Friday 5 June 2009

An artillery officer and Crimean hero of the old school

I purchased this splendid carte de visite portrait of a highly decorated Victorian soldier in full dress uniform and his somewhat less ornamented wife two or three years ago on eBay. I bid on it not being able to fully decipher the inscription on the reverse, and not having a particular interest in military images, but because the portrait epitomised to me the Victorian military era. The portrait looked to have been taken in the late 1860s or early 1870s, and I thought that I might be able to make a decent attempt at identifying the subjects and unearthing their stories. I was not really expecting my bid to be successful - military photographs such as this one are eagerly sought after by collectors - and I was surprised when I won the auction. I suppose I'm lucky that this one appears to have slipped under their collective radar.

I also wondered if this soldier might have served in the Crimean campaign (1854-1856). The timing seemed about right, and it would be a good opportunity to learn a bit more about that period of Britain's colonial expansion. My father recalled seeing some Crimean War medals in the possession of his mother's Brown family during his youth, but didn't know which member of the family they had been awarded to. Subsequent investigations with Brown cousins have been unable to unearth much more, or even what became of the medals. I am hoping that they will one day resurface.

My early research efforts into the photograph were a little disappointing, as I was unable to match what I could make out of the name on the reverse to anything I could find on the net using Google. I put the photograph away in a box, where it remained until recently, when I rediscovered it, made a high resolutionscan and had another go at deducing the name written on the reverse, this time with far greater success.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

The photograph is an ordinary albumen print (58 x 93 mm) of moderate quality, roughly corresponding to what one would expect from an initial estimate of the age of the portrait, i.e. 1870ish. It is in a fair degree of preservation, if a little grubby, with the photosensitive emulsion appearing to be relatively undamaged physically and not particularly faded. It is a formal studio portrait of a man dressed in military uniform, perhaps in his late fifties or early sixties, standing at the shoulder of a rather younger, seated woman - presumably his wife - who may be in her thirties or early forties. The studio background is simple, although not rudimentary, with finely patterned curtain and carpet, and plain wall, which don't in any way detract from the splendour of at least one of the subjects. The ornate back of the chair on which the woman is seated is just visible behind her right shoulder.

I would describe the woman's clothing as rather ordinary, but I suppose fairly typical of the late 1860s. Her unornamented but full skirt skirt, together with a dark lace mantle and decorated hat are similar to some of the items displayed for the years 1869 to 1872 in the book Victorian Fashions & Costumes from Harper's Bazaar: 1867-1898 (Blum, 1974). The gentleman appears to be clad in a full ceremonial dress uniform, complete with medals and sword, but a more detailed analysis of this uniform is probably best left until I reveal what I subsequently uncovered about the subject's life and military career.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

The carte de visite mount is of a standard size measuring 61 x 102 mm and is made from fairly thin card with square corners, although slightly rounded from wear. Unfortunately it contains no printing to show either the name of the photographer or the address of the studio. The name handwritten in black ink at the top of the reverse - which I believe from the style of handwriting and nature of the inscription, to be roughly contemporary with the carte de visite itself - appears to state, "Sir Wm. and Lady Fitzmayer." A white rectangular self-adhesive label with the number "370" or "390" is almost certainly recent, perhaps even affixed by the eBay vendor.

Image © and courtesy of
George Town, Demerara, from Fullarton's 1872 Map
Image © & courtesy of the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection
and British Guiana, 1832-1846, Plantation Houses & Equipment

James William Howard Fitzmayer was born in 1813 at Demerara (now part of Guyana, formerly British Guiana) in South America, son of Major Charles Howard Fitzmayer and Catherine Morrisey. His father was an officer in the Royal Regiment of Artillery and was presumably based in Demerara during the British occupation of the former Dutch colony, although the family was probably Irish in origin. Major Fitzmayer died suddenly at Limerick in 1821. [Source: Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser, Dublin, 4 April 1821] I have not been able to determine much about his mother's family, apart from the fact that they were from Madeira. It seems likely that her father was also in the military, and perhaps served in Madeira but briefly during Britain's occupation of that Portuguese colony between 1807 and 1814, as a result of the Napoleonic Wars. It may also be possible that Mr Morrisey was involved in the burgeoning wine trade of that era.

