July 31, 2010
Dear Sir or Madam,
I was referred to you by Ian … of the Fredericton Heritage Trust. I am the great-great-granddaughter of Private 189 John White who served in the 15th Regiment of Foot in Fredericton in the 1860s. His daughter Mary Anne White was born in Saint John on 31st May 1865 and baptised in Fredericton on 1st July 1865. The family later returned to England in 1879, at the end of John White’s military service. We have his long service and good conduct medal, his daughter’s birth/baptismal certificate and some details of his army record.
My brothers and I are coming to Canada shortly and will be visiting Fredericton on Tuesday 24th August, primarily to visit historic sites associated with the 15th Regiment, such as the Guard House which has a display of items used by the 15th Regiment. We are interested in any records or other sources of information about the 15th Regiment of Foot in Canada between 1862 and 1868, and would be very grateful for any pointers you might be able to give us. We will be bringing the medal with us, along with the various documents we have, and wonder whether you might be interested in seeing these?
Regards, Katy (Trowbridge, Wiltshire, UK)
August 3, 2010
Do you have any suggestions for Katy?
Ruth (Executive Director, York Sunbury Historical Society & Museum)
August 3, 2010 … later that day …
Dear Katy and Ruth,
First, I think that it is a wonderful that Katy and her family are going to retrace her ancestor’s footsteps in New Brunswick! Second, Ruth – thank you for inviting me to participate.
According to my notes, the 1st Battalion of the 15th Regiment deployed to New Brunswick in the winter of 1862 as part of the troop reinforcement in response to the Trent Affair of 1861. This link will take you to an article about this event – http://www.army.forces.gc.ca/caj/documents/vol_02/iss_4/CAJ_vol2.4_14_e.pdf.
The regiment was stationed in various locations in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. The two main garrison locations in New Brunswick were Fredericton and Saint John. The 15th was involved in the Fenian Raid of 1866. You can find out more about their role in Turning Back the Fenians: New Brunswick’s Last Colonial Campaign (Robert L. Dallison. Goose Lane Publications, 2006). This book is available from Westminster Books on King Street in Fredericton, just a couple of blocks from the York-Sunbury Museum. The regiment left for Bermuda on 21 April 1868.
While you are in Fredericton, I would highly recommend you tour the Historic Garrison District where the 15th was stationed. Besides the Guard House, a visit to the York-Sunbury Museum would give you a better sense of garrison life in Fredericton. If you have time, I would suggest a visit to the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick that is located on the campus of the University of Fredericton. They currently have an exhibit on Juliana Horatia Ewing, who lived in Fredericton in the late 1860s. There are period photos of Fredericton and copies of her drawings. Her husband, Alexander Ewing, was the Commissariat officer here. The archives also have files related to the regiments that were here and, if time allows, you might wish to have a look at the file for the 15th. Again, depending on time, you might wish to travel to Saint John where the regiment was also stationed. A visit to the Carleton Martello Tower might be of interest to you. It has some information on the military history of Saint John. The 15th had a small detachment stationed there in the 1860s.
As a historian and collector, I would be most interested in seeing your ancestor’s medal and papers. It would be interesting to see if he was also entitled to the Canada General Service Medal that was issued for the Fenian Raids. Many soldiers, who qualified for it, did not receive it as it was issued in 1899 and only to those who were still alive.
I hope that this information will help you to plan your trip to Fredericton. I am looking forward to meeting you.
All the best, Gary
Thanks so much for your speedy and helpful responses. …
I’m just working through the various emails from Gary before replying properly, so this is just to say to both of you how grateful we all are for your generous help – and interest. John White was just a private in the 15th Regiment of Foot, nobody special (except to us) and it’s amazing to encounter such a warm and enthusiastic response.
More soon, once I’ve digested all the info sent, Katy
Hello Gary and Ruth,
Just to say John White was certainly alive in 1899. He died on 29th Jan 1914 of chronic Bright’s disease and gangrene of the legs. Not a pretty way to go but at least he missed seeing his grandsons go to Flanders.
I have his full posting details from the medical records in his discharge documents, showing location and date of arrival:-
28 Apr 1867 Aldeny (Alderney?)
16 June 1860 Ireland
24 Mar 1862 Saint John, New Brunswick
6 June 1862 Fredericton, New Brunswick
28 Apr 1868 Bermuda
28 Dec 1870 Birr [where??]
26 July 1871 Curragh Camp
21 Mar 1872 Dublin
28 Sep 1872 Cork
22 Sep 1873 Guernsey
1 Jul 1876 Sheffield
3 Jul 1777 Preston
7 Oct 1778 Mullingar
21 Feb 1779 Tipperary
So he was definitely in Canada at the time of the Fenian Raid in 1866. Maybe the records for the 15th regiment at the archives may shed some light. This is fascinating!
More later – I have to go out now 😦 Katy