Samuel John Huggins, O.B.E. (1864-1922)

HUGGINS Samuel John 13th Regt Bisley Team 1908

Samuel John Huggins was born 23rd March 1864 at Winchester, Hampshire, the son of John Joseph Huggins (1816-1876), of Glenarb townland, county Tyrone, and Margaret Jane Burke (1823-1898), who was born at Tralee, county Kerry. Samuel John was the ninth of ten children born to John and Margaret Huggins. When he was born, his eldest sisters, Mary Ann and Margaret, were already in service, in Middlesex, while his eldest brother, James, worked as an assistant at a school in Surrey. Thus, in 1864, the other children in the household included Elizabeth (fifteen-years-old), Milly (age ten), Sadie (nine), William (five), and Kate (three). Having served the requisite twenty-one years in Her Majesty’s service, their father, John Joseph, was an army pensioner who worked as a Staff Sergeant with the Hampshire Militia. Samuel John’s maternal grandmother, Mary Burke née McDonnell (1794-1869), a native of the county Mayo in Ireland, also lived with the family.

At the age of ten years, Samuel John Huggins emigrated to Canada in July, 1874, with his parents and the youngest six of his nine siblings. [source 1] Two years later, he accompanied his father on an exploring trip to the Muskoka region of central Ontario, to scout for land. While on this trip, Samuel's father suffered a fall from a horse, dying of inflammation of the lungs on the 8th October 1876 at Allansville. [source 2] After this devastating blow to the young lad and his surviving relatives, his mother and siblings—Elizabeth, Sadie, William, Kate, and Agnes—elected to stay on in Toronto, Samuel John returned to England to enlist in the British Army. His sister, Milly, had married in 1876 and moved to Chicago; his brother, William, would follow Samuel John’s suit in March, 1881; and, his sister, Elizabeth, would die in Toronto, in October of the same year, of peritonitis.

On June 1, 1880, Samuel John enlisted in the 7th Regiment of the Royal Artillery. Registered as “John,” the enlistment papers recorded that he was eighteen years of age (when he was but sixteen), and a wood turner by trade. He was 5 feet 9 inches tall, with a fresh complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair. His religious denomination was Roman Catholic. His next of kin was his mother, Margaret, in Toronto, Canada, and the army service record stated further that he had two older brothers. [source 3]

Samuel John started his military life as a gunner in the Royal Artillery, working in Gosport and the Isle of Wight, not far from his birthplace in Winchester. In March, 1881, he was transferred to the Somerset Light Infantry. When the 1881 census of England was enumerated on 3rd April 1881, Samuel John was recorded as a Lance Corporal, stationed at the Raglan Barracks, St Aubyn, Devonport. [source 4]

In his early years with the army, Samuel John served “at home,” which, in those days, meant anywhere in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The Somerset Light Infantry arrived at the camp at Curragh, in county Kildare, on the 28th October 1881, just weeks after Charles Stewart Parnell—a Home Rule League Member of Parliament for the County Meath, the President of the Land League, and the "uncrowned king of Ireland"—and several of his party lieutenants had been arrested and imprisoned under the Coercion Act. Indeed, Ireland was in what the journalists referred to as a "disturbed state." Land reform agitation was well underway, evictions by the thousands were running apace, agrarian outrages were becoming more violent, and the push for Home Rule was intensifying. Thus, when the Somerset Light Infantry, along with several other regiments, joined other British troops at Curragh and other Irish stations in the fall of 1881, the strength of the Army in Ireland stood at 30,000 troops and 3,000 horses.

After a couple of months' training at Curragh, in late January, 1882 most of the Somerset Light Infantry joined headquarters at the Richmond Barracks in Dublin. A detachment, consisting of two officers and fifty non-commissioned officers and men (including Samuel John), had been despatched to Athenry, Galway on the 26th January. As their first task in Athenry, the soldiers accompanied H.A. Blake, Resident Magistrate, to the residence of Mr. Broderick, where he was placed under arrest and charged with intimidating others from paying rent. Several other men were arrested in the search that followed, during which the soldiers and police guarded the entrances to the railway station. Over the course of the next several months, the police arrested several prominent people in Athenry and environs, including the Rev. P.J. M'Philipin, C.C. and a Poor Law Guardian named John Connolly, charged with violations under the Coercion Act. Then, on the 9th June, Mr. Walter M. Bourke, J.P., and his guard were shot, dead, at Castle Taylor, thirteen miles south of Athenry; the assassins escaped. A scant three weeks later, the June 30th newspapers reported another double murder that took the lives of Mr. John Henry Blake, J.P., and his driver, Teddy Ruane, at Loughrea, just twenty miles east of the previous scene of murder. A series of transcribed news articles, which mentioned the Somerset Light Infantry and some of the events occurring in county Galway and at Dublin, between October 1881 and March 1883, have been posted here.

On that same date, the detachment of the Somerset Light Infantry was reassigned to the Richmond Barracks in Dublin. Several weeks previously, on the 2nd May, Charles Stewart Parnell had been released from prison, and only four days afterwards, the Chief Secretary, Lord Cavendish, and his Under-Secretary, T.H. Burke, were murdered by militants in the Phoenix Park. The rapidity with which these events occurred was shocking, not least of all to Parnell, who offered to resign his seat in Parliament. The British journals, of course, drew a straight line between the two events, creating a public relations debacle for Parnell and the Land League party.

The Somerset Light Infantry stayed at the Richmond Barracks through February of the following year. On the 3rd March 1883, the regiment embarked on H.M.S. Serapis, to sail to Bombay and join headquarters there, at the camp in Kamptee.

As an aside to this chronology of Samuel John Huggins' career in the British Army, it is worthwhile including a few family notes. Samuel John had enlisted into the same regiment as his eldest brother, James Edward. The 1881 census of England recorded both men at the Raglan Barracks in St Aubyn, Devonport. James was married, with one daughter and another child on the way. This child was born at Dublin in November, 1882, and thus we know that Samuel John and James Edward had several months, at least, to enjoy the communion of brotherhood and family.

In addition, other Huggins family members, but only a few in number, still remained in Ireland. When Samuel John arrived in Ireland in late 1881, his father's sister, Anne Jane Huggins (1812-1893), was still very much alive. She and her husband, John Rodgers (1809-1913), and their daughter, Anne Jane, jun. (1842-1912), lived in Kedew townland, not far from the village of Caledon, in county Tyrone. Kedew townland lies directly north of Glenarb, where Samuel John's father, John Joseph Huggins (1816-1876), had grown up. We can conclude, fairly safely, that, if they hadn't already done so when the family lived at Winchester between 1863-1874, Samuel John and James Edward visited with their aunt and her family. Years later, when John Rodgers died, in 1913, at the venerable age of 104 years, his will recorded his intention to leave his modest estate to his Samuel John's eldest sisters.

Of Samuel John Huggins' twelve years with the British Army, nearly eight were served in India (1883-1890). He was promoted to Corporal in May, 1883, then served in Rangoon during the Third Burmese campaign. Several contemporary news articles, published in the British journals and treating on this subject, have been transcribed and are posted here. At one point, in February 1886, 300 British troops were surrounded by 9,000 rebels at Yemethen. Not only was the situation desperate, but the siege was prolonged—the condition of the soldiers was weakened further by dysentery and malaria. Fighting spread to Tounghoo in March and April, where the men fell, or remained, seriously ill. During this period, Samuel John was treated twice for general debility, with quinine and iron, the medical officer noting, "Severe hardship & exposure on Active service." At the end of the war, along with many of his comrades, Samuel John was awarded the Indian Medal with Clasp, and Burma medal (1885-87).

The 2nd battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry was next stationed at Belgaum, situated about 305 miles south of Bombay. After the turbulence and violence of the Third Burmese War, the time passed by the S.L.I. at Belgaum in the late 1880s appears to have been during a period of relative calm. Transcriptions of several news articles of interest, published between September, 1887 and September, 1890, when Samuel John Huggins was posted to Belgaum with the S.L.I., have been posted here.