Image © and courtesy of John Hamill
The Royal Military Academy Headquarters at Woolwich
Image © and courtesy of John Hamill
John's Military History Tour of Britain

After being educated at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, he entered the Royal Artillery with the rank of second lieutenant in 1830. Initially based variously in Belfast, Edinburgh and Woolwich, he was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant in October 1831 [Source: Caledonian Mercury, Edinburgh, 5 November 1831]. In October 1841 at Tiverton, Devon, he married Jane Louisa Lane, daughter of the late Major Henry Bowyer Lane - also of the Royal Artillery and a veteran of the Peninsular War - and his wife Elizabeth Lacey of Greenhill, Staffordshire. [Source: The Bristol Mercury, 23 October 1841] Six months later, he was promoted to the rank of Second Captain. [Source: Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser, Dublin, 25 April 1842] After a short spell in Warwick as a recruiter he appears to have served for a few years in Jamaica in the West Indies, returning to England on the transport ship Princess Royal in mid-1846. [Source: Caledonian Mercury, Edinburgh, 13 August 1846]

Image © and courtesy of The National Archives of Ireland
Portobello Barracks, Rathmines, Dublin
Image © and courtesy of The National Archives of Ireland

In October that year he was promoted to the rank of Captain [Source: Daily News, London, 28 October 1846] before being posted to the Portobello Barracks in Dublin. [Source: Caledonian Mercury, Edinburgh, 21 January 1847] After another trip to the West Indies, this time to Barbados, he assumed command of the 7th Company, 8th Battalion at headquarters, shortly before it was due to head off for Ceylon. [Source: Caledonian Mercury, Edinburgh, 1 April 1847]

As it turned out, Fitzmayer ended up not accompanying his unit to Ceylon in late July 1847 [Source: The Morning Chronicle, London, 20 July 1847] but was transferred to command a company in the 3rd Battalion, which eventually proceeded to Dublin in early March 1849. [Source: Daily News, London, 27 February 1849] He remained in Ireland for three years, including being stationed at Kilkenny for a while, before being ordered to return with his battalion to headquarters at Woolwich in March 1852. [Source: The Morning Chronicle, London, 10 March 1852]

Image © and courtesy of Julieanne Savage
Artillery gunners testing an Armstrong 40pdr gun at Shoeburyness Old Ranges
Engraving from The Illustrated London News, 1871
Image © and courtesy of Julieanne Savage

Captain Fitzmayer spent some time training with his battalion at the Royal Artillery barracks and ranges at Shoeburyness, before returning to Woolwich in August 1853, and two months later was ordered to prepare to embark for a spell at the station in Gibraltar. [Source: Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser, Dublin, 26 October 1853] It is not clear whether they actually left, although his obituary claimed that he had indeed served at Gibraltar. By February 1854, however, Fitzmayer's battalion was at Woolwich once again, and one of the first six on the roster for foreign service. [Source: Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle, Portsmouth, 11 February 1854]
There is scarcely enything talked of in the garrison of Woolwich but the rumours of preparations for war which are in progress, although not officially announced in general or garrison orders. It is well known, however, that waggon-loads of the munitions of war leave the Royal Arsenal daily for the grand depot, where they are carefully packed and kept in a constant state of readiness to be forwarded to any part at home or abroad at the shortest notice. A report was circulated yesterday that two troops of the Royal Horse Artillery ... and six companies who have gone through a course of field battery instruction or are at present in the batteries, are to be placed under orders to hold themselves in readiness for embarkation for service at the Mediterranean stations, or in any part of the East where their services may be found requisite.
Image © Creative Commons and courtesy of the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre
The British Troopship Himalaya, built in 1853
from The New Zealand Wars by James Cowan, 1955
Reproduced under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand Licence courtesy of the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre

