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News transcripts for the 39th Dépôt at Chatham, 1825–1839

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Drawing of Brompton Barracks in Chatham in 1841; one of the barracks in the town of Chatham where John Burke worked as regimental tailor of the 39th Regiment from 1825 to 1839.
Brompton Barracks, Chatham (1841). Notice and image credit.

Note: — All transcripts of news articles for the 39th Dépôt at Chatham, 1825–1839, by Alison Kilpatrick from digital images online at The British Newspaper Archive™ [BNA] (accessed 2015-10-29). See Notice for further information.

Arrival of the first division of the 39th, Sept. 1825: — “The first division of the 39th Regiment arrived on the 28th ult. at Chatham, from Cork, in the Hope transport.” — Source: Southern Reporter, 6 Oct. 1824.

Death of Major Charles Carthew, Dec. 1825: — Died.—On the 28th ult. at Chatham Barracks, Major Charles Carthew, of the 39th regt. in which he had served with great credit to himself in most of the arduous conflicts in Spain.” — Source: Bury and Norwich Post, 25 Jan. 1826.

Court Martial, Jan. 1826: — “At a General Court Martial held on the 4th and 5th inst. at the Mess Room of the Royal Marine Barracks, Chatham, composed of officers of the Line and Royal Marines; a private marine named Foster, was found guilty of striking Ensign Butler, of the 39th Regiment of Foot. The prisoner having no witnesses to call, pleaded intoxication; and handed in a written paper containing a strong appeal to the feelings of the Members of the Court; and submitting himself to their mercy. He was sentenced to receive 600 lashes, which sentence was carried into execution on the morning of the 9th inst. at the Spur Battery, near fort Amherst, in the presence of the whole garrison, with a view of deterring his fellow soldiers from the commission of a crime, the most subversive of all military discipline, and which not unfrequently subjects the offender to capital punishment.—Roches. G.” — Source: Belfast Commercial Chronicle, 28 Jan. 1826.

Stealing a Shawl, Mar. 1826: — “Wm. Davis, a private in the 30th regiment of Foot, has been committed to Maidstone Gaol by the Rev. A. Browne, for trial at the Assizes, charged with stealing a shawl from the person of Elizabeth Ann High, on the Military Road, near the Brook, Chatham about eight o’clock in the evening of Wednesday last. The prisoner forcibly snatched the shawl from the shoulders of the young woman, and made his escape to the Barracks, but being known to a soldier who was passing at the time, he pointed him out to a serjeant, who found the shawl concealed under his coat.” — Source: Kentish Weekly Post, 17 Mar. 1826.

Private William Clarke drowned, July 1826: — “Thursday se’nnight an inquest was held by Mr. T. Patten, Coroner, on the body of Wm. Clarke, a private in the 54th regiment of Foot, lying dead in the South Hospital, Chatham Barracks. The deceased, while bathing in St. Mary’s Creek on Wednesday, called for help, and Simon Molloy, a private in the same regiment, who was near him at the time, caught hold of his head, but from the strength of the current he was unable to keep on his legs, and deceased clinging to his neck, he had great difficulty in saving himself, and deceased sunk immediately;—Verdict—’Accidentally drowned.’—Kerry Advertiser.” Source: Kentish Weekly Post, 14 July 1826.

Casualty of riot at Chatham, Oct. 1826: — “In a riot among a party of soldiers in Chatham on Saturday night, one of them belonging to the 3d (Buffs) had one of his eyes knocked out.” — Source: Kentish Weekly Post, 13 Oct. 1826.

Soldiers charged for theft, Mar. 1827: — “John Gaven, 21, soldier, for stealing fifteen yards of ribbon, value 15s., the property of Thos. Rees, at Chatham. Three months’ imprisonment and hard labor.
   John Moore, 31, soldier, for stealing a metal broach, a buckle, three yards of lace, fourteen caps, a bed quilt, six chemises, seven frocks, and other articles, value £12 5s. 6d., the property of Hiram John Maycock, at Chatham.
   Prosecutor was landlord of the Queen’s Head, Chatham. The articles laid in the indictment were stolen on the 3d March from the house by prisoner, who is a soldier of the 54th foot. He took them to a house where there were some girls, one of whom he persuaded to pawn some of the property. The pawnbroker stopped the girl, and took her to her house, with a constable; there they found the prisoner who acknowledged that he gave the girl the things to pawn. The remainder of the property was found in a straw bed in the house, where prisoner said he had placed them. Death—Recorded.” — Source: South Eastern Gazette, 27 Mar. 1827.

