>Colvile’s Story, Part 5: Postings in England & Ireland, Epilogue

>The final part of Colvile’s story, after he was wounded at Warea, deals with the remainder of his service from the time the 43rd Regiment returned to England, concluded with a brief discussion of the carte de visite portraits themselves.

Image © and courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library
Lieut.-Gen. Fiennes Colvile, C.B., Late 43rd Regt., .c. 1885-90 [77]
Fiennes Colvile, now 34 years old, had been abroad for almost 13 years, since he was twenty-one, and much of his time with the army had been active service, both during the Indian Mutiny and the New Zealand Wars. In recognition of this service he was, on 17th September, awarded the C.B., the full title being an Ordinary Member of the Military Division of the Third Class, or Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath [78].

In September 1856 he had married Mary Grier Noble, daughter of Horatio Nelson Noble, a Captain in the 40th Regiment of the Madras Native Infantry, at Bangalore in India [79]. After having had two children [80,81], both of whom probably died in infancy, Mary herself died in Dorset, England in October 1859 [82]. Three years later Colvile was remarried at the Cathedral in Colombo, Ceylon to Helen Harriett Northcote, daughter of a retired Army Major. Their first child, a daughter, was born at Fort William, Calcutta in August 1863 [83], and Helen must have returned to England shortly after her husband departed with his regiment to New Zealand.

Image © and courtesy of Aldershot Military Museum/Hampshire County Council
Centre Road, North Camp, Aldershot, 1866 [84]
The regiment moved to North Camp, Aldershot in Hampshire in June 1867, and it seems likely that Fiennes and Helen Colvile lived in married quarters there, although when a son was born in July 1867 she was in Babbacombe, St Marys Church (now part of Torquay), Devon, probably staying with her parents. In May-June 1868 they moved with the regiment to Jersey [85], where another son was born there in March 1869, although it appears that he died in infancy [86].

The 43rd moved again in April-May 1869, this time to Ireland, where they were stationed successively in Curragh [87], Dublin [88], Fermoy [89], Kinsale [90] and Cork [91]. The Colvile’s third child, a daughter, was born at Babbacombe in December 1870 [92], and their last, a son, at Cork in March 1872 [93]. By this time Colvile had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and given the command of the regiment, after the retirement of Colonel Synge [94]. A further promotion to full Colonel took place in May 1872 [95] and two years later in November 1875 he retired [96].

Image © and courtesy of Puke Ariki Museum
General Sir Fiennes M. Colvile, K.C.B., c.1906 [97]
In December 1876, Colonel Colvile was given command of 53rd Brigade Depot at Shrewsbury, Shropshire [98], a post held until he again retired in 1881, with the rank of Major-General [2]. Between 1889 and 1892 he commanded the Welsh Border infantry Volunteer Brigade [99]. In 1906 he was awarded the K.C.B., and in September 1913 was appointed Colonel of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

Fiennes Middelton Colvile died at Guildford, Surrey on 29th March 1917, aged 84, his wife Helen having died seven years earlier in 1910.

Epilogue – Dating the Portraits and The Case of the Empty Sleeve

Image © and courtesy of Puke Ariki Museum Image © and courtesy of Puke Ariki Museum Image © and courtesy of Puke Ariki Museum
CDV portraits by Hoby of New Plymouth (left), unidentified photographer (centre) and Elliot & Fry of London (right) [1,4,5]
Hoby Portrait
The square corners of the mount, the three-quarter length portrait and the simple studio setting, with plain wall, curtain draped to the left, and plinth to the right, taken together, are suggestive of the late 1860s or very early 1870s.

Image © and courtesy of Puke Ariki Museum
Reverse of card mount, Portrait by Mr. Hoby, Taranaki [4]
The catalogue entry in the Puke Ariki database (Anon, 2010), from whose web site this image was taken, states that the portrait was by Hoby, and the reverse of the card mount shows that it was “Mr. Hoby” of Taranaki . There are several other CDVs of military personnel by Hoby on the web site, two of which show what appears to be the same plinth as that on which Colvile rests his hand. Colvile’s 43rd Regiment cap is clearly visible on the top of the plinth, and he is wearing a military tunic with a single medal ribbon, which looks to be that for the Indian Mutiny [101].

George Hoby operated photographic studios in New Plymouth and Nelson intermittently through the 1860s and 1870s. He was working from a gallery in Courtenay Street, New Plymouth from November 1864 to January 1865, and then from new premises in Devon Street from February 1865 until well after the 43rd Regiment’s departure from the town (Payne, in prep.). It seems likely, therefore that Colvile visited one of the two studio premises some time during his stay in Taranaki, almost certainly prior to his being “severely wounded” at Warea in October 1865.

