Untold lives blog

Sharing stories from the past, worldwide

8 posts from July 2023

26 July 2023

Further research on the Dessa Family: Ann Elizabeth Dessa and Jacob Rogers

In a previous post, I promised to share any further discoveries about the Dessa family, whose son George Edward Dessa (d. 1913) had attempted to assassinate Viceroy Lord Lytton whilst struggling with mental health problems.

George’s mother, Ann Elizabeth Dessa (otherwise De Sa) had undergone her own mental health struggles, having been admitted to the Bhowanipore (Bhawanipur) Lunatic Asylum in 1849.  A snapshot of Bhowanipore in 1856-57 certainly challenges perceived notions of Victorian lunatic asylums.  Sited on a two-acre plot south of Fort William, its well laid out gardens were said to ‘impart to the Asylum a pleasing feature of rural quiet’.  The boundary walls were hidden by climbing plants. Emphasis was on the circulation of fresh air, hygiene, liberal quantities of well-cooked quality food, and kindness, the latter being ‘the real substitute for mechanical restraint’.  Ann Elizabeth was released back into the care of her family in 1874, having been institutionalised for a quarter of a century.  She died in Calcutta on 12 December 1888.

We can find a little more about Ann Elizabeth's background in the records.  She was born on 15 October 1818 at Mirzapur, daughter of Jacob Rogers and his wife Elizabeth, and was baptised there on 10 August 1821.  According to the East India Register, she married George Henry Dessa, a writer, at Chuprah on 11 October 1832, days before her fourteenth birthday.  Entries in the East India Register refer to the birth of two sons, on 23 May 1837 and 22 October 1843.  These are possibly her sons William David and George Edward, although we know she and her husband had at least three boys, the youngest of whom died aged 12.  The family moved to Calcutta, and appear to have suffered from financial difficulties despite George Henry working in various government roles such as in the Civil Auditor’s Office, and later on the East Indian Railway.  There are five entries in the London Gazette between 1842 and 1862 referring to petitions filed in the Court of Relief of Insolvent Debtors naming George Henry Dessa.

Portrait of Jacob Rogers by Jiwan Ram - Bodleian Libraries  University of OxfordPortrait of Jacob Rogers by Jiwan Ram, Bodleian Library LP 846. Photo: © Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford. Terms of use: CC-BY-NC 4.0. 

It should have been so different for Ann Elizabeth. Her father Lieutenant Jacob Rogers had been in the service of Maharaja Daulat Rao Scindia, the ruler of Gwalior state, and was an East India Company pensioner.  A portrait of him by the Indian artist Jiwan Ram entitled ‘Quartermaster Rogers’ survives; it once formed part of the collection of the Begum Samru (Joanna Nobilis Sombre) at Sardhana palace.  Bought by T. R. Wyer, a Collector in Meerut, in 1894, it was gifted to the Indian Institute, 1913 and now forms part of the Bodleian Library collections. 

Will of Jacob Rogers

 Copy of the will of Jacob Rogers dated 12 March 1819 IOR/L/AG/34/29/36, pp.97-100

Ann’s early life was comfortable, living in a bungalow in Mirzapore surrounded with servants and possessions, all of which Jacob left to his wife Elizabeth in his will written of 1819. Jacob’s death on 10 January 1824, age 41, changed everything; the worth of Rogers’ estate was almost identical to the outstanding claims against it, effectively leaving few assets for his wife and daughter. All his belongings – books, furniture, pictures, carpets, guns, plate, jewellery, clothing, horses, buggy – were sold at public auction just weeks after his death.

Estate papers of Jacob Rogers showing his servants' wagesEstate  papers of Jacob Rogers showing his servants' wages IOR/L/AG/34/27/81 p.659

Lesley Shapland
Cataloguer, India Office Records

Further Reading:
Report by Theodore Cantor, Superintendent of the Asylums… at Bhowanipore and Dullunda for 1856-57 can be found online.  
Sir Evan Cotton ‘The Sardhana Pictures in Government House, Allahabad’, Bengal Past and Present vol LII, part I (1936).