In the fall of 1890, Samuel John Huggins was passed to the Army Reserve. His character was described as “Very Good,” with “good, temperate” habits. It may interest our readers to hear that, not unlike many soldiers, Samuel John had served time in the brig several times for absence and drunkenness, attended by the usual confinements, forfeit of good conduct pay, and demotions, with subsequent restorations to rank. Samuel John completed his service with the British Army at the rank of Lance Corporal. [source 3]

While on service in India, Samuel John would have received news of two great blows to the family: his eldest brother, James, a Quartermaster Sergeant in the recruiting service, committed suicide in Dublin in October, 1888, leaving a widow and several young children; and, his brother, William, who suffered bronchitis and epilepsy and was discharged from the British Army in 1887, died of phthisis while serving as a gunner at Fort Henry in Kingston, Ontario in August, 1889. Samuel John was now the sole surviving son.

Samuel John was assigned to the Army Reserve in November, 1890, and discharged at Taunton, Somerset, on May 25, 1892. Interestingly, Samuel John was either living in or on furlough to Toronto (i.e., pending a call to the Reserve, which appears not to have occurred), when the next census of Canada was enumerated in April, 1891:

  • Alexander Dustan, age 48, married, born in Scotland, both parents born in Scotland, Presbyterian, Engineer
  • Jane, 50, married, wife, do., do., do.
  • Isabella, 22, daughter, do., do., do., Cap. finisher
  • John Huggins, 27, B-L [boarder-lodger?], born in England, both parents born in Ireland, Roman Catholic, Labourer
  • Agnes L. Huggins [Samuel John’s sister], 25, B-L, do., do., do., Machinist
  • Eleana Ramsay, 15, B-L, born in Ontario, both parents born in Scotland, Presbyterian, Winders [illegible]
  • Bertha Ramsay, 17, do., do., do., do., do.
  • Census place: St. Andrew’s Ward, Toronto West, Ontario [source 5]

By this time, Samuel John’s mother, Margaret, and sister, Kate, had left Canada, possibly to assist with the care of his brother James’ children in the years immediately following James’ death. No trace of Margaret and Kate has been found in the 1891 censuses of Canada or England (and the 1891 census of Ireland was destroyed by government order). Only by the English civil registrations of the deaths of Kate in 1897 (of phthisis pulmonalis, at the age of thirty-five) and Margaret (aged seventy-five years) in the following year, do we know that Margaret and Kate had returned to live with Samuel John’s eldest sisters, Mary Ann and Margaret jr., in Winchester. Samuel John’s sister, Milly, having emigrated to Chicago, his surviving relatives in Canada now numbered just two: Sadie, who had married Robert Gordon Kilpatrick in 1883, and was raising a family in Toronto; and, Agnes, who, in 1893, married Alfred “Casey” Williams. A native of Shrewsbury, Casey was a former gymnastic instructor in the British Army, who became the first gymnastic instructor at Varsity, University of Toronto. Samuel John would become fast friends with his brother-in-law, Casey.

Sometime during the early 1890s, Samuel John signed up with the 13th Battalion of Infantry (later the 13th Royal Regiment), based in Hamilton, Ontario. In 1889, Major (later Lieutenant-Colonel) McLaren had suggested annual company competitions in overall efficiency—condition of stores, class firing, drills, written examinations, and a field day—which were held from 1890–1895. From 1891–1898, the 13th competed for the Gzowski Cup with other regiments in Military District No. 2—the 2nd Queen's Own Rifles, 10th Royal Grenadiers, and 48th Highlanders from Toronto, and the 38th Dufferin Rifles from Brantford. The 13th won the Cup in 1892, 1894–1897. In contests of marksmanship, the 13th Regiment won the Tait Cup in 1897 and 1899, the Brassey Company Cup (Co'y. C), the Gzowski (skirmishing) Cup in 1895, and the Canadian Club Jubilee Challenge Trophy in 1898 and 1899 under the auspices of the Ontario Rifle Association. In matches hosted by the Dominion Rifle Association at Ottawa, the 13th won the Caron in 1894 and 1897, the British Challenge Shield, the Lansdowne Challenge Cup in 1897, the Walker Cup in 1896 and 1897, the Davis & Sons' Cup in 1896, and the Gillespie Challenge Cup in 1897. During this period, awards for excellence were earned by individual men of the 13th, including Col.-Sergt. E. Skedden (Daily Graphic Cup at Bisley, 1895; the MacDougall, 1896; Patterson Cup, 1896; Governor General's Gold Medal, 1899); Lieut. W. Ross (N.R. Association Medal, 1897; Elkington Cup, 1897), Pte. T.H. Hayhurst (D.R.A. bronze medal, 1895; Queen's Prize, at Bisley, 1895; battalion championship, 1895), Corp. C.W. Spencer (D.R.A. bronze medal, 1896), and Sergt. D. Mitchell (Governor General's silver medal, 1896; Elkington Cup, 1897). Sergt.-Major Huggins won the battalion championship in 1896. [source 6]

At age thirty-one, Samuel John married Helen Neolia Shepard on 17th October 1895. The daughter of Gideon Reynolds Shepard (1849-1880) and Harriet Elizabeth Coutts (1849-1916), Helen was born in Thorold, Ontario on 7th February 1871. At the time of the marriage, Samuel John was a resident of Hamilton and worked as a drill instructor; his name was recorded as “Samuel J. Huggins” on the marriage certificate. Samuel John’s religious denomination was recorded as Catholic, and Helen’s as Protestant. Witnesses were T.A. Bertram and Nelly Tew, both of Dundas. [source 7]

On 28th January 1896, Samuel John’s and Helen’s first child was born in Toronto: John Alfred (1896-1962). [source 8] Nearly three years later, on 21st October 1898, their second, Frank William (1898-1962), was born, at Hamilton. [source 9]

In 1896, the 13th Royal Regiment sent Lieut. W.L. Ross, Sergt.-Major S.J. Huggins, Staff-Sergt. T.H. Hayhurst (1895 winner of the coveted Queen's Cup), and Sergt. T. Mitchell as members of the Canadian team at the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association (U.K.), at Bisley, in Surrey, England. The following news article, from the 20th July 1896 edition of the St. John Daily Sun, summarizes nicely the events of the meeting:

   From Bisley.
   Spearing Makes a Possible Score in the Wilmot.
   Rain and Cold Winds Can't Beat the Canadians—Campbell
   Neill, King, Huggins and Ogg All Shooting Well.
     Bisley Camp. (Eng.), July 16.—Reported especially
   for the
Mail and Empire.)—The prediction of last
   night's cable that rain would greet the marksmen
   today was fully borne out. It did rain. Not in bucket-
   fuls, but in the cool, steady "drizzle" characteristic
   of the British Isles. It started to rain shortly after
   eleven o'clock last night, continued all night and all
   today. The consequence was that the ranges presented a
   dreary spectacle, and one calculated to chill the
   hearts of the marksmen. The British competitors and
   the old members of the Canadian team took matters very
   philosophically, but the new Canadian competitors and
   other colonials chafed a little. The spectators today
   were very few, and only the competitors, scorers and
   other officials, and a few pressmen were to be found
   around the firing mounds. To make matters worse, it
   was decidedly cold, and men who a day or two ago
   grumbled at the excessive heat, expressed themselves
   in far from complimentary terms on the sudden change.
   The wind was very strong, but fortunately steady, and
   on this score no complaints were heard. It was a right
   front wind.

