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Albert in India

Albert Jackson R.A.

Army Service : II.
The Indian Mutiny and after

Albert returned from the Crimea at last in July 1856, travelling on the SS Terrable (sic), a ship which had been requisitioned, like so many others, for wartime service. He was then stationed for a while at Woolwich under Captain Singleton, with the same officers as previously. It was October before he was allowed any leave. What he did then, from the 5th to the 21st, is not recorded but he could easily in that time have visited his parents who were still living in Templeton, Devon, and could also have fitted in a visit to his sister Emma and met his new brother-in-law, George Mason, in Burton Park in West Sussex as well. A trip into Sussex would probably have been even easier to make on his return since he was not reporting to Woolwich but to Hillsea, Portsmouth, on October 22nd. He had been listed as 'Gunner and Driver' in the Crimea. For some reason he was only recorded as a Gunner at Hillsea.

As Albert had signed on for a period of twenty years he had to be prepared to go wherever the army sent him. The Crimean War was barely ended when trouble blew up in India when the sepoys mutinied and the carnage that ensued meant reinforcements were needed as soon as possible. Briefly the Indians who for religious reasons could not eat pork had been required to 'bite the bullet' - literally. The bullets had to be greased before firing and as part of the process they needed at one point to hold the bullet between their teeth. Whether it was pork fat being used or not, they certainly feared it was so they refused to do it. The British authorities insisted and eventually the sepoys mutinied and were then brutally quelled. Many paid the ultimate penalty, the method of execution being to fire them from the cannons! This draconian and barbaric reaction had the opposite result from that intended and in no time there was a full-scale rebellion with the Indian troops attacking the British, burning their houses and compounds and brutally slaughtering not only the soldiers but their wives and children. Now, by this time many cities were under seige, especially Lucknow which was desperately trying to fend off an attack, surrounded and attacked on all sides, cut off from fresh food or supplies, with no help at hand while their defending forces were gradually being picked off. They would not be able to hold out much longer.

As far as it can be pieced together from Albert's army record it was early 1858 when he set sail for India. It was a long journey. There was no Suez Canal yet so all the ships had to pass around the Cape of Good Hope. The officers travelled in relative comfort - relative as it wasn't comfortable for any of them with the ever-present risk of storms and shipwreck, the heat, the lack of water or fresh food and the difficulty of having to stop for supplies at ports which were not too friendly or keen on helping. The officers - and their wives and families - travelled on the shady side of the ship, Port Out, Starboard Home as they described it, i.e. 'POSH', while the other ranks were on the sun-baked side, which must have been intolerable without such modern luxuries as air-conditioning, especially in the Indian Ocean. It's seems likely, though it's not known for sure, that Albert and his company disembarked at Calcutta, and that from there they travelled up the R. Ganges to Allahabad, as this became his station while in India, a journey of some 400 miles. This was the obvious route also to relieve either the garrison at Lucknow or the one at Cawnpore (now spelt Kanpur). At Allahabad the forces were assembled in February under Sir Colin Camplbell and Lt-General Sir James Outram led by the 42nd Black Watch and a battalion of Sikhs and the attack on Lucknow began a month later. It was nearly a year before the last of the rebel forces were dispersed.

Bringing up reinforcements would have been a slow business. In the Crimea guns and other heavy loads were presumably pulled by horses. In India they used bullocks which must have made them rather slower and sometimes even those were not available. A year ot two before Albert arrived in India the 2000 troops who relieved Cawnpore took ten days to advance the 100 miles from Allahabad. In fact it was probably in April 1859 and peace was officially declared on 8 Jul 1859, time enough for Albert to qualify for his Indian Mutiny medal.

All the campaigns in India have been well-documented and described many times so no more need be added here except to recommend, in addition to the usual standard works, books like 'The Sound of Fury' by Richard Collier, (publ. by Collins, London, 1963) which draws on diaries and personal accounts to give a very vivid picture of life in India and the conflict from 1857 to 1858. In Lucknow in August Katherine Bartrum noted in her diary, "They say we are forgotten and that reinforcements will never appear.'