Court Martial of Lieut. John Smeaton Brooke, Sept. 1827: — “General Court Martial.—The following trial, which excited considerable interest in the garrison of Chatham and its neighbourhood, took place in that fort, on the 13th, 14th, and 15th days of the present month. The court, of which Colonel Thackwell, of the 15th Hussars, was president, was composed of officers selected from the different troops stationed at Canterbury, Dover, Deal, Chatham, &c.
   “Lieutenant John Smeaton Brooke, of the 45th regiment of Foot, was charged with conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, as specified in the following charges:—
   “1st. For being, on or about the 27th day of June, 1827, in the public streets of Chatham, out of uniform, and dressed in plain clothes, contrary to the general orders and regulations of the army.
   “2d. For being, on or about the 27th day of June, 1827, in the public streets of Chatham, in a disgraceful state of intoxication.
   “3d. For assaulting and striking Corporal John Graham, of the 63d regiment of Foot, on or about the night of the said 27th day of June, 1827, near the garrison of Chatham, he, the said Corporal John Graham, being then the corporal of the picquet guard, and in due execution of his duty.
   “The accused, who is a very young man, entered the court, accompanied by his guardian and his counsel. He pleaded “not guilty” to the above charges.
   “Before the oath was administered to the members of the court, Lieutenant Brooke, on being required to state if he had any objection to urge against any of them, suggested, that one gentleman be asked whether he had not expressed himself, during Mr. Brooke’s confinement, in unfavourable terms of his conduct. Upon the answer to that question would depend, he said, whether he would object to that gentleman or not.
   “The court having been cleared for a short time, the accused, upon his re-admission, was informed, that in the opinion of the court, the question could not be put. The officer referred to observed at the same time, that he thought a perusal of the terms of the oath about to be administered to him might have prevented the question from being suggested. He professed himself willing, however, to withdraw. Mr. Brooke said he was perfectly satisfied, and withdrew his objection. The court was then sworn.
   “Colonel Monro, of the Royal Artillery, the Deputy Judge Advocate, briefly opened the case for the prosecution, stating that that painful duty devolved upon him in the absence of any ostensible prosecutor. He read a report made by Ensign Dalton, of the First, or Royals, the officer on duty on the night in question, of the conduct of Lieutenant Brooke upon that occasion; which report, however, he admitted, as it was drawn up from the statement of others, was not evidence. He only read it, therefore, to show who were the parties on duty that night, that they might now be examined respecting their knowledge of all that occurred. Having then shortly adverted to the circumstances on which the charges were founded, he called the following witnesses:—
   “Ensign Henry Augustus Dalton, of the First, Royals, stated, that he knew Lieutenant Brooke. Witness was on duty at Chatham on the 27th of June last; was officer of the picquet. The report shown to witness was his report. Sergeant Richardson, of the 13th Light Infantry, and Corporal Graham, of the 63d regiment of Foot, belonged to the picquet that day, and some privates of the Marines, whose names the witness could not recollect. He saw Lieutenant Brooke at half-past nine o’clock on that evening, near Chatham barrier. He was in coloured clothes, and ordered out the picquet. Witness ordered them in again. Mr. Brooke was not sober. He was then going down to Chatham.
   “On his cross-examination the witness said that there was a friend with Mr. Brooke; but he was certain that it was he who ordered out the piquet, because he knew him very well; and when he remonstrated with him on turning out the picquet, he abused witness, saying he was only an ensign.
   Corporal John Graham, of the 63d regiment, was on duty on piquet on the 27th of June last in Chatham. He knows Lieutenant Brooke by seeing him here. He cannot say he saw him on the 27th of June last in Chatham, but he saw him on that day in the barracks here. Witness went the rounds between 11 and 12 o’clock that night. He cannot say it was Lieut. Brooke he saw that night. Was struck by a gentleman, but cannot say whether he was the gentleman or not. Sergeant Richardson, of the 13th Light Infantry, was with the piquet. Richard Mawdesley, James Duff, and Lawrence Mansfield, of the Royal Marines, were also on the piquet that night. Witness was struck three times by the same gentleman. The gentleman was dressed in a coloured coat, white trousers and a round hat. He was in liquor. There was another gentleman with him at first; a crowd was afterwards collected. This occurred outside the Globe Inn, in Chatham.
   “Cross-examined.—Witness never received any unkindness at the hand of Lieut. Brooke; nor then to his knowledge.
   [Article continues over 4-1/2 columns in the newspaper, including a lengthy statement of defence, concluding with:]
   “No evidence was offered on the part of the prisoner; and, the Judge Advocate having stated that he had nothing to observe in reply to the defence, the court was cleared, and the members proceeded to deliberate upon their sentence. At four o’clock they again adjourned to the following day (Saturday), when their deliberations terminated.
   “The result will not be known until the proceedings shall first have been laid before the King.” — Source: London Evening Standard, 17 Sept. 1827.

Lieut. Brooke dismissed his Majesty’s serice, Dec. 1827: — “Court Martial.——The result of the Court Martial on Lieut. John Smeaton Brooke, who was tried a short time since at Chatham on several charges, of being out of uniform, of being intoxicated and of striking Corporal Graham, while on duty with the piquet guard, has been published. The Court found him Guilty, and sentenced him to be dismissed his Majesty’s service; but at the same time recommended him to the favourable consideration of his Majesty. — Source: Berkshire Chronicle, 1 Dec. 1827.

Former Serjeant found dead near Gillingham, Feb. 1829: — “A few days since an individual well known in the barracks and garrison of Chatham, was found dead in a field near Gillingham. He was frequently in the habit of sleeping in the fields, but the severity of the weather no doubt caused his death. His mental faculties were deranged, and he was dressed in an old uniform, with a knapsack upon his back. We understand that he was formerly a serjeant in the army.” — Source: Kentish Weekly Post, 3 Feb. 1829.

Robbery and assault of children near the barracks, Jan. 1830: — “On Saturday evening, the 31st ult. a child of 12 years of age, a cripple, the daughter of a serjeant of marines named Franklin, left her father’s house, near Chatham barracks, between six and seven o’clock, to walk to her aunt’s at New Brompton,—after she passed the barrier drawbridge, a soldier accosted her, and threatening to dash her brains out with a stick for screaming, carried her over the fence to the back of the hay stack on Chatham Lines, where he proceeded to treat her in a brutal manner; but, fortunately, two men hearing her screams came to her assistance before he could effect his purpose. The villain made off to Brompton, pursued by the men, and was stopped by another man named Whitmore; he proved to be Thomas M’Cauley, a private of the 17th reg. of foot, and was committed by the Rev. Mr. Davies, on Wednesday, for trial at the next assizes. It is remarkable that Whitmore’s daughter, a young girl, had been robbed of a small basket, near the same hay stack, on the preceding Saturday, by a soldier, and her father, on apprehending M’Cauly [sic], discovered that he had sold the same basket on the following morning (Sunday the 24th). M’Cauley will be tried for the latter offence, which was accompanied with violence.” — Source: South Eastern Gazette, 9 Feb. 1829.
… [after which the following sentence was passed at the Kent Lent Assizes:]
   “Thomas M’Cauley, 30, soldier, for assaulting Pamela Sarah Franklin, with intent, &c., at Gillingham. Also for stealing from her person a basket, value 6d, a metal thimble, and a needle case. Two years’ imprisonment and hard labor.” — Source: South Eastern Gazette, 23 Mar. 1830.
… [and in a similar case tried in the following year:]
   “William Arthur, 17, soldier for an assault, with intent, &c. on Sarah Barnes, a girl between four and ten years of age, at Chatham. Three months’ imprisonment in gaol.” — Source: South Eastern Gazette, 22 Mar. 1831.