   A Splendid Score.
     In spite of the adverse conditions some splendid
   scores were made by the Canadians, including a
   possible. This was put on by Captain Spearing in the
   Wilmot. The range here is 500 yards, and seven shots
   are allowed. The entries are unlimited, but it is
   almost certain that Spearing's score will take the
   first prize. In any event he has the best of chances,
   and will not shoot in the match again unless his
   score is tied and it becomes necessary to decide the
   tie. Naturally the Canadians are pleased at Spearing's
   fine work. His first shot found the bull's eye to the
   left. Having found the disc Spearing evidently made up
   his mind to stay there, and he stayed. His second shot
   was still on, but to the right, and as though trying
   his hand at a piece of fancy work, he proceeded to
   punctuate a three quarter circle on the disc, finishing
   up with a "dead on." His final score thus read:
       5  5  5  5  5  5  5 … 35
     One of Spearing's comrades remarked "That looks
   pretty," and a staid Scotch competitor grunted an
   approving "Ay."
   Sergt. Major Huggins, in the same match, almost dupli-
   cated his comrade's score, falling only one point
   behind. The difference was attributable to a strong
   gust of wind, which made its appearance at the very
   instant of Huggins firing his third shot. He started
   out with a bullseye, right in the centre, following
   this with one a little to the right. The third shot
   was an inner, but his next four were on. Huggins'
   score read:
       5  5  4  5  5  5  5 … 34
   He was also heartily congratulated. It is not likely,
   in view of the more important matches which commence
   tomorrow, that he will fire in this competition again.
   His score, however, should land him one of the first
   half-dozen good prizes.
     Tyro and Pixley.
     It seemed as though the Canadians were determined to
   show that dirty weather had no qualms for them, for
   several other representatives of the Dominion made
   good scores. For instance, in the Railway Tyro,
   Campbell, who today shot in the second stage, made
   33 out of the possible 35. The range at this stage
   is 500 yards. The shooting of the Canadians in this
   match assures them of several of the best prizes.
   In the Pixley, Neill made a splendid showing, scoring
   32 out of the possible 35. The range at this stage is
   600 yards. Last year a score of 33 obtained first prize.
   In the same competion Campbell, King and Huggins each
   scored 31. Similar scores last year won prizes.
   In the Flood-Page, Ogg made 33. The possible is 35,
   and the range 200 yards. On Tuesday King made 34 in
   this match. The first prize last year was won with a
   possible, and Pte. Rolston of the Canadian team won
   the second prize with a score of 33. So that——even
   should they shoot again——King and Ogg will capture
   good prizes in this contest.
     All the members of the Canadian team are well.
     The Team.
   Note——By consulting the following readers will ascer-
   tain the battalions to which Canadian competitors
   above mentioned belong:
   Lieut. Col. G.R. Starke, 3rd Victoria Rifles, commandant.
   Major Bruce, Royal Grenadiers, adjutant.
   Lce. Corp. Charles Armstrong, Royal Grenadiers.
   Captain R.J. Spearing, 53rd Battalion.
   Lieut. J.C. Munro, 44th Battalion.
   Lieut. W.L. Ross, 13th Battalion.
   Sergt. T.T. Mitchell, 13th Battalion.
   Sergt. Major S.J. Huggins, 13th Battalion.
   Pte. T.H. Hayhurst, 13th Battalion.
   Lieut. J.L. Weller, 59th Battalion.
   Lieut. G.W. Runyons, 59th Battalion.
   Lieut. W.C. King, 45th Battalion.
   Pte. M.D. Campbell, 45th Battalion.
   Lieut. T. Mitchell, 12th Battalion.
   Lieut. B.R. Bent, 93rd Battalion.
   Lieut. Ogg, 1st. B.F.A.
   Sergt. C.R. Crowe, 1st B.F.A.
   Staff Sergt. G. Lavers, 6th Battalion.
   Pte. C.E. Neill, 71st Battalion.
   Pte. L. Langstroth, 74th Battalion.
   Major W.C. Macdonald, 48th Highlanders.
   Staff Sergt. Harp, 48th Highlanders.
     London, July 18.—At the shooting meeting of the
   National Rifle Association at Bisley today the National
   Trophy was won by Scotland.
     In the contest for the Prince of Wales prize, of the
   aggregate value of £300, ten shots each of 200 and 600
   yards ranges, seventeen Canadians were entered. The
   result at the 200 yards range was as follows:
   Hayhurst, 48; Weller, 45; Huggins, 45; Harp, 45;
   McDonald, 44; Lt. Mitchell, 44; Campbell, 43; Lavers,
   43; Ogg, 42; Ross, 42; Mitchell, 41; Bent, 41; Crowe, 41.
   In the second stage for the Prince of Wales' trophy at
   600 yards the following scores were made: Lavers, 46;
   Mitchell, 46; Hayhurst, 41. These three gentlemen are
   members of the Canadian rifle team and received minor
   prizes for their work today.
     The Elreho shield has been won by the English rifle
   team. In the minor contests Messrs. Neill, King, Mitchell
   and Spearing of the Canadian team each took prizes.
   [source 10]

… One wonders whether Samuel John was granted leave to visit his mother and sisters at Winchester after the meeting at Bisley, or whether Margaret, Mary Ann, Margaret jun., and Kate came up to Bisley as spectators. His mother and Kate would not be there when Samuel John returned for the 1899 meeting.

In 1899, the representatives of the 13th Regiment attending the Bisley competition included Major F.B. Ross, Lieut. R.A. Robinson, and Sergt.-Major S.J. Huggins. At this meet, the Corporation of the City of London match was won by three Canadians: Lieut. Bertram, 360 points, £25; Pte. Butcher, 344 points, £15, and Sergt.-Major Huggins, 344 points, £10. On the 11th July, two Canadians—Sergt.-Major Huggins and Lieut. Gilchrist—made 34 each in the Golden Peony competition, seven shots, kneeling, 200 yards; and in the Premier (600), Huggins and Crowe also made 34. On the 17th, Huggins participated in the First Stage of the Queen's Prize shoot, earning a placement in the top 200 men. When the final stage of the Queen's Prize match was concluded, Canadians would place as follows: Sergt. Crowe, badge and £15; Lieut. A. Bertram, badge and £12; and, Pte. A.R. Fleming, badge and £10. On the 19th, Huggins made the prize list for the Martins Cup (200 yards, standing); and on the 22nd, he earned a badge and £7 in the competition for the St. George's Vase, along with Pte. A.R. Fleming; Staff-Sergt. A. Graham won a badge and £6. On the same day, Huggins won third prize in the Experimental Series (2). [source 11]


The Commandant of the Canadian team, Lieut.-Col. Hugh H. McLean, selected Huggins as the winner of the Canada Club trophy for the 1899 meeting. Each year, since its introduction in 1886, the Canada Club of London presented a trophy to the Canadian Commandant who, in turn, would award the trophy to a Canadian team member for various accomplishments. The Canada Club was "a very old association, which took a great interest in everything that was for the good and the prosperity of Canada. The Club desired to show its appreciation of what was being done by the soldier citizens of Canada in coming to England year by year in order to show that they could, alongside of the Imperial soldiers and volunteers of Great Britain, do their duty and learn to be an assistance in all times of need to the Empire." [12] Photograph courtesy of Rod Huggins.

From 8th May 1900 through 1913, Samuel John Huggins held the rank of Regimental Sergeant-Major with the 13th Royal Regiment.

13th battalion 1899-05-24

The family was enumerated in the 1901 census of Canada, as follows:

  • Samuel Huggins, male, white, head, married, born 23 March 1864, age 37, born in England, immigrated to Canada in 1885 [the third digit was superinscribed and is, therefore, not very legible], racial or tribal origin: Irish, Canadian, Roman Catholic; principal profession or trade: drill instructor [with “wolder PS” written above; could this be “soldier PD,” as in, “soldier physical director”?]; employed 11 months [here again, the second digit has been superinscribed and may be 12]; earnings, $850; reads and writes; speaks English.
  • Helen N., female, white, wife, married, born 7 February 1871, age 30, born in Ontario, racial origin: English, religious denomination: Methodist; reads and writes; speaks English.
  • John A., male, white, son, single, born 28 January 1896, age 5, born in Ontario, Irish, Methodist; speaks English.
  • Frank W., male, white, son, single, born 21 October 1898, age 2, do., do., do.; do. [source 13]

In February of the following year, Samuel John's eldest sister, Mary Ann, died at Winchester. Years before, two of Mary Ann's sons had emigrated to California. Her daughter, Margaret Mary, had just married and the young couple were living in Mary Ann's home. Her youngest son, Thomas James Quinn (1884-1942), would serve in the Great War as a Clerk and Quartermaster Sergeant in the Establishment for Engineers Services, 2nd Field Company, in Cairo. In addition to the oft awarded Victory, British War, and 1914/15 Star medals, Thomas earned the Meritorious Service Medal. Samuel John Huggins probably took a great interest in his nephew's involvement in the Great War.

