Archibald George Siddons was born in Thrapston, east of Kettering, as was his elder brother Henry, who was also known as Harry; their father, George Siddons, was an auctioneer and valuer. Archibald was described in the press as being 18 years of age, but as his birth was registered in the second quarter of 1884, he was actually aged 17 at the time of his death - he was Thrapston's only fatal casualty in the ABW. Harry was born in the second quarter of 1877.
....DEATH OF TROOPER SIDDONS. - The death is announced of Trooper Archibald George Siddons, youngest son of Mr. George Siddons, of Islip and Thrapston, who was, according to the War Office, "accidentally killed on the 5th of July at Vaalbank River." No further details are to hand. Deceased, who was only some 18 years of age, joined the Leicester Imperial Yeomanry in February last, and sailed on the 25th March to South Africa, and at the time of his death he belonged to the 7th Company of the 4th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry. Much sympathy is felt for Mr. Siddons and family in their sad loss. Northampton Mercury, Friday 19th July 1901
THE ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF TROOPER A. SIDDONS.
....The accidental death of Trooper A. Siddons, the second son of Mr. George Siddons, of Thrapston, which was announced by the War Office, has been previously reported; but the following particulars, which have just been received by Mr. Siddons from one of the chief officers of the 17th Squadron Imperial Yeomanry, will be read with much interest by the many relatives and friends of Trooper Siddons: - "Heilbron, South Africa, July 12th, 1901. Dear Sir, - I am writing to you to convey to you the sympathy of us all, and to tell you about the death of your poor boy. He was i my Troop of the 7th Squadron Imperial Yeomanry, and on July 15th, when the column was camping at Rust, we went out on outpost duty near to some kraals, a little over a mile from the camp. Your son was placed with five other men, under a Corporal, about 100 yards away from the kraals, and just before midnight the entries, seeing someone coming up towards them from the exposed side, fired, and to their great distress found they had hit their friend and companion. Hearing shooting at the post, the Troop Sergeant and myself went out immediately, and everything possible was done, but the poor fellow hardly spoke; and the doctor, who was out immediately from the camp, said he could have done nothing had he been on the spot. How the poor boy got right in front of the sentries I do not know. A full inquiry will, of course, be made. It has had to be twice postponed through stress of duty; but I think the sentries would have been doing less than their duty had they failed to fire on anyone advancing from that direction. The funeral was with full military honours the next day at a place called Vaalbank. Captain Young, the Chaplain, reading the service, and the site for the grave being chosen under a big evergreen, at a farm a mile in rear of the camp. His Troop comrades all joined in subscribing to have a cross made, and I went up the next morning and saw that everything was fitting before we moved off. Your boy was but recently commissioned to us, but I always found him a very good and willing fellow. - Yours truly, etc." The greatest sympathy is felt for Mr. Siddons and his family. Although only 18 years old, Trooper Siddons was of splendid physique, standing over 6ft. 2in. in height, and broad in proportion. ....Mr. Siddons also received by the same post a letter of a most interesting nature from his eldest son, Harry, who went out to South Africa shortly before the war broke out, and when volunteers were called for, Mr. Siddons was one of the first to join out in Africa. He was appointed one of the chief conductors over a large convoy, attached to the Imperial Yeomanry, and went with Lord Roberts to Pretoria. After the disbandment Mr. Siddons did not settle in Pretoria, but went down to Queenstown to take a rest. After a time he joined the Special Mounted Police of Bolotwa, but which he afterwards left; and only very recently he was notified of being promoted to Sergeant in the Colonial Forces. On his arrival at Herschel, where he was to be stationed, the Commanding Officer gave him a commission as Lieutenant. Unfortunately, Lieutenant Siddons was not aware of the death of his heroic brother at the time he wrote to his father. It is a noteworthy fact that so many who volunteered from Thrapston and surrounding district have proved themselves most noble soldiers of the King, as proved by so many receiving promotion of a high class. Mr. Siddons feels somewhat relieved after knowing all the facts of his son's death; and is also proud of the news received of his son Harry, who in the first instance left his old native land for the sole reason of recruiting his health. He is now pronounced sound and free from any disease. Northampton Mercury, Friday 30th August 1901
....DEATH OF TROOPER A. SIDDONS. - The further information of the accidental death of Trooper A. Siddons, which has been fully published, was received by Mr. Siddons, his father, on Tuesday, from the Commanding Officer, of the 7th Company, stating that a full inquiry had been held, and that Trooper Siddons' death was purely accidental, and that no blame could be attached to anyone. Mr. Siddons has the satisfaction to know this, and desires to thank most sincerely all friends who have shown so much sympathy in his bereavement. Northampton Mercury, Friday 23rd August 1901
....PROMOTION OF LIEUTENANT HENRY SIDDONS. - Mr. Siddons, of this town, has received the pleasing news from South Africa of his son's promotion to Captain and Chief Paymaster for the Herschel Defence Force, Cape Colony, attached to the Colonial forces. Captain Siddons went to South Africa about six months previous to the war braking out. Northampton Mercury, Friday 28th February 1902
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Palmer says "32040 Pte. A.G. Siddons, 4th I.Y." was killed accidentally on 6/7/01 at Vaal Bank. Incidents such as that described in the Northampton Mercury could very easily occur on active service when someone approached a sentry/outpost in the dark and from what was obviously regarded as a critical sector.
Would have Harry Siddons have received a medal of any sort for his war service?
Why is there no date for him leaving the unit? Does it imply that he stayed on in the local Police force?
I've found the following men from Thrapston who saw active service: - Trooper Davidson, 3rd King's Own 10247 Private St. Vincent Kingsford, 56th (Buckinghamshire) Company Imperial Yeomanry 4911 Private Thomas Rawson Tusting, 37th (Buckinghamshire) Company Imperial Yeomanry Corporal Wakefield, 11th Hussars Sergeant-Major Harry Penfold Wakefield, "Royal Army Medical Hospital Corps" - the son of the late Mr Penfold and Mrs Wakefield, so he could have served under either surname. Promoted to Quarter-Master, with honorary rank of lieutenant, in 1900.
St. Vincent Kingsford wasn't easy to identify, but I think he was Philip Beechey St. Vincent Kingsford, born at St. Petersburg, Russia, 19th April 1873, died at Scarborough, Yorkshire, on 23rd Octoer 1953. The name on his death registration appears to have been St. Vincent Philip Beechey Kingsford, so it looks as though he used St. Vincent as his first name all his life. For someone with such a distinctive name, there's virtually nothing about him online.
Another fascinating family history telling of success and tragedy.
As the surviving brother was of Conductor rank attached to the I. Y. his details may possibly be found on the medal roll etc for CIVILIAN CONDUCTORS NATAL HIRED TRANSPORT if he is not on the ASC rolls.
I have a couple of QSAs to the rank which were on these documents.