Soldier charged with theft, Dec. 1833: — “Robert Barnsale, a soldier, charged with stealing two watches, value £3; two silver watch cases, value 30s; from the dwelling house of Lewis Caspar, of Chatham; was, in consequence of the absence of a material witness, remanded to the next assizes:——to be allowed in meantime to go at large on giving a bond of £160 for his own appearance, and finding two sureties in £50 or four in £25 each.” — Source: Kentish Gazette, 17 Dec. 1833.

Murder of Serjeant Patrick Pheney, July 1834: — “Deliberate Murder.—On Wednesday afternoon a great sensation prevailed in the neighborhood of Chatham, in consequence of a soldier having shot his serjeant whilst on parade duty. The deceased was a serjeant in the 50th regiment of foot, lying in Chatham barracks, named Patrick Pheney, and the soldier a private in the same corps. The commander of the regiment directly after the fatal affair sent for Mr. Pattison, the constable, and gave the prisoner into his custody, intending that he should be tried by the civil power. In consequence a messenger was immediately despatched with an account of the affair to R. Hinde, Esq., the coroner, who assembled a respectable jury at the Mitre Tavern, to enquire into the circumstances of the case.
   “The first witness called was Serjeant Hewer, who stated that on Wednesday afternoon, between four and five o’clock, as the grenadier company was at evening parade, the prisoner, Benjamin Gardner, was observed by Serjeant Pheney, the deceased, who was exercising the company, not to be so steady in the ranks as usual, upon which he ordered him to advance two paces in front with a view to ascertain if he was sober. He gave the words “right about face,” the prisoner again staggered and it was obvious he was in liquor. The serjeant then called a corporal and told him to take the prisoner to the guard room, upon which he instantly brought his musket to a priming position and fired. The serjeant fell, and upon being raised was found to have received a musket ball in the right side, about two inches above the navel, which had taken an oblique direction and passed out under the ribs. The serjeant survived only about two hours.
   “By the Coroner—It was evident he intended this mischief to some one as it was contrary to orders for muskets to be loaded whilst on parade duty, and prisoner admitted when on his way to the guard room that he had a fortnight ago loaded his gun to shoot witness, but he had latterly thought witness had got better, but he did not regret what he had done, as had rid the world of a tyrant and a scoundrel.
   “In contradiction to this, however, it was said in evidence by three other witnesses, that the serjeant bore a most excellent character in the regiment, particularly for mildness in the performance of his military duties.
   “The case was too plain to admit of doubt, and the coroner briefly summed up to the jury in his usual clear and perspicuous manner, who, after retiring about two minutes, returned a verdict of ‘Wilful Murder’ against the prisoner.
   “He was immediately conveyed by Pattison, the constable, to Maidstone gaol, where he is now safely lodged for trial at the next assizes.
   “We understand that the prisoner formerly belonged to the royal marines, but his character was so notoriously bad that he was discharged from that honorable corps ‘with ignominy;’ or, in other words, was drummed out.” — Source: South Eastern Gazette, 15 July 1834.

Soldier charged with uttering a forged document, Jan. 1835: — “Michael Larkin, 22; Joseph Lavory, 42, for having uttered, disposed of, and put off, knowing the same to be forged, a certain request for delivery of goods, value 15s., with intent to defraud Thomas Grover, at Chatham.
   “Thomaa [sic] Grover, who resides at Chatham, deposed, that on the 18th December, the prisoner (a soldier) came to his shop and presented a written order, signed J. Lintel, requesting him to deliver to prisoner the articles stated in the indictment.
   “John Lintel deposed, that he was a serjeant in the 17th Regiment, and on being shewn the order stated, that it was not in his hand writing. The prisoner had been convicted previously three times. Guilty—Seven years’ transportation.
   “Michael Larking [sic].—This prisoner was tried on a similar indictment to the last, and found Guilty—Six months’ hard labor.” — Source: South Eastern Gazette, 13 Jan. 1835.

Soldier committed for stabbing a Marine, May 1835: — “Stabbing a Marine—Yesterday week, Thomas Kelly, a private of the 54th regiment of foot, was committed by the Rev. George Davies and James Best, Esq., for trial at the next assizes, for maliciously stabbing James Turner, a private Marine. It is stated that on the evening of Easter Monday, Turner was returning with his wife from Gillingham fair to Chatham barracks, when they were overtaken in one of the fields by the prisoner with other soldiers of the line; when the prisoner, after some expressions of anger against the Marines, but without any provocation from Turner, beat him over his head with his bayonet and afterwards stabbed him with it in the shoulder. Many persons were passing, and the prisoner was prevented from repeating the blow, and the wound fortunately led to no more serious result, as the bayonet was arrested in its progress by its point striking on the shoulder-bone.” — Source: South Eastern Gazette, 26 May 1835.
… [and a few months later, before Mr. Justice Littledale in the Crown Court:}
   “Thomas Kelly was indicted for maliciously stabbing James Turner, at Gillingham.—Guilty.” — Source: Kentish Weekly Post, 4 Aug. 1835.

