The British Empire provided direct employment for several of my forebears and relatives, as administrators, soldiers and sailors, and magistrates and missionaries.

For others of them, the Empire (like the Pax Romana of earlier times), meant an imposed peace, which gave opportunity for trade and enterprise somewhere within the shelter of the red on the map.

The territories that were at one time or another part of the British Empire. The United Kingdom and its accompanying British Overseas Territories are underlined in red.
Map from Wikimedia Commons

Many of the relatives I have written about for this year’s A to Z Challenge were younger sons. With no prospect of inheriting an estate they were obliged to find a career and an income. In doing so, they, with other builders of the Empire, ‘conquered and peopled half the world in a fit of absence of mind.’

Many died young, but more than a few managed to make a good living abroad, with large families and substantial incomes unachievable by those who stayed in England. Their success often required some small help, often a patron’s initial influence. A good education was useful. From then their success depended on their own endeavours and a touch of good fortune.

My posts in 2023:

  • A is for Agra: George Symes (1859 – 1920), father of my step grandfather, served as a gunner in the Royal Artillery. His infant son died in Agra.
  • B is for Buntingdale: Francis Tuckfield (1808–1865), married to Greg’s third great grand aunt, was a Methodist minister, who in early colonial times set up an Aboriginal mission near Colac, in Victoria.
  • C is for Ceylonese coffee: my great great grandfather Wentworth Cavenagh (1822–1895) who in the 1840s left his home in Ireland and travelled the world becoming, successively, a farmer in Canada, a coffee planter in Ceylon, and a gold miner in Victoria.
  • D is for died in Dacca: Edward Henry Mainwaring (1781–1807), son of my fifth great grandparents Rowland Mainwaring (1745–1817) and Jane Mainwaring née Latham (1755–1809) was my fourth great grand uncle. He  served in the Bengal Army for ten years before dying suddenly in Dacca on 22 July 1807, at the age of 25.
  • E is for emigration: a summary of my ancestors and those of my husband who emigrated to Australia, leaving their homes permanently in search of a better life.
  • F is for Ferozepore: birthplace of my 1st cousin four times removed, George Bannatyne Wymer (1839–1908), who was the third child of my third great aunt Emily Crespigny Wymer née Hindes. George was born on 10 December 1839 and christened on 5 January 1840. His father was a soldier in the East India Company.
  • G is for garden at Dapuri near Poona: my third cousin four times removed Eyre Nicholas Champion de Crespigny (1821–1895), by profession a medical practitioner, was a keen amateur botanist who became Superintendent of the Government Botanical Gardens at Dapuri [Dapodi] near Poonah [Pune] in India.
  • H is for Haileybury: my 4th great uncle George Mainwaring (1791–1865) was the youngest son of my 5th great grandparents, Rowland Mainwaring and Jane Mainwaring née Latham. In December 1806 he petitioned to join the clerical and administrative arm of the Honourable East India Company and a year later, at the age of fifteen or thereabouts, George was accepted as a Writer [junior clerk]. George’s career began with two years training—1807 to 1809—in the East India Company’s College. This had been temporarily accommodated in the Gatehouse buildings of Hertford Castle; by 1809 it had moved to new quarters, known as Haileybury College, in Hailey, Hertfordshire.
  • I is for Indian Mutiny: at least three relatives were killed in the 1857 Mutiny:  my second cousin five times removed Lieutenant Matthew Hugh Reveley of the 74th Native Infantry; my first cousin five times removed Captain Rowland Mainwaring Smith of the 54th Bengal Native Infantry; my first cousins five times removed, Cornet Charles Mainwaring of the 6th Bengal Light Cavalry.
  • J is for Jamaica: my fourth great uncle Karl Heinrich August Mainwaring (1837–1906) was tenth of the seventeen children of Rowland Mainwaring (1783–1862), eldest of the eight children of Rowland’s third wife Laura Maria Julia Walburga Chevillard (1811–1891). Karl joined the navy and served in Jamaica. After retirement from the navy he was harbour master in Kingston, Jamaica.
  • K is for Retreat from Kabul: Mrs Georgiana Mainwaring, wife of my first cousin five times removed, and her 3 month old son Edward, were caught up in the disastrous 1842 retreat from Kabul but survived.
  • L is for languages: my first cousin five times removed Alliston Champion Toker (1843-1936) was a soldier in the Bengal Army and translator into Indian languages.
  • M is for medals: my step grandfather George Symes (1896–1980) had a collection of medals awarded to soldiers of his regiment, the York and Lancaster, which were awarded to commemorate campaigns in which the regiment and its predecessors took part.
  • N is for New Zealand: my first cousin five times removed was a soldier named Arthur Branthwayt Toker (1834–-1866). He fought in the Crimea and in the Māori Wars.
  • O is for Opportunities Lost and Found: the career in the East India Company of Joseph Sherburne, the husband of my 4th great grand aunt (1751–1805), had its ups and downs
  • P is for palanquin: Colonel George Wymer (1788–1868), husband of my 4th great aunt Emily Crespigny Wymer née Hindes was attacked and robbed while travelling by palanquin on the road between Ferozepore to Loodianah, a section of the Grand Trunk Road.
  • Q is for Quebec: my fifth great grandfather William Duff (1754–1795), was taken prisoner by Rebels in 1775 during the American Revolution in the capture of Fort Chambly near Quebec. After the war he again served in Quebec.
  • R is for Railway Accident: my first cousin five times removed Norman William Mainwaring(1821–1858, son of George Mainwaring and Isabella née Byres, was a soldier in the Bengal Army. He died in a railway accident at Howrah station near Calcutta.
  • S is for saving a language: my first cousin five times removed, Lieutenant General George Byres Mainwaring (1825–1893), was a soldier in the Bengal Army and a linguist who studied the little known language of the Lepchas of the Darjeeling hills.
  • T is for twin: Greg’s great grandfather Henry Dawson (1864 – 1929) served for a short while in the British Army. He later emigrated to Australia. His twin brother stayed in England.
  • U is for unlucky in Argentina: my 1st cousin four times removed Henry Arthur Mainwaring (1852–1877) was the fourth of the ten children of the Reverend Charles Henry Mainwaring (1819–1878), rector of Whitmore, and his wife Jane née Delves-Broughton (1824–1873), daughter of a Staffordshire baronet. He emigrated to Argentina but died there as a young man.
  • V is for Vitoria and for Van Diemen’s Land: my second cousin six times removed, Frederick Jemmet Mainwaring (1796–1858), served in the 51st Regiment of Foot during the Peninsular War and was later deployed with the regiment to Tasmania then known as Van Diemen’s Land.
  • W is for the wrath of Wellington: Lieutenant Colonel John Montagu Mainwaring (1761–-1842), my first cousin seven times removed, during a battle in the Peninsular War burned the regimental colours. The Duke of Wellington, the commander of the British army, was greatly displeased.
  • X is for Xiānggǎng: the Royal Navy had a base in Hong Kong. My fourth great uncle Karl Heinrich August Mainwaring (1837–1906) served there and his younger brother Guy (1847–1909) visited the base.
  • Y is for younger sons: the sons of my fourth great grandfather, Rowland Mainwaring (1782–1862), who were not destined to inherit land or wealth, were helped in the first steps of their career, some were educated for the Church, and some found a place in the army or the navy. Their ongoing success depended on their own endeavours and good fortune.
  • Z is for Zagazig: my first cousin five times removed Alliston Champion Toker (1843-1936), was with the Indian contingent at the 1882 battle of Tel-el-Kebir in Egypt. That battle was followed by a pursuit of the enemy to a town called Zagazig.