Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (22 July 2015)

Image 1

Click Image to Zoom

Date of Auction: 22nd July 2015

Sold for £4,200

Estimate: £4,000 - £5,000

The Indian Mutiny medal to Sergeant William Magwood, 32nd Light Infantry, who was massacred at Cawnpore; his wife and children suffered a similar fate at the Bibighar shortly afterwards

Indian Mutiny 1857-59, no clasp (Serjt. W. Magwood, 32nd L.I.) small edge bruise and light pawn broker’s mark, otherwise nearly extremely fine £4000-5000


Sergeant William Magwood, was massacred at Cawnpore on 27 June 1857.

A detachment of the 32nd under Captain John Moore, with 2 Lieutenants and 81 N.C.O.’s and men, was stationed at Cawnpore. Almost all were massacred. Medals to these poor unfortunate men, however, are very rare and it is probable that for the most part they remained unclaimed and were eventually returned to be melted down. Some 12 examples are known to have survived to the 32nd Foot, of which only those to Captain John Moore and Colour-Sergeant John Johnson outrank Sergeant Magwood.

William Magwood enlisted as a boy soldier with the 70th Regiment of Foot at London on 15 November 1836, Regimental Number 1083. He was 14 years old and stood 4 foot 10 inches tall. He received a levy of two guineas. He was raised to the rank of Private on 15 March 1837, and from this date until 14 January 1849, he served variously in Malta, the West Indies, Canada and Ireland. He landed in India on 19 June 1849 and served with the regiment at Dum Dum, Calcutta and Cawnpore until 30 November 1851.

On 1 December 1851 he transferred to the 32nd Regiment of Foot with the Regimental Number 3540. He was promoted to Corporal on 13 October 1853 and to Sergeant on 12 November 1854. At the outbreak of the Mutiny he was serving with the 5th Company at Cawnpore.

William Magwood sailed to India accompanied by his wife Eliza together with their three children, namely Martha (b.1843), Ann Jane (b.1846) and John aged 1. Within three months of his arrival both Martha and John died at Dum Dum and were buried on the same day. A daughter, Mary Ann, was born in 1850 but died within a year. By the time the family arrived at Cawnpore in December 1856 his wife had given birth to two further children, Martha (b.1852), and William (b.1855).

Cawnpore (now Kanpur) was a strategic garrison town on the Grand Trunk Road that guarded the approaches to Oudh. Approximately eight to nine hundred residents entered the Entrenchment at Cawnpore consisting of 300 military personnel, together with 300 women and children. The balance was made up of merchants, business owners, Civil Servants, domestic servants and the Eurasian community.

The India Office holds the complete Nominal Roll of Officers, Non Commissioned Officers, Men, Women and Children of the 32nd Regiment of Foot, composing the Depot at Cawnpore, dated Lucknow 1st October 1857. It lists 84 officers and men, many of whom were sick or convalescents, 42 wives and 54 children.

Sergeant Magwood's death is recorded as the 27th June 1857, while at or boarding the boats at Satichaura Ghat. His wife and children would have been removed to the Savada House and thence to the Bibighar where on 15 July 1857 they were all brutally murdered.

It is not known why William Magwood transferred to the 32nd Regiment of Foot but it was not uncommon for men to exchange regiments especially if their regiment was being ordered home. In this case the 70th Foot was not being ordered home so the reason may have been personal. Enlisted on the books of the 32nd Foot was a Private John Magwood who may have been a younger brother or relative to William. John Magwood was to suffer a similar fate and was killed at the ill fated action at Chinhut on 30 June 1857. If this was the case then within the space of two weeks six members of the Magwood family would have perished in the most appalling and tragic circumstances. Sold with a comprehensive file of research.