The war in question was, of course, the Crimean. After Captain Fitzmayer and his third battalion, consisting of "192 officers and men, with 170 horses, 6 guns and howitzers, with 11 ammunition waggons," were "medically inspected at the Ordnance Hospital, as to their fitness for foreign service," and embarked for Turkey aboard the horse transport ships Edendale, St. Kilda and Colgrain at Woolwich dockyard. [Source: The Morning Chronicle, London, 21, 27, 29 & 30 February 1854]

Image © Hulton Archive/Getty Images and courtesy of Life
French troops and horses aboard a troopship during the Crimean War
from the Illustrated News, 16 June 1855
Image © Hulton Archive/Getty Images and courtesy of Life

After a lengthy journey of over four weeks due to heavy weather and a stop in Malta they disembarked in the Crimea, they arrived in time to be actively involved in most of the major campaigns, including the affairs of Bulganac and M'Kenzie's Farm, the battles of the Alma and Inkerman, the siege and fall of Sebastopol, and the repulse of the sortie on October 26, 1854. During this period he was given field promotions, first to brevet Major [Source: The Morning Chronicle, London, 28 June 1854], then to Lieutenant-Colonel [Source: The Belfast News-Letter, 30 June 1854], accompanied by a transfer to the 4th Battalion [Source: The Times, London, 29 June 1854]. He was also complimented on parade by Sir De Lacy Evans for his method of bringing up the artillery at the Alma under the hottest fire. [Source: Daily News, London, 11 October 1854
Lieutenant General Sir De Lacy Evans eulogises the conduct of ... Lieutenant Colonels Fitzmayer and Dupuis ...
Fitzmayer was again thanked by Sir De Lacy Evans and twice mentioned in despatches for the affair of the sortie. [Source: The Bristol Mercury, 11 November 1854]
2nd Division, Heights of Tchernay, Oct. 27, 1854
Yesterday the enemy attacked this division with several columns of infantry supported by artillery ... To Lieutenant-Colonel Dacres, Lieutenant-Colonel Fitzmayer ... and the whole of the Royal Artillery, we are under the greatest obligation ... De Lacy Evans.
Image © and courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog
Captain Dames, Royal Artillery, British Army, Crimea
Photograph taken by Roger Fenton, c.1855
Image © and courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog Ref. LC-USZC4-9318

The photograph is one of a series taken by Roger Fenton (1819-1869), who achieved fame for his pioneering work as a war photograper in the Crimean. A large collection of digital images of Fenton's work is available on the Library of Congress's Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. Captain Dames' uniform is very similar to that worn by Fitzmayer in the carte de visite portrait at the head of this article.

Image © and courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog
Field Train, Horse Artillery, British Army, Crimea
Horse team pulling a gun carriage; barracks and tents in the background.
Photograph taken by Roger Fenton, c.1855
Image © and courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog Ref. LC-USZC4-9218

Image © Crown Copyright and courtesy of New Zealand Defence Force
Badge of a Companion of the Order of the Bath (Military Division)
Image © Crown Copyright and courtesy of New Zealand Defence Force web site

In July 1855 a large number of officers were appointed to be "Ordinary members of the Military Divisions of the first, second and third classes of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath," Lieut.-Colonel Fitzmayer becoming a Companion of the Order of the Bath, or "C.B." On 5 October 1855 he was granted leave of absence until 5 January 1856 by the Crimean headquarters at Balaklava and returned to England a week later on the next available transport ship, the Peninsular and Oriental Company's steamship Ripon, departing on the 13 October, sailing again via Malta and arriving at Southampton on 5 November. [Source: The Morning Chronicle, London, 24 October 1855 & The Times, London, 6 November 1855] He reached home to the news that he was in line for a further promotion to Colonel, for distinguished service in the field. Presumably this was actually a field rank only, because on his return to England he appears to have reverted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. [Source: Caledonian Mercury, Edinburgh, 5 November 1855]

