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Thread: Indian Mutiny Sword - Just!

  1. #51
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Easton View Post
    "In his 18th year " = 17 years old. Just as someone who is 6 months old is 'in their first year'.
    A person who is 6 months old is indeed in their first year, but a person who is 17 years old is still in their 17th year until they turn 18, at which time they enter their 18th year. Or am I miscalculating???

  2. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by L. Braden View Post
    According to his obituary in The Spectator of July 24, 1858, he died "from the effects of fever brought on by severe service ... in his 18th year." Get that: "severe service"
    And he was a young fit guy presumably having been in the college rowing team.

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Easton View Post
    "In his 18th year " = 17 years old. Just as someone who is 6 months old is 'in their first year'.
    Of course, good spot!

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeShowers View Post
    I've been poking around on the fibis site and I can't find him attending Addiscombe or passing out. Strange. But in reading the rules of examination at the college they make a distinction about applying for Direct Cadetship, and that these persons would rank behind College Cadets passing out. I wonder if it was possible to take the exams ("challenge" them in modern language) without having to have been studying at Addiscombe? If this was the case than maybe such a person wouldn't have attended Addiscombe, but would still become an HEIC cadet/subaltern enroute to India. The British Library has the Addiscombe cadet list so that might be the best route
    It seems that Radley college taught fencing in the 1860 perhaps there were other transferable skills which have helped him to pass as an Ensign after only 1 year and two terms. But if that were the case it would seem reasonable that he would be registered in the rolls. Perhaps you are right about a Direct Cadetship. Either way, once I have checked the cadet list I think it would probably bring me to the end of the journey. Or at least as far as I am likely to take it. It's been fun!

  3. #53
    If he procured his commission via the patronage system, there would not necessarily be any record of a formal military education. (The patronage system of the EIC was simply a variation of the purchase system of the British Army, and was no less controversial, even though it was not supposed to involve money; but there were plenty of under-the-counter inducements involved, if not non-monetary preferential treatment. In other words, the purchase system was straightforward and unpretentious; the patronage system, hypocritical and pretentious.)
    Last edited by L. Braden; 07-06-2016 at 12:21 PM.

  4. #54
    Quote Originally Posted by L. Braden View Post
    A person who is 6 months old is indeed in their first year, but a person who is 17 years old is still in their 17th year until they turn 18, at which time they enter their 18th year. Or am I miscalculating???
    Semantics again - a confusion of chronological and natal years. Chronologically (Jan.-Dec. 1858) he was in his 18th year, but natally (birthday to birthday, 1857-8 or 1858-9) he was in his 17th year - meaning that if he died before his 18th birthday, he was still in his 17th natal year. This "in his 18th year" meaning that he was 17 may be a Britishism, because I never heard or saw it used elsewhere - not to say that it hasn't been! Every dialect has its confusing peculiarities.

  5. #55
    Irons was evidently not a graduate of Addiscombe, because his name is not listed as a cadet in Vibart's history. In any case, the patronage system re the Indian Civil Service was evidently abolished before the Mutiny; but I can't find that it was ever abolished re the military. Also, I know of patronage appointments of those who never attended Addiscombe or any other military school; so what's with that?

  6. #56
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    And just to emphasise my earlier point about Indian officers using VR on their swords, I have a Bengal Engineers swords here, carried through the Indian Mutiny, marked Bengal Engineers on the blade with the owner's crest, with a VR on the hilt. Oh, and another one right next to it For whatever reason, Indian Army officers were using VR rather than the HEIC lion already by 1857 and from my observation probably from about 1852-54.

  7. #57
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    His cadet papers are record in The British Library.

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    Perhaps these will reveal something when I get round to it.

    In the meantime, I'm just going to mention one final piece of absolutely outrageous speculation just for fun. The auction house had described this as a naval sword. After his death his sword may have been auctioned in a Committee of Adjustment. The Saran Field Force included a naval brigade....

    This could have been bought by someone from the Pearl Naval Brigade and been referred to ever more familialy as a naval sword. It's not a naval pattern but... a sword is a sword after all, especially if you're a man without one who is expecting a sword fight!

    Either way I'm looking forward to reading this which arrived yesterday. The dispatches in which they feature really had a whiff of adventure about them.

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    Last edited by james.elstob; 07-07-2016 at 02:55 AM.

  8. #58
    Am glad that you located his cadet papers, because if he was at Addiscombe, they might contain the only record of it that any of us can find.
    From the Radley College Register, 1847-1904, p. 24:

    Irons, Herbert William; left 1851. Ob. 1858.
    I.C.S.; died of fever in camp in Indian Mutiny.

