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DateOriginal Topic
24th March 2005Was he there?
By Neil Raaff
Hi All,

I have a bit of a poser for all of the medal collectors/researchers on this forum. My father aquired an SAGS some years ago named to "Lieut-Col J.L. Vivian, Raaff's Horse" (I think that is correct...will have to check with my brother as he has the medal).

As far as we can both tell the medal is named in the correct style and does not appear to have been skimmed at all. In saying the naming of the unit on the medal is peculiar - all examples I have seen have been to the "Transvaal Rangs".

However, there is no Lieut-Colonel Vivian on the roll for the Transvaal Rangers (Raaff's Horse) or the whole roll for that matter. There is a Trooper Vivian (no initials) listed on the roll though for the Transvaal Rangers.

I tried running "J.L. Vivian" through the search engines and up popped a Lieut-Col John Lambrick Vivian. He was an Inspector of Militia (in the UK I believe) and H.M. Superintendent of Police and Police Magistrate for St. Kitts, West Indies. More recently I checked the UK census for 1871 and 1881 but scoring hits for Vivian at the same address (the 1881 census listed his occupation as 'retired colonel').

When I mentioned to my father that Vivian had held a position in St Kitts he was quite surprised as Commandant Pieter Raaff of the Transvaal Rangers was allegedly offered a governmental position in St Kitts following the Zulu. However, Raaff declined the offer.

Could anybody shed any light on the movements of Vivian? Did he ever serve in South Africa? Was he a hanger-on with the unit and was he ever entitled to the medal?

Any information/speculation would be appreciated.


25th March 2005Ian Woodason

Like you I have been unable to find any details of service in SA 1879 for a Lt Col J L Vivian.

THe guy you mention, John Lambrick Vivian, was born Camborne, Cornwall, 1830.
Promoted to 'Superintendent of Police for the Island of St Christopher" (London Times 25th June 1859). Does not appear in any of my Army Lists (all 1879 and after) so I had assumed it was an island militia of which he was Lt Colonel - came with the territory, as they say. In later life wrote and published (1890s) a book of historical wills of Devon and Cornwall. He died London late 1896 - a predeceased wife (he was married either 2 or 3 times!) was buried in Highgate cemetery, so he might be there.

Sorry I can't shed any light on his AZW involvement (or not, as the case may be)- but if Pieter Raaff was offered a position in St Kitts post 1879 then it could have been through the offices of this John Lambrick Vivian.

Good luck!

Ian Woodason - Keynsham Light Horse - over 1,000 memorials and graves of veterans of the Anglo Zulu War of 1879 online - see 'links' from this site.
27th March 2005Neil Raaff

Thanks for your reply.

The medal does present some interesting questions...

Obviously it could be fake which would make our investigations rather pointless. However, as I mentioned before it appears to be correct (I will get some good pictures of it so if any of the experts would like a look please email me).

All other examples of Transvaal Rangers that I have seen/own have been named "Transvaal Rangs" (perhaps other forum members could confirm this). Could this suggest a late re-issue?

Assuming the Vivian on the medal roll is the man in question would a re-issued medal be issued with his current rank or the rank at the time of award (trooper?)?

I will speak to my father regarding the St Kitt's issue. Perhaps he has some more information on that.