Image © and courtesy of Megan C. Robertson
Crimean War Medal with four clasps
Image © and courtesy of Megan C. Robertson & Medals of the World

He was also awarded the Crimean War medal with three clasps (as opposed to the four clasps shown in the example above). On 12 March 1856, Colonel Fitzmayer attended a dinner party at Buckingham Palace with many other high-ranking officers, and the following day accompanied Her Majesty, the Prince, the Princess Royal and others to Woolwich in order "to witness the arrival of the officers and men of the Royal Artillery siege train direct from the Crimea."

Image used under Creative Commons Licence
Order of the Legion of Honour (Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur)
Image used under Creative Commons Licence and courtesy of Rama & Wikipedia

Over the next few months Colonel Fitzmayer and his wife attended numerous court functions, including "drawing rooms," levées and state balls. Then on 16 July 1856 the Order of the Legion of Honour (Légion d'honneur) was conferred upon a large number of British officers, including Colonel Fitzmayer.

Image © and courtesy of the National Galleries of Scotland
Unknown officer and three mounted soldiers of the Leith Fort Artillery
Calotype by David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, c. 1843-7
Image © and courtesy of the National Galleries of Scotland

In September he was still at Woolwich [Source: The Times, London, 30 Sep 1856], but by December 1857 he was commanding the garrison at Leith Fort near Edinburgh. [Source: Caledonian Mercury, Edinburgh, 12 December 1857]

Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Order of the Medjidie, from the Ottoman Empire
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

On 2 February 1857 he was appointed to the command of the Royal Artillery at Hong Kong [Source: Daily News, London, 3 February 1858] but never appears to have taken up that post, because he was still serving in Edinburgh when granted another award in March 1858. [Source: Caledonian Mercury, Edinburgh, 4 March 1858]
An official list has been published of the names of the officers who received the various classes of the Imperial Order of the Medjidie from the Sultan, during the late war, as a mark of his approbation of their distinguished services, and permission has been granted them by her Majesty to wear the insignia of the same ... James William Fitzmayer, C.B., 4th class.
In September 1858 Fitmayer made a trip to Wick near Caithness "to inspect both shores of the bay, in order to select suitable sites for the erection of batteries for its protection in case of war." [Source: Liverpool Mercury, 29 September 1858] These were to be manned by a Company of Artillery Volunteers raised locally (Watson, n.d.).

In May 1859 a complete structural reorganisation of the Regiment of Royal Artillery into fourteen brigades, eaqch having a separate station and its own regimental staff, was effected. [Source: Daily News, London, 4 May 1859] Lieutenant-Colonel Fitzmayer was transferred with the 8th Brigade F.A. to Portsmouth, moving there in November and being given command of "batteries stationed at Portsmouth, Aldershot, Devonport, Christchurch, Hilsen, Jersey, and Northampton." [Source: The Morning Chronicle, London, 4 November 1859] J.W. Fitzmayer's wife died in 1859, probably prior to the move from Edinburgh to Portsmouth.

Fitzmayer received confirmation of his appointment to the full, permanent rank of Colonel, as opposed to Brevet-Colonel, on 17 April 1860, and a week later his official annexation to the 8th Brigade was published. [Source: The Belfast News-Letter, 19 April 1860 & The Times, London, 25 April 1860] He was effectively commanding the artillery in the south-west district and spent his time touring many different stations and camps, including those at Portsmouth and Aldershott. Between June 1861 and January 1862, he was transferred to the command of the Royal Artillery in Ireland, based in Dublin, where he remained until April 1864.

Image © The British Library and courtesy of Gale CENGAGE Learning
Excerpt from The Caledonian Mercury, 28 January 1863, from the 19th Century British Library Newspapers collection
Image © The British Library and courtesy of Gale CENGAGE Learning

On 27 January 1863, however, he remarried, to Lucy Sivewright at Burntisland in Fifeshire, Scotland. Lucy Sivewright was born c. 1833 at Torre, Devon, daughter of Charles Kane Sivewright.

