Whatever happened to “Alma” & “Inkermann”?

Roger Fenton, “Colonel Brownrigg and the two Russian boys, Alma and Inkermann” (1855)


“Alma” and “Inkermann” (standing)

WHEN I SAW THIS IMAGE at the excellent “Shadows of War” exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery in November 2018, I couldn’t help wondering about the two little boys. Who are they? What are their real names? And, of course, what happened to them once the war was over?

Yet there was curiously little information in the caption to the photograph, or in the audio commentary, or in Sophie Gordon’s fine book that accompanies the exhibition.

Photograph of Colonel Brownrigg by the entrance to a tent with two young Russian boys called Alma and Inkermann. Colonel Brownrigg, wearing military uniform, sits on a metal chair facing partly left with his left hand resting on a gun. One boy sits on a log and the other stands beside him to the right with his right arm wrapped around a tent pole.

[Source: Royal Collection Trust: Roger Fenton, “Colonel Brownrigg and the two Russian boys, Alma and Inkermann, 1855. There is another (rather less intimate) Fenton photograph of Brownrigg here. ]

I have spent the last couple of weeks trying to find them.

Continue reading


Only connect…

After the distraction of the Referendum, I promised that my next blog would explain what links a pair of identical twin harpists, the Heavy Metal band Iron Maiden, historian Terry Brighton, the number of the Beast of the Apocalypse, a bottle of beer — oh, and the Charge of the Light Brigade. 

To start with, here are the identical twin harpists, Camille and Kennerly, The Harp Twins:


“The Harp Twins, the identical twin duo of Camille and Kennerly who have done dazzling renditions of metal classics from bands like Metallica, Nightwish and Megadeth, are back with another all-time classic: Iron Maiden’s The Trooper.” [Link: http://loudwire.com/the-harp-twins-cover-iron-maiden-the-trooper/?trackback=tsmclip%5D

Continue reading

James Bosworth vindicated – well, partly.


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. Continue reading

Was the unfortunate James Bosworth a Charger (as Wikipedia says)?

I suppose we all consult Wikipedia, and find it invaluable, even though we know it needs to be approached with a teeny bit of caution.

Notice, for example, the slightly facetious section at the end of its article on “The Charge of the Light Brigade”:

Survivor postscript

Years after the battle, James Bosworth, a station-master at Northam, aged 70, was run over and killed by a railway engine. In his younger days he was one of those who had fought at the Battle of Balaclava and sur vived. The English Illustrated Magazine states that he “surviv[ed] ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ at Balaclava”. His epitaph as listed below referenced both his presence at the battle and Lord Tennyson’s poem:

Though shot and shell flew around fast,
On Balaclava’s plain,
Unscathed he passed, to fall at last,
Run over by a train.


OK, the story may be mildly amusing – and it’s certainly been recycled by many a blogger looking for a laugh. (Google it and see for yourself, if you must.) But is it, er, true?

To start with, it’s worth noting that no “James Bosworth” has ever been listed has a Charger (or in the Light Brigade as a whole). That alone might be thought fatal to the story, but there’s more.

I’ve done my best to chart his career but with no success. I’ve even come to doubt that James Bosworth was ever a station-master at “Northam” (which was on the now-closed Bideford, Westward Ho! and Appledore Railway in North Devon). Neither is there any evidence (that I can find) that anybody with the name James Bosworth was ever run over and killed by a railway engine. Indeed, no “James Bosworth” can be found anywhere in any C19 Census living in Devon.

According to the Wikipedia article, the reference (to The English Illustrated Magazine, 1904-5) states that he “surviv[ed] ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ at Balaclava.”

Actually, it doesn’t. Even if you read only the linked clipping, it says he survived “The Charge of the Light Infantry Brigade at Balaclava.” Whatever that might have been, it wasn’t the rather-more-celebrated Cavalry Charge.

The Wiki article continues: “His epitaph… referenced both his presence at the battle and Lord Tennyson’s poem.”

Indeed it would have done, had there been such an epitaph. But sadly for “James Bosworth”, there is neither gravestone nor epitaph for him at Northam. (See David W. Gale’s magisterial “Northam Monumental Inscriptions” for confirmation, genuki.cs.ncl.ac.uk/DEV/Northam/MonumentalInscriptions/ (accessed 1.12.2015).)