It was probably at the beginning of January 1857 that Albert embarked at Southampton. No doubt he was bound beyond Allahabad the other 200 or so miles to join General Colin Campbell's army. Lucknow still miraculously held out although besieged, but was eventually relieved though not without great loss of life. .Cawnpore succumbed to the mob in June, summed up in the description of 'a charnel house', the rebels having run amok in an orgy of killing. An attempt was made to lead a column of refugees out of the city but the rebels treacherously ambushed and slaughtered them.

When Albert arrived and what battles he had a part in is not documented or proved, except in so far as he did receive medals for his part in the fighting. He can be seen proudly wearing these medals, along with his medals from the Crimea, in the photo above and they are now in the possession of his great-great grandson.

Army Service : II. Marriage

By 1859 the last of the rebel forces had been dispersed. In May of that year Albert was transferred to No. 4 Company 14th Brigade, his post being that of Gunner. Some time after this, during the following year, he was again transferred, this time to the 11th Brigade, along with six of his companions. Then in December 1862 he was transferred to E Battery of the 16th Brigade, this time promoted to Wheeler. In August 1864 he was promoted again, to Sergeant Wheeler.

It is now that the story becomes a little more confusing and also intriguing. At some time during his attachment to the 14th Brigade Albert met another Sergeant in the R.A., Edward Mernin. It was inevitable because Edward was the Pay Sergeant and it also seems fairly obvious that they became friends. They had two things in common, they were both Sergeants in the R.A., eating in the same mess when on duty, and they were both Catholics. As Catholics they were in a small minority and Edward and his wife Margaret were also both Irish which could have isolated Edward from the other soldiers and Margaret from other wives if they were not Catholics.

Margaret [Jolley/Waugh] Mernin 1829-1897
Edward's wife was born Margaret Jolley in 1829, daughter of John Jolley, in Carlow or Co.Carlow in the south of Ireland and she had a brother, but only his initial, W, is known - he attended Albert's funeral in Woking in 1903 and was listed as being present, simply as 'Mr W.Jolley of London, brother-in-law of the deceased'. The name Jolley (of ancient French origin and common in England) does suggest that the family could have been English at some point, but nothing is known of their time in Carlow. There is a mention in one record from Griffiths Valuation of a Robert Jolly in Moyacomb parish Carlow, a tenant in the Townland of Clonegall (landlord John McDonsell) from 1852. The difference of spelling can't be counted as vital but it only suggests that there could have been a few others of that name in that area. In any case, the whole family had probably moved to Cork well before Margaret's first marriage.

Margaret was only 19 when she married a watchmaker in Cork, a Robert Lloyd Waugh, b.1823, son of John Waugh. This family are documented on a PAF file in the LDS records by descendants in the U.S.A. but the only record found otherwise so far is from the Civil Registration collection which is easy to find from the new search file: some dates have therefore been slightly amended (e.g. Margaret being 19 and born in 1829, not 1830. (though that depends on her month of birth) The Jacksons knew that Robert's surname was Waugh, that he lived in Cork and that some of his family had emigrated to New York. They also knew that he died not long after the couple were married and that they had had no children. Robert's birth date was said to be 1838 in the PAF but the latest IGI information from the Civil Registration indexes gives his birth date as 1823, which is highly probable. They were married on 20 May 1848 at Middleton Reg.Dist., Cork [Batch no.M701978]. The marriage is also recorded in a miscellaneous collection of Civil Registrations, and published in the BVRI (British Vital Records Index) by the LDS.

After Robert died Margaret married again, this time to a soldier at the barracks at Cobh (pronounced 'cove'.). It is now known, thanks to a new website with the relevant records, that she married Edward Mernin on 8 October1859 and that her name was entered as Margaret Waugh Jolly! The IGI [Batch no.M70220-4] version doesn't give Jolly but does state that she was a widow and her father's name was John. It also adds that Edward's father was Thomas Mernin. This record is also easy to find with the new search facility. It's particularly interesting that the name of the church in Cork is given, St Nicholas. St Nicholas's in Cork was Church of Ireland, built in 1850.- it was then necessary to have a minister or registrar present (as in England till 1962!) but as Catholics, even in Ireland, they probably had little choice. It was probably the nearest church to the barracks being in Cove St. Margaret would have joined Edward in the barracks - with only a curtain for privacy, poor food and very un-hygieniic conditions - no doubt preparing her for worse to come in India.

