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Added 26.11.12. Minor edits 7.4.14.


1509, Private Thomas KING - 4th Light Dragoons

Birth & early life

Born at Buckingham c.1825.

He was baptised as Tom Boughton King at the Church Street Chapel (Non-Conformist) at Buckingham on the 23rd of March 1825, the son of James and Mary King. He was the third child of seven known to have been born into the family between 1822 and 1834.


He originally enlisted into the 23rd Foot on the 6th of June 1844, his trade then being that of a Tailor.

Enlisted into the 4th Light Dragoons at Hampton Court on the 8th of September 1851.

Age: 27 years 1 month.

Height: 5' 6".

Trade: None shown.

Appearance: Sallow complexion. Grey eyes. Dk. brown hair.


Taken prisoner of war at Balaklava, 25th October 1854.

Next of kin (in 1854): Wife [name not shown], living at 54, Charlotte Street, Goswell Road, London.

Rejoined the Regiment from Russian captivity on the 22nd of October 1855.

Thomas King listed as one of the English Prisoners in Russia, 4th May 1855, in Reynolds's Newspaper, 3rd June 1855.

(Click on image to enlarge)

A nominal roll of men of the regiment at the Cavalry Depot, Scutari, made out on the 9th of November 1855, shows him as a Prisoner under sentence of Court-martial from the 4th of November.

See record of 1292 Joseph Armstrong, 4th Light Dragoons for details of the Courts-martial held on the returned prisoners of war.

Thomas King's statement to the Court:

"I was with the Light Dragoons in the Charge at Balaclava on the 25th Octr. 1854 and my horse was shot under me. I was at once surrounded and made prisoner. The Russians sent me to Simpheropol where I remained until sent up country about 1200 miles. I was kept there until the 27th August when together with the other prisoners I was sent to Odessa from whence I was forwarded to Balaclava and reached that place on the 26th October 1855."

An affidavit signed by him on the 2nd of June 1863 in connection with the Cardigan-Calthorpe law-suit showed him to be then a Private in "E" Troop, and stationed at Newbridge, Ireland. The substance of this was as follows:

"1. I remember the charge of the Light Cavalry Brigade at Balaclava on the 25th of October 1854. The 4th Light Dragoons attacked the Russian guns while they were being carried off by the Russian gunners.

2. I remember seeing Lord George Paget and Colonel Douglas of the 11th Hussars talking. I heard Lord George say, "Rally, men, and let us see what we can do." Lord George then brought us three times to the "Front" and I heard several say, "Let us rally to the rear of the 17th", as we thought the Russians were the 17th Lancers. Lord George was then in command, and we formed the best as we could, and retreated.

3. I did not see Lord Cardigan during the entire of the remainder of that day. I was taken prisoner whilst retiring. Whilst a prisoner, a Russian General, who I always understood was General Liprandi, asked the prisoners why they had been served with brandy before the charge, and he said when he saw us advancing thought we were only the advance guard. He asked us who the officer on the chestnut horse with white heels was, galloping back, when the second line was going down. Several of the prisoners, including Parkes, Bolton, and others, told him it was Lord Cardigan. I did not know what kind of horse he was on. I did not see Lord Cardigan, except previous to starting."

From "Reminiscences of Crimean Campaigning and Russian imprisonment" by1277 Robert Stuart Farquharson, 4th Light Dragoons:

"An incident occurred as we walked round the wards which may be briefly narrated. A man of ours, Thomas King, was speaking to a wounded comrade when he was astonished to find himself clasped around the legs by a Russian soldier in the bed behind where he was standing.

Turning round, the man said something in his own language which Tom could not make out. At the same time he caught hold of his hand and kissed it.

An American lady - a kind soul who attended to the wounded, no matter of what nationality - spoke to the man for a minute or so and then, taking Tom by the hand to the bedside, said, "This poor grateful fellow says that you saved his life during the attack on the guns at Balaclava.

He was lying wounded under a gun. One of your men tried to kill him with his sword but you prevented this by parrying the blow with your own sword. He says he recognised you by the patch on the knee of your trousers."

The man spoke the truth. Tom had remembered the incident, although in the excitement of the struggle and the need for looking after his own life, all recollection of it had disappeared. The story soon went round the hospital, and Tom King lost nothing by it."

In his Diary, published in 1977 as The Prisoners of the Voronesh, Sergeant George Newman of the 23rd Foot mentions King on a couple of occasions.

After having thought up a plan to escape by boat he [presumably Newman] had approached a friend to accompany him, "but he [presumably the friend] would have nothing to do with it, although he owned it was feasible":

"I next spoke to a man of the 4th Light Dragoons by the name of Thomas King. He had once belonged to my regiment, but had bought his discharge and after some time had re-enlisted into the 4th Light Dragoons.

When I had explained my plan he eagerly closed with me as my companion in the endeavour and it was determined that if the exchange of prisoners did not take place before the Autumn we would be off, sans liberte...

We talked over and matured our plans every evening in the yard and saved money in readiness, fully determined to make the trial if the exchange turned out to be a hoax, as we all thought it would...