In April 1864, Colonel Fitzmayer was "replaced in the command of the Royal Artillery in Ireland, [and] proceed[ed] to England to assume the command of the A Brigade Royal Horse Artillery, at Woolwich, with a portion of which he will embark for India during the present Summer." [Source: The Belfast News-Letter, 24 May 1864] The officers and men were inspected at Woolwich on 13 July, and they departed for India shortly afterwards. [Source: The Times, London, 14 July 1864]

Image © and courtesy of Raghu
Royal Horse Artillery Officers, Gwalior
Print from Hawkshaw's India
Image © and courtesy of Raghu

Fitmayer and his wife spent nearly six years in India, first in command of the Artillery at Meerut until January 1866, then at Benares, and in command of an army division at Oude until April 1867, during which time he was promoted to the rank of Major-General. [Source: Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser, Dublin, 23 January 1868]

Image © and courtesy of
Group of Officers and NCO's of 'G' Battery, 'A' Brigade - late 'F' Troop at Waterloo - Royal Horse Artillery, Meerut - November 1883
Print from Hawkshaw's India
Image © and courtesy of

Soon after his return to England on 17 August 1870, with the publication of the Queen's Birthday Honours List, news arrived that he was to receive another award. [Source: The Pall Mall Gazette, London, 20 May & 4 July 1871]
Last night's Gazette announces, on the occasion of Her Majesty's birthday, a number of promotions in, and appointments to, the Most Honourable Order of the Bath ... The following are to be Ordinary Members of the Military Division of the Second Class, or Knights Commanders of the said Most Honourable Order:- ... Major-General James William Fitzmayer, C.B.
Image © and courtesy of Megan C. Robertson
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath, Star
Image © and courtesy of Megan C. Robertson & Medals of the World

The Queen held a private investiture of the Order of the Bath at Windsor Castle yesterday afternoon. Her Majesty, accompanied by the Prince of Wales and Prince Leopold, entered the White Drawing Room at three o'clock, when the following ... were invested by her Majesty with the riband and badge of the miltary division of the first class:- ... Major-General James William Fitzmayer.
Image © The National Archives and courtesy of
1871 Census: Llansantffraid, Cardinganshire, Wales NA Ref. RG10/5558/47/5/18
Image © The National Archives and courtesy of Ancestry

The census of April 1871 shows Major-General Sir Fitzmayer and his wife Lucy living on the estate of Allt-lwyd in the village of Llansantffraid, Cardinganshire, North Wales, close to the Shropshire border, with five servants, including a footman, coachman, cook, housemaid and kitchen maid. His mother Catherine, who had been widowed five decades earlier, died in early December that year aged 88, in Limerick, Ireland.

Having served as Inspector of the Northern Division from April 1867, Major-General Fitzmayer was appointed to the post of Inspector-General of the Royal Artillery at Headquarters on 1 April 1875 in succession to Major-General Sir Collingwood Dickson (1817-1904). Although he and Lady Fitzmayer were resident at Southsea in Hampshire, his duties understandably included annual inspections of many of the Royal Artillery stations, necessitating some travelling. He was at Shoeburyness in July, Dublin and Limerick in August, Aldershot in October, and similar trips took place in the summer and autumn of 1876. [Source: Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser, Dublin & The Times, London, various dates] In December 1876, another appointment as Colonel-Commandant of the 11th Brigade Royal Artillery was followed by a promotion to General in October 1877. [Sources: Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle, Portsmouth, 6 December 1876, The Belfast News-Letter, 1 January 1877 & Daily News London, 3 October 1877]

Image © The British Library & courtesy of Gale CENGAGE Learning
General Sir James Fitzmayer, from a photograph by Bustin of Hereford
in The Graphic, 8 June 1895, from the 19th Century British Library Newspapers collection
Image © The British Library and courtesy of Gale CENGAGE Learning

