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Added 30.4.11. Substantial additions 30.11.11 and 27.2.12. Minor edits 18.2.14, 27.12.14.

1254, Private James PAMPLIN — 13th Light Dragoons

Birth & early life

Born at Bottisham, Cambridgeshire, and christened there on the 27th of July 1828.

James Pamplin's father, also named James, and mother, Mary (nee Vears), were married at Bottisham on the 22nd of October 1813. The family had lived in the village from 1606.

A Thomas Pamplin, a cousin, also born at Bottisham, served for 21 years in the 75th Foot as No. 3548. Aged 39 at the time of his discharge, he had served in India, the Cape, China and Gibraltar.

See the record of Soame Gambier Jenyns, 13th Light Dragoons for a reference to James Pamplin senior in a speech he made in Cambridge in 1856, as reported in a local newspaper [unspecified source]:

"[T]here was one of the men present who said, after the war had commenced, that he was sure that the English, with the French, would gain the victory; and to show his belief in this, he resolved that no razor should touch his hoary old face until Sebastopol had fallen, and he faithfully kept that promise. (The man's name was James Pamplin, and he had a son who served in the Crimea, enlisted by Major Jenyns.)"


Enlisted at Guildford, Surrey, on the 3rd of May 1846.

Age: 17 years 10 months.

Height: 5' 7".

Trade: Labourer.


1851 Census

Piershill Barracks, Leith South, Midlothian, Scotland.

Note: It has not been possible to consult an image of the original Scottish Census document. The above information relies on the transcription available 28.3.2012, which is not always accurate.

Members of the 13th Light Dragoons in Piershill Barracks at this time, who would later go to the Crimea, include 1127 William Cresdee, 1029 Joseph Gammage, 762 John Linkon / Lincoln, 1140 Robert Lowthorpe, 1319 Daniel Mahoney, 1367 Isaac Manning (appears as Isaac "Maussings"), 1207 Benjamin Marshman, 1208 Edward Martin, 1339 Thomas McBrine, 1341 John McCann, 1424 Robert Stanger, and many more.

Discharge & pension

Discharged, "by purchase", from Dublin on the 27th of June 1859, with a payment of £5.

Served 12 years 335 days.

In Turkey and the Crimea: 2 years.

Conduct: "good". In possession of two Good Conduct badges.

Pamplin must have had his wife with him in the Crimea as a wooden memorial was erected to a daughter who died there and was buried in the 13th Light Dragoon's Cemetery on the road between Kadokoi and Karani. The inscription reads:

"Sacred to the memory of Mary Pamplin, 13th Light Dragoons. Died 13th of December 1855. Aged 13 months."

From this date, she must have been born in the Crimea.


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

"Fresh medal" granted on the 14th of August 1856.

Sent money whilst in the Crimea to his wife at Scutari Barracks. He also sent money to his mother-in-law, Mrs. Elizabeth Dodds, at 22, Edward Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.


Attended the first Balaclava Banquet in 1875.

Member of the Balaclava Commemoration Society in 1879.

Signed the Loyal Address to the Queen in 1887.

He appeared with other Crimean War veterans as a "Battle of Balaklava Hero" in the Lord Mayor's Show, 1890. In a specially printed programme, Pamplin is shown travelling in the 16th carriage in the procession.

Attended the Annual Dinner in 1890 and appears in a group photograph taken at the time. (There is a copy in the 17th Lancer file.)

Life after service

1861 Census

Lower Witton Street, Aston, Birmingham.

James Pamplin, 38, Coachman Domestic, born Bottisham, Cambs.

Elizabeth, 33, wife, Laundress, born Newcastle on Tyne.

One child shown: Sarah, 1, born Birmingham.

Death registered

Elizabeth Pamplin, June Quarter 1861, Aston.

Marriage registered

James Pamplin married Margaret Bates, December Quarter 1864, Newcastle upon Tyne.

1871 Census

Crown & Thistle, 9 Great Market, Newcastle upon Tyne.

James Pamplin, 40, Publican, born Bottisham, Cambs.

Margaret, 46, born Seghill, Northumberland.

Four children shown: John Bates, 20, step-son, born Newcastle; Mary, 16, daughter; Robert, 14, son; Sarah Pamplin, 12, born Birmingham.

Marriage registered

James Pamplin married Mary Ann Carter, December Quarter 1880, Cambridge.

