After languishing for several years as an unidentified Yeoman of the Guard I finally put a name to this old soldier’s dignified visage – Yeoman of the Guard Thomas Austin formerly No. 1666 Colour-Sergeant of the 1st Battalion, the Coldstream Regiment of Guards.
Thomas Austin was born about 1816 in Nettlebed, Oxfordshire. His early birth date (George III was still King) has prevented me from establishing his parentage. He attested with the 1st Battalion at London making his mark on 16 September 1833. Interestingly Thomas was enlisted by a Private Edward Austin who may well have been his brother
and received an enlistment bounty of 2 Pounds 10 Shillings.
17 years, 5 months old at enlistment, Austin stood 5 feet, 8 ¾ inches tall with blue eyes and light hair. While far from a giant he would have stood a bit higher than most men of his day.
He was promoted Corporal on 10 April 1838 and then to Sergeant on 11 September 1844. When discharged on 31 May 1855 his rank is mentioned as “Colour Sergeant” though his service records do not mention his promotion beyond Sergeant. He may have received his final promotion at the time of his discharge. He served a total of 21 years 68 days with the colours and was mentioned as being unfit for further military service. This was the result of a wound received in the Crimea.
Austin’s overseas posting included Quebec, Canada (4 years 6 months), and the Crimea for one year.
Austin received the following clasps to his Crimean War campaign medal: “Alma”, “Inkerman”, “Balaklava”, “Sevastopol” (as spelled on the medal roll). It was at Sebastopol that Austin received a musket ball to his left shoulder that left him unable “to carry the firelock”. This is the wound that led to his being invalided out of the army.
After discharge Austin settled in London with a pension. He married his wife Frances before 1861 and she bore him at least two children, a daughter Frances, born around 1858, and son William around 1862. He was appointed to the Guard on 9 February 1881. In the 1891 Census his son, now 29 years old, is listed as a salesman of racehorses.
In the above photograph, Austin wears his Crimean War medal with four clasps that are almost readable in the photograph. He also wears what appears to be the Long Service & Good Conduct Medal though there is no reference to him being awarded this medal in either his service or discharge papers. The medal furthest towards the center may be a Victorian Jubilee Medal.
Austin served with the Guard for twenty years and passed away on 2 March 1902.
I have given the photo an approximated date of 1895 based upon the time that James Ball was active that the Regent Sreet address between 1892-1906.
James Ball - Photographer
17 Regent Street, Waterloo Place, London, England