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Forum Home > For King/Queen and Country. > The Balaclava Lancers.

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

For some reason that escapes me, the region seems to have been a good place to settle, after a long and distinguished military career. So much so, that William Oliver Purvis, born in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, about 1827, stayed here until he died, in 1899. His father, John, moved the family to Northumberland in the 1830s, where he was employed as a Coachman. Young William was aprenticed as an Engineer, when he was 14, and despite having the opportunities to travel, never really settled into the job. Sometime between 1846, and 1850, he enlisted in a rather flash Army Regiment, The 17th Lancers. Just like another man listed on the site, he found himself in the Crimea in late1853, his unit being part of the Light Cavalry Brigade.



The 17th soon found itself in action, but their main claim to immortal fame occured at the Battle of Balaclava, when, together with the 13th Dragoons, they led what would become known as The Charge of the Light Brigade. Out of 147 men of the 17th, who set off, down the valley on the 23rd Ocotober, 1854, only 38 men answered the roll call next morning. Purvis, although his horse had been shot from under him, and had broken three ribs, was one of the 38. The 17th Lancers were also in action at Sebastapol and Inkerman, although it's not known if Purvis was present. After the War ended, they were sent to India, to help quell the trouble known as The Indian Mutiny. The 17th stayed in India for some years, although it's men were shipped back and forth as required. Purvis was certainly back in England by 1864, as the in next year, he finally got married. She was Eliza Jane Smith, a widow, who had been born in Hereford, in 1828, and they tied the knot in Gravesend, Kent. By 1869, William Purvis had made the rank of Sergeant Major, and having completed over 20 years service, a Pension as well. It was always hard for ex-soldiers to obtain suitable work, ( it seems it still is ) and so, when a post was offered to him, as an Instructor with the Volunteer Yeomanry Cavalry, and with the same rank. he took it. So in 1870, together with his wife and two children, he moved into number 110, Brace Street, Walsall, Staffordshire. As far as the records go, he kept the post until at least 1887, when he finally retired. Around 1890, he moved to 105, Rutter Street, which was where he died on the 11th June,1899. Like a great many old soldiers, he never asked for much, and indeed, didn't leave much behind either, just £158.19s for his wife Jane. I don't know where in Walsall he is buried, nor if his headstone carries any inscription about his undoubted courage, but it's certainly a long way from where he first saw the light of day.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

July 24, 2012 at 3:26 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Just like in the post on William Oliver Purvis, this next man was not born in the place he died. Discribed by some as a hero of Wednesbury, this man was born in Ercall Magna, ( later called High Ercall.) Shropshire, in 1833, the son of an agricultural labourer. John Ashley Kilvert, as soon as he was old enough, joined the Army, and was enlisted in the 11th Hussars, ( Not the 17th Lancers as published by others ) who were based at the Fulwood Barracks, Preston, Lancashire.



Just like Purvis, he found himself, on 23rd October 1854, taking that long ride, down a valley of death. Again the two have something in common, they both survived the Charge of the Light Brigade. Back home in England, in 1861, he left the Army, having reached the rank of Troop Sgt Major, and then married Elizabeth Aston Hayes, in Aston, Birmingham, whose father appears to have been a Pawnbroker. Sometime between 1872, and 1878, he set up a similar business, in Hitchen Croft, Wednesbury, Staffordshire. He was still working at his shop in 1901, and it seems it was a lucrative occupation. Between then and 1908, he finally retired, going to live at 13, Pritchard Street, where he remained until his death, on 17th October,1920. His wife predeceased him by a few months. There was a very large turnout to his Funeral, as would be expected for a gallant and couragous old Soldier. As I said, he must have run a good business, for in his will, he left  £4,199.6S.3d, to his sons Alexander Scott Kilvert, ( a Master Mariner no less ), and Bertrand Walter Kilvert. ( a noted Chemist ) Just for once, we have an old Soldier who didn't die a penniless pauper, in an unmarked grave.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

December 4, 2012 at 3:55 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

John Ashley Kilvert was many things in his lifetime, including being elected to serve as a Councillor, Mayor, then Alderman of Wednesbury. His Crimean medals were donated to the Town after his death, where they remained until 1974, when the area was merged with other to form the Borough of Sandwell. As was to be expected, there was a bit of confusion, some people were made redundant, and others felt a little agrieved, and there was much moving of Offices and equipment. Someone, decided to tale a momento under cover of all this chaos, and the medals went missing. Now, lets be in no doubt about this, they were not authorised to be sold, nor were they given to anyone to " look after " they were " Stolen ".  No amount of paperwork, purporting to support the history of the medals, would have altered the fact that they had been stolen. This year, the said medals, four in total, ( two minatures for dress purposes ) turned up at an Auction House. Now heres a tip for anyone who has medals stolen, there is a system, set up by some Collectors, where you can list, lost or stolen Medals, for most medals have a stamped or engraved name. The Auctioneers, acting in highly responsible manner, contacted Sandwell Council, who confirmed that they had indeed been stolen. They were withdrawn from the sale. Now I am not suggesting, that the person who sent them to be sold, or any relatives, has any connection to the original theft. The owners were, and still are, Sandwell Council, so the report that they have been " donated " is wrong. Only those who have been involved know why such a report has been made. Never mind, they are now back where they belong, and can be viewed, and appreciated by the citizens of Wednesbury again, at the Art Gallery and Museum. Alderman John Ashley Kilvert can again rest in peace.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

October 25, 2013 at 2:35 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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