In June 1879, after an inspection of the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich and the publication of a report of the Board of Visitors, General Sir Fitzmayer was at the centre of some considerable controversy. The report included some harsh criticisms of "the indulgence of the present system of training." [Sources: Aberdeen Weekly Journal, Aberdeen, 14 June 1879 & North Wales Chronicle, 21 June 1879]
Lord Airey and General Fitzmayer have paid a visit to Woolwich Academy, and they have been much distressed at the things they have seen. What they saw there has left no doubt in their minds that the British army is becoming deteriorated. In the youthful days of these veterans only the simplest diet was allowed, and if a cadet's health were not in a satisfactory state the doctor who attended him seldom ordered anything but an emetic and low diet. But in these degenerate days a totally different state of things prevails. Whilst visiting Greenwich the gallant officers have seen "pint bottles of claret before cadets at dinner." More than this. Some of the cadets are allowed to eat potted meats, hams, and tongues, and General Fitzmayer thinks that jams and marmalades are allowed to those who can afford to pay for them. The complaints, however, are not confined to the diet. The veterans describe the rooms of the military students as "ladies' boudoirs" with "comforts hardly too much for school girls." Amongst their diversions, too, there are billiards, smoking rooms, concerts and balls. In place of these comforts and luxuries Lord Airey and General Fitzmayer would give to each student a camp bedstead and bedding, a table, a couple of chairs, and a set of fire-irons, the gymnasium and out-door sports for amusement, and only an ample ration of good and wholesome food for diet.
It provoked an angry response, both from the newspapers and those in authority who had been responsible for the reforms. The following comment appeared in The Newcastle Courant on August 1879:
General Fitzmayer made out,in his recent report, that the cadets at Woolwich and Sandhurst were being "coddled" into a condition of utter uselessness; but the replies of General Adye and Ganeral Napier, the governors, tell a wholly different tale ... General Fitzmayer's prescription ... may have been all very well for the unruly schoolboys whom he remembers in his younger days as inmates of Woolwich Academy, but something less general and more suited to individual cases is needed for the scientific students of our time.
The Pall Mall Gazette (16 June 1879) responded in a similar tone:
That many officers besides Lord Airey will concur in the ideas thus enunciated is very certain; but at the same time it may be doubted whether it would be a good thing to revert to the stricter regulations formerly in force both at Woolwich and at Sandhurst ... if the cadets leave Woolwich and Sandhurst as highly educated and as manly as their predecessors did, it is difficult to see what harm is caused by allowing these amusements ... any one acquainted with Woolwich and Sandhurst as they are and as they were will acknowledge that a far higher moral tone now prevails at these institutions than existed there when the sterner rule advocated by General Fitzmayer was in force.
The subjects of the criticism were no less vehement in their response: [Source: The Pall Mall Gazette, 21 June 1879]
The Army and Navy Gazette understands that the cadets at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, are extremely indignant at General Fitzmayer's report, especially that portion of it referring to the extravagant manner in which they furnish their rooms,and their luxurious diet. The cadets consider his report too vague and exaggerated, and it is their intention to send a protest to the press.
Major-General Sir John Adye and General William Napier, respectively Governors of the Royal Military Academy and College, went on the couter-attack: [Source: The Pall Mall Gazette,London, 4 August 1879]
The old system, which was more or less in force until a few years ago,was characterized by many of those principles which Sir James Fitzmayer apparently approves, but it failed over and over again. In those days when the cadets were out of study, they were little cared for or looked after by the staff. The food was indifferent; there was little in the way of games or amusements; and the barrack-rooms, each containing four cadets, were as cheerless as possible. Within the enclosure the system of espionage by non-commissioned officers prevailed; punishments were frequent and severe, including the blackhole with bread and water; and the cadets finding little pleasure or sympathy within the boundaries of the academy, naturally sought it, in their own way, outside. They frequented the low public-houses and billiard-rooms in the neighbourhood, and other worse places, and had frequent fights in the town with the roughs. Breaking out of barracks, and surreptitioussmoking and drinking more or less prevailed, and rat-killing was a favourite amusement. In short, the system of the institution was one of stern repressive punishments,combined with a good deal of indifference as to the real comfort and welfare of the cadets. It was, in my judgement and in that of most people, a bad system, and has happily passed away ... The great changes ... which have been brought about within the last few years are due partly to the force of public opinion, and partly due to the beneficial recommendations of the Royal Commissionof 1870, which latter were so carefully carried out by my predecessor. The general principle is, that careful attention is paid not only to the professional instruction of the cadets, but also to their comfort and general welfare.
Although Fitzmayer's report was presented to Parliament, it seems to have quickly been buried.

