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20th April 2004William Seymour, 80th Foot, kia Isandlwana
By Peter Ewart
Some people have all the luck, don't they?

Helping a friend and neighbour sort out his family tree, I latched on to two or three who appear to have served in Qn Victoria's army, with one (possibly two) brothers apparently KIA somewhere plus a father who is also believed to have served, all according to family tradition. An apparently post-1881 portrait of a soldier with a Staffs Regt badge certainly didn't fit with a so-called Crimean War service & John Young has helped me on some of the features in this photo.

Today my friend phones me and says the Staffs Regt museum in Lichfield have confirmed that his relative, a William Seymour, was "killed at a place called Mount Isandlwana - have you heard of it, Pete?" Where do I start, other than by telling him to clear his diary for the rest of his life and to appreciate how lucky he is?

Anyway, going by the various published rolls I have, we seem to be looking at Shoesmith William Seymour, 80th Foot & attached to No 1 Sqn, Imperial Mounted Infantry, kia 22 Jan 1879 (acks to Tavender, Young, Whybra etc) & no doubt a mate of Westwood, Wassall VC, etc.

The surviving portrait mentioned above is almost certainly William's brother "Harry" & JY has already identified the 77/78/79 medal & the Khedive Star on his chest. It sees they served in the same regiment and the same campaign and I know the various companies of the 80th were split up for much of the campaign, mostly in the north, at Newscastle/Utrecht, then the Sekukuni trip, then Derby & of course the Intombi debacle.

Is anyone with access to a complete campaign medal roll able to confirm Harry Seymour's presence, please? I'm aware of Hope's book on the 80th Regt's medals etc, but do I recall seeing a ref somewhere to an account of the reg't in the AZW campaign? His service record in WO97 will be dug out eventually. Did the 80th serve in the Transvaal in 80/81?

I shall flick through my library to glean what I can on the mounted infantry in early 79 (I think The Sun Turned Black discusses it) but if anyone can recommend any published material providing short cutsor mentions I'd be grateful, just so that I can demonstrate later this week when I see him what a jammy chap he is.

Many thanks to all for any help.

20th April 2004AMB

675 (695, variation on medal roll) SEYMOURE Jmes Henry, Pte. (No DoB) born Parish: St Johns. Town: Manchester. Enlisted at Lichfield on 13/05/76. aged 18 yrs. Ht 5 ft 1/2 ins. Complexion fair, eyes brown, light brown hair. Trade: Labourer. Joined Regt 13/6/77 at Cape of Goood Hope. Attached 1st Sqn MI. KIA 22/01/79.
The Zulu War & The 80th Regt of Foot by Robert Hope.
Churnet Valley Books. ISBN 1-89479-24-3.
Staffs Museum must still have copies of this 1997 book. Book gives full account of 80th Regt throughout the Zulu War.

I hope this helps.

20th April 2004Martin Everett
I can give you Robert Hope's contact details, as my great grandfather crossed the River Alma with 38F - as I did 149 years to the day. Robert has also written up the 38F in the Crimea.

21st April 2004Julian Whybra
AMB is mistaken - I believe Hope has confused his entry in his book regarding Seymour. It was 19-675 Sh-Smith William Seymour who was killed at Isandhlwana.
The brother [James] Henry may well have been in the 80th. I have checked the pay rolls and muster lists for the 80th IMI detachments and there is no other Seymour so detached. He must have stayed with his coy.
21st April 2004Peter Ewart
Thank you Andy, Martin & Julian - I'm very grateful to all of you (and so is my friend!)

The details quoted above from Robert Hope's book immediately threw up a discrepancy regarding the christian names of the Isandlwana casualty, with Hope differing with Tavender, JY and Julian. It looks, at the moment (and after Julian's comment above) that Hope may be in error with the name of the Isandlwana casualty, but the mistake is not Andy's as he has only reported on what is published in Hope's account. It is interesting that, between you, you have both highlighted an anomaly which will only be corrected with further research. At present I suspect that James Henry was, indeed, a brother and that he served in the regiment in the AZW (or, at least, in S Africa) but - as Julian points out - was not among those transferred from the 80th to the IMI.

Apparently, very little genealogical reseach has been accomplished yet but family tradition has it that both "Willie" and "Harry" both died young in army service. The portrait showing a Staffs Regt soldier in 1880s/90s uniform wearing SA medal, Egypt medal & Khedive Star is presumably, therefore, "Harry" whom either Hope or the regimental museum's collections have confused with William.

Discrepancies such as these are inevitable in all published works, given the anomalies and omissions in medal rolls, regimental returns & compiled lists of any nature, so it is fun to try to get to the bottom of it all. We shall sort it out & I suspect the newspaper covering Lichfield will assist at around the time news was arriving in Staffordshire of local men involved, say around Feb/Mar/April.

Martin, I'd be very grateful for Robert Hope's contact details, as offered. Many thanks.


21st April 2004Julian whybra
I forgot to mention that the Zulu war memorial to the men of the 80th in Lichfield gives Wm Seymour NOT Jas Henry.
Also I recall that I mentioned once to Hope that there was an error re Seymour's Xian name in his book which I believe he said he'd realised.
21st April 2004Julian whybra
Peter, I too would like Hope's contact e-mail (I can't find it!!) as I promised to pass on to him some info re the detachments to 2nd Squadron IMI which I've been reseaching.
22nd April 2004Peter Ewart
Thanks for that too, Julian. My friend was on holiday in Lichfield last week when he visited the museum - but didn't know about the memorial in the cathedral! Not to worry, as I've told him the rest of his life started this week, his learning curve is on the up and he'll certainly be going back. I've also let him know that, as night follows day, sooner or later the battlefield itself will draw him - he saw his first picture of it today.

