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26th December 2004Lt. Chard, VC, educated in Cheltenham?
By Nick Thornicroft
I have recently been doing some research into VCs with links to Gloucestershire, & in Sir Moore O'Creagh's book "The VC & the DSO", Lt. Chard is listed as being educated at "Plymouth New Grammar School, Cheltenham, and Woolwich". It almost seems "Cheltenham" should actually be "Devon", as I can find no other references to him being educated in Cheltenham. He was definitely NOT at Chelt. College. In another book I have read it says he was "educated privately", but no location is given. If anyone can shed new light on this mystery, I would be most grateful.

Many thanks. Nick.
27th December 2004Peter Ewart

I wonder if the statement that he was educated privately (presumably there is no source or clue to a source included?) appearing to conflict with the Plymouth New Grammar and Woolwich education, as well as the inclusion of Cheltenham when you can't find him there, appears to suggest, perhaps, that he may have gone through the common process of private "cramming" for a short - or shortish - period before entering the army.

This was a very common experience for those who had been to public school or a good grammar school, especially if they were preparing for exams, which, if he was hoping to go to "the Shop" at Woolwich, he would have been.

The cramming which went on for the preparation for army exams can be a bit puzzling. For example, the crammer seems often to have hads no military background, so the subjects on which the prospective candidate required brushing up were presumably ones in which he had shown insufficient prowess at school.

For example, the typical crammer of Victorian times was the C of E clergyman. Very many vicars took on pupils to augment their income, usually as lodgers, either for a few weeks or up to some months or more.

Lord Methuen, for example (as the then Hon Paul Sanford) one of the British generals in the 2nd ABW, spent much of 1862 here in Ash-next-Sandwich, a few miles east of Canterbury, in between his Eton period & entering the Scots Fusilier Guards, but neither his family nor the archivist who has custody of the Baron's papers were aware of this before I advised them. His crammer was a rural Old Etonian vicar who took in (mostly) Old Etonians. Another of his pupils here at that time was C. E. Luard, RE, the chap who later did his best to restore Durnford's reputation.

The sons of the Duke of Beaufort of Badminton, Glos, such as Lord Arthur Somerset, also came, later having military careers of varying success.

So I wonder if Chard's "private education", however brief, was in Cheltenham with a crammer for a period before Woolwich?

27th December 2004Nick Thornicroft
Hello Peter. Many thanks for your input. I believe I saw the reference to Chard being educated privately in the book which came out earlier this year, on the 125th anniversary,
which contained many different eye-witness accounts of Rorke's Drift. Chard's death was reported in a local Cheltenham newspaper, but it does not mention any earlier links with the town - something you would expect had it been known.

By coincidence, Chard's brother-in-law & sister, Captain & Mrs. Heycock, lived in Cheltenham & attended the funeral in Somerset, so I have another link here.

Your theory certainly makes sense, & there were a number of private tutors in Cheltenham during the 19th Century, as it was seen as a desirable place to be associated with. Hopefully some concrete evidence will turn up soon.

28th December 2004Graham Alexander
It was not uncommon for officers to have received a private education. I am unsure when it became compulsory for all children to attend school, but many better off Victorian parents chose to have their children educated by tutors. Lieutenant Milne was educated at home. Both Redvers Buller and Jahleel Carey received a partial private education. Captain Edward Essex and his elder brother Thomas, both received their education from a tutor. It may seem strange today, but the lack of a public school background did little to hinder the career of these officers.
28th December 2004Nick Thornicroft
Thanks Graham. The problem with the privately educated individuals is that no data is held publicly, so some of the info is uncorroborated. Chard's Cheltenham links remain elusive.

30th December 2004Martin Everett
Dear Nick,
I think I probably mentioned to you that a 2-volume publication sponsored by the MoD is being published later this year on VC and GC holders by Methuen. To get accurate information on each recipient for this publication has been very difficult. You would think it was easy because so much has been written about VC recipients in particular. However, most authors seem to take the obvious way out and copy detail from previously published works.

I do not have a copy of Chard's service record but this must exist in the National Archives at Kew. This statement of service was compiled from details submitted by the officer and signed by him as being accurate.

Please remember it was the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich (The Shop) until 1947 when this establishment merged with Sandhurst. Sandhurst up until 1947 was the Royal Military College.
1st January 2005Nick Thornicroft
Martin. I did not know of this book, so I will look out for it when it arrives. I'm going to the National Archives in the next couple of weeks, so I will see if Chard's service record is available.
Many thanks. Nick.