As the topic title suggests this post relates to an 1842 China medal recently added to my collection. Now I hear you ask why then post in the Crimean War section? Well some members might have read my previous posts regarding a particular interest of mine, namely those coastguards who were drafted to serve in the Baltic Fleet during the Crimean War, so hopefully you will see the relevance later.
The medal in question was awarded to Leonard C Ashley; at this point I have to ask you to bear with me as my research is ongoing, but this is what I know/believe:
Ashley was born on 12 August 1819 in Stoke Damerel, and baptised 20 Feb 1820, to James and Leah Ashley, his father being an Army pensioner (yet to be confirmed). Perhaps not unsurprisingly, since they lived in Devonport, Leonard entered the navy as a Boy 2nd Class on 7 Dec 1835 in HMS Thalia. He was to be rated as a Boy on his next two ships, HMS Pylades and HMS Scout finally being paid off as a Boy 1st Class on 3 November 1839.
There then follows a two-year gap in his service record where I can only surmise he signed on in a merchant ship. However, on 14 September 1841 he again signed on as an Ordinary Seaman in the Royal Navy to serve in the 28 gun, sixth rate, HMS Calliope. It was during this service that he took part in the First China War also known as the Opium war.
Calliope and her crew were present at number of actions: 7 January 1841 the bombardment, landing and capture of Chuenpee Hill Forts and the fortifications at Tycocktow; 26 February 1841 the bombardment, landing, capture and destruction of nearly all the forts and embrasures on both sides of the Bocca Tigris up to Canton; 12 March 1841 ships’ boats attack up a narrow and intricate channel on the only remaining fort protecting approaches to Canton; 18 March 1841 capture of forts, defences and junk flotilla off Canton, and hoisting the Union Flag on the walls of the British factory there; 23-30 May 1841 joint operations leading to the capture of Canton, and subsequent payment by the Chinese of a six million dollar ransom imposed on them. Their involvement finally ended on 21 July 1842 with an attack on the Chinese entrenched camp, and the storming and capture of the city of Chin Keang Foo at the entrance to the South Grand Canal in the Yang-tse-keang.
For this service Leonard Ashley was awarded the 1842 China War Medal.
He remained on Calliope until the 15 March 1843 until paid off. A year later he enlisted as an Able Seaman on HMS Inconstant. It was while serving in Inconstant that he was issued with a merchant seamen’s ticket. On this he is described as 5ft 4 ins tall, Hair Lt brown, complexion sallow, eyes hazel, with no distinguishing marks.
On leaving Inconstant, on 20 April 1847, he was nominated to the Coastguard Service and took up a posting as a Boatman at Harwich on 26 April 1847 (ADM 175/98 & 7 – pdf 702). He was not to remain in England long because on 3 August 1847 he was posted to Upper Cove in Ireland. It was while serving here that he married a Sarah Lacy. I have yet to order their marriage certificate from Ireland, but this should confirm Leonards father and his occupation.
He was to make a number of moves in Ireland, first to Ballyglass and then, on 30 October 1852, to Tulloughan Coastguard Station. It was while serving at Talloughan that the Crimean War started and Leonard found himself drafted back into the navy serving on HMS Duke of Wellington, Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Napier’s flagship with the Baltic Fleet, for which he received the Baltic Medal, and hence the reason it was important for me to add this medal to my collection.
He returned to Talloughan CGS on 5 May 1856, where he remained for a further two years before being transferred to Baltimore and then to Oyster Haven, here on 7 May 1860 he was advanced to Commissioned Boatman, remaining at the same station. On the 15th October 1869 he was pensioned after a total of 27 years and 340 days’ service with the Royal Navy and Coastguard Service.
I have been unable to trace his movements further until a possible marriage to a Sarah Ann Kennett in 1887, in Medway, Kent, but I do know that he died in 1900, at the age of 81, in Strood, Kent.