1890 Grenadier Guards 'Mutiny' (and others)

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1890 Grenadier Guards 'Mutiny' (and others)

Postby zerostate » 07 Apr 2011 20:03

After mentioning a Guards mutiny in passing in another discussion on this forum (http://www.victorianwars.com/viewtopic.php?f=73&t=5431) Liz PMed me and asked me to expand as she had never heard of the incident, so here goes with a rough account of all the incidents (there was more than one) from my notes. This is not a complete article, just some of my notes to share...

2nd Grenadier Guards 1890

While the term 'mutiny' was reported in some newspapers on the evening of Monday 7th July 1890, the following day The Times played it down. There had indeed been an incident involving the 2nd battalion of the Grenadier Guards. It was in fact, the first of several incidents over the next couple of years.

The whole issue of the incident beginning on the 7th is summed up here: http://www.victorianmilitarysociety.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=30:trouble-in-the-2nd-grenadier-guards-in-1890&catid=10:articles&Itemid=9, and saves me typing up a description myself! :)

I disagree with that article in that I think there had been a mutiny. The privates of the battalion (well six of its companies) in refusing to fall in had in essence 'failed to obey a lawful command', i.e., mutinied. Of course, because neither the men, nor the authorities wanted this outcome or its implications they bargained it down, making an incident out of a possible disaster.

It can be followed in the news reports of the day (if you have access to The Times or other British 19th century newspaper archives).

That incident wasn't the end of the troubles for the Guards by any means however.

---

3rd Grenadier Guards 1891

On the evening of Monday 20th April 1891 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards had orders that the battalion should parade at 8 AM on the Tuesday morning – but not in marching order as it was first anticipated. There is an allegation that the two separate barracks of the battalion (Chelsea and St. George's) were in communication, and conspired the Tuesday morning's incidents.

Come that Tuesday morning at Chelsea barracks, No. 1 Company, and just one other man from the other companies refused to parade as ordered. The other companies at the barracks paraded tardily, with 8th finally arriving, followed by 2nd, 4th, and 6th.

The 30 or so men of 1st Company secured themselves in a barrack room, and refused to come out or admit anyone, but then shortly admitted their NCOs whom it seems were able to convince them to return to their duties. Led by a man named Glover, they went to the parade ground and fell in.

Once formed up however, the longest serving soldier was ordered to unfix his bayonet. This was not done, and could be accomplished only when the whole company was ordered to do so, (obviously, the idea that the senior man would be punished was in his mind) at which point the man was arrested.

At St. George's only three men refused to parade and were placed under arrest. No NCOs at either barracks took part in the incidents.

The incident was claimed to be over alleged over-drilling and parading, as extra battalion parades were eating into time that was used for 'soldiering' (that is cleaning the barracks, uniforms and equipment).

The fact that these incidents were denied publicly in The Times, and the fact that no court marshals seem to have come out of them, show that the 3rd's CO was able to deal with it using his own powers without recourse to a formal court.

---

2nd Coldstream Guards 1891

On Thursday July 23rd 1891 The Times reported that after the state visit of the German Emperor and the heavy guard duties that visit had entailed, and following a battalion parade ordered for the Monday 20th, two companies of the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards initially refused to parade with the rest of the battalion. However, they after speaking with several NCOs complied with their orders and paraded.

This incident did not assume the proportions of the others.

---

C Squadron, 1st Life Guards 1892

The New York Times reported on 29th September 1892 that Lord Methuen (the Commander of the Home Military District) inspected the Life Guards after some kind of disciplinary issue with C Squadron. He said that if the ringleaders came forward, only they would be punished... Not a man moved.

The Yorkshire Post said that,
“as a a result of the recent outbreak of C Squadron of the First Regiment of the Life Guards at Windsor, the War Office has decided that the Guards shall henceforth be treated the same as other soldiers, and shall take foreign service the same as other regiments.”


Subsequently several men were tried by court marshal.

So what had happened?

On the evening of Sunday, 25th September 1892, at Windsor barracks nearby residents were alarmed by a lot of noise and confusion coming from the barracks – including the loud singing of popular and jingoistic songs as well as cat-calling and other general unruliness!

It seemed that with the CO Col. Byng on leave, his 2nd in command Sir Simon Lockhart had instigated unnecessary extra inspections and drills.

On the Saturday evening (24th September) all of C Squadron's saddles (80 in number) were found to be cut in a way that meant they could not be used or easily repaired. :!:

The NCOs discovering this fact on the Sunday morning, paraded all (approx) 100 men, and after the parade they were ordered confined to barracks, with the exception that they could attend church parade.

