My name is Josh Hutchings and I'm working on a biography of a tailors, drapers, and hatter establishment named Hutchings & Son which flourished through four generations of my Hutchings ancestors in the market town of Wincanton, Somerset, England between 1804 and 1917.
I'd like some help today with learning more about an ancestor (whose mother was a Hutchings), named Richard John Cronin, known as Dick, born 6th August 1871 in Spiddal, County Galway, Ireland.
Dick enlisted on 26th May 1894 in Dublin, Ireland, with the Corps of Lancers of the Line, then a week later on 2nd June 1894 arrived at the Cavalry Depot in Canterbury, Kent, England. For fifteen months he underwent rigourous training to transform him from a civilian into a soldier. On 11th September 1895, he set sail for India where he spent four years and one hundred days.
Dick was deemed medically unfit only five years through his twelve year term, so he was sent back from India to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Netley, near Southampton on 5th October 1899. He then went back to the family home of Conygham Lodge, Slane, County Meath, where his father worked as a doctor.
Rearing to rejoin the military, just three months later on 22nd March 1900 Dick enlisted once more with the Imperial Yeomanry, attesting for one year with the 74th (Dublin) Company (16th Battalion) at the Curragh in Ireland. Dick went out to South Africa and fought in the Boer War from March 1900 to March 1901, when he was invalided and returned home to England.
I have spoken to a military historian named Paul Nixon (of
) who said "During Dick's year with this unit he was mentioned in dispatches, awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and was discharged with the rank of sergeant; quite some achievement. He was also awarded the Queen’s South Africa Campaign Medal with clasps for Cape Colony, Transvaal, Orange Free State and South Africa 1901. There appears to be no surviving citation for his DCM."
After that rather lengthy introduction I wanted to ask you, the netizens of AngloBoerWar.com, if you wouldn't mind helping flesh out the experiences of Dick Cronin during his year fighting in the Boer War. I am desperate to know the pathways Dick might have trodden whilst with the 74th (Dublin) Company in South Africa. Any books, websites, documentaries, or even anecdotes would be much appreciated in my quest to find further information on my ancestor. Pictures of his attire, or major stories from the 74th (Dublin) Company would be incredible to know too.
For those curious to know what happened to Dick upon his return to England, he married Marie Rhead in 1910 in Wolstanton, Staffordshire, who was sister to both Frederick Hurten Rhead and Charlotte Rhead, two of the most famous Anglo-American potters of all time (their father was Frederick Alfred Rhead, another famous English potter). A single vase made by Dick’s brother-in-law Frederick Hurten Rhead fetched more than $500,000 a couple of years ago and his work is often shown in the world’s best art galleries and museums. Dick himself passed away in Brentwood, Essex, at the fine age of eighty in 1952.
I hope my request peaked your interest today.
All the best from the cloudy Cotswold Hills,
The following user(s) said Thank You: QSAMIKE, Moranthorse1
Welcome to the Forum, a very impressive introduction.
You seem to have quite a bit of information already regarding Sergeant Cronin.
However, just for clarification, do you want detail regarding his time in the 16th Lancers in India or information of his time in the 74th (Dublin) Company in South Africa?
You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.
Your ancestor was mentioned in Despatches in Lord Robert's despatch of 4th September 4th, 1901 (London Gazette of 27 September 1901) and - as your researcher reported - there was no citation. It is unfortunate that many Distinguished Conduct Medals do not have any immediate way of determining just why the decoration was awarded. Could be for a particular action or series of actions or just for good work.
It is sometimes very difficult to trace the movements of the Imperial Yeomanry Coys./ Battalions due to the type of campaign they were fighting. Some units (usually individual companies) did have a record of their ABW service published - have you done an on-line search for any?
Having trodden the "I.Y. tracing path" several times over the years (with occasional success), I might suggest you trawl through the official SAFF Casualty Listing (can be had to buy on line or perhaps borrow from a library) for entries for the 16th Bn., IY. The complicating factor is that the 16th Bn., I.Y. was comprised of three Companies and they may well not always have operated alongside each other. You would then have to search deeper. Just now, I had an SAFF trawl and between June 1900 and end of June, 1901 they certainly did get around a bit. If not as much as some others.
I am fully aware that the above sounds daunting when what you needed was a quick solution. Perhaps another Forum member has a better idea? However, should there be no quicker path, welcome to the reality of the IY's role in the ABW!
Perhaps you might keep us posted regarding your progress.
I have had a look at the SAFF (South Africa Field Force) casualty lists for the 16th Battalion. The information will give you some detail where the units were. It is by no means a definitive answer to Richards location but at least it will help to understand where that battalion were when casualties occurred.
21st March to July 31st 1900
The 16th Battalion was made up of the: -
74th Co 3rd Dublin, 66th Co Yorkshire & 63rd Wiltshire Imp Yeomanry.
Casualty locations -Winburg, Klipplaatz, Erfans & Kruisfontein.
1st August to 31st December 1900
Casualty Locations -Twee River, Hamman’s Kraal, Warm Baths & Kroonstad.
1st July 1901 to December 1901
Your man was under the 8th Battalion which included the following: -
23rd Co Lancashire, 24th Co Westmorland/ Cumberland, 74th Co Dublin, 77th & 105th Manchester & 99th Co Irish. Imp Yeomanry.
Some of the locations as follows - Tweefontein, Rooikoppies, Doorn River Cape Colony, Nr Griquatwn, Kronmekloof , Lewen Drift & Naauwport . As you can see the 8th & 16th Battalions did travel around.
It is not a straight forward search unfortunately. There are many experts on this forum who may be able to shine a light and provide more detail on the 74th Dublin’s. (Imp Yeomanry ) It is unfortunate that there is no citation regarding the DCM, but it is not unusual that there was no description of the action or deed carried out. Sergeant Cronin 15114 was mentioned in despatches in Lord Robert's despatch of 4th September, 1901 (London Gazette of 27 September 1901) Also, there was a Sergeant W Farrer 12218 who served in the same company as Richard who is also mentioned.Maybe they earned their DCM,s together? Alas, we may never know.
You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.