Update September 04: A few updates of detail. A major rework coming.
When my father found a document written by his father outlining some names and dates of his ancestors, it filled in a few gaps in my research, but also provided a mystery. Two of his uncles were stated as having been out in the East, one died on his way home, and another died at a place called ‘Blessery, East Indies’. All reference to contemporary and modern atlases failed to track this place down. No Blessery exists or used to exist in India or what is now known as the East Indies. And so my research seemed to come to an end.
However as a result of my posting the mystery on this web site, I was contacted by someone who found the record of a death of a John Kendall in Bellary, India at about the same date. He was stated as being a Sergeant in the 63rd Regiment of Foot. Further investigation revealed that the 63rd had served in Australia, and the muster records showed that there was not one but 3 Kendalls in the regiment at that time. What’s more the Christian names of the 2 other Kendalls matched 2 of John’s brothers: James and Thomas. This surely could not be coincidence, and possibly showed that this was indeed my Ancestor. Further research and comparison of dates of birth did in fact confirm this.
This then is the biography of those three brothers of my Great-Great Grandfather: Thomas (1805-1847), John (1807-1845), and James Kendall (1812 - After 1852). All three served with the H.M. 63rd Regiment of Foot and travelled to the other side of the world firstly to New South Wales, Australia and then to India and Burma, variously suffering tragedy and disgrace, only one returning to England alive.
The movements of the 3 brothers with H.M. 2nd, 4th and 63rd Regiments of Foot between 1825 and 1852
Thomas was the eldest of the three and seems to have led the least eventful life, possibly only because we know the least about him. He was born on 2nd Jan 1805 in Great Oxendon on the Leicestershire/Northamptonshire border. I don’t know anything about his early life, but at the age of 21 he enlisted in the 2nd Regiment of Foot on the 26th February 1826 at Kettering and proceeded to the Regimental garrison at Canterbury. However he didn’t remain long with the 2nd for on 25th August he transferred to the 63rd Regiment of Foot, in which his brother John was already serving. At that point the 63rd were in Windsor having just transferred from Ireland, so on the 4th September Thomas made the 65 mile journey from Canterbury to join them.
The ship on the right is possibly the 74 gun H.M.S. Melville which transported the 63rd Regiment to Portugal in 1827.
This picture, by an unknown British naval officer, shows the ships about the time of the surveying of Graham Island South West of the Scilly Isles in 1831, shortly after it appeared, and shortly before it disappeared again.
picture reproduced courtesy of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, UK
Late in 1826 the worsening situation between Portugal and Spain had caused the 63rd to be ordered to proceed to Portugal, and consequently on 21st December the Regiment embarked on-board H.M.S. Melville, a ship of 74 guns, for Portugal, arriving in the Targus off Lisbon after Christmas on the 29th. The weather was so severe that the Melville lost the rest of the fleet, so one can only imagine that the soldiers of the 63rd had a pretty miserable Christmas.
The Regiment disembarked on the 1st January 1827 and took up quarters in the Convent de Graza. It was formed into a brigade with the 11th and 43rd under the command of Major-General Sir Thomas Arbuthnot, and thereafter did a short tour of Portugal, being in Lisbon in January, Alemquer in February, Thomar in April, Santarem in July and Belem in September where it remained until it embarked for England in April 1828, again on the Melville. The 63rd’s time in Portugal had been pretty quiet as the suspected trouble did not happen, in large part due to the presence of the British Army there.
In 1829 the Regiment received orders to proceed to New South Wales as guards on convict ships. The headquarters of the regiment sailed to Sydney in the ship Catherine Stewart Forbes, the rest of the regiment on other convict ships. After having landed their convicts the regiment were garrisoned at Parramatta near Sydney whilst awaiting transport to to ”Van Dieman’s Land” (modern-day Tasmania) where they were to relieve the 40th Foot. The headquarters of the Regiment eventually transferred to Hobart town, Tasmania in 1830
For the first 4 months of 1832 Thomas was sent on detachment to New Norfolk near Hobart, and in December was sent on detachment to Port Arthur presumably to the penal settlement where the Regiment’s assistant surgeon had been the first
commandant (see picture).
Port Arthur, Van Diemen’s Land by John James Russell.