In short, I’ve asked Wikipedia to drop the section. I’ll let you know if they do.

Do you know of any other examples of duff Crimea-related info online?

All best


PS A further note for obsessionals:

Thanks to the Hathi Trust you can view the whole of the English Illustrated Magazine article, on “Quaint Epitaphs”, at hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015056059804;view=1up;seq=573.

However, I have not been able to consult the other reference, which is to the snappily titled Elegies and Epitaphs: A Comprehensive Review of the Origin, Design, and Character of Monumental Inscriptions and of Other Necrological Literature, Etc, to which are Appended Fully 300 Epitaphs Or Mottoes, Classified to Suit Exigencies of Different Times of Life; Also, Dissertations Upon Ancient and Modern Cemeteries … Elegies and Epitaphs on Celebrated Persons, Latin and Musical Epitaphs, &c, by the admirably named Charles Box ( 1899). This will have to await a visit to the British Library (though not by me).

Who was “Captain Jack”, and was he really “One of the Light Brigade”?

A terrific (and very well-illustrated) article has just been published on the “Yesterday’s Papers” website about the Crimean War story, Captain Jack; or One of the Light Brigade. The article is by Robert J Kirkpatrick, author of From the Penny Dreadful to the Ha’penny Dreadfuller (2013 and other studies of Victorian popular literature

Roy and I have been trying to help Robert to establish whether Captain Jack’s author and publisher, George Emmett (and/or one of his brothers), was ever in the Light Brigade, and whether the Shot and Shell works, starring Captain Jack, were written (as was claimed) from direct experience.
Here’s the intro, to give you a flavour:


THE SERIAL Captain Jack; or One of the Light Brigade was a story about the Crimean War written by George Emmett and first published in The Young Englishman’s Journal in 1868. It was inspired by the success of publisher Edwin J. Brett whose Boys of England, launched in 1866, had become an extremely popular weekly boys’ story paper.

EMMETT BROTHERS. George was the eldest of five brothers who established their own publishing concern in London and for a few years were Brett’s greatest rivals. All five brothers — George, William, Henry, Thomas and Robert — wrote for their own papers, with George becoming the most prolific and the best-known.

GEORGE EMMETT. Captain Jack, which was also published in 21 weekly one-penny parts, was the first in a sequence of six war stories by George Emmett which were later grouped together as Shot & Shell. A Series of Military Stories. It was generally regarded as an authentic account of the Battle of Balaclava and the Charge of the Light Brigade, as well as being a vivid and powerful story. It had all the hallmarks of an eyewitness account, and it seems to have been accepted at the time that it was, indeed, based on personal experience. A contemporary of the Emmetts, fellow author and publisher John Allingham (better known by his pen name “Ralph Rollington”) wrote in his memoir A Brief History of Boys’ Journals (1913) that “George Emmett in his younger days was an officer in the Cavalry, and fought at the Battle of Balaclava, where he was wounded.”

George also suggested that he had been a cavalry officer present at the siege of Lucknow in the Indian Mutiny in 1857, as recorded in his story The King’s Hussars, A Tale of India, serialised in The Young Englishman’s Journal in 1869. Other sources repeat the claim that he had served in the army — reviews of his stories in the press occasionally referred to him as a soldier and a man who had seen active service, while a review of a third story, For Valour, or How I Won the Victoria Cross, referred to him as “an old Lancer” more…

The rest of the article, and a number of other articles about the Emmetts, can be viewed here:


Any further information anybody can provide will be highly prized. For example, does anyone have a copy of the text, particularly the Charge section? I would very much like to compare it to other accounts, particularly from eyewitnesses.

Oh, the rapture on spotting where these two Charger photographs were taken.

Here are two well-known and  rather wonderful images of (mainly) Chargers, photographed back in England in 1855. But in this case, look beyond the swagger, the splendid headgear, medals and the dandy pose conveying effortless ease (art historians call it contrapposto), and check what’s behind them – particularly the fine wrought iron-work supporting the verandah.