Soldiers tried for damages to public house, Dec. 1835: — “On Wednesday last, a complaint against Martin Roberts, George Nicholls, Stephen Sullivan, J. Brooks, Thomas Sharp, and James Savage, soldiers of the 6th regiment of foot, for damage done to the William the Fourth public house, in Strood, on the evening of the 7th of last month, came on for hearing at Rochester, before the Rev. G. Davies and the Rev. J. Formby. The decision of the case had been necessarily delayed in consequence of the defendants Sharp and Savage having been confined to the Hospital from the injuries they received on the evening of the 7th. The whole of the accused pleaded not guilty. After the evidence was gone through it appeared that private Books [sic], although he drew his bayonet did so for the purpose of restraining his comrades from violence and he was consequently acquitted; the other five soldiers were convicted and adjudged to pay the compensation for the damage and costs amounting to £1 14s 7d. each, or in default to be committed to the house of correction for fourteen days with hard labor. The penalties incurred by them were paid, and they were accordingly liberated.” — Source: South Eastern Gazette, 8 Dec. 1835.

Inquest on young girl at Brompton Barracks, June 1836: — “Monday, an inquest was held in Brompton barracks by R. Hinde, esq. coroner, touching the death of Ursula Sullivan, a girl about ten years of age, the daughter of a serjeant-major in the East India Company’s service. From the evidence given before the jury, it appeared that the brother of the deceased feeling unwell, quitted the sitting room for the bed room to lie down, leaving the little girl alone, and it is supposed the child attempted to get tea, or the kettle boiling over and the handle of it being hot, that she took up her pinafore to hold it, when one of its corners caught the fire. Her screams brought several soldiers to her assistance. Staff-Sergeant Gibson was the first who met her on the premises, and in endeavouring to extinguish the flames had one of his hands very severely burnt. Dr. Davis was called to attend her, but she was so dreadfully injured that medical aid was of no avail, and after lingering in excruciating pain death put an end to her sufferings about seven o’clock the same evening. Verdict—’Died from being burnt, occasioned by her clothes catching fire.’” — Source: Kentish Weekly Post, 14 June 1836.

Highway robbery by two private soldiers, Aug. 1838: — “Highway Robbery, attended with Violence.—On Saturday evening last, Mr. Scott, a watchmaker, living in Week-street, Maidstone, returning from Gillingham to Chatham, was stopped in crossing Chatham-lines by two private soldiers, who demanded his money. They felled him to the ground, and one of the soldiers knelt on his body, seized him by the throat, and endeavoured to choke him; while the other rifled his pockets, and took from his person 5s. 6d., all the money he had about him. Mr. Scott bit the man very severely on the fore-finger at the time he attempted to strangle him. He repaired to the barracks next morning, to endeavour to find out the men, and acquainted the commanding officer of the robbery. The bugle was immediately ordered to be sounded, and the men called out, when two were found missing. The picquets discovered one in a loft at the back of the Dartmouth Arms, and the other on the Lines. On Monday they appeared before the magistrates at Rochester, and were fully committed. The soldiers belong to the 50th regiment, and their names are Fitzgerald and Thistlewood. The latter is son of the Thistlewood who was hung for the Cato-street conspiracy.” — Source: Kentish Gazette, 28 Aug. 1838.

Trial for murder of a marine, Mar. 1839: — “John Connell, Maurice Lyons, and John Callaghan, charged with the murder of Robert Ross; Timothy Lawler, Bartholomew Brasnan, Denis Doyle, Joshua Sykes, John Buynan, Michael Farrell, and Robert Johnman, charged with aiding and abetting the first three named in the murder of Robert Ross, a marine, at Chatham, on the 27th of October last.
   “The whole were charged with wilful murder on the verdict of the coroner’s inquisition. Their ages varied from 19 to 23.
   “The prisoners, in reply to a question by the Court, stated they had no counsel.
… [Transcriber’s note: The article runs to 2-1/2 columns long, with references to soldiers of the 67th and 74th regiments, several of the former corps having brought sticks into the Navy Arms public house where several marines were drinking; an affray ensued, during which John Connell struck Robert Ross; the trial concluded with:]
   “The jury retired for the space of three quarters of an hour, and on their return into court declared Connell, Lyons, and Callaghan guilty of Manslaughter, and acquitted the remainder.
The prisoners were then all removed with the exception of Joshua Sykes, who was arraigned for the murder of Charles Jeffcott, a marine, at Chatham.
It appeared by the evidence of two of the soldiers of the 67th regiment that in an affray which took place in the streets of Chatham, subsequent to the fatal affair at the Navy Arms, Jeffcott was assailed and violently beaten by the soldiers and his death ensued on the 11th of November. The prisoner was one of the party in the attack.
   “The prisoner denied his guilt.
   “The jury consulted a few minutes, and then returned a verdict—’We acquit the prisoner of murder, but find him guilty of manslaughter.’
   “The other three prisoners were then brought up and placed by the side of Sykes to receive judgment.
His lordship addressed them as follows:—John Connell, Maurice Lyons, and John Callaghan, you were indicted for the wilful murder of Robert Ross, but the jury, after having a great deal of evidence, and giving the case great consideration, have found you guilty of the minor offence of manslaughter, and in their verdict I fully concur, but I must say that it is a case of great aggravation; yet I consider that a distinction may be made between your degrees of guilt. With respect to you, Connell, the court feels bound to inflict the whole punishment which the law allows. The sentence, therefore, upon you is that you be transported for the term of your natural life, and that you Lyons and Callaghan be transported for seven years. With regard to you, Joshua Sykes, you have been properly convicted of a similar offence, but the court have taken into consideration that you was [sic] not the person who struck the fatal blow. The sentence, therefore, is also upon you that you be transported for seven years.” — Source: Kentish Gazette, 19 Mar. 1839.

Inspection of the 39th at Chatham, Dec. 1825: — “Chatham, Dec. 5.—The 39th Regiment was inspected in the Barrack-square this morning, by Major-General Sir H. Torrens, K.C.B., Adjutant-General of the Forces. A variety of manœuvres were performed in rapid succession, with an accuracy which the Major-General expressed himself highly pleased with; and at the conclusion he addressed the Regiment, and said, he was happy to see the old 39th in such high order; it reflected much credit on Colonel Lindesay, the Officers, and the Corps in general, and it would be most gratifying to himself to report the good state of the Regiment to his Royal Highness the Commander in Chief, which he should not fail to do.” — Source: Morning Post, 9 Dec. 1825.

