Peldon and The Boer War - Herbert Augustine Christopher Harrison

Llanelwedd, Radnorshire is a long way from Peldon and yet there is a connection between the two villages spanning close to 140 years. Walk into the church of St Matthew, Llanelwedd, and you come across a brass plaque commemorating a young twenty-four year old man, Herbert Augustine Christopher Harrison, who died at the start of the first Boer War.

To the Glory of GOD
and to the beloved memory of HERBERT AUGUSTINE CHRISTOPHER HARRISON
third son of the Rev. Christopher Harrison, Lieut and Adjt 94th Regt
Born 21st March 1856 at Peldon Rectory Essex.
Killed in action with the Boers at Bronkorst Spruit Transvaal South Africa Dec 20th 1880.
This brass is erected by his three brothers and his sister as a record of their affection
HE FOUGHT A GOOD FIGHT. HE KEPT THE FAITH

The Battle of Bronkhorstspruit was the first major clash of the First Boer War. The First Boer War was to run from 16th December 1880 to 23rd March 1881. The battle was between a British army column and a group of Boers, fought by the Bronkhorstspruit River, a few miles east of the town of Bronkhorstspruit, Transvaal, on 20 December 1880. The 94th Regiment of Foot under Colonel Anstruther was ambushed by a Boer force and four officers were killed (Lt.Col. Philip Robert Anstruther, Captain Stanford Norman McLeod Nairne, Captain James MacSwiney, and Lieutenant Herbert Augustine Christopher Harrison) together with 71 men.

From research done by the late Ted Sparrow into Peldon's fallen

The London Gazette 12th September 1876 shows him [Herbert Harrison] being transferred as a Lieutenant from the 89th Regiment to the 9th of Foot. The 9th Regiment of Foot was a regiment of the British Army from 1751 to 1881. It ultimately became the Royal Norfolk Regiment.

The London Gazette 17th June 1881 shows a Lieutenant John James Hume replacing Lieutenant Harrison, who had been killed in action, as Adjutant of the 94th Regiment of Foot. Likewise his Lieutenancy in the 94th was transferred effective 21st December to a Lieutenant Frederick G. W. Jones according to the London Gazette of 26th April 1881.Thus although he had been serving with the 9th...he was in fact the Adjutant of the 94th at the time of his death. After 1881 the 94th of Foot became the 2nd Battalion Connaught Rangers. Ted Sparrow

And what of the Peldon connection?

Herbert's father, the Rev Christopher Harrison, (born in 1817 in London), was the rector in Peldon from 1855 to 1867.

He was instituted on 21st May, 1855, and the first written description of the Church, in any detail, was made by him in his 'Some Record of the Parish of Peldon' begun in 1867. In his book he tells of the efforts to get the church restored, and of the 6d rate imposed on the parish for this purpose 'after some ineffectual opposition'. He resigned on 16th September, 1867, and moved to North Curry, Somerset, where he died in 1877. St Mary the Virgin, Peldon the Rev Anthony W Gough

The book referred to is held in the Essex Records Office, Some Record of the Parish Of Peldon Rev C R Harrison 1867 D/P287/28/6

From Kay Gilmour's history of Peldon it is clear that Christopher was a popular rector and instrumental in restoring the church in 1858.

Christopher's wife was Jessie nee Mundell who was born in 1818 in the East Indies. They married in 1852 in Hay, Breconshire. The family lived in Leigh, Essex, before coming to Peldon because three of the children are born there, twins, Christopher Francis and Jessie Marion in July 1853 and Robert Arthur Gwynne (born in 1855) although in the 1891 census Robert's place of birth is given as Peldon.

In the census of 1861, during Christopher's Peldon incumbency the family is to be found living in Rectory House in Peldon, with two more boys, Herbert, 5, and Sydney, 4, both born in Peldon. In 1867 the family leaves Peldon and by the1871 census we find sons Herbert aged 15 and Robert aged 16 as pupils in the Grammar School in Honiton. Christopher is living in Vicarage House North Curry, Somerset while Jessie described as a clergyman's wife is staying with an uncle's family in St Leonard, Devon.

The Rev. Christopher Harrison's death was registered in Builth, Breconshire. He died 1st October 1877 and was not to know of the loss of his son, Herbert, three years later.

Elaine Barker
Peldon History Project

Author: Elaine Barker
ID: PH01_HAR
Source: Mersea Museum