More enjoyable times

YOU ARE HERE: Drake Stories ► More enjoyable times

Death of Raglan and spoils of war ◄ ● ► London

A few months later, on 21 February 1856, Henry found out that he had been appointed Companion of the Bath. This was also published in Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post on that day, saying:

HER Majesty has conferred on Deputy-Commissary-General Drake, now serving in the Crimea, the honour of “Commander [sic] of the most honourable Order of the Bath.” The gallant officer is son of Commissary-General Drake, who resided for several years at Dawlish. 1

05 WHD CB Front 06 WHD CB Back JBD
William Henry Drake’s Grant of Companion of the Bath
©Alun Stevens 2018
CB and Uniform Ribbon

The next day, Henry wrote to his parents, John and Maria Drake in London, saying, “I shall want a bit of red ribbon, C.B. colour to put on my coat.” He proudly added, “So you see with my Red Ribbon, my Chevalier Cross, & Medal & three Clasps, I shall make quite an imposing appearance!” On 24 March, Henry’s wife, Louisa, wrote to her parents-in-law, saying:

“I sewed Henry’s Red Ribbon on his Coat this morning, to make a respectable appearance among the great of the land, I thought it looked very well, and I am not a little proud of it, I agree with you in thinking he is a very lucky fellow and now more than all, in being in charge of this immense Army, if he gets the C.G.’s pay, 2  it will not be a sum to be despised, even for a week or two:”

Once again, Henry had temporary charge of the Commissariat in the Crimea, as Sir George Maclean decided to return “home” on 17 March, due to illness.

As hostilities were winding down, there was more time for the troops to enjoy other, more enjoyable, pastimes. On 19 March, Henry, Louisa, and Louisa Maria went to see the Guards Theatre performance of “Bachelor of Arts”. The Morning Post of 4 April gave the following report:

At the 4th Division Theatre, the “Bachelor of Arts” Has been played for the first time to-night. Lord Alexander Russell played the part of Harry Jaasper with his usual ability, and Capt. Earle’s Mr. Wylie was as good as his other personations; and could we divest ourselves of the reminiscence of Charles Mathews, and Mr. F. Mathews, in the same characters at the Lyceum, they might be considered perfect performances. The theatre has sustained a great loss by the departure of Mr. Lacy from the division, as the female characters, however good in appearance, all fall short in the acting. Mr. Clarkson as Servant created much amusement. 3

Dr. Douglas A. Reid also mentioned this performance in a letter back home, saying:

Last night Nelson and I and two others went to the Fourth Division Theatre. The pieces acted were “A Bachelor of Arts” and “A Most Unwarrantable Intrusion.” The acting was very good, though owing to the appointment of [Lieut. De] Lacy (63rd) (one of the best female actors) to the Land Transport Corps, the principal female character was not so well represented as usual. 4

The Grand Races on the Tchernaya river took place on 24 March. The Drakes attended, guests of Marshal Pélissier. Dr. Reid also attended, and described it as follows:

[The day of the races] was a most beautiful day and the number of people present consequently very great; nearly 100,000, I believe. There were several thousand Russians as well but they were all (with one or two exceptions) on their own side of the Tchernaya and would not come across. Some of our men and not a few officers broke bounds and crossed over to the Russian side, for which they are likely to pay dear as General Codrington saw them and put them under arrest; one is to be tried by Courts Martial. Such a sight one will never see again perhaps. To the south of the race course is a small hill … which was covered with flags and arbours of evergreens. French and English bands were playing all day on it and the crowd of people was something enormous. There were eight ladies present and several vivandiéres and canteen women … 5

On 31 March, the Drakes attended the “Great Ball on board the Bruiser,”, which was described as follows in the Illustrated London News of 19 April:

FIRST ENGLISH BALL IN THE CRIMEA. – Last night (March 31), commencing at eight, and terminating at two, a capital dance was given on board H.M.S. Bruiser, lying in Balaclava Harbour, to commemorate the wedding-day of the Captain and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Comyn. 6  It likewise so happens that Mr. Comyn was married on his birthday. During the last week great difference of opinion had been flying about as to whether an “evening party” could have been got up on account of the scarcity of ladies, and the distances on horseback that these few would have to come, in addition to which the weather was by no means warm, and during the day snow fell. The Bruiser is a companion screw-steamer to the Abundance, both lying at the head of the harbour; and both being Commissariat vessels – the former crushing the wheat and the latter baking the bread. Between them they can turn out 18,000lb. of bread daily, or 6000 3-lb. loaves. Amongst the company present at this dance, which mustered about eighty, I noticed Lady Frederick Fitzroy, Mrs. White, Mr., Mrs., and Miss Drake, Mr. and Mrs. Bruce, Major De Moleyns, Captain Martin, Mr. and Mrs. Marzelli, Captain and Mrs. Handyside, &c., &c. The 82nd band was in attendance. At twelve o’clock the company sat down to a first-rate supper on the upper deck, which was beautifully arranged for the purpose. After the health of the Queen had been given, with all the honours, that of the Emperor, Empress, and Imperial heir followed, and was duly responded to by Colonel Louis, 97th Regiment. The Commissary-General in Chief, Mr. Drake, C.B., proposed Mr. and Mrs. Comyn’s health in a most happy speech. – From a Private Correspondent. 7

The Peace

And, at last, Peace was proclaimed. The Times recorded this happy event, saying:


At 10 o’clock last night a Royal salute was fired both at the Horse Guards and the Tower in honour of the conclusion of a treaty of peace, the news of which had been received from Paris by the Government in the course of the day. At the first booming of the guns from the Horse Guards crowds of people, to whom this was the first signal of the event, turned out into the streets to receive a confirmation of their anticipations, and the joy which the intelligence inspired was manifest and general. Every avenue to the esplanade behind the Horse Guards and the Mall was thronged by an eager concourse of persons desirous of participating in the rejoicing, but it was only those who at that hour approached by the Duke of York’s column that were able to obtain admission; others who were excluded lingered about in great numbers in front of the Horse Guards, along Whitehall, at Charing-cross, and in Pall-mall, till after 11 o’clock. The bells of St. Martin’s Church, St. Bride’s, and several of the city churches, also rang a series of merry peals, in celebration of the joyous occasion, at intervals until midnight. 8

News of the peace treaty only reached Balaklava on the 2nd of April. Henry was jubilant:

PEACE!!! proclaimed. The Steamer “Zebra” 211 arrived with the Telegraph of the Treaty of Peace, Signed at Paris on the 30 Mch. Sir W. Codrington 9  telegraphed to me to go to Head Quarters. Went up.

Celebrations followed, including an “excellent diner” on board the Ottawa on the 6thof April. The well-known chef, Alexis Soyer, was involved in hosting this dinner. He described the party on board the Ottawa as follows:

A rumour was circulated that we should not be allowed to enter at all, the Alar being a merchant vessel. This was our fate till about six o’clock, when signals were made for her to enter. We availed ourselves of this permission, and in twenty minutes the two large tables were set out à la mariniere. Everybody was glad to partake of the most welcome repast ever bestowed upon a party after the enjoyment of so charming a day of pleasure. The salade mayonnaise was voted excellent. Champaigne was gaily flowing in bowls, basins, teacups, goblets, &c. Healths were proposed; her Majesty’s first – next that of the Allied armies – then that of the Emperor of the French, Mr. Crockford’s and mine, in honour of the salade mayonnaise; and a vote of thanks was returned to the Rev. Mr. Parker, for the extremely pleasant day he had been the cause of our enjoying, especially the dinner in the harbour he had so well provided, which soon made us forget our nautical tribulations. I have almost forgotten the members of the fair sex, whose health was proposed in the first place. They had been very ill all day. About eleven, all, except myself, had left the Alar in the full conviction of having enjoyed themselves very much indeed. Among the party, which would have been far too numerous, had not circumstances prevented many of those invited from making their appearance, were Commissary Drake, lady and daughter; Mr. and Mrs. Burnett. Lady Seymour and friend, who were to accompany the party, did not come. This is the sum total of the ladies present, which for the Crimea was a very fair array of the beau sexe. 10