Portrait by Unidentified Photographer [5]

The portrait style and card mount are suggestive of the early 1870s. Although the portrait in the Puke Ariki collection has been catalogued as by Chancellor [100], a well established photographer working in Dublin from the 1860s until at least the 1880s, further investigations show that the carte de visite mount is not marked with a photographer’s name, and the catalogue entry may be in error [102].

The carte de visite is slightly unusual in that the size of the vignetted portrait is considerably smaller than the print, resulting in a large blank surround. This technique was often used when trimming the head and shoulders of a subject from the negative of a larger group portrait, and may well have been done in this case. Colvile was with the 43rd in Ireland from May 1869 until November 1875, and might have visited Chancellor’s studio in Dublin any time during that period, but it could just as easily have been taken elsewhere.

Elliott & Fry Portrait

Image © and courtesy of Michael Hargreave Mawson
Reverse of card mount, Portrait by Elliott & Fry, London [1]
The firm of Elliott & Fry were in business in London for several decades, with a studio at 55 Baker Street between 1863 and 1885 (Anon, 2011a), which does not help a great deal in narrowing down a time frame for this portrait. The style of portrait and card mount, however, is typical for the mid-1870s. The information provided by Michael Hargreave-Mawson [2] demonstrates that it was probably taken between 1871 and 1874, during which time he was stationed in Ireland.

He is wearing the tunic of an Infantry Colonel, 1868-1881, and the shako on the table beside him carries the green horsehair plume in use by Light Infantry regiments from circa 1871-1874. He is wearing three medals, of which the first is partially hidden under his sash; the second is the Breast Badge of a Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath; and the third is the New Zealand Medal (which was first issued in 1869).

It is tempting to postulate that Colvile visited Elliott & Fry’s London studio on the occasion of his visit to England in February 1872, when he attended his father’s funeral in Kenilworth, Surrey [103], but he may well travelled to England on several other occasions.

The Case of the Empty Sleeve

A noticeable feature in four of the Colvile portraits is the empty right sleeve; he must have lost his right arm at or near the elbow. This misfortune must have already befallen him by the time the earliest of the portraits was taken, in late 1864 or 1865, at New Plymouth. The reports don’t suggest that he was wounded while serving in either Maketu or Tauranga, and the wound that he did receive at Warea in October 1865 was in his thigh, not his arm.

The suggestion, therefore, is that it must have happened prior to his arrival in New Zealand. Perhaps it was during his Indian service, although no evidence has yet been unearthed. It seems extraordinary that a senior officer, even a particularly competent one, should continue on active service with the British Army, including playing not insignificant roles in several major actions, for several years after losing an arm.

Acknowledgements

I’d particularly like to thank Michael Hargrave Mawson, without whose photograph and extensive knowledge of military history, this article would not have been possible. Kate Boocock, the very competent Pictorial Collection Technician at Puke Ariki and District Libraries, has been particularly helpful with investigating photographs in their collections, for which I am most grateful. Acknowledgement is also due to the Alexander Turnbull Library (Timeframes), Puke Ariki Museum, Te Papa Museum, Auckland City Library and Australia War Memorial for the use of images that they have made available online.

References

[1] Elliott & Fry (n.d.) Carte de visite portrait of Colonel F.M. Colvile, C.B., by Elliott & Fry, 55 Baker St. W., London, undated, but taken in the early 1870s, Collection of Michael Hargreave-Mawson.

[2] Hargreave-Mawson, M. (2010) Email Correspondence re. Lieutenant-General Sir Fiennes Middleton Colvile, K.C.B., 8 November 2010.

[4] Hoby, George (1864-65) Carte de visite portrait of Colonel Fiennes Colville of the 43rd Regiment, by Mr. [George] Hoby, [New Plymouth] Taranaki, New Zealand, Collection of Puke Ariki Museum, Accession No. PHO2008-1657.

[5] Anon (n.d.). Carte de visite head-and-shoulders portrait of Lieutenant Colonel Fiennes Colvile, Collection of Puke Ariki Museum, Accession No. PHO2008-1638.

[77] Downey, W. & D. (n.d.) Portrait of Lieutenant-General Fiennes Colvile, C.B., Late 43rd Regt., taken c. 1885-1890, Hand-coloured cabinet card (Image 104 x 145mm, Mount 107 x 165mm) by W. & D. Downey, London, Undated, Museum of New Zealand/Te Papa Tongarewa Regn. No. O.012383.

