Lt Gen Andrew Gammell

Lt Gen Andrew Gammell

Andrew Gammell was the elder of the two surviving, sons of James Gammell,
Banker, of Greenock, and his wife Janet Geils. He was born in Greenock on
19 January 1764, and his baptism is recorded in the Parish Register of
Greenock West under date of 20 January, under the name of Andrew Gemmel.

With his younger brother William, he attended Greenock Grammar school,
and is known to have been a pupil there in 1772 as the following is recorded
in George Williamson's 'Old Greenock' (pp. 167/8): 

'The account gives the names of all the pupils, and contains the names of many
of the best known inhabitants, among whom were Baillie Gammell's two sons,
Andrew and William ..., while Baillie Gammell's sons contributed 10/6 each,
the next in amount was 5/-'. This last surely an indication of their father's
standing in Greenock at the time.

We cannot trace anything about Andrew's career for the years immediately after
​he left school, but we know that by the late 1780s, that is when he was in the
middle twenties, he had established himself in London, and it is possible that he
was working in the office of Sir William Kay's bank in the City, which firm were
​the agents in London for his father's bank in Greenock, but there is no firm
​evidence of this. However, he had by that time set up house with Martha
Stageldoir, daughter of Joseph Stageldoir of London; whether married or not is
​unclear, since no record of a marriage has been found, and his will describes her as 'Martha Stageldoir, known as Mrs Gammell'. On the other hand the parish Register of St. George's, Bloomsbury, records the baptism of William Gammell, their eldest son who was baptised there on 30 September 1789 as 'son of Andrew and Martha Gammell', and Martha's death certificate dated 1841, and recorded in Somerset House, describes her as 'widow of Lt. General Gammell'. Thus, unless further evidence emerges, the truth remains uncertain.

Andrew and Martha had a large family as follows:

William  (1789-1853)
Martha (1791-1871)
Jessie  (1792-1828)
James (1797-1893)
Mary (1800-1872)
Margaret  (1800/01​-1861)
Andrew (1803-1883)
Ernest  (about 1808-1855)

As far as we know all these children were born in London, but birth records, other than that of their eldest son William, have not been traced.

In May 1793, Andrew joined the Army. Just why is not clear, but there was much patriotic feeling around at that time, and the Napoleonic Wars were on the verge of breaking out. He may also have been looking for a more adventurous life and an income independent of his father, who may well have been displeased with his matrimonial affair in London.

His first Army appointment was as a Lieutenant, and later as a Captain in the 81st Foot, with whom he served in England and in Ireland. In 1794 he transferred to the 194th Regiment (The Royal Manchester Volunteers) and became a Major. In 1795 he became Lt. Colonel in the same regiment. Shortly after this, the Regiment was disbanded, and Andrew took leave of absence at the beginning of 1896 to visit Europe in the hope of joining the army of the Grand Duke Charles of Austria, who was fighting the French. He was unsuccessful however in that respect, as volunteers were no longer acceptable, but he was able to be a spectator of most of the operations against the French in that year, and returned to England carrying important despatches, when the year's campaigning ended in the autumn.  Among the despatches he brought home were some for H.R.H. The Duke of York, at that time Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces and it seems fair to assume that Andrew became a friend of the Duke through the influence of Lord Elgin, who was responsible for selecting Andrew to carry the despatches referred to back to England.

Andrew seems to have been unemployed, although on full pay, on his return from Europe for several years, although there is some evidence that he acted for a time as A. D. C. to the Duke of York. In 1800 he became full Colonel, and in that year joined for a time The Edwards Fencibles, a volunteer Regiment, but in 1801 he was again unattached and was on half pay until the autumn of 1803. During this period he is referred to in Army Lists as 'late 91st Foot' or The Argyllshires, raised in 1794, but the Regimental records contain no trace of his serving with them, so his connection, if any, with the Argylls remains a mystery.

In September 1803, Andrew was appointed to the 1st Foot or Grenadier Guards. At that time not only was the Duke of York Army Commander in Chief, but he was also Colonel of the Grenadiers, and it is fair to speculate that the Duke was behind the appointment. Andrew's military record from then on, taken from Grenadier Guards records is as follows:

Sept 1803     Colonel in 3rd Battalion at Chatham
Nov 1804      Moved to Deal
May 1805     On staff (appointment unknown)
July 1807     To 3rd Battalion in Sicily
Dec 1807     Returned to UK
Feb 1808     To 2nd Battalion at Westminster
June 1808    Promoted to Major General
Feb 1809     Commander-in-Chief's leave
May 1811    On staff North-west district
Sept 1811   Commander-in-Chief's leave
June 1813   Promoted to Lieutenant General
Jan 1814     Leave
June 1814   Resigned

It will be seen that from 1805 to 1807 he was on the staff, probably with the Duke of York, and again from 1809 to 1814 he almost continuously enjoyed 'Commander-in-Chief's leave'. What this means neither the Guards nor we know, but as family tradition is that he spent his time in riotous living at the expense of his father, it is tempting to think that these periods of 'leave' were in fact leave on full pay, dancing attendance on his friend the Duke. Biographies of the latter show that throughout this period he was living a dissolute life in London, or at his country house at Oatlands near Weybridge 'gambling and drinking with a house, full with his friends'; but from enquiries made, no reference to Andrew has been noted in the Duke’s papers.

What exactly happened to Andrew after his retirement in 1814 is unknown, but his resignation from the Army could have been due to ill-health, as he died at Southampton Place, New Road, Bloomsbury on 14 October 1815 at the early age of fifty-one. His death is recorded in the Gentleman's Magazine, but no obituary has been traced. He is buried in the South Cloister of Westminster Abbey - why no one really knows, since it is clear from what has been written above, that he had in no way a distinguished military career. Again, it must surely be that his place of burial was decided by the Duke, with whom he was still close, and who, we know, presented Andrew's second son James with his Army commission in 1813.

There is no stone or memorial to mark the site of his grave in the Abbey, so the exact site cannot be ascertained, but the following appears in the Funeral Fee Book of the Abbey:

'Total expenses £19.10.0, made up of Fees, grave expenses and decorations of which £4.0.10 was paid to Mr. Catling the Verger and £3.13.3 for decorations.' 'The service was conducted by the Revd. Dr. William Whitfield Dakins, and the Chanter and Undertaker was S. Chittenden of 40 Greek Street, Soho Square.' N.B. Fees were paid for the ground, to the Chanters, the Sacrists and Vergers, the four Bellringers, the Clerk of Works, the Mason, the six bearers, the two Porters for the Pall, for a leaden coffin and for tolling the bell. Decorations were payments made to the Receiver, Clerk of Works, Chanter and the Porter.

In his will, made in January 1814, and proved by Sir William Kay, Bart., Banker of London, in December 1815, Andrew bequeathed 'to his dear friend Martha Stageldoir named Mrs. Gammell' £300 per annum, to a daughter of his (Jessie) who had disgraced herself by marrying a 'blackguard' only £100 per annum for her life, with all the rest of his personal and heritable property to be divided between his other seven children.

Martha Stageldoir/Gammell outlived her husband by over twenty-five years. She died at Harrow Lodge, Hampstead on 29 December 1840, and is buried in St Luke's, Chelsea, which also has a memorial plaque in her memory.  That plaque and her death certificates all record her name as Martha Gammell.