We had halted in front of a miserable old road-side prison, and we had to wait some time for a relief of wagons.

There was a burly-looking man, a kind of chief of police in the village, wearing a piece of narrow gold lace around the collar of his uniform coat, who made himself very busy amongst our party - and one of the 4th Light Dragoons by the name of King, the same who had consented to try my plan of escape, was standing in the road, and in the way of this would-be somebody, who, instead of asking King to move, struck him on the side of the head to move him out of the way, a compliment that, to his great surprise, was quickly returned, and he found himself lying in the road and his nose bleeding profusely.

He jumped up and ran off with his nose in his hands, and our officer coming up shortly after, made a complaint about being ill-used.

Our officer heard both sides of the story and then got out of the wagon, and taking his driver's whip, he gave Mr. Policeman a good sound thrashing as a compensation."

Discharge & pension

Discharged from Newbridge on the 21st of July 1863.

"Medically unfit for further service. Has Phthisis Pulmonary - Did not exist prior to enlistment and could not have served nearly 19 years [sic] in all climates with such a disease existing. Disability is the result of military service. Never will be fit enough to contribute anything towards his livelihood."

Served 11 years 290 days. Aged 38 years 1 month on discharge.

Conduct: "a good soldier".

In possession of two Good Conduct badges.

Never entered in the Regimental Defaulter's book. Never tried by Court-martial.

Awarded a pension of 8d per day for a period of three years, this being made 6d. "permanent" from the 16th of July 1867 and increased to 8d. from the 6th of November 1894.

To live at 46 Frederick Street, Caledonian Road, Holloway, London.


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

Documents confirm the award of the Crimean and Turkish medals.

Further detailed medal information archived.


Attended the first Balaclava Banquet in 1875.

Member of the Balaclava Commemoration Society in 1879.

Attended the Annual Dinners in 1890, 1893, 1895 and 1897.

Present at the Jubilee Celebrations held in the Fleet Street offices of T.H. Roberts in June 1897 and signed the testimonial given to Mr. Roberts on that occasion for his efforts on behalf of the veterans.

He appears in a photograph taken at this time (June 1897), in one of a group believed to be after the 1890 Dinner, and also in an individual photograph which appeared in The Picture Magazine, published about the mid-1890s.

In this he appears to be wearing his Crimean medal with the same type of suspension as mentioned before and also his Turkish medal with the same attachment. (It is not known if the two medals are still together, or separated.)

(There are copies of the testimonial, and of the photographs mentioned, in the 4th Hussar files.)

Life after service

He lived at some time at 6, Great Tower Street, London, E.C.

In 1892 he was living at 7, Morham Street, West Ham, Essex.

Death & burial

He is said to have died at Forest Gate, London, on the 29th of August 1897.

He died at 5, Jephson Road, Upton Park, London, and by his will his sole executor was his son, Alfred Boughton King, a ship's steward.

Extract from the Barking, East Ham and Ilford Advertiser, 5th of September 1897:

There has just passed away at Upton Park one of the heroes who have served their country bravely, but have not received much National recognition in return. The deceased was Mr. T.B. King, who served in the tropical heat of the West Indies, and was then, by way of a change, sent to the piercing cold of Canada. Subsequently he was sent to the Crimea with his regiment.

He fought in the battle of the Alma, took part in the battle of Inkerman [sic] and to crown it all, was one of the famous "600." In this, King had his horse shot under him and he was taken prisoner.

He endured eleven months of Russian treatment before he was set at liberty. When finally, in 1863, when he was invalided, a grateful country awarded him a pension of three shillings and six-pence a week. He then obtained employment with a private company, who gave him at the close of another 22 years of service, a pension of £1 a week."

He was buried in Grave No. 1221 Square 33, in the Woodgrange Cemetery, Romford Road, London, on the 2nd of September 1897. The owner of the grave site was shown as Emily J. King, of 72, Boleyn Road, Forest Gate. (A later address was given as 7, Bective Road.)

She is also interred in the same grave-space, but is not named on the stone. Possibly his wife, although there is no proof positive. The cemetery (a private one) is now (1984) very derelict and overgrown and the area where he is buried is threatened with clearance in the very near future.

A memorial stone (still in a very good condition) was erected and bears the following inscriptions: Around the top, "The family grave of E.J. King." "In loving memory of the mother of the above, Ann Simpson, who died 30th of March 1896, aged 77 years." Thy will be done. "Also Tom Boughton King, Balaclava Hero, late 4th Queen's Own Light Dragoons, who died 29th of August 1897, aged 70 years. " (There is a photograph of this gravestone in the 4th Hussar file.)

(See article and pictures in the 4th Hussar files taken from the Daily Mail, 23rd of March 2000, showing scenes during the re-development of a three-acre site for the building of 120 luxury flats. It was estimated that between 12,000 and 15,000 bodies would be removed for re-interment in the part of the original 27 acre plot that remains but enquiry of the cemetery authority shows that his grave-site is not affected.)