Around 9 PM the noise became very loud, as the squadron turned out onto the parade square. At 10 PM they were called to return to their quarters by trumpet call, but this was ignored. However they did return to their barrack rooms when lights out was sounded.

This was followed by other incidents such as a notice saying 'Mutiny Again' being hung in the canteen on the 30th.

It was noted that Captain Rawson in command of C Squadron was not at all popular with his men.

---

It has to be noted that this post is from my notes – I don't guarantee 100% accuracy, and is in no way 100% complete. If you are interested I urge you to look up the incidents in the newspapers of the time and in the Hansard Parliamentary archive.

---

As a postscript, I will add that this kind of behaviour does not appear to be restricted to Guard's regiments. On Saturday 25th April 1891 it was reported that the previous week 24th Battery, Southern Division RA at Fort Grange, Portsmouth was in mutiny! Instead of going to Saturday parade when called, they gathered on the barrack square in an uncontrollable state in protest at being over-drilled.

A Colonel Younger, RA convinced the men to fall in, but on the arrival of General Geary (Commander RA Southern District) who had been telegraphed for, the oldest soldiers of each company were arrested and the warrants signed for their courts marshal, and took the battery off the duty list.

Steps were taken to keep this incident a secret, and other troops at the fort knew nothing until the Sunday.

The incident that kicked off this affair was a simple one. On the Saturday morning, several men were told off for bed filling (which usually excused them from parade). However, on completion of their task, they were ordered to fall in. Their refusal to fall in was cause then for general insubordination by the whole battery.

Chris

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Re: Grenadier Guards 'Mutiny' of 1890 (and others)

Postby Liz » 08 Apr 2011 07:30

zerostate wrote:Liz PMed me and asked me to expand as she had never heard of the incident, so here goes with a rough account of all the incidents (there was more than one) from my notes.


Guilty as charged... and thank you for an interesting read!
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Re: Grenadier Guards 'Mutiny' of 1890 (and others)

Postby zerostate » 08 Apr 2011 16:58

No problem Liz - a pleasure.

I am aware of another episode of insubordination - a draft for the East Surrey refused to parade for embarkation (they were India-bound on the troopship Euphrates) on Monday 13th October 1890. They did board eventually after consultation with their officers

I know that the measures taken to stop them 'breaking out' were the immediate cause of the refusal to parade. However, I would be appreciative if anyone has any information on what caused them to be so unruly (even having their behaviour in the streets described as 'riotous') - or indeed, of any other incident of the like nature by any unit.

Chris

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Re: 1890 Grenadier Guards 'Mutiny' (and others)

Postby zerostate » 12 Jul 2014 14:55

As an addendum to my original post, I have noticed in reading through articles in some of the regional papers about the original 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards insubordination (I found extra while searching the archives for details of an unrelated incident) an error crept in (probably a telegraph error made by a news wire operator), and it is reported in various northern and colonial papers that it was the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards who had a discipline problem, which is definitely incorrect.
I point this out as it could cause some confusion to anyone trying to follow up on the incident.
Chris

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Re: 1890 Grenadier Guards 'Mutiny' (and others)

Postby The Seeker » 19 Jan 2017 18:42

This topic has some interest for me as, when researching my family tree, I was given a single snippet of information that solved a family mystery that had foxed me for years. A distant relative had been "thrown out of the Grenadier Guards" and had returned to Wales around the turn of the century (+ or - 1900). I now believe that his discharge was related to the "Silent Mutiny". Is there any way in which I can find out the names of those subsequently punished/Dishonourable Discharged? I believe that only six men were charged but only one discharged. Could this be my relative? Is there anyone who can help please or give me guidance as to how to do so myself?

Regards, Ben
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Re: 1890 Grenadier Guards 'Mutiny' (and others)

Postby Frogsmile » 19 Jan 2017 21:14

Ben, each Guards regiment retains its own records and 'volunteers' with each HQ are very helpful, although bear in mind that they work without pay and work their way through a high volume of enquiries so it may take a little time. See contact details here: http://www.theguardsmuseum.com/Family-Research
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Re: 1890 Grenadier Guards 'Mutiny' (and others)

Postby The Seeker » 27 Jan 2017 18:31

Hello Chris,
Many thanks for you prompt response. I've contacted the relevant archivist by phone and will sent him the information I have so that he can investigate. I'll post a response in your forum, as it may be of interest to others to know the outcome. After all, my relative will have some notoriety if he is the only Guardsman to have been DD'd as a result of the "Silent Mutiny". Incidentally, he returned to Wales with his family.
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Re: 1890 Grenadier Guards 'Mutiny' (and others)

Postby The Seeker » 09 Apr 2017 16:10

A result regarding my query about the fate of my relative during the period of the Guards' Mutinies. The Guards Museum curators found his military record and although it proved inconclusive as to whether the was the person Dishonourably Discharged as a result of the mutinies, it provided a number of snippets that have proven useful in completing our Family Tree. One useful piece was that he had transferred from The Royal Welsh Regiment in 1882. Another, was the name of his mother and the small Welsh village she came from (as do I).

