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

Added 30.4.2011. New material added 10.12.2013, 31.3.2014, 9.10.2014.

1309, Sergeant Frederick PEAKE - 13th Light Dragoons

Birth & early life

Born in the parish of St. Mary's, Dublin, c. 1828.

Enlistment

Enlisted at Dublin on the 16th of November 1846.

Age: 18.

Height: 5' 11".

Trade: Labourer.

Appearance: Fresh complexion. Grey eyes. Brown hair.

Service

From Private to Corporal: 8th of May 1852.

Corporal to Sergeant: 10th of May 1854.

Wounded in action at Balaclava.

Sent to Scutari on the 26th of October and invalided to England on the 26th of December 1854.

At Chatham Invalid Depot from the 13th of January 1855 till the 30th of June, when he was sent "on furlo until discharge" to Sandymount [sic], Dublin.

Discharge & pension

Finally discharged from Chatham Invalid Depot on the 8th of January 1856:

"Disabled from canister-shot wound of upper right arm received in the cavalry charge at Balaclava. Ball appears to have broken the outer surface of the humerus. Arm is weak. Found unfit for further military service."

Served 8 years 351 days.

Conduct: "very good". In possession of one Good Conduct badge when promoted.

Aged 27 years on discharge.

Granted a pension of 1/3d. per day on discharge, but this increased to 2/3. per day from the 24th of August 1886.

Medals

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

His entitlement to the Crimean medal with clasps for Alma, Balaklava, and Sebastopol was noted on his documents, dated the 4th of December 1906, signed for and on behalf of the Director of Recruiting and Organisation.

Commemorations

Attended the first Balaclava Banquet in 1875.

Member of the Balaclava Commemoration Society in 1879.

Signed the Loyal Address to the Queen in 1887.

Attended the Annual Dinners in 1892, 1892 [?], 1895,1906.

His picture appeared in The Picture Magazine about the mid-1890s. (There is a copy in the 13th Hussar file.)

He received some help from the Roberts Fund during his lifetime.



 Sergeant Frederick Peake and the coatee he wore in the Charge of the Light Brigade, 1854. Click to enlarge.

Sergeant Frederick Peake and the coatee he wore in the Charge of the Light Brigade, 1854 (National Army Museum).

(Click on image to enlarge)

On 7 October 2011, Emily Butcher posted a blog on the National Army Museum's website:

Sergeant Peake's coat

One of the exhibition's most intriguing pieces has been installed this afternoon - the damaged coatee worn by Sergeant Frederick Peake during the Charge of the Light Brigade.

This famous charge of British cavalry against Russian forces during the Battle of Balaclava (25 October 1854) saw the destruction of more than 475 horses.

Under the command of Major General the Earl of Cardigan, Sergeant Peake was one of the lucky men who survived the 673-man charge, narrowly escaping with a severely broken arm.

The last survivor of his regiment, Peake enlisted into the 13th Light Dragoons at the age of 18. Following the Charge of the Light Brigade, he was posted back to London as an invalid and was later discharged from the Army.

His short, close-fitting dark blue coat (the colour worn by light cavalry at the time) was damaged by a canister shot roughly the size of a snooker ball. Peake treasured this uniform, despite the perforated sleeve, and would often wear it with pride to charitable events.

[Source: www.nam.ac.uk/microsites/war-horse/458/blog/sergeant-peakes-coat/attachment/sgt-peake/ (accessed 20.2.2014).]



Life after service

He was a warder in the Military Prison at Chatham in 1856, in the Military Prison in Barbados in 1857, in Hongkong from the 1st of October 1866, and at Chatham again from the 1st of April 1872. He later served as a Military Stores Clerk until the 24th of August 1886.

1871 Census

Sheerness Barracks & Officers Quarters, Minster, Sheppey.

Fred Peake, aged 40, unmarried, Military Store Clerk, born Ireland.

Marriage, registered

Frederick Thomas Peake married Ellen Margaret Bassett, September Quarter 1872, St George Hanover Square.

Births registered [his four children]

Frederick John S Peake, December Quarter 1874, Sheppey.

William Stanley S Peake, September Quarter 1876, Sheppey.

Georgeani [sic] Marguerite Peake, June Quarter 1879, Sheppey.

Kate Gertrude Peake, June Quarter 1881, Sheppey.

1881 Census

128, High Street, Minster in Sheppey, Kent.

The 1881 Census Return shows him as aged 50, a Clerk, Ordnance Depot, (C.S.) born in Ireland, with his wife, Ellen, born in Ipswich, Suffolk, and three children, aged from 6 years to 1 year. [CP: Frederick, William and Georgina, all born Sheerness.].

1891 Census

Crescent, Edward Street, Minster, Sheerness.

Frederick Peake, aged 60, Retired Clerk Army, born Ireland.

Ellen, 43, born Ipswich.

Three children shown: William, 14 (born Sheerness), Georgina, 11, and Kate, 9.