Three more children were born to Samuel John and Helen Huggins: Helen Maud, on 13th June 1903, but who died just two days later; Ruth Evelyn, 3rd November 1907; and, Arthur Edward, 5th April 1909. The family was residing at 58 Canada Street in Hamilton at the time of Helen Maud’s birth in June, 1903, [source 14] and at 61 George Street when Ruth was born. [source 15]

In 1906 and 1909, Samuel John was a member of the Canadian shooting team sent to Bisley. The 1906 match for the Mackinnon Cup featured teams from Scotland, England, Canada, the Malay States, Guernsey, and Ireland. The Canadian team was composed of Lieut.-Col. E.W. Wilson, Captain [Commandant]; Lieut.-Col. O.E. Talbot, Adjutant; and the competitors, with their scores, fired on the 12th July: Sergeant T.H. Hayhurst (128), Colour Sergeant J. Caven (128), Sergeant Major S.J. Huggins (119), Captain W.H. Forrest (117), Sergeant H. Kerr (117), Sergeant W.A. Smith (117), Lieutenant W.H. Semple (115), Major R. Dillon (113), Captain E. Skedden (113), Sergeant D. Leask (112), Sergeant G.M. Whiteley (103), and Sergeant W.H. Youhill (94), for a total of 1376 points, bringing the Canadian team in third place behind the Scots and the English. [source 16]

bisley team 1906 caption

In 1909, the Canadians competed against Transvaal, England, Natal, Scotland, Guernsey, Ireland, Southern Rhodesia, and India. The Canadian team was composed of: Major M.S. Mercer, Captain;* Lieut.-Col. A. Bertram, Adjutant; and the competitors, with their scores, fired on the 15th July, were: Sergeant G.W. Russell (140), Lieutenant N. Smith (140), Captain T. Mitchell (138), Colour Sergeant J. Freeborn (138), Sergeant W. Kelly (138), Sergeant W.A. Smith (137), Major J.M. Jones (136), Sergeant F.H. Morris (134), Captain W.H. Forrest (133), Sergeant Major S.J. Huggins (129), Sergeant D. McInnes (129), and Captain J. McVittie (125). This performance won the Canadian team the Mackinnon Challenge Cup, with a total of 1617 points. Sergeant Russell and Lieutenant Smith earned the highest scores to date in the Bisley competition, the latter scoring the first ever 50 at 900 yards. [source 16] *Major Malcolm Smith Mercer would lose his life in the Battle of Sorrel at Ypres on 3rd June 1916. The writer’s paternal grandfather, Henry Norman Causton (1892-1980), Private, Northwest Battalion, was taken prisoner in the battle; in his memoirs, Causton wrote how keenly the death of Mercer was felt by the 3rd Canadian Division. Only a handful of men from the Northwest Battalion escaped being killed, wounded, or taken prisoner during this three-day battle.

13th regt bisley team 1908 ed sm

The annual meeting at Bisley featured a wide range of prizes—cups, medals, badges, and money—as this selection of news articles attests a splendid outing for the Canadian team in 1909.

While Samuel John was attending the meeting in Bisley, his sister, Milly, who had married and emigrated to Chicago, died on the 17th July 1909.

Samuel John and Helen Huggins' family was enumerated in the 1911 Census of Canada, as follows:

  • Samuel Huggins, 61 George street, male, head, married, born March 1864, age 47, born in England, immigrated to Canada in 1889,* racial or tribal origin: English, Canadian, Roman Catholic, Drill Instructor, employed in schools, employed 40 weeks in 1910, works 48 hours per week, total earnings in 1910 from chief occupation or trade: $1325; holds $5000 life insurance with premiums costing $162 in 1911; reads and writes; speaks English. *Samuel John was discharged from the British Army in 1892.
  • Helen, female, wife, married, born in February 1871, age 40, born in Ontario, English, Canadian, Unitarian; reads and writes; speaks English.
  • John A., male, son, single, born January 1896, age 15, born in Ontario, English, Canadian, Roman Catholic; reads and writes; speaks English.
  • Frank W., do., do., do., born October 1898, age 12, do., …
  • Ruth E., female, daughter, single, born November 1907, age 3, do., …; does not read and write; speaks English.
  • Arthur E., male, son, single, born April 1909, age 2, do., ... [source 17]

On 1st September 1912, Samuel John Huggins, gentleman, was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in the Corps of School Cadet Instructors. [source 18]

At the age of fifty, Samuel John enlisted with the 4th Battalion, 1st Brigade of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, on 21st September 1914. [source 19] As a seasoned soldier, the recruiters had probably prevailed on Samuel John and many other proven, competent soldiers to enlist. In his book, History of the County of Brant, by F. Douglas Reville wrote:
   "Of the men constituting the force fully half had served in British battalions of the regular or territorial forces. Thousands of them were veterans of the Boer war, while the others were picked men who had seen considerable training in the summer camps and winter parades of the Canadian militia. It was this force which, without training under conditions of modern warfare, saved the empire and the world within a few months at Ypres, and which, augmented by reinforcements until its four divisions formed a complete army corps, blazed a record of glory in the war in which there was much glory and many heroic engagements." [source 20]

The 4th Battalion shipped out of Québec, on the S.S. Tyrolia, on 27th September 1914, just six days after Samuel John enlisted. Some 30,000 men had been training at Valcartier for nearly a month, but this was training done in quicktime! Arriving on 23rd October at Davenport Harbour near Lavington, the Canadians were the first overseas troops to arrive in England. During the fall, the 4th Battalion was joined by others from Canada. After an inspection of the Canadian corps by the King in November, they settled into training routines made miserable by a dreary, rainy, and blustery winter season, perched atop the Salisbury Plain. The curriculum included physical training, musketry, squad and extended order drills, route marching, night work, fire and movement in the advance, scouting, training and employment of machine guns, the battalion in attack and in advance guard, manning outposts, entrenching lessons, and bayonet fighting.

After another inspection by the King on 4th February 1915, the 4th Battalion embarked for France aboard the S.S. Atlantian, arriving at St. Nazaire on 11th February. At Ypres, the men endured the mud and even more dismal, rainy weather while continuing in their instruction and training exercises.  After spending progressively more time in action on the front, the first significant engagement which drew on the Canadians was the second battle of Ypres at St. Julien. After a blistering chlorine gas attack was launched by the Germans on the 22nd April—the first ever employed on the battlefield—the 4th Battalion, and others, were brought out of reserve at 11:30 p.m. to reinforce the line. In the early evening hours of the following day, Lieut.-Col. Birchall, the officer commanding, having detected a slight hesitation in the soldiers' advance in response to the Germans' gunfire, called on the battalion to follow him. No sooner had the Lieut.-Col. turned to lead his men, than he was struck down, dead. It is at this point that the battalion earned the moniker, "The Mad Fourth," as, with a roar, the soldiers rushed into a fierce engagement of hand-to-hand combat, until they won the trench. Winning the day at St. Julien was crucial to the Allies as, otherwise, the Germans could have advanced and taken the coast of France, and all would have been lost. [sources 20, 21]

canadian wounded sm2

Private A.W. Wakeling provided a riveting account of the Second Battle of Ypres. A transcription is provided here. In his account of helping the wounded, Pte. Albert Adams wrote: "At dusk we were told to retire and bring the wounded back. That was the worst job I had. There weren't many of us and to hear the wounded calling for help, and we had to go on and leave them, as each fellow that was retiring had a wounded pal. When we got to the dressing station, it was filled with wounded, so we had to go on further to the next. I lost Blacker and Bremner somehow, and on my way back I saw Capt. Huggins from Hamilton, who was badly wounded. I was with him for an hour and a half, to get a stretcher, as he could not walk and was bleeding very badly. I finally got one and had to leave him. I have not heard if he has got better or not." [source 20]

Thankfully, Samuel John Huggins did survive. He was invalided to King Edward VII's Hospital in London on the 29th April, and placed on leave of absence from the 15th May to the 7th July, 1915. His local address was given as No. 10 Creffield Road in Ealing, Middlesex—the home of his sister-in-law, Victoria Caroline Truefitt née Baker, formerly the wife of his late brother, James Edward (1842-1888), and now married to Charles Francis Truefitt, a Scot, and commercial accountant by profession. This is a very interesting side note, as it demonstrates that this family connection survived. Samuel John's nieces, Margaret Matilda (1881-1967) and Beatrice Catherine (1882-1964) were still living at home, though each would marry late in life; his nephew, John Albert (1885-1945) was married, with one child, and living at Cricklewood in Middlesex; and, his youngest nephew, Victor Alexander (1887-1963), was a Lieutenant in the Highland Light Infantry, serving in Egypt. After their marriage in 1891, Victoria and Charles had two children, Mabel Caroline Alberta Truefitt (1893-1945) and Charles William Alexander Valentine Truefitt (1900-1977).