Thefts in Gillingham and Chatham, Feb. 1826: — “On Friday, Charles Phillips was examined before the Rev. Dr. Joynes, and by him committed to the County Gaol, for trial at the Assizes, charged with having on the 23d inst. stolen from the dwelling-house of Mr. G.R. Simmons, at Gillingham, sundry articles of wearing apparel. The same day, James Doyle was also committed by the above Magistrate, for trial at the Assizes, charged with having stolen, on the 13th inst. from the shop of Mr. Shotland, at Chatham, five silver watches, his property. The robbery was effected by cutting a pane of glass in the shop window, and one of the watches was offered for sale immediately after, to a silversmith in the same neighbourhood, the small piece of catgut usually appended to new watches having been replaced by a piece of ribbon: and which ribbon corresponded with some taken from the window of Mr. Osborn, linen draper, by cutting the glass in a similar manner. When the prisoner was first brought up for his examination he effected his escape by breaking through the roof of the place in which he had been confined, and was afterwards retaken in the barracks at Chatham, where he had subsequently been detained on suspicion of being a deserter.” — Source: Kentish Weekly Post, 3 Mar. 1826.

Inquest on bodies of two soldiers, Mar. 1826: — “On Monday an inquest was held by T. Patten, esq. Coroner for Rochester, on the bodies of John Perrin, and John Costello, the former a corporal and the latter a private in the 36th Regiment of Foot. The parties were stationed at Upnor, and on the 28th ult. Perrin was sent by Lieutenant Hay to Chatham, to bring back a man who had absented himself without leave and did not return in the evening as it was expected he would have done. On the afternoon of the 2nd instant the lock-keeper at the entrance of the Thames and Medway Canal picked up a soldier’s cap, with one glove and a canvass purse in it, which were identified as belonging to the corporal, and drags being procured, several fruitless attempts were made to recover the bodies. On Saturday, however, the water being let out of the basin, the bodies of the two unfortunate men were found. The watchman stated that about half past twelve on the night of Tuesday he heard the cries of some person, and went into the lock-gates thinking that somebody had fallen into the water but observed nothing. The Jury returned a Verdict, “Found dead in the basin of the Thames and Medway Canal”—and the Jury considered the proprietors blameable in not having a railing, for the protection of the public, placed on both sides of the Canal.” — Source: Kentish Weekly Post, 10 Mar. 1826.

Soldier tried for theft, May 1827: — “William Mann, for stealing on the 10th February, two silver spoons, value 16s., the property of William Wilson, Messman at Fort Pitt. The prisoner, a soldier, having been seen to quit the room just as the cloth was laid for dinner, suspicion arose; and Wilson immediately missing the articles, applied to the Sergeant Major, who dispatched several persons in pursuit in different directions, and the prisoner was taken on the Brook, and one of the spoons found on him. He was sentenced to seven years’ transportation.” — Source: South Eastern Gazette, 1 May 1827.

Soldier indicted for rape, Aug. 1827: — “Home Circuit.—Maidstone, Aug. 20.—Michael Ryan, aged 33, Thomas O’Connell, 27, and Martin Norton, 18, all Irish soldiers, were capitally indicted for a rape on the person of Elizabeth Skeer, at Chatham, on the 9th of June last.
   “The two latter prisoners were present at the time of the offence, and indicted for aiding and abetting Michael Ryan to effect his purpose.
   “Mr. Law stated the case, and observed, that they had a question to try which involved the best interests of society, and also the lives of the three prisoners at the bar. He reminded them, that in general cases of rape the proof was confined to the evidence of the prosecutrix. In such cases, however, it would be more charitable to suppose that a woman had submitted to the solicitations of the man, than to decide that the man had forgotten what was due to himself, to humanity, and to the other sex. In this case, however, he should be able to prove the fact by corroborative evidence. He then stated that his client was the wife of a mariner at Chatham, and the mother of two children; and also the facts of the case as proved by the following witnesses:
   [The report of evidence presented to the court concluded with:]
   “The Learned Judge summed up the evidence, and the Jury, after some hesitation, acquitted Ryan of the capital offence, and of course the two others for assisting.
“Thos. O’Connell was then indicted for the assault with intent to commit a rape. The same evidence was adduced for the prosecution. The prisoner called his late fellow-prisoner, Norton, as as [sic] a witness, and, after crossing himself as a Catholic, he told the Jury just the same story as on his defence, and added, that neither himself or Ryan was at the Royal Oak on that night; they did not know the girl Godfrey.
   “The Jury, however, found O’Connell Guilty, and the Judge reflected in strong terms on the guilt of all three. No one ought to reflect on the prosecutrix for what she could not help, and he considered her without blame. He concluded by sentencing Thomas O’Connell to eighteen months’ hard labour in the House of Corrections.” — Source: Morning Post, 22 Aug. 1827.

William, Duke of Clarence (1827). Image credit.