4th Light Dragoon, 1855. From left to right: Sgt David Gillam – Pte John Thomas Moon – Pte Healey Stratton – Pte William Simpson. (Royal Collection, Windsor)

4th Light Dragoon, 1855. From left to right: Sgt David Gillam – Pte John Thomas Moon – Pte Healey Stratton – Pte William Simpson. (Royal Collection, Windsor)

17th Lancers, 1855. From left to right: Thomas Smith - William Dimmock - William Pearson - Thomas Foster. (Royal Collection, Windsor)

17th Lancers, 1855. From left to right: Thomas Smith – William Dimmock – William Pearson – Thomas Foster. (Royal Collection, Windsor)

The backgrounds are the same, and the photographs were probably taken on the same day. But where? Well, now we know. Continue reading

A new wife for 1199 Sergeant Major John Allen, 13th Light Dragoons, and the birth of Canada.

It’s odd how some seemingly small genealogical find can generate a lot of new research and take you into some very unexpected places.

Last month the EJBA was contacted by Craig Smith, seeking further information about John Allen, a possible relative. John Allen, the son of an agricultural labourer from Berkshire, had enlisted in the 13th Light Dragoons in 1843, his horse was killed under him in the Charge at Balaclava in 1854, and he later served in Canada* (where one of his children was born). You can read his page on the Lives of the Light Brigade website here.

Very helpfully, Craig sent an image of a marriage registration he’d found dated 30 October 1877 for Martha Allen, aged 25, daughter of “John Allen, Sergeant Major 13th Light Hussars”.


The marriage of John Allen’s daughter Martha in Aberdeen in 1877. I have transcribed this on John Allen’s page on the Charge site.

This was particularly interesting because until now there was nothing in the EJBA about  any marriage John Allen might have contracted before the Crimean War – only of one between himself and Harriet Littleton afterwards, in Dublin in 1859. If she was 25 in 1877, Martha (this was also John’s mother’s name) must have been born around 1852. According to Census records, John Allen was at Piershill Barracks, Leith, Scotland in 1851, which is presumably where John and Martha’s mother Catharine (nee Morrison) met. Morrison is a very Scottish name.


John Allen, photographed in later life, when he was Troop Sergeant-Major to the Leek and Biddulph Queen’s Own Yeomanry.


It seems likely that Catharine died within a few years of marriage but I have not been able to find out anything more about her, or of Martha’s life before she married.


* Canada? Yes, quite a number of Crimea men spent time there.  John Allen probably went out to Canada in 1866, because of British fears at the end of the American Civil War (1861-5) of regiments of battle-hardened Fenians swarming over the border into Canada in the hope of forcing the British to concede an Irish Republic.

A fanciful depiction of the "Battle of Ridgeway", also known as the "Fenian Raid", 1866.

A fanciful depiction of the “Battle of Ridgeway”, also known as the “Fenian Raid”, 1866.

One such raid, the Battle of Ridgeway, took place around this date 149 years ago (1st – 3rd June 1866) – and will be commemorated by a huge re-enactment next year.

There were a number of such raids or invasions, but they were not a success. Indeed, they had the paradoxical effect of unifying Canadians against the USA (which was seen to have colluded, or at least turned a blind eye to the Fenians). In 1867, the year after the Battle of Ridgeway, the provinces joined in  a Confederation. Soon after, John Allen and his second wife Harriet, and their young children (one if them, Alice, born in Toronto) returned to England.

John and Harriet had five children together, and went on to run two pubs in Leek, Staffordshire. (He was also the Sergeant Major in the local Yeomanry.) The pubs are still there, though both have now been renamed:  the Swan Hotel has become the “Green Dragon” and the Queen’s Arms is now called “The Blue Mugge” .

Here are some references:






War as entertainment (2): Joseph Doughton with Wladislaw’s Mechanical Panorama, 1856

This blog follows on from the last, which covered Joseph Doughton’s time as a lecturer in “Hamilton’s Grand Moving Panorama of the War in Russia”. In August or September 1856, Doughton moved from Hamilton’s to another travelling show, “Wladislaw’s Mechanical Exhibition of the War in Crimea”. This was the company whose name on the title page of his 1856 memoir (the Narrative of Joseph Doughton, late of Her Majesty’s 13th Light Dragoons, one of the heroes wounded at Balaclava in the Gallant Cavalry Charge) has puzzled me for some time.


