Home Search Index of men A-Z

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

Added 3.5.11. Minor edits 2.3.2014. Info added 28.5.2020.


(Click on image to enlarge)

1499, Private Henry George WICKHAM - 13th Light Dragoons

Birth & early life

Born in Bromley, Kent.

He was baptised at Bromley Parish Church on the 30th of November 1834, the son of Michael Wickham, a labourer, and his wife, Sarah. Three other children were born into the family: Thomas, baptised 1st of May 1836, Harriet, baptised 10th of October 1837, and William, baptised 4th of October 1839.

His father became a Police Constable in the Metropolitan Police on the 23rd of March 1840, Warrant No. 16799. He was recommended for this employment by Mr. William Rawlinson, of Bromley, Kent, and Mr. J. Gomas, Churchwarden, "of the same place". He was dismissed from the Police Force (no reason was shown) on the 10th of February 1852. HW enlisted later that same year.

1841 Census

Bolton Place, Clapham

Sarah Wickham, 36, Wife of Policeman

Henry Wickham, 6

Harriet Wickham, about 3 [sic]

Emily Wickham, 4 months

1851 Census

Lambert Cottages, James Street, Clapham

Michael Wickham, 37, Policeman, born Cowdon, Kent

Sarah Wickham, 46, born Bromley

Henry Wickham, 15, Engine Cleaner, born Bromley

Harriet Wickham, 13, Scholar, born Bromley

Emily Wickham, 10, Scholar, born Clapham

Charles Wickham, 8, born Clapham

Caroline Wickham, 6, born Clapham

Enlistment

Enlisted at London on the 29th of October 1852.

Age: 18.

Height: 5' 8".

Trade: None shown. [An obituary reported that he had previously worked in the railway workshops at Hampton.]

Service

From Private to Corporal: 20th of November 1859.

1861 Census

Perth Burgh Military Barracks, Perthshire

Henry Wickham, 27, Corporal 13th L. Dragoons, born England

Upper Tooting, Streatham

Mary Champley [future wife], 26, Parlour Maid, born Lewisham

Corporal to Sergeant: 17th of May 1864.

Discharge & pension

Date?

Served 12 years. In Turkey and the Crimea: 1 year 10 months.

Conduct: "good".

In possession of two Good Conduct badges. Never tried by Court-martial.

Medals

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

A supplementary roll (undated) signed by Major Henry Holden shows him as being issued with the Crimean medal (with clasps for Alma, Balaclava and Inkerman) on the 7 of October 1855.

This medal (impressed naming) was known to be in an English collection in 1976.

His medal is now (1983) known to be in a Canadian collection.

Commemorations

Member of the Balaclava Commemoration Society in 1877 & 1879, and a member of the Committee in 1879.

Attended the Balaclava Fete at Olympia on the 2nd of July 1890.

Signed the 1887 Loyal Address when he was still a committee member.

Initially awarded £20 in 1890 from The Light Brigade Relief Fund.

Attended the Annual Dinner in 1890.

Attended the Lord Mayor's Show, 9th of November 1890 . A specially printed programme for this event lists all these men - Wickham is shown travelling in the 16th carriage in the procession.]

Initially awarded £20 in 1890 from The Light Brigade Relief Fund.

Life after service

Marriage registered

Henry George Wickham to Mary Champley, March Quarter 1865, Wandsworth

Births registered

Edith Sophia Wickham, September Quarter 1868, Wandsworth.

Henry George Wickham, June Quarter 1971, Wandsworth

Maude Louisa Wickham, March Quarter 1874, Steyning

Ethel Mary Wickham, September Quarter 1979, Wandsworth

1871 Census

16 Albert Street, Clapham

Henry G Wickham, 36, born Bromley

Mary Wickham, 35, born Lewisham

Edith S Wickham, 2, born Clapham

Henry G Wickham, 11/12 months, born Clapham

Incl 1 visitor

1881 Census

78 [?], Heath Road, Clapham, Surrey.

The 1881 Census shows him as a Car Man, aged 46, born at Bromley, Kent, with his wife, Mary, 46, born at Lewisham, Kent. Three children, aged from 10 years to 1 year, and two lodgers (Brewer's Draymen) are also shown.