Dr John Russell was the Assistant Surgeon of the 63rd Regiment of Foot and the first Commandant of the penal settlement at Port Arthur from September 1830 to July 1831.
Picture reproduced courtesy of WL Crowther Library, State Library of Tasmania
In 1833 the 63rd were on the move again, this time to India. They transferred there sometime before June 1834, and appear to have been stationed in Fort St George in Madras. In April 1838 the entire Regiment boarded the Resolution and transferred to Moulmein in present-day Burma to relieve the 64th. It remained there until September 1842 when they returned to Madras aboard the Lord Elphinstone. During the Regiment's stay in Burma Thomas served away from the main Regiment in Tavoy just down the coast being posted there sometime before April 1841 and returning to the Regiment at Moulmein on 28th October of the same year.
He remained a Private, and when the Regiment returned home from Madras in April 1847 Thomas embarked with them. They returned on four ships: The Larkins, which arrived in Gravesend on 28th August, The London which arrived on 11th August, The Wellington which arrived 29th August and The Lady Flora which arrived on 3rd September. I don’t know which of the four ship Thomas sailed on, but sadly he didn’t make it home, for he died at Sea on 17th July 1847.
His younger brother John Kendall was born on 19th December 1807 in Great Oxendon and died in Bellary, India in 1845. It seems that he was the conscientious one of the three and was the first to enlist in the Army, doing so at the age of 16 at Kettering on 31st January 1825 into the 63rd Regiment of Foot.
The 63rd Regiment had been formed in 1758 from the 2nd Battalion of the 8th King's Regiment. It would have a long and distinguished history taking part in the Seven Years war (Guadaloupe), the American War of Independence (Bunker Hill and Charleston), The Napoleanic Wars and The Crimean War (Inkerman and Sevastopol), until amalgamation with the 96th Regiment of Foot in 1881 to form The Manchester Regiment, which, in 1958, would become The King's (Liverpool and Manchester) Regiment, becoming the The King’s Regiment in 1968
At that time the regiment was stationed in Newry, Ireland so he made his way to Dublin and on the 7th April started the 50 mile march to Newry arriving there on the 11th when he formally joined the regiment. The next year was spent touring Ireland on the orders of the Lord Lieutenant, presumably to deal with disturbances of the local population. On 26th of August the Regiment marched the 126 miles to Castlebar in the West of Ireland reaching there on the 6th of September, proceeding a few days later to nearby Foxford. They remained there until 22nd February the following year (1826) when they marched the 101 miles to Buttevant in the South of Ireland, eventually reaching Cork in March. In May they took a turn of guard duty on a hulk at the Cove of Cork, before proceeding in June back to England for a period at Windsor.
Thereafter John proceeded with the Regiment to New South Wales and then Madras where he was in 1834 with the rank of Private. However in March 1835 John became Acting Corporal subsequently being promoted to full Corporal on 4th January 1837.
He was married on 27th September in 1837 at the age of 30 in St Mary's Church in Fort St George (the oldest Protestant church East of Suez) to Catherine Smith a spinster of European origin. His brother Thomas was a witness at the marriage. Catherine was born in about 1824 which makes her only 13 or 14 at the time. However marriage at such a young age was not uncommon at that time, this was partly due to regimental practice of not supporting children after the age of 14, at which point they were generally married off by their parents.
When the Regiment moved to Moulmein sometime between 1837 and 1839 John went with them, and on 12th July 1839, whilst there, he was promoted to Sergeant.
On 6th January 1843 when John was 36 and Catherine 19, they were married again, this time in the Roman Catholic church in Madras. This may have been to reaffirm their marriage or possibly because they had changed their faith. The latter was not unusual since Protestant marriages were not recognised by the Roman Catholic church. The records show that he was stationed in St Thomas' Mount near Madras, it is unclear why, because generally only Artillery Regiments were stationed there. At this marriage he is also said to be a corporal, so either he was demoted between April 1842 and January 1843, or it is a clerical error.