    The rower of 1856 was Launcelot Charles Irons, so the other records are evidently inaccurate. According to the quoted source, HWI was at Radley from 1849 to 1851. That would have given him time to have been at Addiscombe. And Mike may have nailed it re Irons' "testing out" if he didn't actually attend classes. The "I.C.S." (Indian Civil Service) must be an error, unless we're missing something again!
    Finally, I don't understand why a deceased officer's sword and other effects would be auctioned off if he had a family to send them to, as I have read in numerous accounts.

  9. #59
    P.S. According to the Haileybury Register, he wasn't there!

  10. #60
    It just occurred to me that perhaps his father was opposed to his becoming a military man and therefore refused to finance him therefor, so he tested out on his own and designated on his deathbed that his sword should go to another officer rather than sent home. But who knows? In that case or any other, the possibility that it went to a naval officer is not so unlikely.

  11. #61
    Now what do you make of these contradictions:
    In the Radley College Register, 1847-1923, p. 6, we read "viii 1856; left 1856; joined E.I.C.S. 1857"; and yet in the index he is listed as having entered college in 1849. Also, his brother (here spelled "Lancelot" rather than "Launcelot"): "viii 1856; left 1860"; yet in the index: 1854! I assume that "I.C.S." in the other edition is an abbreviation of EICS or East India Company Service and therefore does not mean Indian Civil Service. But who knows? In any case, this Irons mystery is the most ridiculous one that I have ever encountered; and I'm not holding my breath that the cadet papers will in any way solve it.
    Last edited by L. Braden; 07-07-2016 at 02:24 PM.

  12. #62
    P.S. Even the Radley Archives, from which the two books were produced, confuse the two brothers; but since Herbert was the eldest, the 1849-51 dates may be the accurate ones for him. And for his brother: 1854-6.

  13. #63
    No - according to the 1904 edition, "I.C.S." stands for Indian Civil Service! And then we have this in Raikes' Sicut Columbae (1897): "After him Herbert Irons came in, but not, I think, till 1856." Another confusion with younger brother? And was Radley a 2-year college or what? I haven't the patience anymore to find out.

  14. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by L. Braden View Post
    Am glad that you located his cadet papers, because if he was at Addiscombe, they might contain the only record of it that any of us can find.
    From the Radley College Register, 1847-1904, p. 24:

    Irons, Herbert William; left 1851. Ob. 1858.
    I.C.S.; died of fever in camp in Indian Mutiny.

    The rower of 1856 was Launcelot Charles Irons, so the other records are evidently inaccurate. According to the quoted source, HWI was at Radley from 1849 to 1851. That would have given him time to have been at Addiscombe. And Mike may have nailed it re Irons' "testing out" if he didn't actually attend classes. The "I.C.S." (Indian Civil Service) must be an error, unless we're missing something again!
    Finally, I don't understand why a deceased officer's sword and other effects would be auctioned off if he had a family to send them to, as I have read in numerous accounts.
    Wow, there is no end to contradictory info on this guy!

    So I agree that the "St. Peter's College Radley Register 1847-1897" shows that Herbert W Irons entered the college in 1849 and left in 1851. That seems like an awfully short period. As a note of caution before we make a judgement on which of these differing versions is likely to be correct, I would point out a caveat mentioned in the "Introductory Notes" in that same register which states: -

    This first addition must by necessity be incomplete and inaccurate. Corrections should be sent to ....


    Can you direct me to the evidence which identifies LC Irons as the 1856 Rowing Viii member or is it perhaps only an assumption based on WC Irons leaving in 1851 and LC Irons being the only Irons mentioned at that time?

    To clear up one issue though, I am looking at a photograph of the register now and it reads H.E.I.C.S (Honourable East India Company Service) rather than just I.C.S. are you looking at a transcribed text version? It's possibly just a transcription or text recognition error.

    I was surprised to find that also in the register is a list of "Artillery Cadetships" listing cadets connected with Woolwich, Sandhurst and one from Addiscombe although HWI is not on there. It seems like the college was connected in some way with the various military academies.


    P.S. I hadn't seen your last two messages when I posted this so I will go back and digest that info.
    Last edited by james.elstob; 07-07-2016 at 04:24 PM.