Death registered

Edith Sophia Wickham, June Quarter 1879, Wandsworth

1881 Census

79, Heath Road, Clapham

Henry G Wickham. 46, Carman, born Bromley

Mary Wickham, 46, born Lewisham

Henry Wickham, 10, born Clapham

Maude E Wickham, 8, born Clapham

Ethel Wickham, 1, born Clapham

Incl: 2 lodgers

1891 Census

79, Heath Road, Clapham

H.G Wickham, 56, Housekeeper, born Clapham [sic]

Mary Wickham, 55, born Lewisham

H.G Wickham, 21 Painter, born Clapham

Ethel Wickham 11, born Clapham_

Death & burial

Died at 79, Heath Road, Clapham, London, on the 15th of June 1892.

Death registered

Henry George Wickham, aged 56 years, June Quarter 1892, Wandsworth

1901 Census

6 The Polygon, Clapham

Mary Wickham, 65, widow, Receives Parish Relief, born Lewisham.

Death registered

Mary Wickham, aged 73 years, December Quarter 1909, Wandsworth

He was buried in an un-marked grave (Number 12,587, Square 58) in the South Metropolitan Cemetery, West Norwood, on the 22nd of June 1892. No head-stone was erected. He was one of 13 interments in the same grave space. (This is not now identifiable, but see photograph of the grave-area in the 13th Hussar file.)

From the South Western Star, 18th and 25th of June 1892:

"Death of a Balaclava Hero - On Wednesday last there died at No. 81 [sic] Heath Road, Clapham, Sergeant George Wickham, who was attached to the 13th Light Dragoons at the time of the Crimean campaign in 1854. He was one of the famous Light Brigade men, and lived to be 57 years of age.

"One of the Six Hundred." - On Wednesday morning the body of Sergeant George Wickham, formerly of the 13th Light Dragoons (now called Hussars) was taken to Norwood and laid to rest where other comrades are sleeping. He died, as the South Western Star reported last Thursday, at No. 79 Heath Road, at the age of 57. His father was at one time in the Police force here, and the deceased was at one time in the Railway workshops at Hampton.

Ordered out to the Crimea at the time of the Russian War, he was one of the gallant "Six Hundred" who rode in the Charge and where he received a severe lance wound, which for the last two months had been troubling him. He left the Army on the expiration of twelve years service. At the petition of the Patriotic Fund he was allowed £60 in three instalments and in August of 1890 he received the first £20. The widow is left entirely un-provided for. - Who will help her. - We are sure that Major Christie of Elmwood Road, had good words for the deceased..."

See copies of photographs of him - one in uniform as a young man, and the other in later life - in the 13th Hussars file.

Medals at Spink Auction, April 2020









(Click on image to enlarge)

Lot 772 is the superb and well-documented Light Brigade Charger's Crimea Medal to Sergeant HG Wickham, 13th Light Dragoons; despite receiving a lance-wound, Wickham bravely helped a wounded comrade to safety, an act immortalised in Lady Butler's painting 'The Return'.

Auction: 20001 - Orders, Decorations and Medals - conducted behind closed doors

Lot: 772

'He has been left to die in almost abject poverty - and that is how England treats its heroes!'

Wickham's death reported in the Clapham Observer, 18 June 1892.

A superb and well-documented Light Brigade Charger's Crimea Medal to Sergeant H. G. Wickham, 13th Light Dragoons; despite receiving a lance-wound, Wickham bravely helped a wounded comrade to safety, an act immortalised in Lady Butler's painting 'The Return'

Crimea 1854-56, 4 clasps, Alma, Balaklava, Inkermann, Sebastopol (H. G. Wickham. 13th Lt. Dragoons.), officially impressed naming; Turkish Crimea, Sardinian issue, Turkish manufacture, the rim impressed in serif capitals 'Corporal. H. G. Wickham 13th Light Dragoons', fitted with claw and swivel-loop suspension, the Sebastopol clasp lacking right hand side lug, light contact marks and somewhat polished, otherwise nearly very fine (2)

Provenance:

Ex- Ron Penhall Collection.

Ex-John Tamplin Collection.

Henry George Wickham was baptised at Bromley Parish Church on 30 November 1834, the eldest son of Michael Wickham, a labourer, and his wife Sarah. His father Michael became a Constable in the Metropolitan Police on 23 March 1840, and brought the family to Clapham in 1841.

Young Henry was employed as an assistant engineer in the London and South Western Railway Company's sheds at Hampton Court, before enlisting as a Trooper in the 13th Light Dragoons at Hounslow on 29 October 1852, aged 18. Standing at 5' 8'' tall, he received a Bounty of £5/15/6 and was assigned the regimental number 1499.

In February 1854, the regiment embarked at Chatham for the Crimean theatre.