1881 Census

7, St. Peter's Street, in the parish of St. Giles, Cambridge

The 1881 Census Return shows him as a Coachman (Domestic), aged 50 years, born in Bottisham, with his wife, Mary A, aged 48, born at Cambridge.

He may possibly have married twice as he had a wife with him in the Crimea (name unknown) and is shown in 1881 as having six step-children with the surname of Carter, the eldest at 19 also being shown as a Coachman (Domestic). His wife at the time of his death is named as Sarah.

Death & burial

James Pamplin died on the 24th of January 1891, at 31, King's Cross Road, St. Pancras, London, from "Phthisis" [i.e. pulmonary tuberculosis], at the age of 62 years. His occupation was described as "Artist's Model". His wife [?], S(arah) Pamplin of the same address, was present at, and the informant of, his death. (There is a copy of his death certificate in the "Certificates" file. [To be uploaded.])

Extract from the St. Pancras Guardian, 7th of February 1891:

"On Saturday (the 30th of January) the funeral of James Pamplin, of King's Cross Road, took place in the St. Pancras Cemetery. He was one of the famous "600" and had served in the 13th Light Dragoons. He went through the whole of the Crimean War. He was a grand example of the true English soldier and sat for many years as an artist's model. This makes the second hero to pass on since the Lord Mayor's Show."

he was buried in a common grave, No. 56, Section 9F, aged 62 years, in St. Pancras Cemetery, the service being conducted by the Revd. Swatman. No headstone was erected, his being the third interment in the grave out of a total of six. (There is a photograph of his grave-area in the 13th Hussar file, to be uploaded later.)

Further information

1891 Census

Brook House, Cherry Hinton, Chesterton, East Cambridge.

Mary Ann Pamplin, 58, widow, Laundress, born Cambridge.

Sarah Tate Carter, 23.

Millicent Jane Pamplin, 22.

James Bennett Pamplin, 20.

Hannah Bye, 17.

1901 Census

Hinton Villa, Mill Road, Cherry Hinton, Chesterton.

Mary Ann Pamplin, 67, widow, Laundress.

Ellen Wayman, 40, daughter.

William Mitchell, 15, grandson.

1911 Census

119, Catherine Street, Romsey, Cambridge.

Ellen Wayman, head, 52, widow, Laundress, Cambridge.

Mary Ann Pamplin, 79, mother.

One child shown: Charlotte Oliver, 13, adopted daughter.

Death registered

Mary A Pamplin, 79, March Quarter 1912, Cambridge.

In November 2011 we were contacted from Australia by a researcher into the Pamplin/McLaren family who has compiled a remarkable timeline for James Pamplin, his several wives, and children. We are very grateful for the opportunity to reproduce her work here.

She asks that if anybody has any answers to her questions, or has further information, they contact her through the editors:

"1. James Pamplin enlisted 3 May 1846, in Guildford, Surrey.

2. There is no record of James Pamplin in 1851 Census. He was obviously serving with his regiment overseas. Where?

3. James Pamplin ("Phamplin") married Elizabeth Dodds in the Jan-March Quarter 1852 Newcastle upon Tyne

4. Wife Elizabeth is at Scutari, Turkey, while James is fighting in Crimea between 1854 and 1855. He sends money to her from the front.

5. Daughter Mary Pamplin is born to James and Elizabeth Pamplin in Crimea? 4 Nov 1854.

Is it simply co-incidental that she is born the same day that Florence Nightingale and her first contingent of 38 nurses arrived in Scutari? Nightingale, in addition to her nursing responsibilities, also cared for the wives and children of the soldiers, and presumably it was at Scutari where daughter Mary Pamplin was born and died.

6. Daughter Mary Pamplin is buried in Crimea, 13 Dec 1855, aged 13 months. She was buried at 13th Light Dragoons Cemetery on road between Kadokoi and Karani

7. Where was James serving between 1855 and 1859? If he was based around Newcastle upon Tyne, it would make sense of the above birth and death of James Pamplin.

There is a birth of a James Pamplin in the July Quarter 1856, Newcastle upon Tyne, and a death for a James Pamplin in the July Quarter 1856, Newcastle upon Tyne. It is quite likely that this was their son, named after the father.

8. James and Elizabeth Pamplin return to UK. When? On 27 June 1859 James is discharged at Dublin, Ireland.

9. James and Elizabeth Pamplin move to 13, Navigation Street, St Phillip, Birmingham, Warwickshire, where James Pamplin is a police officer in Nov 1859.

