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1285, Private William SIMS — 13th Light Dragoons

Added 2.5.2011. Minor edits 28.2.14, 1.4.14, 1.11.16, 2.11.16.

Birth & early life

Born at Wincanton, Somerset. Christened at Cucklington on the 21st of November 1824, the son of William Sims and his wife Johanna, nee Parsons.

His parents were married at Cucklington on the 4th of October 1803, his father having been born there, according to the parish records, "about 1778". On both occasions the family name is shown as "Sims".

See also record of his brother, 902 Stephen Sims 13th Light Dragoons.


Enlisted into the 44th Foot at Shaftesbury on the 17th of November 1844. Regimental No. 2652.

Age: 17 years 10 months.

Height: 5' 6".

Trade: Labourer.

Transferred to the 13th Light Dragoons at Newbridge on the 1st of August 1846.


1851 Census

Piershill Barracks, Leith, Midlothian.

William Sims, 26, Private Soldier, born Wincanton.

NB also:

Stephen Sims [brother], 31, Private Soldier, born Wincanton.

Mary A Sims, 28, wife, born Shrewsbury.

Sarah Sims, 3, born Longford, Ireland.

John Sims, 9 months, born Piershill Barracks, Midlothian.

Left at Scutari, on "Staff Employ", when the regiment returned to England on the 3rd of May 1856 and rejoined the regiment on the 1st of September.

Served with the regiment in Canada from the 27th of September 1866 at Montreal, and Toronto to the 13th of August 1868.


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

Awarded the Long Service & Good Conduct medal at Norwich on the 24th of February 1866, with a gratuity of £5.


Death & burial

Death registered

William Sims, aged 42 years, December Quarter 1869, York.

Committed suicide, "by hanging himself", at York on the 17th of October 1869. In his will he left £64/17/5d to his father.

His death certificate states that he died in the Township of Gate Fulford on the 17th of October 1869, aged 42 years, a Private in the 13th Hussars and an Officer's servant, "having hung himself whilst in a state of temporary insanity". Information as to cause of death received from J. P. Wood, Deputy Coroner for Yorkshire, Inquest held on the 18 October 1869.

There is a copy of the death certificate in the 13th Light Dragoons "Certificates" file.

Extract from The Yorkshire Gazette, Saturday 23rd October 1869:

"Suicide of a Soldier at York Barracks."

"On Monday last, J. P. Wood, Esq. held an inquest at Gate Fulford upon the body of Wm. Sims, aged 42, a Private in the 13th Hussars. The deceased had been drinking for a few days past and was very depressed in spirit.

About eight o'clock on Sunday morning, Private Conroy, of the same regiment, found him hanging in one of the kitchens attached to the barracks. Mr. Fording, the surgeon, was called in, but pronounced life extinct. The jury returned a verdict that the deceased, who had been 25 years in the service, had hung himself whilst in a fit of temporary insanity."

In the same paper's "Deaths that had occurred in the Town" column, was "Sims. — on the 17th inst. Mr William Sims, Soldier, York Barracks, aged 42 years."

EJB: It is very difficult to confirm now, but was his depression and drinking due perhaps to an impending discharge from the service?

According to the York Cemetery Records (Entry No. 21883) he was buried in Square 76, Grave No. 9655. This was a public grave, containing 13 other people, and no memorial exists. His funeral was conducted by the Vicar of Fulford, The Rev. H. T. Cattley, and the local undertaker was paid an interment fee of 10/6d. Enquiry of the East Riding Record Office at Beverley — Gate Fulford being in the East Riding at the time — shows that the City Coroner's records for the period have not survived. (There is a copy of photograph of his grave-site area in the 13th Light Dragoon files.)

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