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

Minor edits 17.2.2014, 8.2.17. Some new info. (George Senior's letter) added 26.11.2014.

Lieutenant Thomas IRWIN [Edward Hall] — 13th Light Dragoons

Also recorded as "Edward Hall", the pseudonym he used at enlistment.

Birth & early life

Born in Ireland, c.1806 — 07, the son of Thomas Irwin and his wife, Julia Marie, nee Burke.

Enlistment

Enlisted into the 17th Lancers at Hounslow under the name of Edward Hall on the 19th of January 1827.

His age was given as 20 years, his height as 5' 10". His regimental number was 261.

Service

From Private to Corporal: 25th of March 1828.

Corporal to Sergeant: 21st of January 1830.

Appointed to Troop Sergeant Major: 9th of June 1836.

Commissioned as Cornet (and Adjutant) in the 13th Light Dragoons on the 24th of October 1845.

Some mystery surrounds his real name. Although he was gazetted as "Edward Hall" he is shown in the current muster roll of the 13th Light Dragoons as "Thomas Irwin", the original entry having been erased and another substituted. Among his commission documents however is the following:

"Memo — When this officer was appointed to a Cornetcy in the 13th Light Dragoons from Sergeant Major in the 17th Lancers he was then improperly gazetted as Edward Hall, but this was corrected by a memorandum in the Gazette on the 19th of December 1845, to Thomas Irwin."

There is also a letter which Irwin wrote to Colonel Lawrenson at the time saying that the reason he concealed his real name was "for family reasons... and that my friends should not be aware of the step I had taken".

In forwarding this letter to the Commander-in-Chief, Colonel Lawrenson wrote:

"I feel confident that he was influenced in doing so for no other motive than the one he assigned. I trust that the exemplary manner in which he has discharged his duties over the last 18 years will induce His Grace, in consideration of Mr. Hall's youth and inexperience at the time, to overlook a fault committed so many years ago. I feel, too, that he has been indiscreet in bringing the matter forward at such a late point in time"

Lieutenant in the 13th Light Dragoons: 23rd of September 1847.

Campaign service

Lieutenant Irwin served the Eastern campaign of 1854, including the affair of the Bulganak and the battle of the Alma. (Medal and Clasp and the Turkish Medal.)

Medals

Entitled to the Crimean medal with clasp for the Alma and the Turkish Medal. Lummis and Wynn also credit him with the clasp for Sebastopol, but he is not to be found on the Sebastopol clasp roll for the regiment.

Commemorations

Death & burial

Died, "of cholera", on board ship near Sebastopol on the 26th of September 1854.

The Regimental History states:

"Whilst taking the muster roll of the regiment on the evening after the battle of the Alma he was suddenly taken ill, being seized with cholera. Was sent at once to the coast on an araba, but died on board ship a few days later."

1228 Harry Powell, 13th Light Dragoons mentions him in his Recollections of a Young Soldier, repeating the circumstances of his being taken ill when calling the roll:

"A brave soldier suddenly taken ill. — That officer died, I believe, from sheer exhaustion and the jolting of the horrid vehicles that were all to be had for the sick; he died before he could be got on board ship."

"I was lifted into the boat and carried to the ship "Timandrew" of Liverpool. 130 men were taken on board that night [25th September?], and not one man able to look after himself... The first night 25 were taken from amongst the living on the deck and thrown over board; next day four or five more died, and the second night [26th?] either seven or eight. I saw these lying on deck. I for the first time had managed to crawl on deck for a little fresh air. Amongst this number was our Adjutant, Mr Irwin, who had died that night of cholera — indeed it was this complaint that all was affected with."

[Source: Letter, dated 6 October 1854, in Anthony Dawson, Letters from the Light Brigade (Barnsley: Pen & Sword, 2014) pp.40-42.]

Further information

In August 1855 his mother applied for a pension, saying that he had previously provided for her. A number of documents exist, including a letter from a Father Francis Kenny, Parish Church of Dinfield, to Mrs. Julia Marie Irwin:

"Dear Madam — I herein enclose the certificate of your marriage which I am sorry you require for such a sad purpose. Allow me to offer you my sincere condolences and to pray for the happy repose of the soul of your son."

Copy of attached certificate. — It appears from the Registry of this parish that Miss Julia Marie Burke was married to Mr. Thomas Irwin, according to the rules of the Roman Catholic Church [sic] on the 30th of October 1804.

Another certificate, however, signed by H. Piggott, Magistrate of County Galway, states:

"I solemnly declare that I was married at D----- [illegible] by the Revd. Richard Wade, who is long since dead, and I believe at that time that no registers were kept in Ireland.

(Signed) Julia Irwin.

Declared this 12th day of September 1855."

Written on the same paper, but obviously in another hand, is "Married 30th of October 1804, by one of the Protestant [sic] curates."

Letter from the Treasury Chambers, dated the 30th of August 1855:

"I have laid before the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury yours of the 21st inst. in which it is recommended that a pension should be granted to Mrs. Irwin, the mother of Lieutenant and Adjutant Irwin, who died of cholera induced by fatigue and hardship consequent upon the battle of the Alma.

I am directed by their Lordship's to inform you that under the circumstances represented they authorise the grant of a Special Pension of 40 per annum in this case, as recommended by Lord Panmure.

I am, etc. etc.,

(Signed) W.R. Stephenson.

A pencilled note on this states: "The widow died 19th of September 1862".

An attempt had been made later in 1855 to obtain further relief for his mother from another Fund that had been organised in 1801 for "The Relief of Persons who have Suffered in the Rebellion and other Calamities whose cases have not been provided for otherwise."

A reply to this asked for information for the guidance of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether the enjoyment of her present allowance or its possible loss, would be affected. There is nothing further.


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