10. Sarah Pamplin is born to James and Elizabeth Pamplin, 15 Nov 1859, in Birmingham, Warwickshire. The address is 13, Navigation Street, name Sarah, father James Pamplin, Police Officer, mother Elizabeth Pamplin, formerly Dawes (should be Dodds). The birth was registered 14 December 1859.

Obviously phonetic spelling is responsible for the incorrect name, which should read Dodds. The mark of the mother is on the certificate and most likely she was the informant, hence the incorrect spelling.

11. In the 1861 England Census (taken 7 April) the family is living at Lower Witton Street, Erdington, Aston, Warwickshire:

12. James's first wife Elizabeth Pamplin dies April-June Quarter 1861, Aston, Warwickshire (Volume 6d page 184).

13. James Pamplin marries Elizabeth Whitehouse, Jan-March Quarter 1862, Birmingham, Warwickshire (Volume 6d page 187).

14. Elizabeth Pamplin (the 2nd wife) dies 2nd June 1862?

15. James Pamplin marries 3rd time — Margaret Bates (widow) Oct Dec quarter 1864 Newcastle upon Tyne volume 10b page 243.

16. In the 1871 England Census the family is living at Great Market Street, St Nicholas, Northumberland. Daughter Sarah Pamplin is aged 12, which puts her birth at 1859 in Birmingham, Warwickshire.

17. James Pamplin remarries for a 4th time: Mary A Carter, widow, Oct-Dec Quarter 1880, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire (Volume 3b page 11210).

18. 1881 England Census, James is living at 7, St Peter's Street, St Giles, Cambridge:

There were six step children by the name of Carter (so obviously Mary was previously married to a Carter). The eldest child, also a Domestic Coachman, was 19 in the 1881 Census.

19. Does James Pamplin remarry another Elizabeth who is with him at the time of his death? Certainly the death registration indicates an E. Pamplin is his widow.

20. 24 Jan 1891 James Pamplin dies at St Pancras, London. His widow, E. Pamplin, is the informant resident at his address of 31 Kings Cross Road, Pancras.

All four of his marriages were registered and whilst there were numerous step-children (first by Margaret Bates and secondly Mary A Carter), the only surviving child of James Pamplin was our Sarah Pamplin.

At the time of her marriage 1st January 1875 Sarah was only 15 but put her age up to 17. She must have fallen pregnant within a few weeks of her marriage as she gave birth to daughter Elizabeth St James McLaren on board ship 4 Nov 1875 before their arrival in Queensland Australia on 17 Jan 1876. Sarah would have been just 16.

In the 1881 Census at 109, Blenheim Street, Westgate, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, we have Margaret Pamplin, head, widow, aged 60, born Newcastle upon Tyne and her unmarried son Robert Bates, aged 22, born Northumberland.

1891 Census. 109, Blenheim Street, Westgate, Newcastle. Margaret Bates, Head, widow, 70, Lodging House Keeper, born Newcastle. Also five lodgers.

NB. At this time, Margaret Bates has reverted to using her pre-Pamplin name.

Death registered: Margaret Pamplin, 73, December Quarter 1893, Newcastle.

Given that our James Pamplin, whom she (Margaret Bates as a widow) married in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1864, was in 1880 married to another widow, Mary Ann Carter, it is obvious that James Pamplin and Margaret must have divorced.

Added to that I have now found death registration details, as follows:

Deaths registered:

Margaret Pamplin (formerly widow Margaret Bates), died March Quarter 1901, Durham, Tyne and Wear.

Mary Ann Pamplin (formerly widow Mary Ann Carter), died Jan Quarter 1912, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire.

Although his death certificate indicates E. Pamplin (his wife) was present at the time and residence of his death. I wonder if this could possibly have been an error and that in fact she may well have been Mary Ann (formerly Carter).

James Pamplin lived a colourful life as a soldier, a police officer, a coachman, and a publican. The fact that James was an artist's model in the later years of his life — for military art I understand — makes him an even more interesting subject for research!

He must have also had a lot of tragedy in his life with the loss of at least one child (possibly 2), the loss of 3 wives (possibly four) and no doubt he suffered also from post-traumatic stress. This could have had a great bearing upon wives coming and going. Certainly also his first wife and first child died, and also his second wife."

References & acknowledgements

Registration of marriages and deaths, and Census information for 1861, 1871, 1891, 1901 & 1911, kindly provided by Chris Poole.

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