British Library India Office Records available via Findmypast -
IOR/N/1/64, f.43 Baptism of Ann Elizabeth Rogers (later Dessa), 10 Aug 1821 at Mirzapore.
IOR/L/AG/34/29/36, pp.97-100 Copy of the will of Jacob Rogers dated 12 Mar 1819, proved 25 Feb 1824.
IOR/L/AG/34/27/81, pp. 641-661 Inventory of the estate of Jacob Rogers, including a catalogue of the sale of his goods at auction.
IOR/L/AG/34/27/80, pp.618-619 and IOR/L/AG/34/27/80, pp. 702-704 Accounts relating to the estate of Jacob Rogers.


24 July 2023

Lord Curzon’s letter from Lausanne

24 July 2023 marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Peace with Turkey commonly referred to as the Treaty of Lausanne which ended the war between the Allies and Turkey [now known officially as Türkiye/the Republic of Türkiye]. It was the final Treaty of the First World War.

Front cover of Treaty of Lausanne 1923Front cover of the Treaty of Lausanne 1923 Mss Eur F112/280/2

One of the issues on the table at the Lausanne conference was the question of Mosul – whether the city and its province should become part of the new Republic of Turkey or the British mandate of Iraq.

Extract from document headed 'The Question of Mosul'‘The Question of Mosul’ Mss Eur F112/294, f 237

Mosul had been occupied by the British at the end of the war. The head of the British delegation was the Foreign Secretary and former Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon.  He was adamant about the importance of retaining Mosul; the final decision to change the British Navy’s fuel from coal to oil was taken during the war.

Paragraph on the importance of controlling oil field development in MosulThe importance of controlling the development of the Mosul oil field Mss Eur F 112/294, f 10

Curzon resisted Turkish attempts to settle the matter at the Lausanne conference.  He wrote from the Hotel Beau Rivage to General Mustafa İsmet İnönü Pasha, the leader of the Turkish delegation, that Mosul ‘is under a Mandate administered by Great Britain, which I have had the honour to inform you repeatedly that I am not in a position to surrender’.

Letter from Curzon at Hotel Beau Rivage to General Mustafa İsmet İnönü Pasha  the leader of the Turkish delegation January 1923 - 1 Letter from Curzon at Hotel Beau Rivage to General Mustafa İsmet İnönü Pasha  the leader of the Turkish delegation January 1923 - 2Letter from Curzon at Hotel Beau Rivage to General Mustafa İsmet İnönü Pasha, the leader of the Turkish delegation, Mss Eur F112/295, f 13

Instead, the question of Mosul was pushed onto to the League of Nations whose committee ruled that Mosul should be part of the new British-controlled mandate of Iraq.  In 1926, the ‘Brussels Line’ was drawn as the boundary of Iraq, and Iraq agreed to pay Turkey 10 per cent royalties on Mosul’s oil resources for 25 years.

Map of the Mosul areaMap of the Mosul area IOR/L/PS/20/C204, f 34 ‘Map No. 3’

Curzon’s instinct turned out to be prescient as oil in vast quantities was discovered in Kirkuk in 1927.

The Hotel Beau Rivage still welcomes international guests to the shores of Lake Geneva today.

Francis Owtram
Gulf History Specialist, British Library/Qatar Foundation Partnership

Further reading:
Kristian Coates-Ulrichsen, The Middle East in the First World War (Hurst, 2014)
Jonathan Conlin and Ozan Ozavci (eds) They All Made Peace – What is Peace? The 1923 Lausanne Treaty and the New Imperial Order, (Ginko, 2023)
The Lausanne Project – the New Middle East, 1922-23
Francis Owtram, ‘Oil, the Kurds and the Drive for Independence: An Ace in the Hole or a Joker in the Pack’, in A. Danilovich (ed) Iraqi Kurdistan in Middle East Politics (Routledge, 2016)


20 July 2023

Women’s football in the 1880s

As the Women’s World Cup opens in Australia, here are two newspaper items about women’s football from the 1880s which show the kinds of prejudice that the sport has had to overcome.

