It appears that Mrs. Somerset's maiden name was Munroe, and she was a grand-daughter of John Henry Harding.

Wakeford's Directory for 1863 shows "Harding R." and "Harding J.H." at No. 173 Bute Street, and as local managers for national insurance companies (J.H. Harding for the "London and Lancashire Fire").

Later sources show Robert Harding (but not J.H.) at this address until 1870. This would have been J.H.'s next-of-kin brother, 2034 Robert Harding, who also served with the 13th in the Crimea. [See next entry for his details.]

Other research through Trade Directories shows the following:

Kelly's, 1871. No mention of R. or J.H. Harding.

Butcher's, 1873/74. "Gardener's Arms", 1 Castle Road, J.H. Harding.

Butcher's, 1875/76. "Military Canteen" do. do,

Slater's, 1882. Harding, J.H. Greengrocer. 75 System Street, Splott.

Harding, R. Shopkeeper, 9 and 10, Ruperra Street, Newtown.

Slater's, 1885. Harding, J.H. 37 Upper George Street, Cathays. Householder.

Wright's, 1885/6 and 1886/7. do. Alexandra Club.

Municipal Voter's Lists, 1872/3 to 1875/6 incl. Harding, John Henry, 1 Plucca Lane/Castle Road. 1885/86, Harding, John Henry, 37 Upper George Street.

Conclusions, partly hypothetical: It is possible that John Henry Harding, on his discharge in early 1863, joined his brother at No. 73 Bute Street, as a local agent for the "London and Lancs. Fire Insurance Co". It is certain that in 1872 (or late 1871) he became licensee of the "Gardener's Arms Inn" at No 1 Castle Road, Cardiff (also known at that time by its old name of Plucca Lane) and in the next year changed its name to the "Military Canteen". He remained there until that commencing Autumn of 1875 (he is listed in that commencing 1875 but not in that beginning Autumn of 1876).

By 1880 a new licensee had taken over and changed the name to the "Bedford Hotel". The choice of the name "Military Canteen" might have been inspired by its proximity to Longcross Barracks, but these were soon to be vacated in favour of the now existing extensive Maindy Barracks in 1871. He might be the J.H. Harding, greengrocer, of System Street in 1882, and he is almost certainly the John Henry Harding of 37, Upper George Street in 1885/86; and his new venture might have been the cause of his conjectured destitute state at death. (There was a mushrooming of small drinking "clubs" at this time in order to circumvent the 1881 Welsh Licensing Act which closed the public houses on Sundays. Most were soon closed down for safety and social reasons.)

It is not possible to determine why he died at nearby Minnie (later Minny) Street. The Military Canteen/Bedford Hotel is now a workingman's club (Castle Street is now City Road) and No 37 Wyverne Road (formerly Upper George Street) is now a private house, having escaped the attention of a German land-mine which destroyed adjacent houses, with great loss of life.

Death & burial

Died 3rd of September 1886.

Extracts from Jackson's Woolwich Journal and Army Gazette, 1st of October 1886:

A Balaclava Hero — The death was announced on the 3rd inst. (of September) of Mr. John Harding of Minnie [sic] Street, Cardiff, and formerly of the 13th Light Dragoons, who was one of the "600" who rode in the Charge of Balaclava. He had the Crimean medal with clasps for Alma, Inkerman, Balaclava and Sebastopol.

From the Western Mail, 6th of September 1886:

Funeral of a Crimean Hero — On Saturday afternoon the mortal remains of Mr. John Henry Harding, of Minnie Street, Cathays, were interred in the New Cemetery at Cardiff. The deceased, who was an old inhabitant of the town, was formerly in the 13th Light Dragoons and was one of the celebrated "Six Hundred" who took part in the memorable charge at Balaclava. He had the Crimean medal with four clasps and took part in all the major battles of that campaign.

After about 13 years service he had to retire from the Army owing to ill-health and unfortunately for him, he was not entitled to a pension.

On his return to Cardiff he opened a business on his own account, but latterly fortune did not favour him and at the time of his death he was almost destitute. The funeral cortege had left the residence of the late deceased about four o'clock in the afternoon, by which time there was a very large gathering of spectators. The procession was headed by about seventy men of the Welch Regiment stationed at Cardiff. At the cemetery the service was most impressively conducted by the Revd. J. Wolfe, curate of St. John's, Cardiff.

From information kindly provided by the Cemeteries Registrar at Cardiff it is known that Harding was buried in Grave No. L.982 at Cathay's Cemetery, Cardiff, on the 4th of September 1886. John Harding had purchased this grave, together with L-1006, adjoining, on the 8th of July 1875.

The burials in these graves are as follows:

L-982. 30th of July 1886, Elizabeth Harding, aged 49, wife of John Henry Harding, Innkeeper, of Upper George Street, in the parish of St. Andrew, Cardiff.

4th of September 1886, John Henry Harding, aged 55, Hotel Keeper, of Minney Street, Cardiff.

25th of November 1893, John Harding, aged 28, and a labourer. (Probably a son.)

2nd of April 1914, Harold Percy Evans, infant son of Arthur and Annie Evans, of No. 52 Allerton Street.

13th of January 1832, Ronald William Sanders, infant son of William Albert and Catharine Sanders, of No. 146 Woodville Road. (An authority to open Grave No. L-982 for the burial of the infant Sanders was signed by Emily Florence Munroe, who made her mark, and was stated to be "the daughter of the owner".)

L-1006. 12th of July 1875, Robert Edward Harding, infant son of John Henry Harding and Elizabeth Harding, of Castle Road, in the parish of St. John's.

8th of November 1895, Robert Harding, aged 88, Insurance Agent, of May Street.

13th of January 1897, Infant Munroe, son of Albert and Emily Munroe, of Byron Street.

On the 3rd of May 1940 the ownership of the graves is recorded as being transferred over to Mrs. Mabel May Somerset, of No. 26 Talworth Street, Cardiff.

There are no memorials erected over the graves, and they are not maintained. A pencilled foot-note on the interment order for John Henry Harding states: "Formerly of the 13th Light Dragoons, one of the Six Hundred at Balaclava. He had the Crimean medal with clasps for Alma, Balaclava, Inkerman and Sebastopol."

Note: Upper George Street is now known as Wyverne Road and Castle Road is now City Road.


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