The Drakes returned to their cottage in Balaklava at 10.30 p.m., but were rudely awoken at 2 a.m. Their stable was on fire. The next day, Louisa described the scene to her mother-in-law, Maria Drake, saying:

I begin my letters very late, but fear to leave it till the morning, as I promise myself a good night’s rest, and may not be up as early as I could wish, having had such a disturbed night, I am very thankful that it was not worse, all our poor animals being quite safe, though so accustomed to the fires in St. John, it was rather awful to be awake [sic] by a bright light in your bed room &, on looking out, to find it was our own premises on fire; it began in the stable, and that and the cow house are no more. I do not know our premises today all looks so desolate, but how thankful we ought to be that the house escaped, it was such a blustery, blowing night, the wind coming in such gusts, we imagine the fire originated in a spark blowing in the roof of the stables (it is the custom here to burn the manure, and our neighbor’s heap is closer to our stables), our mare sleeps at this end, and the first fierce fire was in poor Jack’s 11  stalls at the other end, I wonder the dear old beast was saved, but he is so gentle, came out so quietly.

All this happened a little after two, when we were all fast asleep, the first we heard of it was Sardinian voices, our neighbor, the Sardinian Commandant, 12  who had been reading very late, and just put out his light, was disturbed by the cryof a horse, and hearing it more than once, he got up to look, and there saw our stable in flames, the dear old gentleman rushed down at once and, I believe, was the first that awoke the Maltese who sleeps in the stables; as soon as the cry of fire spread, you can fancy that our yard was crammed with friends and men to do all in their power to help us, they were not long in pulling the place down, and almost everything was saved, fortunately, we keep all the best Saddles, Bridles, &c., in the house, as we might have lost them, the poor Maltese was so terribly frightened. I made my first appearance in night cap, and morning dress over my night one. I found him wringing his hands, sitting on the ground in the greatest despair, hearing the horses were safe & the house not been touched, I retired to take off my cap, and put on a few more things, none of us are the worse for it today, excepting want of sleep, dear old Jack’s old back is singed in many places, but nothing serious, the Horses, cows, sheep & lamb were all taken away in the night by different parties, and well taken care of, men have been busy today, cleaning away the ruins, but we shall not put up another stable, it is not worth while.

Going home

In May, Henry was again ordered to Kertch, to close down the Commissariat there, after being placed in Commissariat charge of the Turkish Contingent on the 27th April. He arrived at Kertch on the 3rd May, leaving Louisa and Louisa Maria in Balaklava to organise their departure from that place. While Henry was gone, Louisa took the opportunity of meeting Florence Nightingale. She described her meeting to her mother-in-law on the 9th of May, saying:

I mustered Courage the other day to call on Miss Nightingale, I had put off doing it so long, I was ashamed to go, but having a little excuse about a Cow of hers, I took advantage of it, as we wanted to see her; Mrs. Campbell went with us, she [Miss Nightingale] is an agreeable person, much younger than I expected, Lou and I found we had often seen her in our walks, but did not know who she was, she said she had no time to pay visits, so we shall see no more of her, she has left her residence up at the Castle Hospital, and lives in Balaklava, at the General Hospital, I am glad we have seen her, as she is one of the Lions of the present day.

Louisa kept very busy. She wrote to Maria Drake again on 24 May, saying,

I have only time this morning to write you a few hurried lines, I am as busy as a Bee packing up for Kertch, we were told at first the ship would go tomorrow, but I think it will be Tuesday. I heard from Henry the day before yesterday, he was quite well, and delighted at my intention of joining him there, he has been gone three weeks today, and I am quite tired of living alone; we got no letters by last mail, I suppose they have gone to Kertch; we have a young lady staying with us now, which is rather inconvenient, but I could not avoid taking her in, and must pass her on to Mrs. Barnett 13  when I go, she is a cousin of Mr. Routh’s 14  from Constantinople, strange that her friends should allow her to come alone, she seems a nice girl. Mr. Adams 15  has been very civil about getting us our passage, Henry wrote to him & the Admiral, 16  but we go in a Commissariat Vessel (the Nile), Brinson, Mrs. Conyers 17  lives on board. I must now conclude in haste as my time is up

Louisa and Louisa Maria arrived at Kertch on the 29th of May, and on 19 June they boarded the Lady Eglinton bound for Constantinople, where Henry was scheduled for some temporary duty. They did partake of the usual tourism activities – visited the Grand Bazaar, saw the Mosque St. Sophia, and so on – while Henry engaged in some business activities with other commissaries stationed in the area, including Commissary-General John William Smith, 18  who took over control of the Commissariat in the Crimea after Sir George Maclean was invalided home.