In June 1881, the Huddersfield Daily Chronicle reported that an evening match had taken place at the ground of Cheetham Football Club between two teams of eleven women from England and Scotland.  The players, dressed in a costume 'neither graceful nor very becoming', were driven to the ground in a waggonette, and were followed by a crowd composed  mainly of youths eager for 'boisterous amusement'.  Very few people paid for admission but many gathered outside and tried to see what was going on.  Police constables were there to maintain order whilst 'the so-called match' was being played, but after about an hour they lost control and the ground was overtaken by a mob.  The women, fearing that there would be a repetition of the rough treatment they had met with in other parts of the country, ran back to the waggonette.  They were immediately driven away amidst jeers and disorder.

'The lady footballers at play’ at the north versus south match at Crouch End in 1895'The lady footballers at play’ at the north versus south match at Crouch End - Daily Graphic 25 March 1895

In April 1887 a letter was sent to the editor of the Wakefield and West Riding Herald about 'the exhibition in the Thornes Football Club field'.  The correspondent stated: 'The sight of women so far unsexing themselves as publicly to wear the dress of men, and play a game we are accustomed to regard as a purely masculine sport, is not easily reconcilable with our ideas of the fitness of things'.  The 'athletic and inspiriting game of football' played by men was a pleasurable amusement for spectators of both sexes.  'Delicate susceptibilities' were seldom wounded by unseemly remarks made by bystanders when watching young men play football.  But at the women's match the 'few respectable persons whom the novelty of the thing induced to see and judge for themselves the propriety or impropriety of the proceedings, were speedily driven from the ground by the disgusting remarks they could not avoid hearing, as well as by their individual reprehension of the whole affair'.

The correspondent believed that 'this unpleasant exhibit' was one of the last ways in which 'womanly women' would want to earn money.  His disgust was mingled with pity 'as the unavoidable feeling arises that the barriers of modesty and self-respect must have been largely broken down before such a way of life could have been decided upon’.  The letter ends with the call to oppose anything 'that has a tendency to lessen or destroy the innate delicacy of the female character'.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
British Newspaper Archive (also available via Findmypast)  - Huddersfield Daily Chronicle 23 June 1881; Wakefield and West Riding Herald 23 April 1887.


18 July 2023

A soldiers’ guide to Bangalore

In 1917 the Army Young Men’s Christian Association in Bangalore, India, published a guide to the town for British soldiers.

Front cover of A Soldiers' Guide to BangaloreFront cover of A Soldiers' Guide to Bangalore

Henry Venn Cobb, the Resident of Mysore, wrote a foreword to the book, welcoming all ranks of His Majesty’s Forces quartered in Bangalore.  He said that they would be living amongst friends and well-wishers in as good a climate that India could give.  Bangalore was the stepping stone to what all the soldiers wanted – a speedy transfer to the far-flung battle lines.

The Lal Bagh garden at Bangalore, looking towards the glass houseThe Lal Bagh garden at Bangalore, looking towards the glass house

The guide opens with general information about Bangalore – the government, population, climate, electricity supply, manufactures and agriculture – followed by an historical overview.  It describes some places of interest both in Bangalore and nearby –
• Cubbon Park – over 100 acres in size and beautifully laid out, with a bandstand for regular concerts.
• The Museum with collections of carvings, birds, insects, fishes, shells, and geological specimens.
• The Old City and the Fort.
• Tata Silk Farm, given to the Salvation Army around 1911.
• Lal Bagh, a pleasure garden with a rare and valuable collection of tropical plants, a menagerie, and a glasshouse for exhibitions.
• Maharajah’s Palace, designed on the model of Windsor Castle.
• Bull Temple with a huge bull carved out of rock and dedicated to the god Siva.
• Ulsoor Temple, an example of pyramidical architecture.
• Military Dairy Farm run by the British Government to supply produce to its forces.
• Tata Institute for scientific study and research.
• Mysore Government Experimental Farm.
• Cauvery Falls.
• Kolar Gold Fields.
• Mysore City.
• Nandidroog, a fortified hill providing wonderful views.
• Seringapatam, an old town with a fortress.
• Sivaganga, a sacred hill.

There are sections on missionary work in and around Bangalore, and on the Y.M.C.A.

Soldiers visiting Bangalore on furlough could stay at the Church of England Institute or the Wesleyan Soldiers’ Home.  Details are provided of all the churches in Bangalore with times of services – Church of England, Church of Scotland, Wesleyan, Methodist, Baptist, Roman Catholic.

