-British South Africa Company Medal (Rhodesia 1896 reverse) to Sub. Inspt. J.H. Warrington, M.M.P.
John Warrington could have been forgiven if he hadn’t made much of his life. Born in Nuneaton, Warwickshire on 26 March 1872 he was the son of John, an Earthenware Dealer and ne’er do well, and Emma Warrington, born Millington.
That he was to make something of himself at all was nothing short of miraculous in that his father was a habitual criminal and his mother passed away whilst he was at an early age. John Warrington’s first documented brush with the law comes to us courtesy of the Nuneaton Advertiser of 14 April 1877 when John Henry was a mere 5 years old – under the banner “Wilful Damage” it read as follows:-
“John Warrington, Pot Dealer of Nuneaton, was charged with having wilfully broken the windows at the King’s Head beer house, Nuneaton, and done damage to the amount of 5 shillings, on the 31st ulto. Fined £1 and costs of 15 shillings. In default of payment he was committed to prison for 28 days with hard labour.”
John Henry who was not the only child the couple had with two siblings born as well. What happened to the small family whilst the breadwinner was breaking rocks in prison is anyone’s guess. John senior’s second run-in with the law came after his wife had died and we have the Nuneaton Advertiser to thank once more for an article which appeared in their 6 July 1878 edition, under the headline “Deserting Children” readers were informed of the following:-
“John Warrington, pot hawker, was brought up under a warrant, on a charge of deserting his three children, aged respectively 8, 6 and 3 years whereby they had become chargeable to the Nuneaton Union – Mr Estlin, Clerk to the Board of Guardians, appeared to support the information – Defendant pleaded guilty – James Wall relieving officer to the Nuneaton Union, spoke to having gone, a few weeks ago, to the defendant’s house. He found the three children there, alone, in a very filthy condition. They had neither fire nor food in the house. He believed defendant was able to support the children.
Witness took the children to the Workhouse 3rd of June last and they were very pleased to go. They were still in the Workhouse – Mr Sale said the conduct of the defendant in deserting and neglecting his children was most disgraceful and one hardly conceive of a parent being guilty of such an act – Defendant said that the times had been so bad that he had not been in a position to do all that he ought to have done, but he had sent as much as he could afford – Defendant was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment with hard labour.”
Shown to be a delinquent parent John Warrington faded into the distance with his three children being placed in the care of the authorities. What became of John Henry over the period until we meet up with him in Africa in the mid 1890’s is unknown. His siblings, Thomas and Emma were adopted into a travelling family circus where, according to the 1891 England census, Thomas a 16 year old Tumbler and 21 year old Emma a Juggler were plying their trade from caravans in County Durham.
Perhaps defying the odds John worked his way to South Africa where, at some point in time he trekked north to the new territory of Rhodesia where he joined the ranks of the Mashonaland Mounted Police on 27 August 1896. The M.M.P. had been created in January 1892 and were the forerunners of the much-vaunted British South Africa Police. Initially they saw service in the Matabele War of 1893 but this was before Warrington’s time.
Rhodesia in 1896 was a hot-bed of activity with the simmering tensions between the white settlers on the one hand and the Matabele and their more peace-loving neighbours, the Mashona tribes on the other. Word had spread, fuelled by mischief makers among the black population, that the whites that had “invaded” their territory were sorcerers and waited any opportunity to drive the tribes from their ancestral lands. This led to yet another fare-up, this time a rebellion, which commenced on 22 March 1896, initially in Matabeleland but spreading swiftly to Mashonaland as well.
Warrington, his leadership qualities no doubt being recognised, was commissioned to Sub-Inspector rank and placed in charge of a troop of men. He took his discharge, time expired, on 5 January 1897 by which time the M.M.P. had amalgamated with the Matabeleland Mounted Police to form the Rhodesian Mounted Police only to re-enlist as a Trooper in the Matabeleland Division of the newly created British South Africa Police with No. 781 on 23 August 1897.
He took his final discharge by purchase on 30 August 1899 – a few months before the commencement of the Anglo Boer War – a conflict in which he played no role.
The following user(s) said Thank You: QSAMIKE, Georgegt351
Another great story Rory-what a background to be born into. I think my goal for 2018 is to own a BSAC medal-there appears to be several naming styles on these medals-has anybody posted any definitive articles on this subject?