[78] Anon (1865) From the London Gazette of Yesterday, London: The Morning Post, 19 September 1866, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, Courtesy of Gale CENGAGE.

[79] Anon (1856) Marriages, Edinburgh: Caledonian Mercury, 25 October 1856, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, Courtesy of Gale CENGAGE.

[80] Anon (1857) Births, London: The Morning Post, 23 July 1857, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, Courtesy of Gale CENGAGE.

[81] Anon (1859) Domestic Occurrences, Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, 10 Feb 1839, Families in British India Society (FIBIS) Database.

[82] Anon (1859) Births, Deaths, Marriages and Obituaries, London: The Morning Chronicle, 20 October 1859, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, Courtesy of Gale CENGAGE.

[83] Anon (1862) Births as reported in ‘Domestic Occurrences,’ Times of India, 11 Dec 1862, Families in British India Society (FIBIS) Database.

[84] Image of Centre Road, North Camp, Aldershot, 1866, Barracks in Aldershot, Aldershot Military Museum, Hampshire County Council.

[85] Anon (1868) Army and Navy Stations, London: Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, 7 June 1868, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, Courtesy of Gale CENGAGE.

[86] Anon (1869) Births, London: The Morning Chronicle, 27 March 1869, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, Courtesy of Gale CENGAGE.

[87] Anon (1869) Movements of Troops, Belfast: The Belfast News-Letter, 30 June 1869, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, Courtesy of Gale CENGAGE.

[88] Anon (1869) Stations of the British Army, Dublin: Freeman’s Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser, 1 November 1869, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, Courtesy of Gale CENGAGE.

[89] Anon (1870) Stations of the British Army, Lancaster: The Lancaster Gazette, 10 December 1870, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, Courtesy of Gale CENGAGE.

[90] Anon (1871) Stations of the British Army, Preston: The Preston Guardian, Issue 3141, 16 September 1871, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, Courtesy of Gale CENGAGE.

[91] Anon (1872) Stations of the British Army, Leeds: The Leeds Mercury, Issue 10577, 5 March 1872, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, Courtesy of Gale CENGAGE.

[92] Anon (1870) Births, London: The Morning Post, 14 December 1870, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, Courtesy of Gale CENGAGE.

[93] Anon (1872) Births, Belfast: The Belfast News-Letter, 25 March 1872, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, Courtesy of Gale CENGAGE.

[94] Anon (1871) Naval and Military, London: Daily News, 20 September 1871, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, Courtesy of Gale CENGAGE.

[95] Anon (1872) From the London Gazette of Yesterday, London: The Morning Post, 8 May 1872, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, Courtesy of Gale CENGAGE.

[96] Anon (1875) From the London Gazette of Yesterday, London: The Morning Post, Vol. 32269, 1 December 1875, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, Courtesy of Gale CENGAGE.

[97] Portrait of General Sir Fiennes M. Colvile, K.C.B., Late 43rd Regiment, Photographic postcard by unidentified photographer, Undated, taken c. 1906, Puke Ariki Museum Heritage Collections, Accession No. PHO2009-074.

[98] Anon (1876) Naval and Military Intelligence, London: The Morning Post, Vol. 32590, p.6, 11 December 1876, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, Courtesy of Gale CENGAGE.

[99] Anon (1891) Kelly’s Directory of Shropshire, London: Kelly & Co., Historical Directories, University of Leicester.

[100] Anon (2010) Puke Ariki Museum Heritage Collection Online Catalogue, Accessed 24 Feb 2011.

[101] Nixon, Paul (2009) Indian Mutiny Medal, 6 September 2009, British Army Medals, Accessed 24 February 2011.

[102] Boocock, Kate (2011) Email Correspondence re. Col. F.M. Colvile, February 2011.

[103] Anon (1872) Funeral of a Peninsular Veteran, Worcester: Berrow’s Worcester Journal, Issue 8834, p.3, 17 February 1872, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, Courtesy of Gale CENGAGE.

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~ by gluepot on Sunday, March 13, 2011.

2 Responses to “>Colvile’s Story, Part 5: Postings in England & Ireland, Epilogue”

  1. >This is a fascinating story. As to the missing arm, there is an American Civil War era general who lost his arm and it was buried with full honors. He went back into battle etc. and when he finally did expire (I can't remember now as to exactly how) he was interred at the same place as the arm had been previously.

  2. >How intriguing, whowerethey. Of course I'd heard of General Stonewall Jackson – found after a quick google search – but not the story of his arm and the Battle of Chancellorsville. Thank you for the enlightenment – now the search is really on for this missing arm.

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