Edward Mernin's army record has not so far been investigated, it but might no longer exist as he died - from natural causes, not in action - while still in the army. So it is not known when he was posted to India but he had certainly been there from 1862 as his daughter Mary Elizabeth, known as Minnie, was born on 16 Jul 1862 in Agra and baptised there on 26 Jul 1862 by Fr.Sebastian. (Catholic chaplains were still rather a novelty).

It was only discovered fairly recently that dward and Margaret had two more children, another daughter, Margaret, born in 1864 and a son, Edward James, in 1866.This must be correct as the names, the spelling and the place are all consistent. Also. in the rest of the records given on the IGI the spelling is 'Murnan' or a variation on that. The table below - with dates - shows events 'in parallel' - how long Albert and Edward had known each other is speculation. Perhaps it was much longer than the three months reckoned initially. This can only be answered by Edward's service record - if the army kept those of soldiers who died of natural causes while still serving.
The original report below has been modified to reflect these important changes
Edward & Margaret Mernin
Albert Jackson: Transf=transferred to

1859 Margaret m. Edward Mernin in Cork. A soldier in the Royal Artillery of the British Army, he was stationed at the large military barracks of Corcaigh, just outside the city.

1854 15 Aug - 31 Oct 1854
1854 1 Nov - 30 Apr 1857
1859 1 May -31 Dec 1859

Attested Gunner & Driver, (to Crimea)
Transf. -13th Batt. Gunner & Driver
Transf--14th Brigade, Gunner (to Bengal)

1859 Edward & Margaret m. in Cork 1859 15 Aug Promoted Sgt Wheeler
1862 16 July Mary Elizabeth Mernin b.in Agra
1862 26 July Mary chr.in Agra by Fr Sebastian
(RC army chaplain)
1860 1 Jan - 30 Nov 1862
1862 1 Dec - 31 Jul 1864
Transf. 11th Brigade - Gunner
Transf. 16th Brigade - Wheeler

1864 4 Sep Margaret Mernin b.in Allahabad, Bengal
1864 23 Sep Margaret chr. in Allahababad, Bengal
1869 ...Jul d. in Saugor, Bengal
1869 1 August Margaret Mernin bur. in Saugor, Bengal

11864 1 Aug - 27 May 1866 1Promoted Sgt Wheeler

1866 26 Oct Edward T.Mernin b. in Allahabad, Bengal, chr. by Fr Pius, RC Chaplain
1867 28 Apr Edward T.Mernin d. in Saugor, Bengal aged 6 mths, bur by Fr Seraphim, RC Chaplain

given as son of Private Mernin
1867 as son of Sgt Mernin, so Edward only recently promoted
 

1866 2 Jun Edward Mernin d.of 'apoplexy' [stroke] in Allahabad
1866 3 Jun Edward Mernin bur in Allahabad by the Rev.Fr Paul, RC Chaplain.
1866 26 Oct Edward James Mernin b. in Allahabad
1866 20 Nov Margaret m. Albert Jackson in Allahabad, Bengal
(Bengal Marriages 1866 Vol 118/308)

1866 28 May - 24 Sep 1866
1866 25 Sep - 18 Aug 1875
1866 15 Sep
Reverted Bombadier Wheeler
Promoted Sgt Wheeler
Re-engaged at Saugor
1868 5 Mar George Albert Jackson b. Saugor, Bengal
1868 3 Apr George chr. at Saugor by Fr Seraphim




1873 22 Dec
1874 15 Jan - 28 Feb 1874
1875 19 Aug - 7 Sep 1875
1875 7 Sep

Return to England
on furlough
further service
Final discharge at Weedon Barracks with warrant to travel to Pulborough (for Petworth)

Sources for the events in the life of the 3 Mernin children (all given with the same father, Edward Mernin, Sgt in the Royal Artillery) are the Parish Registers of the Presidency of Bengal, 1713-1948, included in Overseas British records. The only survivor of the 3 children was of course Mary Elizabeth, known to the family as Minnie.