One or two other points come to mind, and if anyone wants to help or make a suggestion I'd be very grateful:

(a) Is there a specific known date when Carrington's Horse or MI became known as the IMI? Perhaps when the AZW preparations were being made in late 78? Or earlier, in the Transvaal or at the Cape/9th Frontier War?

(b) Of the 120 IMI with the Column, 20 (or possibly 21) did not accompany Chelmsford on the 22nd. Is there a reason recorded anywhere for this? Or is it assumed that a proportion was simply left behind as a nominal force as part of the hurried decision which also split most of the other units?

(c) The mounted force which Capt Gardiner organised to go out to assist in the donga apparently contained about 30 or so mounted men, mostly colonial but also IMI. Given that several colonial units (or parts thereof) were included in this figure, it seems unlikely that very many of the 20 or 21 IMI were involved. Is either the presence or the actions on the day of any of the others mentioned or recorded in any survivors' accounts, please? (I've skimmed the indexes of all my published works but may have missed some after lending several to my mate & have relied on secondary sources only).

(d) On p222/3 of Ron Lock & Peter Quantrill's "Zulu Victory", Lt Hillier, NNC, is recorded as noting that Melvill's & Coghill's bodies "lay behind the bodies of two soldiers, where they had made a stand." Not unnaturally, given that they had reached that far [and were presumably wearing ordinary red tunics?], the authors suspect the couple may well have been IMI. The authors make the point that no-one bothered to record their unit nor make subsequent enquiries as to their possible identity. Do none of the other accounts of members of this party mention these two? (Presumably if they'd been 24th men, the very obvious green facings on their uniforms would have been instantly recognisable to anyone who'd been in that in column & who had also come out to FD from RD itself?)

That's enough for now. Thank you to any & all for any ideas & help - please don't hesitate to correct any wrong assumptions above. That now makes four of my friends living in adjacent villages a mile or so away who now know they had relatives in the AZW (all different units & no connection), two of them killed at Isandlwana - and yesterday another mate said he had a family photo of a relative whom he recalls being told had been "Zulu bashing out in Africa", so there could be another one yet. I'm beginning to feel a bit left out. We're thinking of starting a society - but on the other hand, perhaps not ...

23rd April 2004Julian Whybra
To answer your questions...
First, as i recall, the 80th Zulu memorial is outside the cathedral in the square.
(a) the exact date of the transformation of the MI into the IMI is not exactly known - it stems from the date of Russell's appointment - I know this to have occurred by 22.9.1878 - the actual date may well be the first of the month , i have yet to prove this.
(b) 120 men were with the IMI - 21 were at Isandhlwana. 11 stayed behind because of illness, horse sickness, etc (incl. possibly Walsh's 4 men who returned to camp). They were joined by 10 IMI who acted as escort to Gardner's party when they returned to camp.
(c) answer to follow - but I do not believe that any of Bradstreet's party were IMI.
(d) Interesting - in that I've been working on this myself - all I've been able to find is that one of the two soldiers was referred to as 'Williams' (straight off the press this) and no more.
23rd April 2004Julian whybra
(c) No, I've checked the single IMI survivor's account and the accounts of those who escaped with IMI - they do not seem to have been with Bradstreet's party.
23rd April 2004Peter Ewart

Many thanks - and again, I'm very grateful. All this helps me to explain to my friend the various possibilities, likelihoods and limitations on knowing what happened to his kinsman.

Although it will not yet mean a great deal to him until he has a rough grasp of the unfolding battle, his present (compulsory)reading will help. It has been an instructive experience for me, too, in explaining to someone intensively and enthusiastically (how else on such a topic?) but at the moment, of necessity, very generally.

And my own understanding of the IMI, hitherto fairly sketchy as a result of neglect, is improving. I found the description of their appearance etc by Lock & Quantrill in "Zulu Victory" extremely interesting & helpful.

Thank you, too, for the location of the memorial. Perhaps there are two, as I find a description by David Glynne Fox on 21 Oct 2002 (on an rdvc thread begun on 18 Oct 2002 under "80th, South Staffordshire") describing an impressive AZW memorial in the south transept of the cathedral. I don't yet know whether Wm Seymour appears on this as well.

24th April 2004John Young

The memorial is most certain inside Lichfield Cathedral, I would best describe as an ornate piece of wrought ironwork.

Five metal Zulu shields set upon railings which were are made up of spears. The casualties' names appear on the lacing of each shield.

John Y.
24th April 2004Julian Whybra
There is also a stone obelisk outside the cathedral in the square with the names on.
Exit by the main door, turn right and you'll see it about 60 yds ahead of you.
The best description of the IMI is in Newnham-Davis's The Transvaal under the Queen - I used and added to this for my article on and roll of the IMI in SOTQ, Issue 58/9 January 1990.
24th April 2004Julian whybra
PS After the article's publication, one more IMI survivor, the 21st, came to light - Pte. Gascoigne - who appears in England's Sons.
Typos to the article appeared in Issue 60.