HC Deb 08 April 1859 vol 153 cc1591-4

Resolution 13, That a sum, not exceeding £12,000, be granted to Her Majesty, on account, towards de- fraying the Charge of Rewards for Military Service, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1860.


said, he rose to bring under the consideration of the House the fact that Sergeant Carmichael and Corporal Burgess or Burgess Grierson, of the Bengal Sappers and Miners, sacrificed their own lives in the blowing in of the Cashmere Gate at Delhi, in September, 1857, in the same service when the heroic and lamented Lieutenant Salkeld fell. The blowing up of that gate was the point on which the whole of our successes in India rested. From the testimony of Colonel Baird Smith it appeared that it was Grier-son who completed the work of the demolition of the gate by taking the lighted match from the hand of Lieutenant Salkeld when he was shot down, Grierson, who at the time of his death was a. very young man, was the son of a constituent of his— a very respectable man, but who was at present in reduced circumstances; and he wished to ask the hon. and gallant General at the head of the War Office whether he did not think it fair and reasonable that the father of the man who had so gloriously lost his life in the service of his country, should possess some testimonial of his exploits. For this purpose he would suggest the Victoria Cross might be granted to him. He was afraid that the answer of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary at War would be that there was no precedent for such rewards; but if there was an appearance of a want of royal or national sympathy with such cases as these he thought it would have the effect of preventing others from enlisting. The claim that he had submitted to the gallant Gentleman had been for some pension to the father of Grierson, who was an old man and badly off. In answer to that, however, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman said that he had no funds. He had then applied to one of the members of the Indian Council, but though the hardship of the case was admitted, all that he got was a contribution of £10, which would not amount to more than an annuity of 15s. or 20s. a year for the indigent father. For his own part, he should never regret that he was a Member of the Select Committee which had been the means of doing tardy justice to the Land Transport Corps. He hoped that the next Parliament would apply themselves to reduce the national expenditure, but he was sure no Parliament would over grudge rewards to those who counted not their lives dear to them in the defence of their country. He had to thank the gallant General and every Member of the Government for the great courtesy and attention which they had shown to him. He did not regard the vote which he recently gave as a vote of censure. He should certainly never have concurred in a vote of censure on the Government. No one wished more than he did that they should continue in the prosecution of the various branches of legislation in which they had been so honourably and successfully engaged, and, in addressing the last words which probably he should ever utter in that House, he could assure them that it was his most earnest wish that the new Parliament should apply themselves to the promotion of such objects both at home and abroad as would conduce to the honour and prosperity of the country.


said, it was with extreme regret that he found it was out of his power to take any steps for the purpose of procuring the Victoria Cross for the families of the gallant men to whom the hon. Gentleman had referred. It was not customary to grant such a reward on behalf of men who had been killed in the service by which they would otherwise have become justly entitled to the distinction. It was true that the Victoria. Cross had been handed over to the families of the two officers who had been engaged in the same exploit; but the fact was, that although severely wounded, they had survived for some time, and as they had during that period been recommended by Sir A. Wilson, the commanding officer on the occasion, for the distinction, Her Majesty thought that every possible effect ought to be given to that recommendation. That was the sole ground of the difference made between the cases of the two commissioned and the two non-commissioned officers who had so nobly sacrificed themselves in that service. If those gallant soldiers had survived, however short a time, no doubt the same course "would have been pursued with respect to them. With regard to the grant of some special pension to the families of those men, he had to state that they had at the time been in the service of the East India Company, and it would, therefore, be impossible for him to recommend Her Majesty to take such a step. He had no hesitation, however, in adding that he would not have withheld the grant if it had been in his power to make it.

Resolution agreed to, as were the remaining.