Health hints are given to the soldiers –
• Inoculation for enteric and malaria.
• Getting at least seven hours’ sleep, eight if possible.
• Taking a sponge bath every morning if nothing better is possible.
• Eating only foods known to be good and properly cooked.
• Drinking water only when the source is known to be pure, or after it has been boiled.
• Not drinking or eating too much of anything.
• Taking some form of vigorous exercise – football, hockey, cricket, fives, basketball, tennis, golf, swimming, boxing, wrestling.
• Forming ‘high ideals of sex relation’ - medical science has proved that sexual intercourse is not necessary for the preservation of virility.
Soldiers should remember the folks at home; think clean thoughts; eat clean foods; and drink clean drinks.

There are explanations for a short list of Indian words.

Explanations for a short list of words

Explanations for a short list of words

The Guide ends with recommendations for reliable merchants and business houses in Bangalore whose advertisements had paid for the publication of the booklet.  The goods and services offered include furniture, stationery and books, Indian curios, clothing, footwear, jewellery, tools, cinema, car and cycle hire, medicines, toiletries, and confectionery.

Merchants' advertisements - curios, pharmaceuticals and cyclesMerchants' advertisements - curios, pharmaceuticals and cycles


Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
Army Y.M.C.A., A Soldiers' Guide to Bangalore (1917) British Library General Reference Collection 10056.de.13.


13 July 2023

Deefholts: An Anglo-Indian Family of Public Servants in Calcutta

In 1947 the Indian Independence Act  was passed by Parliament.  This ended decades of colonial rule in India and paved the way to Partition.  In November 1960, unrest and violence forced my family to leave Calcutta (Kolkata) permanently.

Great-grandparents Cyril Brian and Maureen and great uncle Hans on the ship Indian Resource from Calcutta to LiverpoolMy great-grandparents Cyril Brian and Maureen and great uncle Hans on the ship Indian Resource from Calcutta to Liverpool

Great uncles Stephen and Hans  and grandfather Gerald on the Indian ResourceMy great uncles Stephen and Hans, and grandfather Gerald on the Indian Resource

My Deefholts ancestors have mainly served in government and legal affairs, customer service, international trade and engineering.  We are today an Anglo-Indian family of public servants with roots in Calcutta and ties to a unique culture which is fading away.  Anglo-Indians are citizens of mixed Indian and European ancestry.

I traced my ancestral roots using the catalogues and collections at the British Library in London. The India Office Records document British rule in India and the lives of Anglo-Indians.

The documents pictured below show correspondence conducted by an ancestor in Bengal.  In 1850 and 1854, petitions about financial matters were submitted by Richard Deefholts, an assistant in the Bengal Secretariat Office.  Then, in 1856, a financial agreement was reached between him and the East India Company in London.

Richard Deefholts' financial petition 1854


Richard Deefholts' financial petition 1856Documents about Richard Deefholts’ petition 1854 & 1856 - IOR/E/4/824 and IOR/E/4/834

My great-grandfather Cyril Brian Deefholts was a superintendent for the British trade and shipping operations in Calcutta. He began his career in the war as a pilot for the Indian Army and then worked as a civil servant.

Great-grandparents Cyril Brian and Maureen on a car tripMy great-grandparents on a car trip

Cyril Brian dressed in his army uniformCyril Brian dressed in his army uniform

I discovered tales about my ancestors in The Times of India newspaper that have revealed significant detail and amusing stories about the civic duties and private lives of my ancestors.  They were cricket players, hockey enthusiasts, civil servants, customs officers, and local merchants.  In 1847, ‘two young Bengalee Baboos’ persuaded Robert Horatio Deefholts, Head Clerk, to interfere with the mail and leak examination questions.  On 29 October 1885, The Times of India reported on ‘An event of unusual interest – the golden wedding of one of the most esteemed couples – Mr and Mrs. Richard Deefholts’.  The East Indian Railway Customs Team had its own Deefholts sports stars – C. and E. Deefholts.

