Royal Artilleryman in India, 1858-1867

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Royal Artilleryman in India, 1858-1867

Postby mopsa » 15 Jul 2017 05:50

My enquiry is about No 4555 Corporal Michael Griffith who was invalided out of the army in 1875, and died in the same year. His Chelsea Pension record of service I find a bit baffling, and I would be grateful for some help to unravel it.

A truncated summary is included below:

"Bengal Arty. Attested Gunner 22 Apr '57 to 18 Apr '58"
Sappers Transferred Private 19 Apr '58 to 21 Jan '61
Boon granted by G O G G 12 Oct '61 * 2 [years] * {not for GC pay}
Gunner 22 Jan '61 to 5 Aug '61 [ this row is squished in, as if at a later date]
Royal Arty} Transferred Gunner 6 Aug 61 to 5 Apr '63
16th Bde}
[between 63 and 67 some "continued" dates]
Dep Bde Transferred Gunner 1 Nov '67 etc
[Promoted to Bombardier in 1868]
[Promoted to Corporal in 1870]
Coast Bde Transferred Corporal 1 Apr 71 [ died in 1875]

On the first page the record says that he served in India from 30 May 1858 to 22 Nov 1868 - 9 years 7 months.

What is meant by that first entry "Bengal Artillery"? Was he *in* Bengal in the Artillery, or was he in the "Bengal Artillery" which searching around seems to suggest it was an Indian unit absorbed by the Royal Artillery in 1862 (dates don't match up of course).

And what was the "Boon"? Was that a transfer from Bengal Artillery to the RA, or was it a period of home leave, or something else entirely?

I gratefully thank anyone who can shed some light on this. Mopsa
Best wishes,

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Re: Royal Artilleryman in India, 1858-1867

Postby Maureene » 15 Jul 2017 08:11

The way I read it is that he was initially in the Bengal Artillery, which was part of the East India Company's Bengal Army.

The East India Company's Armies were taken over by the British Army "after the Indian Mutiny" when soldiers were given the option of transferring to the British Army, which in most cases meant their regiments were absorbed into the British Army structure, or being discharged. This process appears to have taken place over 1859-1861.

I think when he transferred to the Sappers he was still in the Bengal Army, and probably when he transferred back to the Artillery. I think the "Boou" granted in October 1861 is a bonus or bounty given to those who transferred to the British Army, but this is a "best guess"

As he was initially in the Bengal Army, there are other records you could follow up. See the FIBIS Fibiwiki page Bengal Army

The FIBIS Fibiwiki page Royal Artillery has a section on the amalgamation of the Bengal, Madras and Bombay Artillery into the Royal Artillery. ... _regiments

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Re: Royal Artilleryman in India, 1858-1867

Postby mopsa » 15 Jul 2017 09:10

Gosh, thanks Maureen. I have to admit being a bit staggered by that, not exactly sure why. Well, yes I do know why. Michael Griffith was married in Liverpool in August 1856, and there he is in April 1857 attesting with the Bengal Army.

I will be going carefully through the references you have given me, but I must say I find it pretty peculiar. I may yet find that his wife went to India and they had children there, but there are no indications of India-born children when he lobs back in Britain. His wife is in the Sheerness Barracks in 1871 with a one year old (actually born in 1869), and she later has another babe in 1873. On the face of it, she patiently waited for him to return for 10 years.

I have been reading the forum topics on wives of the British Army in India, but were there any arrangements for wives to come to India in the Indian Army? And where would he have attested?

He was a rash teenager when he married AND joined the Bengal Artillery, so perhaps that explains a lot. He was worn out when he got home to England, gave his wife two babies to bring up by herself, and expired at the age of 38.

Thank you again, Maureen.
Best wishes,

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