Wickham was present at the battles of Alma, Balaklava, Inkermann and Sebastopol, and is confirmed in all the rolls as having ridden in The Charge of the Light Brigade. He received a severe lance wound during the Charge, but managed to help a wounded comrade in the 17th Lancers back to the British lines. This incident is depicted in Lady Butler's famous painting 'The Return', Dek Military Models producing a vignette of lead soldiers based on Lady Butler's composition.

By June 1856 he was on garrison duties in Ireland, and between 21 August and 30 October 1857 he was attached to the 4th Military Train. Continuing to serve with the 13th Light Dragoons, he advanced to Corporal on 27 November 1857, and Sergeant on 17 May 1864. He was discharged as 'time expired' at Hounslow on 31 October that year, having served for 12 years. His conduct was described as 'good', and he was in possession of two Good Conduct Badges, though he received no pension, having to eke out an existence as best he could. His lance-wound resurfaced over time, leaving him incapacitated and unable to work.

He petitioned the Royal Patriotic Fund and was allotted £60, in three instalments, but this still left him in dire poverty. Always at his happiest among old comrades, he was a founding member of the Balaklava Commemoration Society when it formed in 1879, sitting on its committee. He attended the Society's Annual Dinner in 1890, and the Balaklava Fete at Olympia on 2 July that year. Though frequent and urgent appeals were made for further pension payments, they were never received.

Destitute and in unbearable physical pain, he died at 79 Heath Road, Clapham on 15 June 1892, leaving a widow and daughter. His daughter sold his medals to a dealer in January 1952, and they entered the Tamplin Collection in August 1977.

Sold with a large folder of provenance and research and several photographs of Wickham, including an original image on glass, which shows him wearing the undress uniform of the 13th Light Dragoons.

Starting price

£4750

Sold for

£12,000

[Source: Link.]



Daily Mail, 14 May 2020

(Click on image to enlarge)

As reported in the Daily Mail Online, 13 May 2020:

Heroics of Charge of the Light Brigade sergeant who dragged a wounded comrade to safety despite being gravely injured himself come to light as his medals are sold for over £14,000

Sergeant Henry Wickham, of 13th Light Dragoons, was in the Battle of Balaclava

His heroic actions were immortalised in Elizabeth Butler's painting 'The Return'

Now the medals have been sold with London-based auctioneers Spink & Son

By James Robinson for MailOnline

Published: 15:09, 13 May 2020 | Updated: 08:08, 14 May 2020

The medals of a hero of the doomed Charge of the Light Brigade who dragged a wounded comrade to safety despite being severely injured himself have sold for over £14,000.

Sergeant Henry Wickham, of the 13th Light Dragoons, helped his fellow soldier back to British lines despite being wounded by a lance blow.

His selfless act during the infamous Battle of Balaclava in 1854 was immortalised in Elizabeth Butler's painting 'The Return', while details of the charge were written into a poem by legendary English writer Alfred Tennyson.

Sgt Wickham survived the bloody battle, in which the British Light Brigade became flanked during a charge - resulting in the deaths of 110 British men.

Now the medals of Sgt Wickham, who died in 1829, have been sold by a private collector with London-based auctioneer Spink & Son.

Sergeant Henry Wickham (pictured), of the 13th Light Dragoons, helped his fellow soldier back to British lines despite being wounded by a lance blow during the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade

Sergeant Henry Wickham (pictured), of the 13th Light Dragoons, helped his fellow soldier back to British lines despite being wounded by a lance blow during the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade

The medals (pictured) of Sgt Wickham have been sold by a private collector with London-based auctioneer Spink & Son

The medals (pictured) of Sgt Wickham have been sold by a private collector with London-based auctioneer Spink & Son

They achieved a hammer price of £12,000, with extra fees taking the overall figure paid by the buyer to £14,800.

How a war brought 'The mother of nursing' to prominence

British nurse Florence Nightingale became an icon of Victorian culture during the Crimean War, becoming known as 'The Lady with the Lamp'.

During the Crimean War she led a team of 38 volunteer nurses to care for the British soldiers.

Florence Nightingale became known as 'The Lady with the Lamp' during the war

Florence Nightingale became known as 'The Lady with the Lamp' during the war

When she arrived she found soldiers wounded and dying amid horrifying sanitary conditions, with the times more dying of typhus, typhoid, cholera, and dysentery than from battle wounds.

She immediately set out to improve sanitation, ordering towels, soaps and clean shirts.

She worked endlessly to care for the soldiers themselves, making her rounds during the night after the medical officers had retired - earning her the nickname 'Lady with the Lamp'.