Then on 21 July the Drakes “embarked on board French steamer ‘Alexandre’ at 4 p.m. Left at 8 p.m.” They arrived at Marseilles on the 29th, then taking the train to Paris. After a few days’ of touring, and finding Henry’s name listed “as Chevalier in Legion of Honor 19  in French Gazette,” they left Paris on the 8th of August, and embarked on the steamer Queen of the French.


They arrived “in Old England at Dover at 6 p.m.” The next day they left Dover at noon, and arrived in London shortly after 3 p.m. After that, Henry noted, they “drove to Lodgings 115 Stanhope St. C.A.D. 20  & C.A.D.D. 21  there. The C.G. 22  came round with Dr. De Lisle 23  & Miss Grassie. 24  Went to the Village. 25  Saw my Mother 26  & John’s children. 27

There the family slowly unwound. Henry re-established contact with his various work colleagues and others in London. They also started looking for accommodation, arranging to take 21 Regent’s Park Terrace on the 15th August. On the 19th they took “possession of No. 21 Regents Park Terrace & paid half the rent for the 8 weeks.”

01960 Regents Park Tce

No. 21 Regent’s Park Terrace sticks out at the far end of the Terrace
©Alun Stevens 2005

The re-united family re-established connection with old friends, such as Leader Cox Stevenson and his wife, Louisa Phillis, 28  whom they had known in Hobart. They hired a new servant: Henry noted on 28 August that “Jane Chudley came”. 29  And on 31 August, “Mr. E. Marshall 30  called.” On 2 September they “called on Mrs. W. Marshall.” Mrs. W. Marshall was their neighbour who lived at No. 19 Regent’s Park Terrace. She was the niece of Edward Marshall of the War Office, and her husband, William, was Edward’s nephew. 31  (Mary and William were first cousins.) Like Henry, whose father, John, had been born at Exmouth in Devon, they had strong links to Devon, having both been born in Totnes. These relationships would prove to be important to the future of the Drake family, particularly to Henry and Louisa’s daughter, Charlotte. The family connections facilitated Charlotte meeting and marrying Charles Henry Marshall and Jane Chudleigh accompanied the newlyweds to Australia.

Death of Raglan and spoils of war ◄ ● ► London


1. “THE EXETER FLYING POST.” Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post or Plymouth and Cornish Advertiser [Exeter, England] 21 Feb. 1856: n.p. British Library Newspapers. Web. 4 Feb. 2017.

2. In 1849 the rate of pay for a CG was put at £4/14/11, with extra war pay being £1/18/0. A DCG’s pay was £1/8/6, with 9/6 extra war pay, and £1/8/6 charge pay. [J. Wood (comp.), The Tasmanian royal kalendar, colonial register and almanack 1849, (Hobart Town, VDL, 1849), p. 98.]

3. “THE WAR IN THE EAST.” Morning Post [London, England] 4 Apr. 1856: 5. British Library Newspapers. Web. 1 Sept. 2017.

4. Soldier-surgeon: The Crimean War letters of Dr. Douglas A. Reid 1855-1856, ed. J. O. Baylen & A. Conway, (Knoxville, Tennessee, 1968), p. 134.

5. Soldier-surgeon: The Crimean War letters of Dr. Douglas A. Reid 1855-1856, pp. 134-5.

6. Capt. David Robert Comyn (1820-1906), and his wife, Mary Jane (née Jamieson) (1834-1873), who were married in Hobart, Tasmania, on 26 April 1851.

7. “First English Ball in the Crimea.” Illustrated London News [London, England] 19 Apr. 1856: 394. The Illustrated London News Historical Archive, 1842-2003. Web. 19 Aug. 2017.

