In my last blog I argued that this “survivor postscript” should be removed from Wikipedia’s Charge of the Light Brigade entry, because no one of that name rode in the Charge. Moreover, I had even “come to doubt that James Bosworth was ever a station-master at Northam… on the now-closed Bideford, Westward Ho! and Appledore Railway in North Devon”, and that there was definitely no memorial to him in Northam, Devon.
But now I have to eat some humble pie.His name wasn’t James, and he certainly didn’t charge. But he did fight in the Crimea, he was a station-master, and he was killed by a train.
Yes, I’d looked hard, but not hard enough. I searched for “James Bosworths” all over the place, and also for “Northams” (and cognates such as “Northiam”, in Sussex), and drawn a blank everywhere. So I’d assumed that was it. <em>QED</em>.
But what if there was yet another, as yet undiscovered Northam, that also had a railway station? And what if his name wasn’t James?
There was, it did, and his given name was in fact John. I owe this information to a correspondent, Nick Miller, who was kind enough to disabuse me without condescension:
“This person is in fact John Hacker Bosworth, and he was indeed station master at Northam Station, but in Southampton, not Devon. He was killed by being run over by a locomotive in 1882, oddly enough on 25 October, which may be where the Balaklava connection got made.
The story was all over the papers at the time – have a look in British Newspaper Archive using search words ‘Bosworth’ and ‘Northam’. A couple of good ones: Aldershot Military Gazette, 4 Nov 1882, and Portsmouth Evening News, 24 Nov 1882. There’s loads more. He was in the 12th Lancers, record available on Findmypast, born Ansty near Leicester about 1815, attested 25 Jul 1831, discharged Chatham 4 Dec 1855. He did indeed serve in the Crimea, but did not of course take part in The Charge.”
Thus armed, I quickly found some relevant articles. This one retracts what must have been an earlier claim that John Bosworth was a Charger:
(There is a detailed account of the tragedy in the <em>Hampshire Advertiser</em, 28th October 1882 , which I’ve added in a footnote.)
Just over a year later, the <i>Portsmouth Evening News</i> announced the erection of “handsome memorial stone”:
Nick also discovered that this was erected in Southampton Old Cemetery, plot number H 054 055, and followed up with a photograph he had found online:
“As far as I can see, the words visible in the photograph are not those of the ‘facetious’ verse. Maybe they’re on the other side? If not, their origin presents another intriguing mystery.”
Now he’s hoping to send his brother, who lives in Southampton, to check. It would be really good to know.