Capt William Gammell
William Gammell was the 5th son of James Gammell of Ardiffery and his wife Sydney Holmes. He was born at Beech Hill, Donoughmore, Co. Down on 11 July 1833, but while still an infant his parents moved to Edinburgh.
We do not know where he was educated, as he is the only one of James' sons not to go to Edinburgh Academy. Whether this was because he was a delicate child, or for some other reason, we do not know, but neither his health nor his educational achievements prevented him from following the family tradition of going into the Army.
He was duly gazetted Ensign on 12 March
1852 in the 39th Foot (The Dorset
Regiment) and in June 1853 became a
lieutenant (by purchase). He was sent to
the Crimea where he participated in the
siege of Sebastopol (1854-55) and the
assault on the Redan on 18 June 1855.
For these actions he was awarded a
Crimea medal and clasp, and Turkish
medal. In April 1857 be became a Captain
(by purchase). He spent no less than
fifteen years with the same regiment - an
unusual happening in those days,
possibly indicating that he had little
ambition, or an inadequate supply of
money to purchase commissions, but
whichever it was, he never achieved
higher rank than Captain.
In January 1865 he resigned from his
regiment to join the Transport
Commissariat, initially as a Barrack
Clerk. It is not clear why he did this,
since it appears a step down, but
maybe for health reasons? In February
1870 he was promoted to an Assistant Commissary (equivalent in rank to a Lieutenant) and stationed in London. Between 1874 and 1877 he was stationed in Hong-Kong and on his return in Dublin. In consequence of a departmental reorganisation, in October 1878 he retired.
At the time of the 1871 census, when William was stationed in London, he was living at 38 Smith Street, Chelsea and at the same address was a married daughter of another family living there, Caroline Brennan. Whether she was a permanent resident of that house or just visiting is not clear. Both of them were still living at 38 Smith Street at the time of the 1881 census (3 April 1881) and in that were recorded as being husband and wife, though they in fact were only married a few weeks later, on 24 May 1881, at the Strand Registry Office in London. At the time of his marriage, William was recorded as residing at 10 Norfolk Street, Strand, but this was probably a temporary address for reasons of propriety, since Caroline gave 38 Smith Street as her residence. After their marriage they remained living at 38 Smith Street, as it was at this address that William died from acute bronchitis on 23 March 1882 at the early age of 48, and less than a year after he was married. He was buried in the West of London and Westminster Cemetery, Earls Court. Caroline survived him only by four years, dying of breast cancer on 30 November 1886 at the age of 46. At the time of her death she was still living at 38 Smith Street. She is buried in the same grave as William in the West of London and Westminster Cemetery, Earls Court. William and Caroline had no children.
William’s life is also remembered on his parent’s gravestone in St Cuthbert’s churchyard, Edinburgh, but he was not buried there.
Capt William Gammell
William Gammell in the Crimea in 1855 (Gammell & friends 39th regiment Crimea 1855 (Fenton LC-USZC4-9357). It is likely that William is one of the two standing to the right of the picture (as we look at it), since he was 22 at the time, and the two officers to the left look older than that; also William was a Lieutenant and Army Regulations at the time stipulated that only field officers (majors and upwards) were permitted to ride. The Officer in the centre is wearing riding boots and holding a horse, so was certainly riding, the officer on the left is clearly older and appears to be wearing a staff double breasted frock coat (William was not on the staff) and is probably too associated with the horse behind him?