After a respite with Victoria and Charles, Samuel John continued home to Canada, as described in the following article, from the 6th July 1915 edition of the Toronto Star: “Huggins to Return Soon.--Capt. Jack Huggins, of the 4th Battalion, home on sick leave, stopping with Sergt.-Major (Prof.) Williams, 38 Balmoral avenue, is going to Hamilton to-day, to speak at the recruiting meeting. He is to return to the front next week as his injuries received at St. Julien, bullet wounds in the thighs, are healed.” [source 22]

After his convalescence, Capt. Huggins was posted to the newly authorized 76th Battalion. Organized under the command of Lieut.-Col. J. Ballantine, D.S.O., formerly of the 4th Battalion, the 76th merged men from the 13th Royal Regiment and the 91st Regiment of Hamilton with recruits from Barrie, Orillia, and Collingwood. Lieut.-Col. Ballantine's slate of Staff Officers included the following:

  • Senior Major.—Lt. S.J. Huggins, with rank of Major, 4th Batt. C.E.F.
  • Junior Major.—Capt. R.R. Barber, with rank of Major, Corps of Guides.
  • Adjutant.— Lt. G.W.M. Ballard, with rank of Capt. 4th Batt. C.E.F.
  • Asst. Adjutant.—Lt. A.H.A. Arbuthnot, 31st Battery C.F.A, &c.

   A few changes were made on the 20th August, with S.J. Huggins' home unit recorded as the Corps of School Cadet Instruction.

Several regimental committees were formed in August, 1915, including the Sports Committee which included, Capt. E.R.J. Biggs, President, Major S.J. Huggins, and Capt. A.H.A. Arbuthnot. Athletics and athletic contests were provided for the men, in the form of inter-battalion leagues in baseball, football, and hockey, and track and field meets. On the 23rd and 30th October (Company and Battalion contests, respectively), the men of the 76th competed in events such as the 100 yards dash, the 220 and the 440 yards races, one mile, high jump, long jump, hop-step-and-jump, putting the shot, and one mile walking race in full marching order.

On the 30th September, the 76th shipped off 225 men, consisting of five Lieutenants and 220 rank and file, to supply a draft of reinforcements to the overseas battalions. The Battalion spent the following winter, training in winter quarters at Barrie, Ontario. On the 4th February 1916, the Battalion was inspected by the G.O.C. 2nd Division Brig.-Gen. W.A. Logie, after which the men awaited the call to sail overseas.

76th battalion 1915b

Photograph of Lt.-Col. J. Ballantine, D.S.O., and Officers of the 76th Overseas Battalion, C.E.F, Niagara Camp, 1915. Click on the above image, to view it at full size, in another window. Source of the photograph, and reference for the preceding paragraphs: Historical Record of the 76th Overseas Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, compiled by the Rev. E.R.J. Biggs (Toronto: The Hunter-Rose Co., Limited, 1915-1916).

Three months later, Major S.J. Huggins was transferred to another newly formed Battalion, the 120th, based in the city of Hamilton, Ontario. The following news article, from the 11th December 1915 edition of The Toronto World, describes the formation of the battalion, including the selection of Samuel John Huggins as second-in-command:

   Col. Fearman Chooses Staff for Battalion.
   Majors Huggins and Thompson, Senior Officers, and
   Capt. Burbidge, Adjutant.
   County is Forbidden.
   Recruiting for One Hundred and Twenty-Ninth Cut Off
   in the City.
     Hamilton, Saturday, Dec. 11.——After a month's
   deliberation, Lieut.-Col. Geo. D. Fearman has
   announced his staff for the 120th City of Hamilton
   Battalion. The personnel is as follows: Major S.J.
   Huggins, senior major; Major J.J. Thomson, junior
   major; Capt. H.A. Burbidge, adjutant; Lieut. J.T.
   Green, medical officer; Capt. W. Fortye, paymaster;
   Captain (Canon) S. Daw, chaplain; Company Officers,
   Major G.W. Black, Major J. Conor, Major A. Turner,
   Lieut. G.R. Webber, Lieut. G.M. Leslie, Lieut. A.K.
   Wilson, Lieut. T.A. Irvin, Lieut. J.D. Tyrell.
     The work of organizing the battalion will proceed
   at once. The strength is now 400 odd men and
   strenuous efforts will be made to acquire the 600
   men to complete the complement. The battalion will
   not move into their headquarters at the Westing-
   house, West Hamilton, until three companies are
     Recruiting was good yesterday at the depots of
   the 13th Royal and 91st Highlanders. About 23 men
   applied, and those who are enlisted will be added
   to the strength of the 120th.
     The 129th County of Wentworth Battalion will not
   recruit in Hamilton. Orders have been received from
   Ottawa that they must confine their activity to the
   county. As a result of the order a recruiting office
   will be established at Ottawa street for the 120th
     Men Must Salute.
     The chief recruiting officer received a special
   order re the behavior of recruits and necessity of
   the salute. It is stated that some recruits are in
   the habit of passing officers unnoticed. He was
   instructed to impress upon the men the necessity
   that they must all salute officers.
     Word was received yesterday that two carloads of
   supplies had arrived at the divisional headquarters
   in Toronto and would be sent out as requisitioned
   by the recruiting depots.
     It was announced that twenty members of the
   Salvation Army Band had enlisted to serve with the
   band of the 120th. It was also rumored that Alex.
   Nelligan, for many years a member of the 13th
   Regiment Band, tho recently not connected with the
   organization, would be the bandmaster of the 120th.
   [source 23]

On 5th January 1916, an Officers’ Declaration Paper was processed: this document indicates that Samuel John was promoted to the rank of Major with the 120th (City of Hamilton) Battalion. Oher information recorded on the Officers’ Declaration form included: born at Winchester, Hants, England; present address: 178 Cartier Street, Ottawa; born 23rd March 1864; next-of-kin: Helen Neolia Huggins, 178 Cartier St., Ottawa, wife; profession or occupation: Physical Director; religion: Roman Catholic; willing to be vaccinated, re-vaccinated and inoculated; belongs to what Unit of the Active Militia: C.S.C.I. (Corps of School Cadet Instructors); former military experience: 12 years Imperial Service and 20 years C.M. [source 19]

Recruitment for the 120th kept up a rapid pace, but not without a few hiccoughs, as related in this article from the 7th January 1916 edition of The Toronto World:

