Tuesday, 3 September 2013


In 1664 General Richard Nicolls of Ampthill in Bedfordshire drove the Dutch out of New Amsterdam in the New World, renaming the town New York after his patron The Duke of York. 
He was killed eight years later in a naval battle and the cannon ball which caused his demise is preserved on his monument in the church at Ampthill.

Early in the 18th century, young Tom Brown was a shoemaker in the small market town of Yarm in North Yorkshire.  He was a big strong man and he decided to join the army, serving in the Inniskillen Dragoon Guards.  Brown fought against the French at the Battle of Dettingen in 1743, part of the Austrian War of Succession,  at which George 11 was the last British King to lead his troops in battle.   Brown had already had two horses shot from beneath him and had also lost two fingers in the fighting, when the dragoon’s standard was captured.  Despite his injuries, Brown charged the enemy and shot the soldier holding the standard recovering the pennant.   He then fought his way back to his own lines as a shot grazed his head, whilst two further shots lodged in his back.  He also suffered a deep cut to his forehead and his nose was almost entirely cut away.
 Brown was a national hero and was presented with a gold headed walking stick and a silver cap to cover his damaged nose by the King himself.  He then served briefly in the Lifeguards but was invalided out with a pension of £30.   Brown returned to Yarm and ran The Tom Brown Inn in the High Street until his premature death three years later.   He was buried in an unmarked grave in Yarm churchyard.
 The only reminders of this brave man are a portrait in Preston Park Museum and a plaque on the former inn, now a house, in Yarm High Street.     The cottage where Brown was born at Kirkleatham near Redcar is long gone but an oak tree still occupies the site outside the almshouses there.  It is thought that Brown’s father, who was the village blacksmith, planted the tree to commemorate his son’s bravery.
The former Tom Brown Inn at Yarm
Roderick MacKenzie was not only a supporter of Bonnie Prince Charlie at the Battle of Culloden in 1746,  but he was also strikingly similar in appearance to the Prince.  So much so that after the battle was lost, MacKenzie was used as a double to deceive the British troops into thinking that they had in fact found the Prince who had made good his escape over the sea to Skye.  MacKenzie was killed in Glen Moriston not far from Loch Ness where a cairn marks the spot and bears a commemorative plaque. 
The cairn is situated alongside the southern side of the A887 just 2 miles east of its junction with the A87.


The cairn is situated alongside the southern side of the A887 just 2 miles east of
its junction with the A87.


A gravestone in the graveyard at Winchester Cathedral records the unusual death of a soldier :

‘ In memory of THOMAS THETCHER,

A Grenadier in the North Regt. Of  Hants. Militia,
Who died of a violent Fever contracted by drinking Small beer when hot
 the 12th of May 1764, Aged 26 years.
In grateful remembrance of whole univerfal good will towards his comrades,
This stone is placed here at their expence, as a fmall teftimony
of their regard and concern.
Here fleeps in peace a Hampfhire Grenadier
Who caught his death by drinking fmall Beer.
Soldiers be wise from his untimely fall
And when ye’re hot drink Strong or none at all.’
This memorial being decay’d was reftor’d by the Officers and the Garrifon A.D 1781.
An  honeft Soldier never is forgot
Whether he die by Mufket or by Pot.
The stone was replaced in 1802 and again in 1966.
A simple grave stone marks the last resting place of Private John Divine  V.C in the Roman Catholic section of Penzance Cemetery in Cornwall.    Irish born Pte Divine fought all over the British Empire
and won the Victoria Cross in Delhi on 10th September 1857 during the Indian Mutiny, when he led a charge on a gun emplacement and lost his right leg.  He was invalided out of the 60th Rifles after receiving his V.C from Queen Victoria herself.
Divine settled in Penzance where he was a familiar figure  touring the town selling fish, with his wooden leg propped up on the seat of his donkey cart , on which he proudly displayed his V.C.    He died in 1888 and was buried in a paupers grave.  In 1995, 107 years later, Field Marshall Lord Brammall, former Chief of the Defence Staff, unveiled a new headstone provided by Devine’s regimental association in memory of a brave soldier.

The Atholl Highlanders

The Atholl Highlanders is a private infantry regiment in the employ of The Duke of Atholl based at Blair Atholl Castle. It is the only legal private army in Europe. It was formed in 1839 by the 6th Duke as a body guard and escorted Queen Victoria on her tour of Perthshire in 1842, following which the Queen granted the regiment with colours giving it official status. Although the regiment has never seen active service, many of its numbers served in the two World Wars.

The Atholl Highlanders are now purely ceremonial and its 100 men, including pipes and drums, wear the Clan Murray tartan. The regiment’s officers are usually lairds from the surrounding area whilst the other ranks are mainly employed on the Atholl Estate. They parade at the Atholl Gathering at the end of May when they are inspected by the present Duke; and also march to the Braemar Games in September. The Duke also permits the regiment to parade on certain other occasions such as Royal visits and overseas tours.



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