Great uncle Stephen and grandfather Gerald with Cyril Brian's hockey sticksMy great uncle Stephen and grandfather Gerald with Cyril Brian's hockey sticks

Great-great grandparents celebrating at a family birthday partyMy great-great grandparents (centre left) celebrating at a family birthday party

Grreat-grandmother celebrating with family and friendsMy great-grandmother (top right corner) celebrating with family and friends

Discovering these documents and articles makes me feel proud to be a Deefholts.  The recent passing of my grandfather and great-grandmother marked the end of an era.  I want my archival research to save our culture from extinction and keep it alive for generations to come.  There is an opportunity to talk about the overlooked role of Anglo-Indians in British society, and the dispersal of our community across the Commonwealth.

Daniel Deefholts
Civil Servant
Creative Commons Attribution licence

Acknowledgements: This blog post was written in memory of Gerald and Maureen Deefholts.  Thank you to my mother Sarah for helping me select the photographs that illustrate this blog post.

Further reading:
British Library IOR/E/4/824 and IOR/E/4/834 - Documents about Richard Deefholts’ petition 1854 & 1856.
‘A Golden Wedding’ - The Times of India 29 October 1885, p.5.
‘Sporting News: East Indian Railway Win Beighton Cup - Customs Beaten’ - The Times of India 30 April 1929, p.11.
‘Calcutta Matriculation Students’ - The Times of India 14 December 1874, p.4.
London Gazette 15 March 1850, p.807. 


11 July 2023

Request for help in returning to India

On 25 January 1893, the India Office in London received a letter from James Irwin residing in the Garden Hospital, Dublin requesting help in returning to his home in India.  James stated that he had been born in Poona and that he had travelled to Ireland with an ‘invalid gentleman who died in three months time after embarkation in the year 1891.  I have since that time been very bad suffering from a very severe attack of fever & ague, but thank God I am quite recovered and able to proceed home’.  James went on to say that, his wife had died from smallpox in June 1889, that he had four little children in the Byculla School at Bombay, and that he wished to return to them.  He claimed that his friends would be able to obtain employment for him as a guard on the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, as he had previously worked for the Railway before leaving due to illness.   A second letter from James was received on 3 February, reiterating his situation.

Letter from James Irwin to the India Office received 3 February 1893Letter from James Irwin to the India Office received 3 February 1893 IOR/L/PJ/6/337 

The letters came across the desk of the Political A.D.C. at the India Office, Sir W.G.S.V. Fitzgerald.  As it happened, his nephew Edward Macartney-Filgate was in Dublin and was given the task of investigating James’s story.  Investigations disclosed that the Garden Hospital was a portion of the South Dublin Union Workhouse.  Macartney-Filgate was at first refused admission when he went there, it being a Saturday and not visiting day.  On explaining that he was on business from the India Office, he was allowed in and was able to talk to James.  He claimed he was born in India to English parents, that he had been a soldier, and then worked on the railways.  He came to Dublin as a servant, got out of employment and fell into poverty. 

Letter from Macartney-Filgate to his uncle about his visit to James Irwin, dated 20 February 1893Letter from Macartney-Filgate to his uncle about his visit to James Irwin, dated 20 February 1893 IOR/L/PJ/6/337 

Macartney-Filgate’s opinion of James was mixed, he believed James to be ‘plain pure and simple an Englishman’ but admitted that he showed ‘accurate knowledge of India as far as I was able to sound him’.  In the end, Macartney-Filgate thought, ‘His story may be true or not, I really could not form any definite opinion.  I do not believe many people but he seemed to withstand questioning.  On the other hand, as he has been in this workhouse since 1889 he may have simply raked together the whole story from some other inmate’.

Cover of India Office file on James IrwinCover of India Office file on James Irwin IOR/L/PJ/6/337 

Although Fitzgerald noted that this seemed to be ‘an unhappy case’, he thought that it was not one in which the India Office should interfere.  A letter was sent to James on 3 March 1893 stating that the Secretary of State was unable to assist him.