   Day's Recruiting Toll.
   Clerks Still Feel Insulted When Asked to Enlist by
   the Sergeants.
   Big Parade Tonight.
   Recruiting Officers Instructed to Let Munition Workers
     Alone in Future.
     Hamilton, Friday, Jan. 7.—The third day of this
   city's monster recruiting campaign by means of which
   the military and recruiting authorities expect to
   add approximately 500 men to the 120th Battalion,
   resulted in 63 men being sworn in by 10 o'clock last
   night. Despite the fact that close to 100 men were
   recruited in the two previous days, the sergeants
   were kept busy, and before noon had close to 25
   enlisted at the depots of the 13th and 91st Regi-
   ments. Tho considerable recruiting has been done
   thruout the different offices a very low average of
   the clerks have enlisted. That something more
   forcible than word of mouth appeal is necessary to
   bring this type of slackers to the sense of duty is
   the opinion of the majority of recruiting sergeants.
     Clerks Indignant.
     Some of the sergeants state that the average clerk
   is highly insulted when asked to enlist, and tries
   to make it appear as if it is his good nature and
   tolerance that allows the sergeants to address him
   on such a question. One sergeant who interviewed a
   clerk found that the latter did not know the differ-
   ence between infantry and artillery. The sergeant
   was so abashed by such ignorance that as he explained
   later, "I didn't have the heart to ask him if he knew
   who was fighting." The campaign will continue today,
   with the same staff, that is the men under the command
   of Sergeant "Pete" Whitney, but all energies will be
   directed by the authorities to make Saturday the
   banner day.
     Fifty sergeants will be added, making the staff
   total 100. All the offices and factories will be
   combed again as much as possible to pick up the
   stragglers. Parades of the various regimental bands
   will likely be held during the day. In the evening,
   as a grand climax, a huge parade will be held. It
   will be composed of bands, the sergeants who worked
   in the campaign and all the recruits obtained by them.
     Band Frozen Up.
     An attempt was made last night to hold the usual
   parade, but the instruments of the 120th froze up.
   The sergeants, however, proceeded to the theatres
   and worked among the crowds for recruits. Another
   prominent manufacturer of munitions has complained
   to the chief recruiting officer about the zeal of
   the new recruiters, claiming that they have been
   enlisting or trying to enlist men employed on
   munitions. As a result arrangements have been made
   with the managers of the munition factories that
   they shall furnish the chief recruiting officer with
   a list of the names and addresses of their employees
   who are not actually required for work on munitions
   and they will be visited at their homes, the
   recruiters being instructed to keep away from the
   munition factories in future. …
     Major Robertson takes exception to the figures
   given for publication by Major Williams, senior
   recruiting officer of this district. Major Robertson
   believes that the total of recruiting done in
   Hamilton should be at least 5000, instead of 3819.
   [source 24]

Like most families, the Hugginses probably alternated between holding their collective breath about their sons, brothers, and uncles who were soldiers, on the one hand, and being too busy with the war effort to worry about it, on the other. Samuel John would have understood that the family had managed to escape the fate suffered by most: the telegram delivered to the front door, announcing that a beloved son had been killed in action and, worse, his body lost forever to the muck of Flanders. These visitations of grief, so palpable, ubiquitous, and unceasing, did finally come to the family of Samuel John's sister, Agnes Louisa, and her husband, Alfred Casey Williams. Reported missing at the end of that devasting battle at Mount Sorrel, waged between 3rd and 6th June 1916, was their only son, John Harold Williams. By the end of June, his death was confirmed … and his body was never found. Just nineteen years of age when he died, John had enlisted just after his eighteenth birthday. His name joins the tens of thousands whose remains were lost to the trenches of Ypres, their names etched inside the arch of the Menin Gate.

The 120th Battalion sailed from Halifax on the 14th August 1916, arrived at Liverpool ten days later, then billeted at Bramshott Camp. The battalion was absorbed, with the 173rd, into the 2nd Reserve Battalion on 20th January 1917. On the 5th March 1917, Major Huggins was posted to the 2nd Central Ontario Regimental Depot. Depot battalions were formed to obtain personnel in Canada, who would then be sent to the Canadian Reserve Battalions in England. The 2nd Depot Battalion, under the command of Lieut.-Col. A.J. McCausland, recruited men to reinforce the 54th, 116th, 125th, and 164 Battalions through the 2nd Canadian Reserve Battalion. [sources 19, 25, 31]

On the 10th July 1917, Huggins was attached to the Canadian Musketry Camp at Mytchett, near Aldershot in Surrey, England, as Camp Commandant. Continuing on as the camp commandant, he was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel from 16th July 1918 to 24th December 1918. On the 2nd January 1919, he was posted to the 8th Reserve Battalion, and promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel on the 16th. Lieut.-Col. S.J. Huggins sailed home to Canada two days later, and was honourably discharged from the Canadian Expeditionary Force [C.E.F.] at Toronto on the 29th February, 1920. [source 19]

More details from Samuel John Huggins' service record from the C.E.F. are posted here.

Samuel John Huggins’ name was recorded in The Roll of Honour of the Ontario Teachers Who Served in the Great War, 1914-1918 (pub. Ontario Ministry of Education, 1922). In the Fall 1914 edition of Vox Lycei, the journal of the Ottawa Collegiate Institiute (O.C.I., later Lisgar Collegiate) was published the following paragraph, under the heading, War Notes: “Capt. S.J. Huggins served in the Burmese Expedition, receiving a medal with one clasp. He became drill instructor of the School in 1912. His excellent work with the Cadet Corps is well known, and he is exceedingly popular throughout the institution. He is Adjutant of the 4th Battalion.” Samuel John’s name, and those of his sons, John Alfred and Frank William, are inscribed on a tablet in the corridor leading to the Assembly Hall of Lisgar Collegiate (pub. Lisgar Collegiate Centenary: 1843-1943, Ottawa). Excerpts from the latter publication, of particular interest to our subject, include the following:
   An event of some consequence to the life of the School for the ensuing years before the War and during the War years took place with the arrival of Sergeant-Major Huggins. The sergeant-major was a lovable character who had seen the world, and was highly esteemed by the boys. He severed his connection with the School later during World War I [1916].
   An indoor rifle range was opened, with Dr. McDougall firing the first shot, on November 12, 1912. …
   A great break came to two youngsters of the School when Sergeant A. McNab and Lieutenant F. Huggins, of the local Cadet Corps, were sent to England as part of the Junior Imperial Cadet Rifle team of Great Britain. Sergeant McNab—incidentally—is a well-known successful Ottawa physician today. (pg. 134)
   After the War, an entry under the year, 1920, states: “The rifle team of the Cadet Corps went to the O.R.A. matches at Long Branch, where they were given a 'reception royal' by Lt. Col. S.J. Huggins, Director of Physical Training at the O.C.I. before the war." (pg. 141) Note: O.C.I. was the Ottawa Collegiate Institute, later Lisgar Collegiate.
   Interestingly, a young musician, named Hugh Marshall Mackenzie Huggins, was also a student of Lisgar Collegiate, cotemporary with Frank William Huggins. Hugh and Frank, both born in 1898, were fourth cousins, descended from the Huggins family of Glenarb townland, county Tyrone, in Ireland. Hugh’s grandfather had been a Sergeant-Major with the Royal Artillery (British Army), and his father was a barrister and court reporter in the Exchequer Court of Canada. One wonders whether the subject of their forebears ever arose. Hugh would become the organist for All Saints Church in Ottawa.

On 16th January 1919, Samuel John Huggins, O.B.E. (Lieutenant-Colonel, C.E.F.) was assigned the rank of Lieutenant, as Organizer and Inspector of Cadet Corps, M.D. No. 2. [source 26]

A few months later, Samuel John's sister, Agnes Louisa, succumbed to grief, her only son having been killed in action at Ypres in 1916.