It is not clear whether there was any connection, but less than two years later, on 1 July 1881, "In conformity with the age clauses of the new army reorganisation scheme, which fixes the limit at sixty-seven years for the retirement of generals and lieutenant-generals," General Sir James William Fitzmayer, K.C.B., Colonel, Commandant Royal Artillery was placed on the retired list. [Source: The Belfast News-Letter, 28 July 1881] He retired with his wife to The Chase in the town of Ross, Herefordshire, and over the next fourteen years served variously as County Magistrate for Ross Petty Sessional Division, Commissioner of the Peace and Commissioner of Taxes for Ross Division, as well as being secretary of The West Gloucestershire Water Company for some years.

Image © Pauline Eccles and courtesy of - Licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence
St. Mary's Church, Ross-on-Wye
Image © Copyright Pauline Eccles and courtesy of
Licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

On 28 May 1895 several newspapers around the country reported that, "General Sir James Fitzmayer, K.C.B., died at his residence at Ross, Herefordshire, yesterday morning, in his 82nd year. Deceased served in the Crimea, and was for times mentioned in despatches." The funeral took place at St. Mary's Parish Churchyard, Ross, on Friday 31 May. His widow Lucy Fitzmayer continued living in Ross, and died there on 24 December 1911.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

An enlarged view of the medals on Fitzmayer's chest, shown above, is possibly the best clue to the date of the portrait. I'm not by any means knowledgeable on military uniforms, medals and decorations, but I can make an attempt at identification of some of them, based on the images that I've found of medals that he was definitely awarded. Unfortunately some of the medals are at least partly obscured by the lanyard and tassels. However, I think I can make out the following:
  • The Legion of Honour is at centre left.

  • The Companion of the Order of the Bath is in the centre of the group. It appears to have a bar on the ribbon, which may be his subsequent Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath, although I don't see the Star which should perhaps have accompanied that later award.

  • The Crimean War Medal may be the one at lower right, although the ribbon with its three clasps is obscured by the tassels of the lanyard.

  • The Order of the Medjidie is at lower left.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

This composite image shows the medals that I have tentatively identified. I'm very happy to be corrected by anyone who can do so. Please email me if you have further information.

Image © Wilhelm von Halem, from Battledress: The Uniforms of the World's Great Armies by I.T. Schick
Officer of the Horse Artillery, 1854
Image © Wilhelm von Halem, from I.T. Schick's Battledress: The Uniforms of the World's Great Armies

I'd also be keen to hear from any experts in the area of military uniform as to whether that shown in the image above, from Schick's Battledress: The Uniforms of the World's Great Armies, is an accurate representation, both in form and colour of the dress uniform likely to have been worn by Fitzmayer around 1870. It certainly looks very similar indeed. What are the names of the various items, such as the head-dress, the odd-looking piece of floppy fabric hanging from it, etc? Can one tell the officer's rank from such a uniform? Is there anything else one should look for?

P.S. Megan Robertson of Medals of the World emailed me with the following information, for which I am most grateful: "Regarding the medals in the photo, he’s wearing the Companion of the Order of the Bath badge, which was originally a breast badge. The ‘bar’ you refer to is a top buckle which was an integral part of the insignia."