Letter from James Irwin to the India Office 2 May 1894Letter from James Irwin to the India Office 2 May 1894 IOR/L/PJ/6/372

A year later, James tried again, sending two letters to the India Office in April 1894.  He claimed that he had been given a promise of doing something to send him back to India, although he now wrote that he had two little children in the Byculla School in Bombay.  He asked for the boat fare to London so that he could have a personal meeting with the Secretary of State.  The India Office noted: ‘This man’s case has already been fully considered’, and a further letter declining to help was sent to him.  In reply to this, James wrote a final letter to the India Office expressing his disappointment and requesting help in obtaining employment on a P&O ship.  An instruction was written at the bottom of this letter to resend the previous letter declining to help.

John O’Brien
India Office Records

Further Reading:
Application from Mr James Irwin for assistance to return to India, 23 January to 15 February 1893, reference: IOR/L/PJ/6/337, File 146.

Application from James Irwin to be sent back to India, 13 April 1894, reference IOR/L/PJ/6/371, File 627.

James Irwin; request for assistance in returning to India, 2 May 1894, reference IOR/L/PJ/6/372, File 778.

South Dublin Union Workhouse.

Dublin Workhouses Admission & Discharge Registers 1840-1919 on Findmypast.co.uk


06 July 2023

The Emperor of China’s Sauce

In 1839 The Emperor of China’s Sauce was introduced in England.  Newspaper adverts said that the sauce was originally prepared by an eminent English physician living in India.  It was remarkable for its richness, fullness, piquancy, and strong digestive properties.  In India ‘it maintained a celebrity previously unknown among Sauces, and was there considered indispensibly requisite with every kind of fish, meat, game, made dishes, or curries’.  Bon-vivants at London West End clubs declared it to be ‘the finest in the world’.  It could be taken to promote digestion - half a wine glass full should be drunk an hour before dinner.

The sauce was manufactured and sold wholesale and for export by David Morse who lived with his wife and family at Cullum Street in the City of London.  Morse had paid a large sum to secure the recipe.  The public could buy the sauce from respectable chemists, grocers, oilmen and fruiterers throughout the UK, including Fortnum and Mason, and the Dundee Marmalade Warehouse in Regent Street.

Advert for Emperor of China's Sauce in the City Chronicle 12 October 1841Advert for Emperor of China's Sauce City Chronicle 12 October 1841 British Newspaper Archive

By 1841, adverts for The Emperor of China’s Sauce included endorsements from a number of publications.  The Conservative Journal described it as ‘particularly palatable’ and said its only fault was that it made you eat more than you would without it.  The Age reported that Sir Charles Metcalf had remarked in 1839 that the sauce was the best he had tasted since his return to Europe from India.

The Emperor of China’s Sauce was just one of David Morse’s business interests.  He was a tea dealer and the publisher of a weekly newspaper City Chronicle, Tea Dealers’ Journal and Commercial Advertiser.  First published in May 1840, the City Chronicle aimed to advocate the rights of traders such as tea dealers, tallow chandlers, cheesemongers and hop merchants, but published articles on a wide range of topics – politics, law and crime, sport, and fashion.

In 1840 Morse advertised in the City Chronicle for a youth wishing to perfect himself as a man of business.  He offered the opportunity of gaining practical experience of the different properties of tea and a general knowledge of all colonial produce, hops, tallow etc.  The premium for one year’s placement was 100 guineas.

Advert for Anti-Slavery Sugar Company in Morning Herald 15 August 1840Advert for Anti-Slavery Sugar Company in Morning Herald  (London) 15 August 1840 British Newspaper Archive

Morse was Secretary to the Anti-Slavery Sugar Company founded for the cultivation of sugar, rum and other crops by free labour in British India.  The Company was raising capital in 1840 and Morse undertook to supply prospectuses to potential investors.

However it appears that Morse’s business ventures did not progress smoothly.  At the time of the 1861 census he was working as a daily labourer.  The London Gazette of 8 November 1861 announced his bankruptcy – David Morse, late of 14 Little Tower Street, City of London, wholesale tea dealer, now of 3 Amelia Place, New Cross, out of business.

David Morse’s wife Charlotte died in 1870 and the 1871 census records him as a pensioner living at Morden College, a charitable institution in Blackheath.  Morse died in Peckham in 1880 aged 78.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
British Newspaper Archive  also  available via Findmypast e.g. Weekly True Sun 1 December 1839; City Chronicle 1 December 1840, 12 October 1841; Morning Herald 15 August 1840.
London Gazette 8 November 1861.