News article from the 1st June 1920 edition of The Hamilton Spectator:

   Awards Are Presented To School Cadets.
   Three Medals Won By Capt. G. T. Wilson.
   Fine Showing Is Made In Drill.
   Collegiate Cadets Reviewed By Col. Huggins.
     Looking fit and trim, the collegiate cadet corps was
   reviewed by Lieut.-Col. S. J. Huggins, of Toronto and
   Colonel Books, in the armories last night, and were
   pronounced to be a finer body of youths than any cadet
   corps that had been reviewed in the armories heretofore.
   Numbering 160 in strength, the corps, under the command
   of Corps Commander G. R. Allan, presented a striking
   spectacle of military precision to the crowd of specta-
   tors that assembled to witness the review. The 13th
   Regimental band supplied the music and the march past
   was executed in a manner which drew forth favorable
   comment from Colonel Huggins. An exhibition of signaling
   was given by the signaling corps, in which speed and
   deftness gained by long practice and careful training
   were displayed. The gymnasium class provided an
   interesting series of “stunts” upon the gym horse,
   performing numerous exercises requiring great agility
   without a single failure. How a machine gun is prepared
   for action was demonstrated by the machine gun corps,
   who brought their two guns into position for firing
   within a few minutes after the order was given, and
   performed all their duties with the quick military
   precision that marked all the work done by the cadets.
   A sword drill, in which the various thrusts and feints
   were made simultaneously, following the leadership of
   the instructor, Captain Cornelius, proved to be one of
   the most interesting features of the evening. Physical
   drills, also under Captain Cornelius’ leadership, were
   executed with great regularity, none of the youths
   failing to keep in perfect time with the leader.
     Medals were presented to the winners in the Dominion
   marksmanship competition by Lieut.-Col. Huggins.
   Captain G. F. Wilson was the winner of a gold, silver
   and a bronze medal, and the three trophies were pinned
   upon his breast by Col. Huggins. Captain Irwin Francis
   was awarded a silver medal, and Lieutenant Crawford
   also a silver medal.
     Sir John Kirke and J. P. Bell presented sashes to 12
   cadets for proficiency in general work. Those to receive
   the sashes were Corps Commander G. R. Allan, Captain
   I. R. Francis, Lieut. Harry Hannon, Sergeant-Major
   James Wagner, Sergeant A. E. Hogarth, Sergeant Jas.
   Holman, Corp. Batzold, Corp R. Thompson, Bugler Gordon
   Robinson, Privates Victor Pickard, Rose Lymburner, J.
   Orr, Honorable mention, Corporal Gerald Hay and Private
     Before the corps was dismissed, Colonel Huggins
   addressed the boys shortly, complimenting them upon
   their fine appearance, and urging them to carry on the
   work that they had done during the year. Their training
   was such that they would grow up to be good, strong
   bodied, clean-minded citizens, he said.
   [source 27]

The family was enumerated in the 1921 census, as follows:

  • Samuel J. Huggins, 36 Garnock Ave.; owns home, constructed of brick, 7 rooms; head, age 57, born in England, parents born in Ireland, immigrated to Canada in 1895 [final digit has been superinscribed; might be 1893], nationality: Canadian, racial or tribal origin: Irish, speaks English, does not speak French, speaks no language other than English or French, religion: Roman Catholic; [occupation obscured by enumerator’s or census staff’s handwriting]; reads and writes; total earnings past 12 months since June 1, 1920: $3200.
  • Helen H., wife, age 50, born in Ontario, parents born in Ontario, Canadian, English, speaks English, does not speak French, speaks no language other than English or French; religion: Presbyterian; reads and writes.
  • Frank W., son, age 23, born in Ontario, father born in England, mother born in Ontario, Canadian, racial or tribal origin: Irish, speaks English, does not speak French, speaks no language other than English or French, Roman Catholic, reads and writes; in school 8 months since Sept. 1, 1920; occupation: student.
  • Ruth E., daughter, age 13, do., … in school 9 months
  • Arthur E., son, age 12, do., ... in school 9 months [source 28]

In January, 1922, Samuel John lost his brother-in-law, Alfred Casey Williams (1862-1922), husband of his late sister, Agnes. Casey had been a physical director for the University of Toronto for thirty years, and served a brief stint with the 48th Highlanders during the Great War. Plagued by bronchitis since the summer of 1921, Casey did not recover, dying of broncho pneumonia. Samuel John oversaw the arrangements for an elaborate funeral for his friend, which was attended by many of the sporting community and his colleagues from the Great War.

Five months later, perhaps worn out by grief and the trials of a long military career, and plagued by a strain of cardiac disease that had been felling Huggins males before the age of sixty since the 1700s, Samuel John died suddenly, as noticed by the Toronto Daily Star in its 14th June 1922 edition: "HUGGINS--Suddenly at Hamilton, on June 12th. Lieut.-Colonel Samuel J. Huggins, beloved husband of Helen E. Sheppard, in his 58th year. Funeral from his late residence, 36 Garnock avenue, on Thursday, at 9:30 a.m., to St Ann’s Church. Interment Mount Hope Cemetery. Members of Toronto Council, Knights of Columbus, will meet at above address tonight at 8:30." [source 29]

The following article, from the 16th June 1922 edition of The Globe and Mail, describes the semi-military funeral accorded Samuel John Huggins:

   War Comrades Attend Rites.
   Large Concourse Present at Col. S.J. Huggins’
   Funeral Yesterday.
   Semi-Military Burial.
     Striking testimony of the esteem and affection in
   which he was held in life was evidenced by the large
   attendance of military and civilian friends at the
   funeral of Col. S.J. Huggins, Inspector of Cadets,
   yesterday morning. At St. Ann’s Church, the service
   was conducted by Rev. Father Pennylegion.
     Owing to the absence of the regulars in camp with
   their equipment, the funeral was of a semi-military
   nature. The casket was covered with the Union Jack
   and an escort of 150 public school cadets from Pape,
   Frankland and Wilkinson Schools was supplied. With
   reversed arms they escorted the carriage from the
   residence of the deceased, 36 Garnock avenue, to St.
   Ann’s Church, where the service of the Roman Catholic
   Church was held.
     The officers of headquarters staff and many of those
   who had served overseas with Col. Huggins also marched
   from the residence to the church. Upon arrival at St.
   Ann’s the cadets lined up and the casket was carried
   into the auditorium. The cadets were then dismissed,
   and marched back to their schools. Majors Wayling and
   Blaney were in charge of the escort.
     The board of Education was represented by Chairman
   Percy M. Douglass and Trustee B.J. Miller, Chairman
   of the Cadet Committee, with James W. Burns, Secretary
   of the board. Col. Huggins had just completed the
   inspection of the public school companies in Toronto.
     The pall-bearers, with one exception, were officers
   who had served overseas with their dead comrade in the
   Fourth Battalion. The exception was Col. R.K. Barker,
   who was Col. Huggins’ colleague in the office of
   Inspector of Cadets. The other pall-bearers were: Col.
   Colter, Lieut.-Col. N.W. Young, Major Bennett and
   Major Youngsley.
     Representing Military Headquarters were: Lieut.-Col.
   Boak, Lieut.-Col. Panet and Captain Grant-Suptie.
   Others present were: Lieut.-Col. Wallace, 36th
   Battalion; Lieut.-Col. Clarke, 12th York Rangers;
   Major G.R. Rodgers, Camp Borden; Lieut.-Col. A.E.
   Goodherham and Col. John T. Thompson, commander of
   the Toronto public school cadets. There were also a
   number of younger officers who served overseas with
   Col. Huggins.
     At the close of the service in the church the
   cortege proceeded to Mount Hope Cemetery, where
   interment took place.
     This is the first time in some years that the cadets
   have turned out to escort a military funeral.
   [source 30]

During his military career, Samuel John Huggins (1864-1922) was awarded the following order and service medals: Officer of the Order of the British Empire (military); India, General Service Medal, Burma 1885-7; 1914–15 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal; and, Volunteer Force Long Service Medal (Colonies), Edward VII.

sjh medals 2

Photograph of medals awarded to S.J. Huggins, courtesy of Rod Huggins.

samuel john on horse

Photograph of Samuel John Huggins, courtesy of Carole Herbert.

Postscript: After the death of Samuel John, the sole survivor of the Huggins family was his elder sister, Sarah (Sadie) Selina Kilpatrick née Huggins (1855-1928). Three of Samuel John and Helen Huggins' four surviving children married, with six grandchildren and several great-grandchildren ensuing from these unions.

See also the blog article: Samuel John Huggins (1864–1922), O.B.E.