Doughton’s time at Wladislaw’s was brief and probably unhappy. He appeared in court a number of times, once because of  what may or may not have been the theft of one of his “trophies”, a Cossack gun he had brought back from the Crimea which he lent to the exhibition, and another time when he was locked in dispute with his employers – who fired him  in early December 1856 after only three months. It’s a revealing story. Continue reading

War as entertainment (1) – Joseph Doughton, 13th Light Dragoons, and the mid-Victorian travelling Panorama



On the title page of his memoir, Narrative of Joseph Doughton, late of Her Majesty’s 13th Light Dragoons, one of the heroes wounded at Balaclava in the Gallant Cavalry Charge, published in Birmingham in 1856, is an intriguing advert for “Wladislaw’s Exhibition of the Late War with Russia”. What was Wladislaw’s Exhibition like? Did Doughton work for Wladislaw’s? If so, what exactly did he do?

Until recently I didn’t have much of a clue. My first attempts to come up with anything didn’t amount to much, and I abandoned the search. Then, in April 2015, we were contacted from New Zealand by Rowan Gibbs. While researching the Hamilton family he had come across a number of references to Joseph Doughton’s frequent appearances as a lecturer not with Wladislaw’s but with a similar-sounding show – “Hamilton’s Grand Moving Panorama of the War with Russia”. Curiouser and curiouser.

Quite a number of the most personally rewarding pieces of research I’ve done in recent years have come after someone contacted  the EJBA with a query or new information. I love receiving these letters and emails. (Hint to readers: get in touch.) This is a case in point, so it’s worth starting with Rowan Gibbs’s initial letter. While researching the Hamilton family, proprietors of the Grand Moving Panorama, he had come across a number of references to Joseph Doughton in the years immediately after his return from the Crimea:

Doughton made appearances on stage with “Hamilton’s Grand Moving Panorama of the War with Russia” (also advertised as “Hamilton’s Grand Moving Panorama of the Seat of War”), giving a commentary on Russian trophies that were on display.

He was in Birmingham with the panorama in September 1855 (Aris’s Birmingham Gazette, 3 September 1855, p.3), “one of the wounded heroes of the gallant Cavalry Charge at Balaklava”. The panorama toured for several years and he may have toured with them, which would account for his moving around a lot.

He still seems to be with them in Northampton in March 1856 (Northampton Mercury, 22 March 1856 p.3; not named).

However he is not mentioned in Leeds in August 1856, and in 1857 they seem to have had another (unnamed) commentator, “one of the 11th Hussars”

(Blackburn Standard, 20 May 1857, p.2; Burnley Advertiser, 4 July 1857, p.2).

Over the last month a fairly intensive study of periodical press of the period has proved rather rewarding. Initially it seemed that Doughton was only linked with “Hamilton’s Grand Moving Panorama of the War with Russia”, but it then transpired that he had worked for Wladislaw’s as well, and indeed briefly for a third, “Lancaster’s Magnificent Panorama of the Late War”. His moves between rival shows is of some interest, and illuminates a number of aspects of nomadic popular entertainments immediately after the Crimean War.

I’ll focus this blog on Hamilton’s Grand Moving Panorama, and leave Joseph Doughton’s even more dramatic experiences with Wladislaw’s to next time.

Hamilton’s Grand Moving Panorama

Something of the nature of Hamilton’s Panorama, and of Doughton’s role in performances, can be seen in advertisements and the subsequent review published in the Leicester Journal in early February 1856:


Messrs HAMILTON beg to announce to the Gentry, Clergy, and Public of Leicester, the opening of their GRAND MOVING PANORAMA OF THE WAR WITH RUSSIA Illustrating the most important Places and Events on the Danube, the Baltic, and the Black Sea, to the Fall of Sebastopol.

A Descriptive Lecture will be given to the Panorama by JOSEPH DOUGHTON, late of Her Majesty’s 13th Light Dragoons, one of the Wounded Heroes in the Gallant Light Cavalry Charge at the Battle of Balaklava, under the Earl of Cardigan.

He will also exhibit his interesting collection of Russian Trophies, brought by himself from the Crimea.

