Burnley soldier’s Indian adventure of 1852

Earl of Derby
Earl of Derby

Today we go as far back as our archives here at Bull Street allow, to a time before the Burnley Express even existed, to 1859.

Then, the Burnley Advertiser was the town’s newspaper, formed in 1852, and which moved from a monthly to a weekly in 1856.

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria

Today we look at the Advertiser from Saturday, April 16th, 1859.

Although now not a household name, the Prime Minister at the time was Edward Smith-Stanley, the 14th Earl of Derby.

The Conservative served as Prime Minister three times and his second spell in office saw the Government of India Act 1858, which transferred ownership of the East India Company to the Crown; as well as the Jews Relief Act, which allowed Jews to become MPs.

Queen Victoria, also known as the Empress of India, was 22 years into her remarkable 63-year reign.

The Siege of Lucknow, 1857

The Siege of Lucknow, 1857

India was never far from the minds of people at this time and the Burnley Advertiser carried a letter from a Burnley soldier serving in the country.

The young man, Tomas Marquis, was writing from camp with the Oude Field Force. Oude, now known as Awadh, had been over-run as part of the Indian Rebellion of 1857.

He told of how he had experienced “three winters, two summers and one spring” in the last year in his journey by boat from England to India.

Thomas also wrote of the “rascally Sepoys” the British were pursuing: “We only came across them twice, for they are too cowardly to stop and fight fair.

“We pursued them a few miles, but they being too cowardly to stop we could only shoot a few of them.”

Back home, the Court House had been busy dealing with various miscreants, not least Marsden Cock, a beerseller of Yorkshire Street who was summoned for having drunk and disorderly company in his house.

The court heard from police constable Wildman who witnessed seven people in one room, two of whom were drunk, 14 or 15 people in a second room, “and in the third two persons who were stripped and fighting.”

The defendant had said: “He did not think there was any rough company in; a cousin of his had struck at a man, and he had ordered him out.” He was fined 20 shillings and costs.

Meanwhile, a Lucy Horrocks was charged with prostitution and committed to prison for one month.