3 June 2009

Frederick Giraud Armstrong (1834 - 1900)

Richard Ramsay Armstrong's other brother who served in the Crimean War was Frederick Giraud (Gerard, or Geraud) Armstrong (1834 – 1900). Much more is know about him than older brother Robert Philip.

Frederick was born on the 1st of January, and baptized on the 1st of February, 1834 at St. Peter's, Jersey, making him not quite a year younger than RRA. Being so close in age meant that Fred and RRA were thick as thieves during childhood.

He became an Ensign (by purchase) in the 14th Foot (Buckinhamshire) on the 18th of August, 1854, arriving in the Crimea on the 10th of February, 1855, and served through until the fall of Sevastopol. A week later he was promoted Lieutenant. As one would expect, he got the Crimean Medal with 'Sebastopol' Clasp and the Turkish Medal. There was a considerable amount of contact between the three brothers in the siege lines before Sevastopol, RRA being able to help the two army brothers with 'extra' rations from time to time.

Above is the list of Lieutenants of the 14th Foot in Hart's Army List corrected to the 29th of December, 1856. And below is a crop from the next page showing Fred's war service. Both crops courtesy of Google Books.

However, he served also in the New Zealand war of 1863-65, which entirely altered his life. He arrived in New Zealand on the Henry Fernie, a hired sailing ship, with elements of the 2nd Battalion 14th Regiment, including another subaltern, 2 sergeants, 198 rank & file, 12 women, and 13 children. They had departed Portsmouth on the 15th April, 1861, and arrived at Auckland on the 25th of July 1861. Fred was present at the action at Koheroa, on the 17th of July, 1863, and was Mentioned in Despatches. On the 4th of December, 1863 he was promoted Captain. He received the New Zealand War Medal for his service (right).

Below is a crop of the list of Captains of the 14th Regiment from Hart's Army List for 1864:

Captain Frederick Armstrong married Susan Ann Lally at St. Thomas' Church, Tamaki, Auckland (between Remuera and Kohimarama) on the 3rd of February, 1864. Susan was the daughter of the Rev. Meyrick Lally and Ellen Whitley. Fred and Susan apparently had eight children, the first being born on the 29th of October, 1866, just after Fred had retired from the army by the sale of his commission on the 16th of October - the same date the 14th Regiment left New Zealand, leaving him behind.

Only four of the children can be found with certainty in the NZ birth records online. The other four appear not to have had their parents' names recorded. The four who were clearly recorded are Leonard in 1874; Edith Maud in 1875; Charles Herbert in 1878 and Mabel in 1880 (although other sources suggest she was born in 1879).

It is not clear what Fred did for a living after he retired from the army. he is mentioned a number of times in the New Zealand newspapers, but mostly from the period before he retired. however, one thing is clear: he was declared a bankrubt on the 20th of October, 1870. There can be a number of reasons for bankruptcy, some beyond the control of the victim, but perhaps it was a family trait to be incompetent with money? It is clear that RRA wasn't the best either... This announcement appeared in the Daily Southern Cross (below).

Frederick Gerard Armstrong died at Devonport, on the North Shore, Auckland, New Zealand on the 12th of February, 1890. He was buried at the O'Neil's Point cemetery, Bayswater, Auckland.

The New Zealand branch of the Armstrong family is descended from him.