James DELWORTH - 940, 13th Light Dragoons

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Amended 14.5.2011. Minor edits 16.2.14, 13.4.14.

940, Private James DELWORTH - 13th Light Dragoons

Birth & early life

Born at Walcot, near Bath, Somerset.

James Delworth was born at Walcot on the 7th of April 1819, the son of Thomas and Frances. His father was a carpenter by trade, and at that time was living at No. 21 Gibe's [Gibb's?] Court. He was not baptised until the 21st of May 1826, the priest being the Revd. G. Barry. The full name of his parish of birth was Walkout Holy Trinity, St. Saviour and St.[?], three ecclesiastical districts in the Borough County of Bath, which are now (1970) completely absorbed into the city.

He had a sister and two brothers: Mary, baptised on the 26th of January 1817, William, on the 30th of January 1825, and Maurice, on the 25th of February 1827. No dates of birth for the brothers and sister are shown. The parents' address in 1817 is given as Piccadilly, and No. 21 Gibb's Court, for the others.

No trace can be found of the parents' marriage, the only entry in the marriage records for anyone of that name from 1810 to 1894 being that for a Thomas Delworth (possibly a relative), who married Ellen Booth at Walcot on the 30th of January 1832. He was shown as being a bachelor, of that parish, and she as a spinster, of the same.

Possibly his parents had moved to Walcot from an adjoining parish after marriage.

No entries can be found (apart from those already noted) in the baptismal records and none at all in the burial records for the same period.


Enlisted at London on the 26th of June 1838.

Trade: Shoemaker.

No other enlistment details are shown.


Deserted from Hounslow on the 16th of April 1844, "until being brought back" on the 10th of March 1845. The regiment was then at Carmarthen, South Wales.

He was sentenced to 4 months' imprisonment with hard labour for "desertion and losing his regimental necessaries and to forfeit all of his previous military service," on the 17th of March, and confined in the Military Cells at Devonport.

This loss of previous service was, however, restored by War Office Authority on the 31st of March 1853.

At the time of his desertion he was shown as being 5' 7" in height, with a fresh complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.

Sent to Scutari on the 27th of February and died there on the 25th of May 1855.


Entitled to the Crimean medal with clasps for Balaclava, Inkerman and Sebastopol.

Death & burial

Sent to Scutari on the 27th of February and died there on the 25th of May 1855.

He left no will, his "credits" being 5/12/3d.

Further information

His Crimean medal, in the possession of his great-grand-daughter, is still contained in the original registered envelope with waxed seals, stamped, "Official, London. Reg. 6/2/57." and addressed to his daughter, "Mary Delworth, c/o the Revd. Huxley, Brightling Rectory, Sussex."

A letter (also in the family possession) written by him to his three motherless children, then aged 8, 6 and 1 years, from the Crimea is particularly poignant, knowing of his subsequent death:

"Devna, in Turkey.

July 10th 1854.

My dearest Mary,

I know you will be very glad to have this letter from your Dear Father. I hope and pray to Almighty God that you and your dear little Sisters are quite well. Give Dear Fanny and Dear Little Margaret my very best and fondest love with as many sweet kisses, also to your dear little companions.

I have not yet been to where the 38th is. When I see them I will be sure and see their fathers. I hope you are well and happy together, and love one another and be kind to one another. But my dear Child you must look after and see to your youngest sister for she is but a Baby yet and may God Bless you all and keep you under his Almighty Wing is a daily prayer of your dear and loving Father.

Be kind too to your little Sister, Fanny. Kiss her for me. Tell her I send my very Best love to her and she is to learn all she can till I come home which I hope, please God, won't be very long. I hope you are all good children and do all you can to assist Mrs. Bull who will be very kind and good I know and love and obey your teacher. I hope she is quite well. If its the same as I saw, give her my Best Respects.

You must write to me my dear Mary as soon as you like. Write as well as you can. I will read it I know. Give my love...[missing] and all that sees you.

We're all in Camp - a very large Army. I daresay 10,000 men. We all sleep on the Ground. We have our cloaks and one Blanket to cover us. The Bread and Meat is not as good as in England, but Thank God we are all very well. It is very hot here indeed during the day. There is no house near us for many miles. We are on a large plain or Common and sleep under Tents.

There are a few Turkish come sometimes to sell us Milk and Bread and now and then a few...[missing]. But they are as dear as in England, some things more so. Salt, a table-spoon full, is a penny. We all went to a little valley yesterday and heard Divine Service and some of us received the Sacrament of our Lord Jesus Christ afterwards.

Oh, my dear child, never forget your prayers and be a good girl and you will have God for a Father and Friend for ever. Pray for your dear little Sisters, pray for your father and God will hear you. He will bless and keep us all together and bring us to Heaven at last for Jesus Christ sake. Amen. Some one must direct like this.

James Delworth,

13th Light Drgns."

"Expeditionary Army, Turkey and Elsewhere.

Tell me dear how you are getting on with your Sampler and needle work and how Fanny can read and if Dear little Maggie can talk yet. And tell me all you can think of and if anyone has been to see you and who has been. I daresay your teacher or Mrs. Bull will direct it for you. And when you see your Aunt I daresay she will give you some pence if you want it. And now my Darlings, Goodbye and may God Bless and take care of you all is the prayer of your Loving Father,

James Delworth.

Give my respects to Mrs. Bull and remember me to your little companions. I will see their dear Fathers as soon as possible. Goodbye."

The great-grand-daughter (descended from the "little Fanny" of the letter) wrote that she has a family bible which contains the following:

"John and Lucy Delworth, married 16th of July 1844.

Mary Lucy, born at Clonmell on the 25th of October 1845.

Frances Margaret, born at Dundalk on the 16th of January 1849.

Margaret, born in York Barracks on the 2nd of May 1853.

Lucy Delworth, died at Hounslow on the 12th of May 1853.

James Delworth, died at Scutari on the 25th of May 1855.

Frances Margaret, died in London on the 14th of June 1881."

She also said that, from memory, Margaret (known as Daisy) died in Hastings about 1927, and Mary Lucy, two or three years earlier. Both Margaret and Mary remained spinsters and kept a "select" boarding-house in Wilton Road, Bexhill, Sussex.

The greater family has always wondered how the Delworth children came to be at the Brightling Rectory. They had also always understood that James Delworth had ridden in the Charge.

Some explanation of how his children came to be at a Sussex rectory comes from the half-yearly report of the "Central Association in Aid of the Wives and families, Widows and Orphans of Men ordered on Active Service abroad." This organisation arose from an original meeting at the National Club in February of 1854, which, on being joined by the Army and Navy Club, held a public meeting on the 7th of March 1854. Printed in The Field in September of 1854 was the report of their half-yearly meeting and a number of case histories (under a number and initial only) were shown. Two of these related to Light Brigade men.

The first, No. 49, was Mrs. E.F., 8th Hussars: "A much respected person, now in delicate health. Married with leave. Earns a little money at Washing." Granted a donation of two pounds with which to purchase soap, etc, and a weekly allowance of 7/- given.

The other was No. 73, Mrs. W.H.R.: "Husband a Private in the 13th L.D. Left destitute with four children. Situation as cook obtained for her and the four children provided for."

There were also a number of letters reprinted from men in the Crimea to their children, and amongst these was the one from James Delworth (initialled simply as J.D.). From this the children were obviously "taken into care" by the priest at Brightling.

He sent money from the Crimea to his sister, M. Delworth, living at No. 8 Porchester Terrace, Bayswater, London.

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