In any case two years later John and Catherine had twin daughters: Mary Ann and Catherine Margaret, both born on 26th May 1845 and baptised into the Roman Catholic faith. John was a sergeant when his daughters were christened so it seems that he was promoted again between 1843 and 1845. However any joy at the birth of the twins was short-lived, for on 14th August of the same year Catherine died at the age of 21, then on 27th August Mary Ann died at the age of 3 months. John then died on the 4th November of Cholera aged 38, leaving his only surviving daughter, Catherine Margaret, aged 6 months. There was a particularly large orphanage in Madras and it is possible she went there or there was a Roman Catholic orphanage at St Thomas's Mount so I'll try and get information from both these two.
The youngest brother of the three, James, seems to have had the most eventful life. He was born on 18th September 1812 again in Oxendon, even though his military records show 'Axton', Leicestershire; however as no Axton exists this can only be assumed to be a clerical error.
He is described as being 5 feet 6 1/2 inches high, dark brown hair, dark hazel eyes, a fair complexion and his face rather pock marked.
He first enlisted in the 4th (Kings Own) Regiment of Foot at Northampton on 21st February 1831 aged 18 years 6 months. In 1831 the Regiment received orders to proceed to Tasmania and between the 17th and 26th of March James made the 102 mile march from Northampton to Chatham. They embarked from Sheerness on the 25th of July providing the guard on a number of convict ships transporting criminals to the Penal Colonies of Australia. The ship were: The Surrey, The Asia, The Larkins, The Strathfieldsaye, The Jane, The William Glen Anderson and the Lord Lynedock. The latter is the ship which carried James.
Many of the convicts they were guarding were what would today be regarded as petty criminals. Some of them had been convicted of theft, such as Charles Pinfold an 18 year old labourer from Deeping Fen in Lincolnshire who had been sentenced to 7 years for stealing “a blue cloth coat, a purple and scarlet silk shawl, a black silk cloak and a pair of ribbed child's cotton stockings”. He was imprisoned on the Lord Lynedock and it is therefore possible that he was known to James.
The Lord Lynedock arrived in Tasmania on the 18th November 1831 having taken just over 2 months and three weeks. Although the Regiment was thereafter stationed at Launceston, it seems that James spent the remainder of the year and the first three months of 1832 on board the convict ship Lord Lynedock, presumably it was being used as a floating prison whilst
accommodation was being prepared ashore, probably at Port Arthur.
The Penal Settlement of Port Arthur, Van Diemen’s Land from a sketch in the 1840s by Charles Staniforth Hext, a Captain in the 4th Kings Own Regiment in which James Kendall served.
Picture reproduced courtesy of WL Crowther Library, State Library of Tasmania
On 1st April 1832 he transferred from the 4th King’s Own Regiment to the 63rd Regiment of Foot in which his two brothers John and Thomas were serving. He may have moved to be with his brothers, or just to get off the hulk.
However, I'm sure that Conscientious John cannot have been too pleased with having this brother in the same Regiment, as James’ disciplanary record deteriorated badly: he was court martialled four times and committed another 27 punishable offences!
The first was on 5th August 1833 when he was sentenced to 20 days solitary confinement at a Regimental Court Martial in Hobart Town for being drunk on duty.
The second offence nearly two years later was tried at Fort St George, Madras on 19th May 1835. The offence was recorded as ‘absent without leave, disgraceful conduct, striking a peon and making away with part of his Regimental Clothing’. He was found guilty by General Court Martial and sentenced by Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Callaghan to 6 months solitary imprisonment, forfeiture of all claim to a pension on discharge and all his additional pay whilst serving. In addition a maximum of two thirds of his daily pay was stopped until he had paid for the articles of his Regimental clothing (namely ‘one pair of cloth trowsers and two regimental coats’) which had gone missing - given his character I presume he sold them.
The severity of the sentence seems to be accounted for by the crime of striking a peon. Peon has several meanings, but in this instance seems to have been the junior native police officer who was on guard outside the police station at the time James was being handed over from the Civil to the Regimental authorities. Angry, or frustrated, at his arrest, James took a swing at him as was being escorted out of the station. This assault on the police force seems to have been regarded very seriously.
However it seems that James didn't learn from his mistakes, for he was tried by regimental court martial for a third time on 3rd October 1836 at Fort St George Madras. He was found guilty of disgraceful conduct and absence without leave, and sentenced to 21 days solitary confinement which he served between the 4th and 24th of October 1836.