H.R.H. the Lord High Admiral visited Chatham, Sept. 1827: — “Chatham, Friday night.—His Royal Highness the Lord High Admiral arrived here last evening from Bushy about 7 o’clock, and was received as he passed through the town to the dock-yard with loud cheers. The Lord High Admiral was met at the entrance of the yard by Admiral the Hon. Sir Henry Blackwood, K.C.B. in command of the station, Commodore Christie, Mr. Commissioner Cunningham, Gen. Campbell, of the Royal Marine Corps, and a number of other naval and military officers. From the entrance of the yard to the commissioner’s house, within its precincts, was lined by a double row of the workmen, who cheered his Royal Highness as he passed through them, and a guard of honour drawn up in front of the commissioner’s house received him with a royal salute. His Royal Highness dined and slept at the commissioner’s, where he was waited on by a number of military and civil characters, who paid their respects.
   “This morning the Lord High Admiral breakfasted with the officers of the Royal Marines, at their mess-room, and afterwards went through the rooms of the barrack, attended by several officers. His Royal Highness was pleased to express himself highly gratified with all he witnessed. After this examination had concluded, the corps was drawn out in the square of their barracks, and inspected in marching order by his Royal Highness, who signified to Colonel Savage, in command of the division stationed here, his delight at their general appearance, &c. At half-past two the regiment marched into the lines adjacent to the town, through the Sallyport, and shortly after H.R.H. accompanied by a large retinue of officers of both classes (naval and military), came into the lines. The royal duke wore the uniform of an admiral, and the star of the order of the Garter. The lines were crowded with a multitude of respectable persons, and some brilliant equipages were sported. The whole scene, notwithstanding the haziness of the morning, presented a most animated spectacle. When the Lord High Admiral reached in front of the centre of the line, and a small union jack, planted in the ground, denoted its centre, the whole line gave a general salute. The regiment then marched before his Royal Highness in companies, in slow and double quick time, and again formed into line. They then went through a number of new and difficult manœuvres, deploying, forming squares, and marching, counter-marching, and charging, en echellon, in fine style. Their firing (they were provided with 20 rounds of blank cartridge a man) was of the most excellent kind, and called forth repeated praises from his Royal Highness. It was expected that the Duchess of Clarence would have this day presented this corps with the new pair of colours—the gift of her Royal Highness; but in consequence of her non-arrival in the early part of the day, that ceremony was deferred till next week, when it will take place in the Lines.
   “About 5 o’clock, this afternoon her Royal Highness the Duchess of Clarence, accompanied by the Princess Amelia, and one of the Misses Fitzclarence, arrived in Chatham from Bushy, and were received in the same rapturous manner as had accompanied the arrival of the Lord High Admiral last night. The 72d Foot were drawn out from the entrance of the military road up to the dock-yard gate on either side of the streets, and a double royal salute announced the approach of the royal party. The duchess bowed repeatedly during her progress through the town, amid the loud huzzas of the assembled multitude.
   “The launch of the Royal George, 120 guns, takes place to-morrow (Saturday). Besides the royal personages here this morning, there are expected in the course of to-morrow to witness this sight the Prince of Saxe Cobourg, the Duchess of Kent, the Princesses Alexandrina and Feodore, from Ramsgate; the Queen of Wurtemberg, from Cobham-hall, the seat of Lord Darnley; and the Duke of Sussex, from Kensington Palace.
   “Capacious booths on either side of the ship, opposite the commissioner’s house, have been erected, and the part meant for the royal party is railed off, so as that they may with every facility witness this beautiful spectacle.
   “This evening Mr. Commissioner Cunningham gives a splendid ball at his residence in the dock-yard. The influx of people here is more considerable than has ever before been known to be the case. This day upwards of three thousand individuals visited the dock-yard.” — Source: London Evening Standard, 22 Sept. 1827.

Soldier fell into a trench, Jan. 1831: — “On Sunday evening, as two soldiers were returning home from Gillingham to the barracks, they missed their way and fell into the trench: both were taken to the hospital much injured.” — Source: South Eastern Gazette, 11 Jan. 1831.

Soldier convicted of theft, Aug. 1831: — “John Dunn, 26, soldier, for stealing two blankets, value 4s., the property of his Majesty, at Chatham. Three calendar months’ in House of Correction.” — Source: South Eastern Gazette, 9 July 1833.

Conviction for buying soldiers’ clothes, Aug. 1833: — “Nathaniel Murray, of Chatham, was convicted at the Petty Sessions, Rochester, of buying soldiers’ clothes, in the penalty of 5l. and 1l. 13s. being treble the value of the clothes, and in default of payment was committed to Maidstone Gaol for three months.” — Source: Kentish Gazette, 20 Aug. 1833.

Soldier convicted of theft, Oct. 1833: — “Michael Haley, a soldier, was charged with stealing a watch, seal, key, and ring, value £1 11s. the property of John Hunter Woodall, at Gillingham.
   “The prosecutor was a corporal of the E.I.C. artillery, to which the prisoner also belonged, and lost his watch from his box on the 18th of August. It was proved that the prisoner tendered the watch to Mr. Owen, a pawnbroker, in Chatham, who suspecting it to be stolen, sent for a constable, who apprehended the prisoner.
   “Guilty—to be transported for 7 years.” — Source: South Eastern Gazette, 22 Oct. 1833.

Youth convicted of theft, transported for life, July 1834: — “Edward Charlton, 15, was indicted for stealing a gold watch, value £5, and a key, value 5s., from the quarters of Major Arthur du Bourdieu, in Chatham barracks.
   “The prosecutor stated, that the watch was stolen from a chimney glass, in his drawing-room, where it had been usually hung. The watch was brought to him on the Monday following.
   “The prisoner said that the watch was given to him by a soldier, of the 15th regiment, named John Walker, to sell for him.
   “A watch-maker of Chatham, bought the watch of the prisoner for ten shillings, think[ing] it a gilt one. On finding, however, that it was gold, he made enquiries, and found the owner.
   “Harriot Ann Cliffe proved that the prisoner offered to pledge the watch at her father’s shop for 15s., at half-past three o’clock on the day it was stolen.
   “The prosecutors [sic] servant deposed that the watch was hanging over the mantel-piece of the drawing-room, at one o’clock on that day. Verdict Guilty—Transported for life; the chairman saying that no discretion remained with the court as to the punishment. There were two other indictments against him.” — Source: South Eastern Gazette, 8 July 1834.

Affray with the 88th Regiment, Sept. 1834: — “The Brave Eighty-Eighth.—The late affray with the 88th Regiment at Chatham, and more recently at Dover, whither it was removed, has induced Lord Hill to order its further removal to Spike Island, on the coast of Ireland. Whether this is a rumor only, or fact, the soldiers dread their supposed change, as they have had a previous taste of the inconvenience attendant on being quartered on so small a speck, with its necessary privations.” — Source: South Eastern Gazette, 30 Sept. 1834.