Under the terms of his will, which he made on the 14th of March 1896, when he was living at 4, Hartland Road, West Ham, he bequeathed, "To my eldest son, Alfred Boughton, my Crimean medal with three clasps, Turkish medal, my parchment discharge certificate, private papers, the picture of "The Charge" presented to me by Lady Cardigan, five silver teaspoons, silver tongs, and the drawing room table."

To his second son, Arthur William, "my finger ring, Albert chain, and two water-colour pictures," to his third son, Albert George, "my watch and silver Albert chain, three pictures by Forrester, sword of a sword fish, and the Balaclava picture with the photographs of his mother and myself enclosed," to his youngest son, Alfred James, "the mirror on the mantelpiece in my bedroom, the large swing-glass and the picture, "Two Scouts of the 4th Hussars."

To his wife (not named) he bequeathed, "all such furniture as may be required to comfortably furnish a room for her occupation" and the rest of the remaining property to be sold and the proceeds be retained by the said executor to be applied by him for the benefit of my said wife and after her decease to be shared equally amongst my four sons..."

In a write-up that appeared in the Illustrated London News at the time of his death, it was stated that:

"He once had three sons in the regiment, one being later transferred to the 1st Life Guards, one has left the service, and the other is just completing 21 years' service in the same old corps. He had a brother killed during the Indian Mutiny, whilst his father was an old officer who died as the Governor of Buckingham Gaol. It was also stated that "he passed peacefully and painlessly away at his residence at Forest Gate."

Further information

His three sons are known to have served in the 4th Hussars.

Albert George King

Albert George King was born in the parish of St. Pancras, London, on the 20th of September 1862.

He enlisted at London (Regimental No. 1542) on the 21st of March 1877 at the age of 14 years and 6 months and joined the Regiment at Canterbury on the 22nd of March. He attained the age of 15 years and on to "Man's pay" from the 20th of December 1877.

He was 4' 4" in height, with a fresh complexion, hazel eyes and brown hair.

His religion, like his brothers, was Church of England. Appointed Musician on the 4th of March 1881, to Trumpeter on the 9th of March 1885, and permitted to re-engage for 12 years further service on the 3rd of April 1889.

Reverted to Private "at his own request," on the 13th of February 1894, to L/Corporal on the 9th of December 1897 and reverted to Private again on the 20th of December 1897. Discharged from Dublin, "having claimed his discharge after three months notice," on the 17th of May 1898.

His conduct was "Exemplary" and he had been awarded the Long Service & Good Conduct medal on the 1st of January 1898. His next-of-kin was shown as "Mrs. King, 5 Jephson Road, Forest Gate, London," and "Brother, Alfred King, of the "Rose and Crown," Dunton Green, Kent."

On leaving the Army he was employed by H.M. Customs, but on the 3rd of January 1900 he re-enlisted, at No 12 Southwark Street, into the Imperial Yeomanry.

His age on re-enlistment was given as 36 years 1 month and his marital status as "Single." He was then residing at No. 67 Upper Street, St. Martin's Lane, London.

It is not known which particular unit he served with, but he was in South Africa from the 3rd of March 1900 and is shown as being awarded the South African medal for 1899-1900 [sic].

He was discharged from Gosport "on termination of engagement," and having served 1 year 255 days, on the 12th of October 1901, his Regimental number being 13627.

Only his brother, Alfred King, was shown as his next-of-kin at this time. He was living at Drayton Mansions, London, SW. on the 17th of August 1904.

An extant death certificate shows that he died at St. Mary Abbot's Hospital, Kensington, on the 3rd of October 1942. He was then drawing 11d. per day pension, and having served in the 4th Hussars for 21 years and 59 days. (He served with No. 208 Base Depot troops in South Africa.)

Tom Boughton King

His next son, Tom Boughton King, was born in the parish of Kentish Town, London, and enlisted - per H.Q. Authority, dated the 10th of April 1880 - at Shorncliffe on the 17th of April 1880.

He was 4' 5" in height, with a dark complexion, hazel eyes, and dark brown hair. He had "no trade", his Regimental number being 1836. Appointed to Trumpeter on the 3rd of April 1887.

Transferred to the 1st Life Guards (as a Trumpeter) on the 27th of March 1891, re-engaged to complete 21 years' service on the 14th of April 1892 and died (apparently still serving) on the 22nd of September 1894. (This is the only occasion where a "soldier's papers" have been found for a man who died while still serving.)

Alfred James King [son]

The third son, Alfred James King, enlisted into the 4th Hussars at Ballincolling, Ireland, on the 15th of October 1888 as No. 3634. No date of birth is known for him, but on entering the Army he was aged 14 years 3 months, 4' 8" in height, with a fair complexion, grey eyes, and light brown hair.

During his early service he suffered a "broken femur" whilst at Kneller Hall, the Court of Enquiry being of the opinion that it was "an accident, occurred off duty."

He was discharged from Colchester on the 23rd of January 1892, having served 3 years and 95 days. The reason for his discharge, by Authority of H.Q., dated 15th of March 1892, was "Not likely to become an efficient soldier."

His next of kin was shown as "Thomas B. King, of No. 7 Morham Street, West Ham, Essex." This must have been a disappointment to his father.

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