Also 3 boarders.

The eldest sibling, Frederick, 16, was at that time a boy soldier, a sapper in the Royal Engineers based at Brompton Barracks.



 Photograph of Sergeant Frederick Peake's home, 37 Alma Raad, Sheerness. Click to enlarge.

Photograph of Sergeant Frederick Peake's home, 37 Alma Raad, Sheerness (unknown date). One of a number of photographs relating to FP on the Kent History Forum website, http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=4056.0;nowap (accessed 9.10.2014).

(Click on image to enlarge)

1901 Census

37, Alma Road, Sheerness.

Frederick Peake, aged 70, Ordinance Clerk Retired. born Ireland.

Ellen, 53, born Ipswich.

Georgina, 20, Music Teacher, Sheerness.

Kate, 18, Assistant in Boot Shop.

Death registered

Ellen Margaret Peake, aged 59, September Quarter 1906, Sheppey.

Death & burial

Died at Thornton Heath, Surrey, on the 18th of December 1906. His youngest daughter, Georgina, was the beneficiary of his will when he died.

From an unknown newspaper report:

"Mr. Frederick F of Sheerness, died recently at Thornton Heath, Surrey, whilst on a visit to some relatives for the benefit of his health. Mr. Peake, who was seventy-seven years of age, served in the 13th Light Dragoons, and at the time of his death was still in possession of his non-commissioned officer's uniform that he wore at Balaclava and which is perforated in one sleeve by shot. After leaving the Army on pension, he was employed in a civil capacity for some years at Sheerness Garrison."

There is a photograph of his funeral procession, from an unknown newspaper, in the 13th Hussar file.

Formerly of 37, Alma Road, Sheerness, Kent, he died at 8, Carew Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey. In his will he left his personal estate of £109 to his daughter, Georgina Marguerite.

Extract from the United Services Gazette for the 26th of December 1907:

"On the 17th inst., and in the presence of public bodies of Sheerness and of a Detachment of the Royal Garrison Artillery whose buglers sounded the 'Last Post', the memorial erected in the Isle of Sheppey to the late Mr. Frederick Thomas Peake, who was a sergeant in the 13th Light Dragoons in the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava, in which he was wounded, was unveiled by Mr. J. Copland, the Chairman of the Sheerness Urban Council. The ceremony took place on the first anniversary of Mr. Peake's death, the memorial having been erected by public subscription."



 . Click to enlarge.

Frederick Peake's gravestone in the Halfway Cemetery, Sheerness. One of a number of photographs on the Kent History Forum website, http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=4056.0;nowap (accessed 9.10.2014).

(Click on image to enlarge)

There is a photograph of the memorial stone erected to him in Halfway Cemetery, Sheerness, Kent (Grave No. 83FF) in the 13th Hussar file. The inscription reads:

"To the memory of Frederick Thomas Peake, Late Sergeant, 13th Light Dragoons. He was a survivor of the Balaclava Charge. Died December 18th 1906, aged 77 years."

Death registered

Frederick Thomas Peake, 77, December Quarter 1906, Croydon.

Further information

1911 Census

8, Carew Road, Thornton Heath, Croydon [signed by Frederick John Seaman Peake].

[This is the address where his father died while visiting his son in 1906.].

Frederick J S Peake [son], 36, Telegraphist GPO, born Sheerness.

Ethel Peake, 32, Bristol.

Doris E Peake, 6, London.

Marriages registered.

William Stanley S Peake [son] to Emily Jane Page, June Quarter 1898, Dover.

Frederick John S Peake [son] to Ethel Davis, December Quarter 1902, Sheppey.

Kate G Peake [daughter] to John Morgan, December Quartert 1910, Sheppey.

Georgeani M Peake [daughter] to Joseph Maher, June Quartert 1917, Sheppey.

Deaths registered

Frederick Thomas Peake, aged 77, December Quarter 1906, Croydon.

William S S Peake [son], 69, December Quarter 1945, Uxbridge.

Frederick J.S. Peake [son], 81, June Quarter 1956, Epping.

Frederick J.S. Peake [son]

In May 1954 a Crimean Centenary Lunch was held in the Connaught Rooms, London, to which the sons and daughters of the Crimean veterans were invited. Among those present, and who made the reply to the toast, was ex-C.Q.M.S. Frederick J.S. Peake of Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, who was the son of Frederick Peake of the 13th Light Dragoons.

F.J.S Peake was then aged 80. He had served in the Royal Engineers in South Africa during the Boer War at Ladysmith, and was also an Old Contemptible. The medal record cards for World War One at the P.R.O. show his number as 27008 (Sapper) and that he was awarded the 1914 Star (issued 1/4/1920), and British War and Victory medals.

His service in France counted from the 9th of August 1914. Those for South Africa show him as being entitled to the clasps for the Defence of Ladysmith, Transvaal, and S.A. 1901 and 1902.

Sergeant Frederick Thomas Peake.