04 July 2023

Charles Daniels – an ex-soldier sent adrift upon the world

In late May 1839 a former East India Company soldier, weak from hunger, applied to Bow Street magistrates for assistance.  Charles Daniels, described as sickly and emaciated, said that he had served as a private in the Company’s Bengal European Regiment for sixteen years and seven months.  He had been declared unfit for active service and sent home to England, arriving at East India Docks about twelve days earlier.  To corroborate his story, he produced his discharge certificate showing his good character and reporting that the vision in his left eye was impeded and he had an enlarged liver and spleen.

Charles Daniels's application to Bow Street magistrates London Courier and Evening Gazette 30 May 1839Charles Daniels's application to Bow Street magistrates London Courier and Evening Gazette 30 May 1839 British Newspaper Archive

Having no relations or friends to help him and with no money for a night’s lodging, Daniels had gone to East India House to enquire whether anything could be done for him, and whether his service entitled him to a pension.  He was given three shillings ‘marching money’ and told that nothing more would be forthcoming.  The workhouse in the parish of St Giles in London, where his father had lived for many years, had turned him away.

Magistrate Mr Thiselton expressed surprise that the East India Company had sent Daniels adrift upon the world, with a constitution broken down in its employment.  He directed that a letter should be written on Daniels’ behalf to the overseer of St Giles and granted him a small sum from the office poor box to tide him over.

Charles Daniels enlisted in June 1822 at Westminster, aged 20, and arrived in India in January 1823.  After serving with the Bengal European Infantry, he was sent in 1829 to join the European Infantry Invalids at Chunar.  He was afterwards stationed at Buxar.  In October 1838 the Bengal Army decided to send him to Europe, and he was not recommended for a pension.

Entry for Charles Daniels in the Bengal Army muster rolls 1837-1838Charles Daniels in the Bengal Army muster rolls 1837-1838 British Library IOR/L/MIL/10/159

On 4 June 1839, Daniels wrote to the East India Company asking for relief, ‘having no prospect of supporting himself’.  He wrote again on 6 November 1839 requesting that he be allowed to rejoin his regiment as he was now ‘in perfect health and a ‘fit and able soldier’.  Both petitions were rejected.  In June 1840 he applied for prize money and was granted 4s 11d for the Burmese Campaign.

What the newspapers and Company documents fail to tell us is that Charles Daniels had left a wife and children in India.  He married Catherine Griffiths, a pupil of the Lower Orphan School, on 23 May 1825 at Fort William Calcutta.  Catherine was born on 25 April 1810, the daughter of Morgan Griffiths, a soldier in the Bengal Artillery.  The couple had at least four children: William (born 1830, died 1832); Charles (born 1834, died 1842); Sarah Maria (born 1837, died 1838); Margaret (born 28 February 1839).

Catherine Daniels stated that she was a widow when she married John Shillcock, a pensioned Company sergeant, at Buxar on 3 January 1843.  It seems that they had two children, Martha and Henry, who both died in infancy.  John Shillcock died at Chinsurah in September 1855 aged 54.

The last mention I have found of Charles Daniels dates from 6 May 1842 when he received a duplicate discharge certificate from the Company.  I don’t know what happened to Catherine and her daughter Margaret. Can any of our readers help?

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
British Newspaper Archive e.g. London Courier and Evening Gazette 30 May 1839.
Service records for Charles Daniels: British Library IOR/L/MIL/9/41; IOR/L/MIL/10/146-160; IOR/L/MIL/17/2/287.
Discharge certificate for Charles Daniels British Library IOR/L/MIL/10/301.
Petitions of Charles Daniels to the East India Company: British Library IOR/L/MIL/2/92, 98 & 106.
Marriage of Charles Daniels and Catherine Griffiths: British Library IOR/N/1/13 f.591.
Baptism of Catherine Griffiths: British Library IOR/N/1/8 f.292.
Marriage of Catherine Daniels and John Shillcock: British Library IOR/N/1/64 f.118.
The baptisms. marriages and deaths referred to in the story can all be found in the IOR/N/1 series which has been digitised by Findmypast.