8. “The Peace.” Times [London, England] 31 Mar. 1856: 9.The Times Digital Archive. Web. 2 Sept. 2017.

9. New Commander-in-Chief, Sir William John Codrington (1804-1884).

10. Alexis Soyer, A culinary campaign, (Lewes, East Sussex, 1995), p. 261.

11. Jack was Henry Drake’s horse. Louisa mentioned Jack in a previous letter to her mother-in-law, dated 7 December 1855. She said Henry had left “Jack to my tender mercies” when he had gone on a trip to Sozopolol, Bulgaria.

12. Alfonso Ferrero Della Marmora (1804-1878).

13. Mrs. Barrett was the wife of Samuel Boyd Barnett, an officer with the Army Works Corps.

14. DCG Leonce Routh (1820-1905). His uncle, Richard Routh (1809-1867), had 13 children, of whom eight were girls. The two eldest were married by this time, and the four youngest were too young to travel to Balaklava on their own, as they were respectively 15, 13, 10 and 6 years old. Edith Louisa Routh (1837-1858) was 19 years old, and Ada Josephine Routh (1838-1856), 18 years old, so it could have been either of these two young ladies.
DEATHS. ROUTH, Mr. R., of Constantinople, at Vienna, 26th ult. [“Births, Deaths, Marriages and Obituaries.” Pall Mall Gazette [London, England] 6 July 1867: n.p. 19th Century British Newspapers. Web. 28 July 2013.]
MARRIAGES. At the British Embassy, Constantinople, on the 20th ult., by the Rev. Horace Blaniston, James Aitken, Esq., merchant, to Edith Louisa, third daughter of Richard Routh, Esq., Constantinople. [“Births, Deaths, Marriages and Obituaries.” Glasgow Herald [Glasgow, Scotland] 8 July 1857: n.p. 19th Century British Newspapers. Web. 28 July 2013.]
DEATHS. AITKIN. – On the 15th ult., at Constantinople, Edith Louisa, wife of James Aitkin, esq., and third daughter of Richard Routh, Esq., aged twenty-one. [“Births, Deaths, Marriages and Obituaries.” Morning Post [London, England] 6 Oct. 1858: 8. 19th Century British Newspapers. Web. 28 July 2013.]
DEATHS. On the 31st ult., at 6, Norfolk-road, St. John’s-wood, Ada Josephine, fourth daughter of Richard Routh, Esq., of Constantinople, in the 19th year of her age. [“Births, Deaths, Marriages and Obituaries.” Morning Chronicle [London, England] 3 Jan. 1857: n.p. 19th Century British Newspapers. Web. 28 July 2013.]

15. CG George Adams (1798-1887).
OBITUARY. Mr. George Adams, C.B., a veteran commissariat officer, died last week at his residence in Queen’s-gardens, Bayswater, at the advanced age of 89 years. He was born in 1798, and entered the Commissariat department in Sicily, then occupied by the British forces, in 1813. He was present at the surrender of Naples in 1815, the year of Waterloo, and afterwards served in the Ionian Islands, the West Indies, and Canada. On July 19, 1821, he was promoted to be deputy assistant commissary-general. From 1835 to 1846 he served as Crown Arbitrator on the Rideau and Ottawa canals in Canada, and in the latter year, when the Irish famine developed in its greatest intensity, he was appointed accountant and financial secretary to the Board of Public Works in Ireland, where he continued till 1854, when the outbreak of the Anglo-Russian war necessitated his return to military service. During the Russian war he was in charge of the commissariat arrangements of the Turkish contingent from its formation until he was appointed commissary general-in-chief of the army in the East. In this capacity he served in the Crimean campaign of 1854-5, taking part in the battle of the Alma and the siege of Sebastopol, for which services he received the Crimean medal with clasps, the Turkish medal, and the Fourth Class of the Order of the Medjidiah, besides the Companionship of the Bath, to which he was gazetted on February 4, 1856. His commission as commissary-general was dated March 27, 1856, and he retired on half-pay on February 1, 1859, after 46 years’ service. Mr. Adams married, in 1827, Mary Colleton Drinkwater, daughter of Mr. George Barclay, of Bowmanstown Castle Estate, Barbados. [“Obituary.” Times [London, England] 1 June 1887: 10. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 12 July 2012.]