  15. #65
    From Radley Register, 1847-1904 & 1847-1923: Athletic Record. Rowing. 1856. L.C. Irons. (Even if the 1st ed. is inaccurate, is the 2nd as well?) I already quoted the discrepancies in various dates of entry and exit. (HWI: entry, 1849; exit, 1851; entry, 1856; exit, 1856. LCI: entry, 1854; exit, 1860; entry, 1856; exit, 1860.)
    According to the India Office Family History Search: HWI was born 13 July 1840 in Barkway, Herts; Bengal Cadet 1857. (L/MIL/9/242f.122.)
    Also, the National Archives adds two more items from the IO Records: IOR/L/MIL/10/65/702 & IOR/L/MIL/10/67/702. I suggest that you check them out.
    Abbreviation, 1st ed., I.C.S.=Indian Civil Service. 2nd ed., E.I.C.S.=? (Can't find it; could mean either East India Co. Service or East Indian Civil Service.)
    Last edited by L. Braden; 07-08-2016 at 11:23 AM.

  16. #66
    P.S. It's evident that H wasn't at Radley as long as he should have been, which makes me wonder if he was expelled! He may have been the enfant terrible of the family, which was frequently the case with clergymen's sons. And that may be why he ended up in the military, the ultimate destination of privileged ne'er-do-wells. (Kipling's "Gentleman Rankers" or "Black Sheep".)

  17. #67
    To reiterate:
    Radley 1st ed.: left 1851; index: entered 1849. 2nd ed.: left 1856, entered 1856; index: entered 1849. It seems to me that the 1st ed. is most accurate and that the 2nd ed. contradictorily inaccurate, especially in left and entered the same year. Can we now put an end to this nonsense re Radley?

  18. #68
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    I agree, it's a fog of war in itself.

    If you go straight to the most modern edition of the register it seems so clear but i can't decide whether mistakes in subsequent editions are being corrected or multiplied and compounded.

    I can imagine everyone's eyes drooping at the thought of more speculation about Radley college. Let's give it rest for a while! I will go away and check the records at the British Library before I bore anyone to death with this.

    Thanks to everyone for all your helpful comments!

  19. #69
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    Plus I have other swords backing up behind this one crying out for some attention!

  20. #70
    Quote Originally Posted by L. Braden View Post
    P.S. It's evident that H wasn't at Radley as long as he should have been, which makes me wonder if he was expelled! He may have been the enfant terrible of the family, which was frequently the case with clergymen's sons. And that may be why he ended up in the military, the ultimate destination of privileged ne'er-do-wells. (Kipling's "Gentleman Rankers" or "Black Sheep".)
    On second thought, there are any number of reasons why Herbie may not have finished at Radley; so I should not have suggested what I suggested. But enough is enough on this subject!

  21. #71
    Quote Originally Posted by james.elstob View Post
    Plus I have other swords backing up behind this one crying out for some attention!
    No more inane mysteries, I hope, or I'm bowing out!

  22. #72
    The most modern edition is NOT "so clear", because in the text it has him entering and leaving in 1856 and in the index it has him entering in 1849. I maintain that the 1st 3 editions (1897, 1904, 1912), with dates 1849-51, are most accurate. Whoever compiled the subsequent editions was evidently confounding HWI with his younger brother! Phew.
    P.S. I initially thought there were only 2 editions (1904 & 1923) of the register, but today I found the rest of them on the college website. Only the latest edition has H. rowing in 1856, probably because of the evident misinformation in Raikes' book. (Raikes admitted to not being certain, but how he confounded H. with L. is a mystery.)
    Last edited by L. Braden; 07-08-2016 at 03:26 PM.

  23. #73
    Not wishing to prolong the agony however, my small contribution is in reference to the sword and not the man.

    For some while since the waves started rolling in on this post, I've been trying to locate an article I have which deals in particular with an East India Company Infantry officers sword; if my memory serves me correctly, the article was published in the Journal of Army Historical Research, and the author of the article made clear reference to the fact that, it was not necessarily "Company" policy, and not all officers in the Honourable East India Company Service, had swords etched with the EIC crest; this absence of the EIC crest would likely apply to the hilt as well.

    Matt has already made reference to his Bengal Engineers sword which has no EIC crest, and in my opinion the sword could well have been made exactly as it is, and should be taken for history has left it. Best to formulate a biography with available information, and add if the future brings new light.

  24. #74
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    Thanks Gordon, I must agree my gut feeling is that this sword had not had a hilt change. Also I've got to say s much as I would wish It, I think the quality of the sword indicates that it didn't continue in India for any length of time. I reckon it was sent home after Irons death.

  25. #75
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    Hello James after 150+ years of corrosion and subsequent cleanings there is no way of telling from a swords condition its history. It may well have continued in India.
    I have swords that have seen time in India and are in good shape considering. It is lack of post service maintenance that usually corrodes and damages a sword.
    Until they talk we'll never know for sure.

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