He is being mourned by a young mother and her baby, who has not yet been weaned.‘Perhaps on some inhospitable shore The houseless wretch a widow’d parent bore; Who, then, no more by golden prospects led, Of the poor Indian begg’d a leafy bed.
Cold on Canadian hills, or Minden’s plain, Perhaps that parent mourn’d her soldier slain; Bent o’er her babe, her eye dissolv’d in dew, The big drops mingling with the milk he drew, Gave the sad presage of his future years, The child of misery, baptiz’d in tears!
I hope to find out a lot more about him.’Although, as Wendy states, her great-great-great-grandfather’s parentage is currently unknown, the combination of his birth in England; his enlistment at such a young age in Ceylon; and the comparable enlistment of other soldiers’ young sons as drummer boys suggests that he was indeed an army child.I thought that it would have been relatively easy to find some information about John Murray, given that we had the details of his service unit and his years of service, but so far have been frustrated in my searching. Art's advice to Janet follows, and may also prove useful to anyone else who is researching British soldiers of that period.'Checking the TACA site, I saw Janet Adams' copy regarding her great-great-grandfather, Colour Sergeant John Murray, who enlisted as a drummer at the age of five in the 50th Foot at Gibraltar.Sergeant Murray is the youngest boy recruit to my knowledge.The 50th's stay at the Gibraltar station would be recorded in Kinsella's Prompted by previous TACA correspondence about the enlistment of army children as drummer boys during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (see above, ‘TACA CORRESPONDENCE: ENLISTMENT AS A DRUMMER, AGED FIVE’ and ‘TACA CORRESPONDENCE: BOY SOLDIERS AND EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY REGIMENTAL MUSTER ROLLS’), Wendy Laigne-Stuart has been in touch regarding a similar case.She writes:‘I read the comment about the seven-year-old who was enlisted.The coloured stipple engraving below is the work of William S Leney (1769–1831), after the original by Emma Crew, and dates from 1793.