16. Admiral Sir Charles Howe Fremantle.

17. Probably Mrs. Eliza Jane Conyers (née Blennerhassett), wife of Captain Robert Rowland Conyers, 89th Regiment of Foot.

18. CG Sir John William Smith (~1806-1875).
OBITUARY OF EMINENT PERSONS. SIR J. W. SMITH. Sir John William Smith, K.C.B., late Commissary-General-in-Chief, died on the 30th ult., at Halliford, near Shepperton, in his seventieth year. Sir John entered the Commissariat department in 1833, and attained the rank of Commissary-General-in-Chief in 1856. For his services in the Crimea he received the medal and clasp, and the Legion of Honour; and was made C.B. in 1857 and K.C.B. in 1864. He was the son of William Smith, Esq., of Luton, Bedfordshire; and was married, in 1837, to Agnes Campbell, second daughter of the late Captain Donald MacArthur, of the Royal Veteran Battalion. [“Obituary of Eminent Persons.” Illustrated London News [London, England] 13 Nov. 1875: n.p. The Illustrated London News Historical Archive, 1842-2003. Web. 22 Apr. 2018.]

19. The Legion of Honor and the English Officers. Commissariat. CG William Henry Drake, CD John William Smith, CD Philip Turner, ACG Frederick Stanley Carpenter, ACG Montague William Darling, ACG Kean Osborne. [“Review At Aldershott.” Times [London, England] 17 July 1856: 9. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 2 Sept. 2017.]

20. Henry’s sister, Charlotte Augusta Drake (1818-1905).

21. Henry and Louisa’s daughter, Charlotte Augusta Dring Drake (1838-1922).

22. Henry’s father, retired CG John Drake (1782-1867).

23. Dr. Richard Francis Valpy de Lisle (1818-1894).

24. Probably a niece of Dr. de Lisle, daughter of Thomas Ritichie Grassie (1805-1900) and Mary Jane de Lisle (~1815-1873).

25. Henry’s parents, John and Maria Drake, lived at 27 Park Village East, Regents Park.

26. Maria Drake (née Story) (1783-1876).

27. Alice (1841-1918), Lucy (1843-1921), Reginald (1844-1904), and Dennys (1846-1908), children of John Minshull Drake (1807-1861) and his first wife, Caroline Grimes (1814-1848). John Minshull Drake had two children, Emlyn Augusta (1851-1933) and Edith Maria (1854-1925), by his second wife, Margaret McLean Dring (née Todd) (1821-1884).

28. Leader Cox Stevenson (1826-1907) and Louisa Phillis Swan (1828-1913).

29. Jane Chudleigh (later McIntosh) (1831-1898).

30. Edward Marshall (1779-1868), Chief Examiner of Army Accounts, War Office, and first cousin of William Henry Drake’s father, John Drake.
DEATHS. MARSHALL. – 6th, at Woodlands, Kingston-hill, Surrey, in his 90th year, Edward Marshall, Esq., late Chief Examiner of Army Accounts, War Office. [“Births, Deaths, Marriages and Obituaries.” Standard [London, England] 11 July 1868: 7. 19th Century British Newspapers. Web. 4 June 2015.]

31. William Marshall (1807-1885) and Mary (née Benthall) (1823-1907).
DEATHS. MARSHALL. – On the 28th ult., at 12, Ovington-square, S.W., William Marshall, aged seventy-eight. [“Births, Deaths, Marriages and Obituaries.” Morning Post [London, England] 2 Nov. 1885: [1]. 19th Century British Newspapers. Web. 3 Nov. 2015.]
DEATHS. MARSHALL. – On the 27th April, at Horsham, MARY MARSHALL, widow of the late William Marshall, Esq., formerly of the War Office, aged 83. [“Deaths.” Times [London, England] 30 Apr. 1907: 1. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.]

©Megan Stevens 2018

Leave a Reply