Garrison Orders, Sept. 1834: — [Transcriber’s note: The following was preceded by a letter to the editor:] — “We think the orderly and well-disciplined soldiers at present stationed at Chatham have good reason to feel aggrieved at the indefinite nature of the reproof conveyed in the Garrison Order of Thursday last, which, instead of pointing directly at the real offenders, conveys a stigma, alike unjust and undeserved, on the whole body.
   “Extract from Garrison Orders, Aug. 28, 1834.
   “‘In consequence of the recent misconduct of some of the military in garrison, as referred to in the Morning Order of the 26th instant, the Commandant is directed to convey to the troops the General Commanding-in-Chief’s disapprobation at receiving complaints of their behaviour from the inhabitants of Chatham; and distinctly to state that if it should become necessary to forbid the wearing of side-arms, from unmilitary and unsoldierlike use of them, Lord Hill will not suffer the feelings of the whole garrison to be sacrificed to a few unruly and undisciplined individuals, but will disarm the regiment, detachment, or depot to which such disorderly characters shall prove to belong; and will thenceforth consider as disgraced those who could no longer be entrusted with their bayonets. His Lordship will moreover order such regiment, detachment, or depot (officers included), to be confined to barracks until its discipline shall be restored to a state that shall be perfectly satisfactory. And in communicating this Order, which is to be read at the next three successive regimental parades, Sir L. Greenwell places full confidence in the exertions of Commanding Officers, and the officers of the several corps in garrison, to prevent the slightest cause for complaint being again preferred by the inhabitants of Chatham against the troops.
   “A Court of Inquiry is, we are informed, about to be held on the subject of the late disgraceful disturbance. At all events Major O’Hara, of the 88th, has arrived in London, probably at the mandate of the Commander-in-Chief.—United Service Gazette.” — Source: Morning Post, 1 Sept. 1834.

Marine tried for stabbing a soldier, Aug. 1835: — “Thursday. (Before Mr. Justice Littledale).
   “Thomas Watson, aged 27, a marine, was placed at the bar, charged with having maliciously stabbed Thomas Thorn with a bayonet, at Chatham, on the 31st May, with intent to do him some grievous bodily harm. The prisoner, who pleaded Not Guilty, was undefended by counsel.
“The prisoner, on the night in question, was placed sentry at the Marine Infirmary-gate. Shortly after coming to his post he heard the cry of murder, and saw the prosecutor and two others beating William Stitchbury, who is a nurse in the Infirmary, and another man. Stitchbury shortly afterwards ran to the gate, and said he should be murdered unless the prisoner let him in. The prosecutor and the two men followed him, and asked the prisoner where the b—y — was. The prisoner desired them to be off, after using the man in such a way. Thorn replied, that he did so because Stitchbury had thrown a stone at him, which had struck him on the head. They then used some very foul expressions, called him, “B— cruitey” (recruit), and said he was nothing like a soldier. The prisoner, aggravated by this abuse, repeatedly told the men to go quietly away or he would stab them with his bayonet; they, however, continued the abusive language, and ultimately the prisoner charged with his bayonet and stabbed the prosecutor in the left arm—the bayonet passed through the flesh and slightly punctured his side. The wound was not of a dangerous nature, and the prosecutor, after having had it dressed by an assistant surgeon in the Marines, did not return again. The prosecutor afterwards consented that the matter should be disposed of by the officers of the regiment.
   “The prisoner in his defence said, that upon hearing the cry of murder, he looked up the hill and saw the prosecutor and the others treating the man as described, and he was induced to use his bayonet, which he was not aware had done any injury, being so much agitated in consequence of the insulting and foul language the prosecutor had made use of towards him.
   “Two of the officers in the regiment and a corporal said that the prisoner had always borne a good character, as being a humane and quiet man; every sentinel had orders to prevent any disturbance or noise at his post, and the prisoner would have been punished if any noise had taken place where he was sentry.
   “His Lordship having summed up, and observed that the prisoner had certainly received a great deal of provocation:
   “The jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty.” — Source: Kentish Weekly Post, 4 Aug. 1835.