References & Further Reading

International Genealogical Index (IGI), from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on FamilySearch

Index to the General Register Office (GRO) Civil Registrations of Births, Marriages & Deaths, from FreeBMD

Indexed images of the 1841-1901 UK Census, from the National Archives & Ancestry

19th Century British Library Newspapers collection, from Gale Cengage Learning

The Times Digital Archive, 1785-1985, from Gale Cengage Learning

Hussards Photos

Soldiers of the Queen, a Virtual Museum of Victorian-era British Military Photographs

Fenton Crimean War Photographs - 263 photographs of the Crimean War, 1855 by Roger Fenton, from the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog

Death Notice for Sir J.W. Fitzmayer in the London Times, dated 28 May 1895, transcribed and reproduced online by The Guyana/British Guiana Genealogical Society

Barham, John (n.d.) The Battle of Inkerman, Part 2 - The Fog of War, reproduced online by Suite101

Blum, Stella (ed.)(1974) Victorian Fashions & Costumes from Harper's Bazaar: 1867-1898, Dover Publications, ISBN 0486229904

Browne, James Alexander (1865) England's Artillerymen, An Historical Narrative of the Services of the Royal Artillery, publ. Hall, Smart & Allen, London, from GoogleBooks

Calthorpe, Somerset John Gough (1858) Letters from Head-Quarters; or, The Realities of the War in the Crimea, by an Officer on the Staff, Third Edition, Condensed, With Plans, John Murray, London, reproduced online by Google Books

Duncan, Francis (2008) History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, online preview by Google Books

Hart, Lieutenant-General H.G. (1888) The New Annual Army List, Militia List, Yeomanry Cavalry List, and Indian Civil Service List, for 1888 (Vol 49), John Murray, London, online version from Google Books

Laws, Lt.-Col. M.E.S. (n.d.) The Royal Artillery at Copenhagen 1801, in The Journal of the Royal Artillery, Vol. LXXVI. No. 4., publ. The Royal Artillery Institution, reproduced online on Napoleonic Literature

Mollo, John (ed.)(1993) The Rise of the Mass Armies, 1815-1860 (Chapter 6), in Battledress: The Uniforms of the World's Great Armies, 1700 to the present, ed. I.T. Schick, illustr. Wilhelm von Halem, Artus Books

Philippart, John (1820) The Royal Military Calendar, or Army Service and Commission Book, 3rd Edition, Volume V, online version from Google Books

Watson, G. (n.d.) The Artillery Batteries at Mey and Castletown, on the Caithness Community Web Site


  1. I wanted you to know that I find you an inspiration in the GeneaBlogger world. I've left you the Puckerbrush award at Genealogy Traces. You can pick it up now.

  2. Hello Brett!

    Re: The first photo in the article - I love this photo. Sir William's mustache is fabulously droopy.

    Oh and all the research you put into this article? OUTSTANDING!

  3. Hello Brett,

    One cannot get too many awards! LOL

    I nominated you for the Puckerbrush Award of Excellence!
    (Check it out here:

    "Guided by the Ancestors"

  4. Thank you, Judith and George, for your kind words and recognition. I especially value the feedback that I get from the Geneablogger community. Some of these articles do involve many hours of work, but the responses make it well worthwhile. You too, Sheri - I'm grateful for your comments, as always. I agree ... the photo is incredibly impressive.

    Regards Brett

  5. I am very impressed with this investigation. my Mother and I are looking into my grandfather in England and Wales. We found that he was born near The Chase in 1888, and though he went by John Treharne, he is buried as John Fitzmayer, but his real name was George Hammond. This has taken 10 years to find his real name. Have you contacted The Chase? They may be interested in the picture of Sir James and Lady Lucy.

  6. Thanks Karen. No, I haven't been in touch with "The Chase." Regards, Brett


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