His record stated:-
Tried; District Court Marshall. Quitting Post & Drunk on Duty. Awarded I.H.L. (Imprisonment with Hard Labour) 43 Days.
21st November 1887

He subsequently served until 1891 and transferred to The Reserve until 1898. Unfortunately, there is no mention of any of the areas he might have served in. Especially as his service period covered such an eventful time.
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Re: 1890 Grenadier Guards 'Mutiny' (and others)

Postby Frogsmile » 09 Apr 2017 17:25

The Seeker wrote:A result regarding my query about the fate of my relative during the period of the Guards' Mutinies. The Guards Museum curators found his military record and although it proved inconclusive as to whether the was the person Dishonourably Discharged as a result of the mutinies, it provided a number of snippets that have proven useful in completing our Family Tree. One useful piece was that he had transferred from The Royal Welsh Regiment in 1882. Another, was the name of his mother and the small Welsh village she came from (as do I).

His record stated:-
Tried; District Court Marshall. Quitting Post & Drunk on Duty. Awarded I.H.L. (Imprisonment with Hard Labour) 43 Days.
21st November 1887

He subsequently served until 1891 and transferred to The Reserve until 1898. Unfortunately, there is no mention of any of the areas he might have served in. Especially as his service period covered such an eventful time.


That's interesting Ben. Curiously a large number of Grenadier Guards (around half) went to make up the strength of the newly formed, Welsh Guards, in 1915, the remainder coming from (mostly Welsh) line regiments.

Incidentally, there was no such unit as the Royal Welsh Regiment in 1882, although there was a Royal Welsh Fusiliers (23rd Foot) and a Welsh Regiment (24th and 69th Foot). Do you know which it was?
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Re: 1890 Grenadier Guards 'Mutiny' (and others)

Postby The Seeker » 10 Apr 2017 10:00

Hi and thanks for your information.
I'd wondered about the Royal bit and I'd been waiting for a reply from the The Royal Welsh Regiment Museum, as I hope they have his Army Record. I looked again at the photocopy I received from the Guards museum and the "Royal" they stated in the accompanying letter actually says "Depot" Welsh Regiment, Purchase Discharge - in the section where the question is "where he had served". The photocopy is very dark but a magnifying glass sorted the problem. Further down, the transferring officer states "3rd Batt Welsh Regiment". My interest isn't just military, as any personal information in the documents could provide clues to my family history (which was very sparse beyond my grandparents). His mother's name and birthplace from the Guard's record was a great find, as there was an unknown link between his daughter (my maternal GG grandmother) to my home village. I'll let you know how I get on with RWR museum.

Responses such as yours have been extremely helpful, as I now live in Scotland and can't easily research local data in Wales.
Thanks again.
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Re: 1890 Grenadier Guards 'Mutiny' (and others)

Postby Frogsmile » 10 Apr 2017 13:20

The Seeker wrote:Hi and thanks for your information.
I'd wondered about the Royal bit and I'd been waiting for a reply from the The Royal Welsh Regiment Museum, as I hope they have his Army Record. I looked again at the photocopy I received from the Guards museum and the "Royal" they stated in the accompanying letter actually says "Depot" Welsh Regiment, Purchase Discharge - in the section where the question is "where he had served". The photocopy is very dark but a magnifying glass sorted the problem. Further down, the transferring officer states "3rd Batt Welsh Regiment". My interest isn't just military, as any personal information in the documents could provide clues to my family history (which was very sparse beyond my grandparents). His mother's name and birthplace from the Guard's record was a great find, as there was an unknown link between his daughter (my maternal GG grandmother) to my home village. I'll let you know how I get on with RWR museum.

Responses such as yours have been extremely helpful, as I now live in Scotland and can't easily research local data in Wales.
Thanks again.
Ben


The Welsh Regiment recruited in South and West Wales after 1881, focussing on Cardiff, [erratum] 'Rhondda', Swansea, Carmarthen, Pembroke and Glamorgan. Their regimental depot was at Maindy Barracks, in Cardiff.

The 3rd Battalion was the Militia battalion of the post 1881 regiment (part-time soldiers, mainly working class and largely from rural areas).