Court-martial of Ensign Charles Sheffield Dickson, Nov. 1837: — “Court-Martial.—A General Court-Martial assembled at the court-martial room, in Chatham Barracks, on Monday, the 13th of November for the trial of Ensign Charles Sheffield Dickson, of the 51st, Light Infantry, stationed at that garrison. The circumstances under which it arose are most unfortunate, and the escape from the sacrifice of his own life, by the taking away those of his brother officers, appear to be miraculous. The following officers composed the court:—
   “Col. J. Aitcheson, Scots Fusileer Guards, President; Lieut.-Col. Weare, Provisional Battalion; Lieut.-Col. Barton, 12th Royal Lancers; Lieut.-Col. Crawford, Royal Artillery; Major Hutchinson, 20th regt.; Major Boileau, Rifle Brigade; Major Hay, 6th Dragoon Guards; Capt. Carpenter, 41st regt.; Capt. Simmonds, Rifle Brigade; Capt. Dodgin, 20th regt.; Capt. Vandeleur, 12th Lancers; Capt. Wood, 69th regt.; Capt. Jones, 6th Dragoon Guards; Capt. Fraser, 20th regt.; Lieut. Wilcock, 45th regt.; Major Pipon, K.H., Unattached Deptuy-Judge-Advocate.
   “The preparatory business having been gone through, Lieut.-Colonel Campbell, commanding the 51st regiment, addressed the court, and said that, in consequence of what had occurred, reports of formal inquiries into the unfortunate circumstances had been forwarded to the Horse Guards, for the consideration of the General Commanding-in-Chief, the result of which had been that he was instructed to become the prosecutor in the present proceedings, which he very much regretted there there [sic] should have been any necessity for, as the conduct of the gentleman who was so unfortunately situated had been perfectly correct in every particular since he had been in the corps up to the period of the transactions they they [sic] were about to investigate. After a few other observations in favor of the prisoner’s conduct, the charge was then read, viz.:—For conduct unbecoming the character of an officer and a gentleman in having been seen on the evening of Sunday, the 17th of September, 1837, in a disgraceful state of intoxication, in Chatham barracks, and while in that state with having fired off pistols loaded with powder and ball, thereby endangering the lives of Ensign Irby, of the 51st regiment, and other officers of the same corps.
   “Ensign Irby having been sworn, said: I was invited to go to the room of Ensign Dickson on the evening of the 17th of September last, and I did go, but I am not aware of the time. I believe it was ten o’clock. I was a short time in Ensign Dickson’s room, and took a glass of wine and water; after which he desired me to go down stairs and return again in half an hour, and I did so. On knocking at his door, he asked who was there? I told him. He then desired me to go away. I knocked several times at the door, and he repeatedly told me to go away. I then told him it was an odd manner of treating persons that were invited to come to his room, and he again desired me to go away, saying if I did not he would fire through the door. I told him to do so. I then knocked again, and he repeated that he would fire. He then came out of the door with a pistol in his hand, and snapped off a cap. I took the pistol away from him, and went down stairs. He called after me to give him back the pistol, or he would shoot me. I went into Ensign Rumbold’s room, and just as I entered the door I heard a pistol fired on the stairs. I gave the pistol which I had brought down, and which I had taken from the prisoner, to Ensign Rumbold, and told him that Dickson had fired at me. A minute or two afterwards I heard Ensign Dickson calling me, and he came to Ensign Rumbold’s door, and I went out to him. He demanded the pistol I had taken from him. I said I would give it to him in the morning. He said ‘Will you give it me now or not?’ I said, ‘To-morrow will be soon enough;[‘] and he said, ‘if you don’t give it me now I will shoot you.’ I told him I would not. He then said, ‘I will shoot you;’ at the same time he put the pistol he had in his hand at Ensign Rumbold’s door above his head. I struck it with my hand. The pistol went off, and the ball lodged in the ceiling of the passage. At this time Ensign Corbett came in. I told him what had occurred. He asked me to stop in his room with a light. Ensign Dickson had gone into his room. I went into Ensign Corbett’s room, and shut the door. A minute or two after Ensign Dickson came to the door and asked to be let in, which Ensign Corbett refused. He (Dickson) asked several times to be let in, but he still refused. Corbett told him, after what had passed, he would not let him in. Ensign Dickson then said if he did not he would fire through the door. Ensign Corbett then went to the door and locked it. Ensign Dickson repeated he would fire through the door if not let in. He then fired through the door, and the ball penetrated the ceiling in Ensign Corbett’s room. I then heard Ensign Rumbold tell Ensign Dickson that Major St. Maur was sent for. Ensign Dickson then demanded to be let in to apologize to Ensign Corbett for firing through his door, but he would not let him in. Major St. Maur then came, and we went into the passage. Major St. Maur told Ensign Dickson to consider himself in arrest, in close arrest. I then went with Ensign Dickson to his room, and left him with his servant. Ensign Dickson was, when all this took place, in a state of great excitement from intoxication. When the ball passed through Ensign Corbett’s door it passed near to Mr. Corbett; I should think within two inches.
   “It appeared from the cross-examination of this witness that Lieut. Dickson was undressed at the time of his entrance, and had a female with him. The Court adjourned until the following day, the 14th, at ten o’clock, when Ensign Irby was further examined.
   “‘I was on very good terms with the prisoner. I had only known him a week.’ Ensign Rumbold was the next witness. He confirmed Mr. Irby’s testimony. After some further evidence the prosecution closed and the court-martial adjourned until Friday, when the prisoner entered his defence. He admitted his intoxication, and pleaded consequent unconsciousness of what [he] was doing. He also appealed to his extreme youth (only seventeen). He was not, he said, an old offender, nor addicted to drinking or brawls; this was his first and only offence. Lieut.-Colonel Campbell, his commanding officer, spoke to the prisoner’s conduct, and stated that he had been perfectly correct in every particular since he had been in the corps up to the period of the present transaction. The sentence will not be known until it has been confirmed by the Horse Guards.” — Source: South Eastern Gazette, 21 Nov. 1837.
… [with judgement rendered soon afterwards:]
   “On Sunday morning the troops assembled on parade in this garrison to hear read the sentence of the court-martial on Ensign Dickson, of the 51st regt. The sentence was that Ensign Dickson be dismissed the army, and her Majesty was most graciously pleased to reinstate him in the service, in consequence of his youth and previous good conduct.” — Source: South Eastern Gazette, 5 Dec. 1837.

Notice re: transcripts for the 39th Dépôt in England, 1825–1839:

  • The transcripts on this page are public domain material. Refer to the paragraphs for Public Domain, Caveat, and Appeal to Common Courtesy for information about this symbol and the ethical use of the transcripts published to this page.
  • Please note that, on occasion, the transcriber annotates a transcript, which annotations are shown as [text appearing within square brackets].
  • Image credits, in order of presentation:
    • Harwood, J. & F.. “Brompton Barracks.” (8th July 1841). From a series of small views published by Harwood. Digital image held by the British Museum (accessed 2021-01-28). Archival ref. museum no. 1981,U.1074, asset no. 88353200. Released under Creative Commons Licence CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 International. — Visit the link to learn what you can do with this image, and what restrictions have been placed upon its re-use.
    • Ward, James William. “King William IV.” Published by William Sams, 1st June 1827. Digital image hosted online by the National Portrait Gallery, London (accessed 2021-01-28). Released for limited non-commercial use under Creative Commons Licence CC-BY-ND. — Visit the latter link to learn what you can do with this image, and the restrictions placed on it for re-use.

Source citation for this page: — Kilpatrick, Alison. “News transcripts for the 39th Dépôt in Chatham Barracks, 1825–1839.” Online at Arborealis,, accessed [insert date of access].