It is possible that Albert Jackson and Edward Mernin had been together in Allahabad in the Bengal province for much longer than previously thought. They were certainly in the same army mess in 1866., Edward being the Pay Sergeant. There in Allahabad, on 2 Jun 1866 Edward Mernin died suddenly of 'apoplexy'. [Ref. WO 69/593 p.8 Register of deceased soldiers]. Perhaps he collapsed in the intense heat on the parade ground - it would not be surprising, especially considering the tight and uncomfortable navy blue uniforms, buttoned up to the neck, which they wore at that time.The funeral was conducted by the Catholic chaplain, Fr.Paul. Albert's record states that he reverted to Bombadier Wheeler from 28 May to 24 September 1866. This looks as if it must have been on account of Edward's sudden death . Albert would have attended the funeral which was conducted by Fr Paul the Catholic chaplain on 3 Jun. Both events, the death and the burial are recorded in the 'Register of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials at the chapel of the station of Allahabad in the Vicariate of Patna'. He presumably then took leave to take Margaret, heavily pregnant and the two small girls, Minnie and Margaret up into the hills at Saugor where the soldiers sent their wives during the hot season, 1728 ft above sea-level. It was here that Albert was re-engaged on 15 Sep 1866, and ten days later he was re-promoted to Sgt Wheeler. They were certainly back in Allahabad for the birth of Edward James on 26 October, but Albert's re-engagement on 15 Sep suggests that they had returned by then rather than risk travelling nearer to the expected birth.

The distance from Allahabad to Saugor (pronounced and now usually written as Sagar) is about 292 miles (471 kilometres). India's railways had been under construction since 1853, one reason for its British-inspired rapid expansion being coal-mining in central India. The Allahabad to Jubbulpore branch line of the East India railways was opened, according to Wikipedia, in June 1867. (The nearest well-known - and now notorious - place to Saugor/Sagar is Bhopal! The line to Jubbulpore/Jabalpore branches off before Saugor) Perhaps it was already possible to travel from Saugor by train - the alternative, by (probably unmetalled) road, would have been a far more uncomfortable - and longer - journey!

Margaret, as wife of a non-commissioned officer was not, as far as is known, entitled to a pension at that time, and had no hope of paying for a passage home.. It seems fairly obvious that Albert was faced with a problem of conscience. Moreover, now 31 and with many years still to serve in India he had little prospect of marriage either, so he solved both problems in the obvious way.

Albert and Margaret were married on their return to Allahabad, on 20 November 1866 by permission of Albert's commanding office, Capt. Gillard, who was present and signed. Fr Paul officiated and there were two other witnesses, the first another Irish soldier, L.Vallely, (it's an Irish name), and the second presumably wife of another Catholic soldier, Catherine Foster. In August of the following year Albert and Margaret were placed on the 'married establishment'.On 5 Mar 1868 their son, George, was born at Saugur, being baptised on 3 Apr 1868 by 'Friar Seraphim', the record again being signed by Captain Gillard. Perhaps it was Franciscan friars who provided the chaplains, especially as George's own son, Arthur, eventually joined the order himself.

It was still another five years before Albert would return home with his new family. Nothing more is recorded until then in his army record but in later years he held his listeners spellbound by his stories of life in India to such an extent that he was still remembered for it thirty years after his death. It was reported in his obituary in the local papers that 'For a great many years he acted as stage manager to the regiment and in that capacity took a prominent part in the regimental theatricals' - so he obviously had had plenty of practice!

Margaret Mernin
Margaret Jackson, later
in Woking. She looks more the prison warder than Albert, but this style of hair and dress was quite common and it was not the fashion to smile for the camera.

 

Margaret (Jolley, Mernin) Jackson was 5 years older than Albert and died in 1897 at the age of 67

The two granddaughters of Albert and Margaret,
Margaret Elizabeth Taylor, known as Maggie and
Elizabeth Margaret Jackson, known as Cis
were both born in 1895, Cis on the 4th of March.

so it's guesswork whether it's here 1895 or early 1896.
And the same goes for which child is which, though a birthdate for Maggie might decide it, as the child in the high chair looks older.

Family suggestions would be welcome!

 
1. Albert in the Crimea 2. Albert in India 3. Albert in Woking 4. Newspaper Report