The Panorama will be followed by a Magnificent Alpine DIORAMA OF THE CELEBRATED ASCENT OF MONT BLANC…

There will be two Exhibitions every Evening, the first commencing at Six o’clock, the second at a quarter past Eight. An Afternoon Exhibition on Wednesday, February 6th, at Three o’clock.

Reserved Seats, 1s 6d; Second Seats, 1s; Third Seats, 6d. Children, Half-price.

The Leicester Journal reviewed the Hamilton’s Panorama rather hyperbolically a week later, claiming that Joseph Doughton – a “highly intelligent and soldier-like young man” –  had been an artist before joining the army, that the images were derived from sketches he had made in situ, and that he had personally painted e.g. a scene in Scutari with Florence Nightingale. (All very odd as Doughton had given his occupation as “Miner” when he enlisted at the age of 19 in 1850 – a miner, born and brought up (so far as I can tell) in Hertfordshire?):

We dislike the use of superlatives [!], but truth and common honesty compel to use them commenting upon the merits of this exhibition. Considered simply as a panorama, it far superior the style of painting and mechanical effects to anything have ever seen out of London.

Many of the views were painted by Joseph Doughton, late of the 13th Light Dragoons, who formed one of the gallant 600 led by the Earl of Cardigan at the fatal charge Balaklava, where he was wounded. Mr Doughton, who we may remark, is highly intelligent and soldier-like young man, was an artist by profession before entering the army, and was thus every way qualified to sketch the stirring scenes in which he bore a part.

All the views were painted, he informs us, under his superintendence, and it impossible not to be struck by their life-like and spirited execution. As the varied phases of the struggle are presented before the eye, from the disembarkation of our troops Varna, to the fearful conflagration which rendered the Allies masters of Sebastopol, emotions of no common order are excited in the spectators.

At one period, the light and joyous step of the soldier from the transport deck on to the soil of the enemy, to the inspiriting sounds of “The Red, White, and Blue” fills the house with thunders of applause; anon, a solemn and subdued silence prevails, as the dead and wounded are borne from the battle-field to the plaintive notes of the Dead March. “The morning after the battle ” is, indeed, one of the most powerful of the tableaux presented, and, to our thinking, vividly realizes the account given by Mr Russell, of the Times, the pictorial ability of whose pen this exhibition has led us more than ever to admire.

Among others of the more striking views we may mention the great storm of 1854 in the Black Sea, the city of St. Petersburgh by moonlight, and Miss Nightingale in the hospital of Scutari, the last painted by Mr Doughton, who was himself an inmate of the hospital many weeks, and who speaks in the most glowing terms of the unceasing kindness he received from that excellent lady.

[Source: Leicester Journal, 8 February 1856.]

In common with numerous other shows, Hamilton’s was itinerant,  but appears sometimes to have stayed several weeks in a venue (often, it seems “Mechanics Institutes” or “Temperance Halls” rather than theatres). I have not attempted an exhaustive listing of appearances when Doughton is likely to have been present, but I quite quickly found references in local press to performances in Salisbury [or Winchester?] December 1854), Gloucester (March 1855), Cheltenham (April-May 1855). It is likely that Doughton left in August or September 1885 (as we shall see), but the show moved on to Leicester and then Nottingham (November 1856), Grantham (January 1857), and Sheffield (January 1857).

It’s not easy to know what the performances were like. They were certainly not the 360-degree static shows in permanent settings which we probably think of as “panoramas” or “dioramas”, some of which still exist today. The spectators were seated, the artwork unfolding (or rather unravelling from great rolls) in front of them. Music and and sound effects (including explosions) were vital to the experience, as was illumination.

I have yet to find any images of a travelling Panorama (though surely some must exist), and there seem to be few secondary sources  or scholarly studies. The best analysis I know of is Erkki Huhtamo’s study , “Global Glimpses of Local Realities: The Moving Panorama, a Forgotten Mass Medium of the 19th Century” (2002), which is mainly about the US but mentions the UK-based Poole’s and Hamilton’s Panoramas in passing.

In my next posting I’ll write a little more about the nature of the spectacle (including the destruction sometimes wrought by the explosions), and Joseph Doughton’s troublesome move to “Wladislaw’s Exhibition of the Late War with Russia”.