Nightingale's work in the Crimean War brought the field of public health to national attention and she is often credited as the mother of modern nursing.

Marcus Budgen, head of the medal department at Spink & Son, said: 'The pair awarded to Sergeant Wickham are without doubt of huge historical interest and it is no surprise they surpassed their estimate (of £5,000).

'His part in the legendary Charge of the Light Brigade was so important that he was immortalised in Lady Butler's painting 'The Return'.'

The Battle of Balaclava was part of the Crimean War, which took place from October 1853 to March 1856 between Russia and an alliance made up of the Ottoman Empire, France, the United Kingdom and Sardinia.

The war, in which 900,000 men are believed to have died, was eventually won by the allied forces, resulting in the Treaty of Paris.

Along with a number of well-known art and literary works, it famously brought Florence Nightingale to prominence.

The Battle of Balaclava on October 25, 1854, is regarded as one of the infamous days in British military history.

Lord Raglan, overall commander of the British forces at Balaclava, had intended to send the Light Brigade to pursue a separate, retreating Russian battery.

But due to a breakdown in communications, the unit headed off on the near-suicidal mission - attacked from all sides by artillery, infantry and cavalry.

The charge resulted in the deaths of 110 British men with a further 161 wounded, while more than 350 horses were killed.

The battle was considered a tactical defeat for the allied side, though it is considered a battle of honour for the British regiments who fought in it.

Because of the injury he suffered, Sgt Wickham had to rely on a meagre payout and never received a proper pension, dying in poverty and pain in Clapham, south London, in 1892

Because of the injury he suffered, Sgt Wickham had to rely on a meagre payout and never received a proper pension, dying in poverty and pain in Clapham, south London, in 1892

Sgt Wickham, who was born in Bromley in 1834 and had enlisted as a trooper in the army in 1852, suffered a lance wound in the battle.

Despite remaining in the military until 1864, the lingering effects of his lance wound affected his health in later life, leaving him incapacitated and unable to work.

Despite his protests, he had to rely on a meagre payout and never received a proper pension, dying in poverty and pain in Clapham, south London, in 1892.

In his local paper, his death was reported with the damning observation: ''He has been left to die in almost abject poverty - and that is how England treats its heroes!'

However his heroics live on in the Elizabeth Butler painting 'The Return'.

The artist painted 'Balaclava' as a commission piece in 1876, incorporating famous characters and their actions on the day.

It is housed in the City of Manchester Gallery.

The Battle of Balaclava: The famous battle which still lives on today in works of art

The Battle of Balaclava took place in October 1854 and was part of the Crimean War - between Russia and an alliance made up of the Ottoman Empire, France, the United Kingdom and Sardinia.

The battle is best known as an inspiration for Alfred Tennyson's poem 'The Charge of the Light Bridage' and was painted by Elizabeth Butler in her piece 'The Return'.

Sgt Wickham's actions were immortalised in Elizabeth Butler's painting 'The Return'

Sgt Wickham's actions were immortalised in Elizabeth Butler's painting 'The Return'

It was started as an advance by Russia as they tried and failed to capture Balaclava - a key supply port for the allied forces.

During the battle Lord Raglan, overall commander of the British forces at Balaclava, gave the order to the Light Brigade to charge.

The Light Brigade set off up the length of a valley between two rows of Russian artillery and were bombarded from all sides and suffered heavy casualties.

Only a charge by French cavalry saved the Light Brigade from total destruction.

The battle is considered a victory by the Russians, who gained control of a key supply road and several British guns, and although regarded as a strategic defeat for the British, it is considered a battle of honour for all regiments who took part.

The war, which went on for more than two years between October 1853 and March 1856, was bloody and it is estimated 900,000 men died.

It was eventually won by the allied forces and ended in the Treat of Paris, which made Black Sea neutral territory and closed it to all warships.

Sources: BritishBattles.com, Encyclopedia Britannica and Florencenightingale.co.uk

[Source: Link.]

Luigi Toiati, The History of Toy Soldiers



[Source: Link.]

(Click on image to enlarge)

Roy Dutton, Forgotten Heroes, "1499 WICKHAM, Private Henry George"



(Click on image to enlarge)

[Roy Dutton, Forgotten Heroes, Henry Wickham, p.268.]

References & acknowledgements

Additional Census information for 1841-18911, press-cutting, and details of a number of registrations of births, deaths and marriages kindly provided by Chris Poole.

For further information, or to express an interest in the project, please email the editors, Philip Boys & Roy Mills, via info@chargeofthelightbrigade.com