13th Light Dragoons.

A Sheppey man.

A survivor of The Charge of the Light Brigade, October 25th 1854.

Born November 17th [1829?].

Died 18th December 1906 aged 77, the last survivor of his battle regiment.

Grave Location Halfway Cemetery site 83FF.

"Many years ago whilst compiling my Family Tree, part of the process was to search all hard copies of the old Sheerness Times/Guardian kept in the Sheerness Library and extract all references to "PENNEY and RELATIONS "I had just started and thought that I would also extract anything else that may be of use to Family Historians having had a lot of help from other people.

For example I noticed a yearly meeting of the survivors of the Charge of the Light Brigade and of course the number attending each year was less and less but I thought this may be of interest to some one some day so I copied these also.

For example, the matinee performance of The Alhambra (?) London in October 1910 was preceded by the Annual Balaclava Reunion and this was attended by some eleven survivors.

In 1979 I wrote to Francis K Horton who was compiling a list of the Survivors of the Charge and he was delighted to receive my letter as the information that he had was F T Peake was buried at Thornton Heath in Surrey. But he could never find the grave. This is because he was taken ill and died at his son's house in Thornton Heath but his body was taken to Sheerness for burial.

He lived at 37 Alma Road and his 75th birthday was November 17th 1907 [1905]..

As Francis was working on his book he asked me to pinpoint the exact location of the grave so I went to the Halfway Cemetery and in the potting shed, among all the flowerpots, plants and dirt, in one of the drawers of the bench were the 4 books containing all the burials from 1850 to 1950. (I photocopied these four books and put them on my web page [http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~penney/] should these books be destroyed or lost ).

I located F.T.Peakes's burial site which was a mass of ivy, these I cleared away and there was a broken column on the floor, crossed swords and a shako (hat.) I spent all day cleaning the memorial of ivy and years of accumulated lichen and replacing the broken column, I then took photographs which were sent on to Francis together with the detailed directions on how to reach the grave from the Cemetery entrance He was very pleased and he said they would be in his book, a private edition called "One Hussar" on the Survivors of the Charge.

By 1979 he had located 190 headstones and had approximately another 200 to find with good leads on 80 to 100 of these. He also corresponded with 40 separate descendants of survivors.

In 1892 I wrote to Francis because a member of the Kent Family History Society owned a diary of a soldier written up to the night before the "Charge". And he was allowed access to it, he was delighted.

Francis Horton has given his lecture on The Survivors of the Charge of the Light Brigade to York, Hollingham, Norwich, Chelmsford, Bristol and Avon Family History Societies, the FH Federation at Birmingham, the Guild of One Name Studies etc etc, In 1981 he was invited to be the Chairman of Stourbridge Family History Society.

He always starts his talks by blowing the "Charge" on the bugle that was actually used on that fateful day. Very eerie. In the reading room of the National Army Museum they have seven photographs of Sergt. F.T.Peake - one portrait, three of his funeral, one of his memorial, and two groups at reunions.

He treasured the uniform which he wore in the Famous Charge the sleeve of which was perforated by the bullet which wounded his arm and would wear it at Benevolent Concerts in aid of charitable events when he would recite Tennyson poem "Into the Valley of Death".

...He was buried with full Military Honours, the gun carriage drawn by four fine animals, the firing party consisted of 20 strong formed up in single file on either side of his house and presently the bearers came forth carrying their sad burden shoulder high to the gun carriage.The band of the Royal Navy Gunnery School Sheerness was now playing The Dead March by Saul and the sympathetic beat of the muffled drums combined with the softened notes of the cornets at once touched one's emotions.In most cases all house blinds were drawn on the route. The final incident in connection with the funeral was a touching one... It consisted of the firing of three volleys over the grave by the firing party and between each volley two buglers played "The Last Post" and that well known hymn "Now the labourers task is o'er"...

In January 1907 The Town held a meeting to suggest a suitable public Memorial to him as he had resided in Sheerness for a very considerable portion of his life. The Rev. Noblet said that Mr. Peake was always straight forward, upright and most civil and obliging as a civilian. Mr. Peake was willing to do all he could to help anyone in distress. He had dared to die and never liked to speak about himself and the Charge of the Light Brigade. When one spoke to Mr. Peake about the battle he quietly proceeded to talk on another subject. Mr.W J Penney suggested that a committee should be appointed to prepare a scheme to lay before another meeting.This committee could prepare an estimate as to the probable cost of a Memorial. This was agreed upon and the memorial was later erected over his grave.

A headstone of such a soldier should never be allowed to become hidden again. It should be proudly shown and maintained."

[Sources: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~penney/sheppey%20characters/light%20brigade.htm and http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=4056.5;wap2, http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=4056.0;nowap (accessed 9.10.2014).]

References & acknowledgements

A number of registrations of births, marriages and deaths, and Census information for 1871, 1891, 1901 & 1911, kindly provided by Chris Poole.


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