  1. Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935; original records: Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Department of Employment and Immigration fonds, Series RG 76-C, microfilm roll C-4528; digital copies held by (accessed by subscription).
  2. (a) Schedule C, Deaths, Province of Ontario; John Huggins, died 8 October 1876; place of death: Allansville, Stephenson Twp, Victoria/Muskoka County, Ontario, Canada; cause of death: inflammation of lungs; religious denomination: Roman Catholic; age, rank or profession, where born: not known; informant: C.G. King; registrar: T.H.C. Osborne; original records: Ontario Archives, MS 935, registration no. 009143; photocopy obtained from the Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah (January, 2004); submitted by A. Kilpatrick; (b) Huggins, John Alfred (1896-1962), eldest son of Samuel John Huggins. Family history notes prepared for his niece, Mary E. Brandum née Huggins (1926-2007), March 1962; from the collection of Carole Herbert (received, with thanks, 2015-01-25); and, (c) Globe and Mail (Toronto), 12 October 1876. "An Old Soldier's Last March," re: death of John Joseph Huggins; digital copy obtained by Rod Huggins, Ottawa, from the ProQuest database (accessed 2015-10-24).
  3. British Army Service Record; original records: National Archives of the United Kingdom, ref. WO97/3110/51, John Huggins, soldier no. 2148; digital copies held by (accessed 2010-06-12, by subscription).
  4. England 1881 Census; John Huggins, Stoke Damerel, Devonshire; original record: PRO ref. RG11, piece 2208, folio 104, page 24; digital copies held by (accessed 2006-12-23).
  5. Canada 1891 Census; Toronto, Ontario, District 119, St. Andrew's Ward; original records: Library and Archives Canada, series RG31-C-1, Statistics Canada fonds, microfilm reels T-6290 to T-6427; digital copies held by (accessed 2012-03-04, by subscription).
  6. The Origin and History of the Thirteenth Battalion of Infantry, by Lieutenant-Colonel E.A. Cruikshank (Hamilton: E.L. Ruddy, 1899).
  7. Schedule B, Marriages, Province of Ontario, cert. no. 013284; 17 October 1895, Dundas, Wentworth County; solemnized by E.J. Hernan; Samuel J. Huggins, 31 years, residence in Hamilton, born in England, bachelor, drill instructor, Roman Catholic, father: John Joseph Huggins, mother; Margaret Burke; Helen N. Shepard, 24 years, residence in Hamilton, born at Thorold, Ontario, spinster, Protestant, father: Gideon Reynolds Shepard, mother: Harriet Coutts; witnesses: T.A. Bertram and Nelly Tew, of Dundas; original records: Ontario Archives, MS 932.
  8. Schedule A, Births, Province of Ontario; 28 January 1896; father: Samuel John Huggins, mother: Helen Neolia Shepard; informant: A. Williams, 102 August avenue, Toronto; file no. 044441; original records: Ontario Archives, MS 929; digital copies held by (accessed 2008-06-29, by subscription).
  9. Schedule A, Births, Province of Ontario; date of birth: 21 October 1898, registered: 16 November 1898; Hamilton, Wentworth County; father: Saml John Huggins, mother: Ella Neolen Shepard [sic]; file no. 046044; original records: Ontario Archives, MS 929.
  10. St. John Daily Sun, 20 July 1896, Google News Archive, (accessed 2014-12-15).
  11. London Standard, 12 July 1899; Hampshire Telegraph, 15 July 1899; Manchester Courier, 18 July 1899; London Standard, 20 July 1899; Sheffield Independent, 24 July 1899; and, Western Times, 25 July 1899; online at the British Newspaper Archive, (accessed 2014-12-13).
  12. The Times, 5 July 1899, and the London Daily News, 22 July 1898, courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive, online at (accessed 2014-12-14); and, 129th Canadian Fullbore Rifle Championships, 2011 (The Dominion of Canada Rifle Association, L'Association de Tire Dominion du Canada).
  13. Canada 1901 Census, Hamilton West, Ward 2, page 24; original records: Library and Archives of Canada; digitial copies hosted by (accessed 2006-12-23).
  14. Schedule A, Births, Province of Ontario, cert. no. 047618; born 13 June 1903, registered 17 June 1903; place of birth: Hamilton, Wentworth County, Ontario; father: Saml John Huggins, Instructor; mother: Helen Shepard; address: 58 Canada Street; original records: Ontario Archives, MS 929.
  15. Schedule A, Births, Province of Ontario, cert. no. 052243; born 3 November 1907, registered 28 November 1907; place of birth: Hamilton, Wentworth County, Ontario; father: Saml John Huggins, Instructor; mother: Helen Shepard; address: 61 George Street; original records: Ontario Archives, MS 929; digital copies held by (accessed 2008-06-29, by subscription).
  16. National Rifle Association, Bisley Matches from 1900-1949, online at (accessed 2010-02-04).
  17. Canada 1911 Census; Hamilton, Ontario, District 78, Ward 1, Subdistrict 3; original records: Library and Archives Canada, Census of Canada, 1911, Series RG31-C-1, Statistics Canada fonds; digital copies held by (accessed 2009-01-10, by subscription).
  18. The Canada Gazette (1913), pg. 3159.
  19. Soldiers of the First World War, 1914-1918; Officers' Declaration Paper, 5 January 1916; Library and Archives Canada, online at (accessed 2004-10-26). Also, Particulars of Service, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Lieutenant-Colonel, Samuel John Huggins (Public Archives Canada, Records Management, for Head, Canadian Forces Records Centre, Ottawa, 26 February 1979. More details from Samuel John Huggins' service record from the C.E.F. are posted here.
  20. History of the County of Brant, by F. Douglas Reville, Vol. II (Brantford: The Hurley Printing Company, Limited, 1920).
  21. The "Mad Fourth": The 4th Canadian Infantry Battalion at War, 1914-1916, by Andrew Iarocci, thesis submitted to the Department of History in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Arts degree (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University, 2001).
  22. Toronto Star, 6 July 1915, online at (accessed by subscription).
  23. The Toronto World, 11 December 1915, Google News Archive, (accessed 2014-12-14).
  24. The Toronto World, 7 January 1916, Google News Archive, (accessed 2014-12-14).
  25. 120th (City of Hamilton) CEF, citing Canadian Forces Publication A-DH-267-003, Insignia and Lineages of the Canadian Forces, Vol. III: Contact Arms Regiments; (2) Over the Top! The Canadian Infantry in the First World War, by John F. Meek (Orangeville, Ontario: The Author, 1971), online at (accessed 2014-12-14); and (3) 120th/134th Battalions CEF, post by Martin Reed to the Great War Forum, 3rd February 2010, online at (accessed 2014-12-14).
  26. The Canada Gazette (1919), pg. 3159.
  27. The Hamilton Spectator, 1 June 1920, Google News Archive, (accessed 2014-12-13).
  28. Canada 1921 Census; Toronto, Ontario, Toronto East, district no. 131, subdistrict no. 27, ward 1, page 3; original records: Library and Archives Canada, Sixth Census of Canada, 1921 (Ottawa, Series RG31, Statistics Canada fonds, folder no. 89); digital copies held by (accessed 2013-12-31, by subscription).
  29. Toronto Daily Star, Death notice for Samuel John Huggins, 14 June 1922, pg. 21 (accessed by subscription).
  30. The Globe and Mail, 16 June 1922 (accessed by subscription).
  31. Guide to Sources Relating to the Units of the Canadian Expeditionary Force: Depot Battalions, pub. Library and Archives Canada.

If you have a family history connection to a Huggins family from the county of Tyrone—or if you have information to add to the biographical sketches presented here—please consider getting in touch via the contact page.

This page was published on the 14th December 2015, and edited subsequently on the 26th May 2015, 10th June 2015, 11th June 2015; and on the 24th October 2015 for an article published in the 12th October edition of the Globe and Mail newspaper, furnished by Rod Huggins, Ottawa; subsequently edited on the 18th November 2015, and the 26th December 2015 (for a link to the blog article).

Return to Huggins of Glenarb, parish of Aghaloo index page.
Return to Biographical sketches, outlines, and timelines index page.

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© Alison Kilpatrick, 2014. All rights reserved.
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"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there."—Lesley Poles Hartley (1895–1972), The Go-Between (1953).

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