Something then had an effect on his behaviour since the fourth trial was over ten years later when the regiment had returned to Chatham in the UK. In the intervening period his brother John had been a sergeant in the regiment, which probably either served to make James behave himself, or John was able to make allowances for his wayward younger brother and cover up his misdemeanours.
However after John’s death, and then the death of his older brother Thomas on the voyage home - possibly on the same ship - it seems that he went back to his old ways. Its tempting to think that he was stricken with grief for the recent death of Thomas and took to drink. The end result however was another Regimental Court Martial on 9th October 1847. The offence was breaking out of his barracks to which he had been confined as punishment for a previous misconduct (drunkenness and absence from evening parade) and not returning until the following morning; he was sentenced to 40 days imprisonment with hard labour.
Thereafter he didn’t really recover, and he committed a chargeable offence every few months. In all there were 31 separate charges listed against him between 1833 and 1852. They ranged from being drunk on duty to absence from dinner roll and impertinence to a superior officer, and he was described as "...a man of very bad conduct."
By the end of 1852 the regiment was back in Ireland in Dublin, and James had spent a month in the General Military Hospital there suffering with a tumour over the right hip which, it seems, greatly hindered the movement of his body. On the 15th October the Principal Medical Officer consequently declared him unfit for future service.
The Assistant surgeon of the 63rd wrote that in James’ 12 years in India he had not suffered much from disease, and that the present complaint and his length of service had contributed to his inability to serve as a soldier. He adds that the tumour did not originate from vice but was the result of ‘constitutional causes’.
Having consulted a surgeon friend it would seem that the tumour was most probably a benign swelling of the hip due to arthritis, fluid collection or degenerative change from to wear and tear. It is possible that the swelling was a soft tissue cancer above the hip but unlikely as these are often locally aggressive and likely to have killed off James within six years. Her guess is that the “constitutional” reference is more of a statement of "don't know". If there was a family history, injury, or another reason for the swelling that the army was willing to state as being relevant then they would be more specific. It seems that they couldn't or wouldn't.
He was discharged from Her Majesty’s 63rd Regiment of Foot in Dublin on 17th September 1852 aged 40 years at the end of his 21 years service. He stated that his intended place of residence was Liverpool and his trade was a blacksmith. What happened to him after that I don’t know, but my great grandfather’s (F.R. Kendall) family history researches suggest that he died in Burslem, Staffordshire. Two companies of the 63rd had served there in 1850, so it is possible that James knew the town and had formed some attachment there.
Due to his General Court Martial James did not receive a pension, a harsh treatment for someone who served so long and probably would not be able to make a good living due the effects of the rigours of his service.
James was the only surviving brother of the three, and John’s daughter, Catherine Margaret, could possibly be the only descendent of any of them. I hope that she survived as the last remaining testament to her father’s and her uncles’ years of adventure and suffering. - apparently not, see ‘3 Brothers and a Son’
For completeness I might add that Thomas, James and John had three more brothers: William who was born on 18th June 1803 and died 5th April 1856 in London. He is buried in Abney Park Cemetery, London
Joseph who was born on 12th July 1815 in Oxendon and died on 14th February 1840 in Oxendon.
And lastly my Great Great Grandfather Francis Burdett Kendall born in 1810. See my Genealogy Pages for more details about him.
As a late footnote, in the 1851 Census of London, there is living with William in London a nephew, William, aged 10 who was born in India! This must be a son of one of the 3 brothers. Sadly William then disappears from the written record in the UK. Did he die, go back to India or join the army? I have more research yet to do. - I have now done some of this research and you can read it in ‘3 Brothers and a Son’
- 63rd Muster records, Public Records Office, Kew
- Discharge record for John Kendall, Public Records Office Kew
- Peter Donnelly, King Own Museum (4th),
- David Hopkins, Museum of the Manchester Regiment (formerly 63rd)
- Michael Keane, Archivist, Tameside Local Studies & Archives Unit
- Lincolnshire archives:
- State Library of Tasmania. http://images.statelibrary.tas.gov.au
- Australian shipping: http://www.blaxland.com/ozships
- History of the 63rd (West Suffolk) Regiment, Major James Slack, 1884. The Society of Genealogists, London.
- The 63rd Regiment of Foot (West Suffolk) In Australia 1829 – 1833
Unpublished manuscript by Edmund D.H. Flack © 2003