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Replies: 17


Posted: 1400338653000
Classification: Query

Thank you for this - it's also helped to confirm an approximate date of birth for John.

For what it's worth, I'm sending you a transcript of my great aunt's story - this was the source of the family "myth" of the rescue of the two young brothers William and Robert and the death of their parents at the siege of Cawnpore. As I've already told you, the story doesn't really stand up to scrutiny. You may, however, be able to get some useful information about the orphanage at Agra.

"I do not know much about my father’s parents — He remembered very little himself, having been made an orphan during the Indian Mutiny of 1857, when he was only 7 years old. He and his brother. Robert, aged 5 at the time, were saved from death, it would seem, through the agency of faithful servants, who hid the two lads and passed them on to some British soldiers. They were conducted to Agra, where there was a military orphanage and there they were cared for by Capuchin Fathers (Friars Minor of the Order of St. Francis). My father remembered the exodus to the Fort at Agra, of the nuns and girls from St. Patrick’s Convent School, and the boys and Masters from St. Peter’s College. The very old and very young rode in bullock carts; the others marched alongside, accompanied by an armed guard. At the Fort they were housed in former elephant stables and lived there for several weeksi, and school lessons were carried on there until peace and order were restored. My father spoke highly of the Fathers and Masters of the school, some of whom held degrees of British Universitiesii. He felt he owed a great deal of his own learning, which was not inconsiderable, to one Mr. Paul, an Oxford man.
Of his life before going to India, my father spoke only of the barracks at Chathamiii, and of his mother, who taught him his prayers, and said the ‘Rosary’. He and his brother were, as a matter of course, taken to be Catholics and were in due course, confirmed and made their First Communion. However, some years later, a man named Lacey turned up at the school, claimed to be a relative of the two boys, and wished to take them away. But William (my father) and Robert, then aged 16 and 14 1respectively refused to go with him. Lacey then said that they shouldn’t be in a Catholic School, as they were baptised in the Church of England. The boys decided to be re-baptised, conditionally, in the Catholic Church, and my father often smilingly said that he ought to be a good Christian seeing that he had been twice baptised!
When William and Robert had finished with school, they took the entrance examination of Calcutta University and entered its Medical College. All expenses were paid by the British Government, which had replaced government by the old East India Company. It was understood that, after having taken their medical degree, the two young men would give a minimum of 10 years service in military hospitals in India, which they did. The pay was low — starting on 75 rupees/month (= about £100 pa), but with free living quarters and some army rations, meat, bread and milk, they found they were not badly off. When his pay had risen to 150 rupees/month (about £200 pa), my father got married, and his brother did the same. The brothers seem to have lost touch with one another after their marriages — I never knew why, probably the vast distances in India was the main cause. Robert remained in Bengal; William was posted to the Punjab."

With very best wishes,

SubjectAuthorDate Posted
paul mason 1399892829000 
ambalika bhat... 1400035018000 
paul mason 1400148671000 
ambalika bhat... 1400169385000 
ambalika bhat... 1400207090000 
paul mason 1400338653000 
Melanie Cutts 1400289584000 
Melanie Cutts 1400292143000 
paul mason 1400337603000 
Melanie Cutts 1400375706000 
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