It is possible that he joined the militia first (before July 1881, their unit title had been the Royal Glamorganshire Light Infantry Militia) and then opted to join the regulars (an accepted and quite popular route into the regular army) but chose (or was persuaded into) the Grenadier Guards as his regiment, probably because he was a relatively tall man.
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Re: 1890 Grenadier Guards 'Mutiny' (and others)

Postby The Seeker » 10 Apr 2017 17:58

Thanks again for the information. I hope you'll excuse one small correction. Two "dd's" in Rhondda. It seems trivial but Welsh has a slightly different alphabet. One "d" is pronounced as a "d" but two together is pronounced as "th", as in "the". I had a call from someone at the Welsh Regiment museum who explained that they don't have any digitalised service records, only ledgers, so won't appear on genealogy sites such as Findmypast. Their archivist will call me tomorrow to see if they can track down my relative. Despite this, the information from the Guards record has enabled me to quite positively link my known relative to her ancestry in Wales. I've tracked the family back to the 1861 census with my relative on them to the 1881 census. The odd thing is that his father is on the 1861 census as a Chelsea Pensioner/Iron Miner, so must have had military service too. I'd wondered how the military connection started.

Sadly, I believe that many of the military sites in Wales are to be sold off and all the Welsh units will be based in England. I can't see that objections will be listened too, as I'm in Arbroath and we are to likely to lose the Royal Marine Commando unit here in the review.
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Re: 1890 Grenadier Guards 'Mutiny' (and others)

Postby Frogsmile » 10 Apr 2017 18:38

Mea culpa, I am well aware of the two Ds in Rhondda, it was that old problem common to using one digit to communicate - a typo error.

Although the regimental museum only holds 'ledgers', full military records that have survived are retained in the National Archives.
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Re: 1890 Grenadier Guards 'Mutiny' (and others)

Postby The Seeker » 11 Apr 2017 14:51

I had an interesting conversation with the Archivist for the The Welsh Regiment but gained no further information about my relative. However, she explained that he would have been a volunteer at that time and that my home village held meetings/training in one of the local halls. Entirely new to me but it accords with an aunt marrying someone stationed at the nearest (then) barracks a few miles down the valley. It's the National Archives for any detail of my relative's army service but she cautioned that many batches of records were destroyed or damaged. Seemingly, historically, regimental records were kept with the regiment during their travels and some were lost. They were then required to be kept centrally and all but the Guards regiments complied, which is why they still hold (and have digitised) their records. All others that still exist are seemingly only available from the National Archive. Enquiries can apparently take some considerable time (the archivist's record is 13 months awaiting results) - but you probably know this. So, for me it's looking around corners to see if I can find another route to solving the problem of his family links.

Thanks again, Ben
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Re: 1890 Grenadier Guards 'Mutiny' (and others)

Postby Frogsmile » 11 Apr 2017 21:45

The Seeker wrote:I had an interesting conversation with the Archivist for the The Welsh Regiment but gained no further information about my relative. However, she explained that he would have been a volunteer at that time and that my home village held meetings/training in one of the local halls. Entirely new to me but it accords with an aunt marrying someone stationed at the nearest (then) barracks a few miles down the valley. It's the National Archives for any detail of my relative's army service but she cautioned that many batches of records were destroyed or damaged. Seemingly, historically, regimental records were kept with the regiment during their travels and some were lost. They were then required to be kept centrally and all but the Guards regiments complied, which is why they still hold (and have digitised) their records. All others that still exist are seemingly only available from the National Archive. Enquiries can apparently take some considerable time (the archivist's record is 13 months awaiting results) - but you probably know this. So, for me it's looking around corners to see if I can find another route to solving the problem of his family links.

Thanks again, Ben


Your lady archivist is no doubt correct regarding how long the NA can take to respond to an inquiry, but I question how she reached a conclusion that your forebear was a 'volunteer' based on what you have said. The 3rd Battalion was a Militia battalion as mentioned above. Such men completed 56-days basic training and then went home with an obligation to attend a training camp of not more than 27-days annually, in return for which they received a cash bounty.

The volunteers were different and organised in three, separately categorised battalions (1st to 3rd 'Volunteer' Battalions) and had different terms and conditions that required them to attend a 'drill' session twice per week for a few hours (2-3), once on a weekday and once at a weekend. In addition they were required to attend an annual, Summer training camp for 2-weeks for which they too, received a cash bounty. However, they did not fall under military law nor have any obligation beyond defending their home country.

Conversely, the Militia were a de facto 'army reserve' and one section of their strength was obligated for overseas service in return for extra pay. They were also a means of entering the regular army in a way that the volunteers were not. Given the details that you have explained I feel it is more likely that your forebear was a member of the Militia, rather than the Volunteers.

The key fact to ascertain before you go further is was he in the 3rd (Militia) Battalion - HQ Cardiff, or the 3rd (Volunteer) Battalion - HQ Swansea? Knowing that as a start point will help you to trace his records if they have survived.
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