United Kingdom

8th (King's Royal Irish) Hussars

Carte-de-Visite studio Schwarzschild, Calcutta

Brevet Major Samuel Hill Lawrence, V.C.

Samuel Hill Lawrence was born on  22 January 1831 in Cork, Ireland. He joined the 32nd Foot Regiment (Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry) as an Ensign on 12 December 1847.
He saw action quite young as he took part in the 1848-49 Punjaub Campaign, "including the second siege operations before Mooltan, including the storm and and capture of the city, and surrender of the fortress ; also at the surrender of the fort and garrison of Cheniste, and battle of Goojerat (Medal and Clasps)."

He is therefore wearing (on the left) the Punjaub Campaign medal with Clasps Mooltan and Goojerat. As often, the reflections and photographic process give a quite puzzling rendering of the original ribbon colours.

Samuel Hill Lawrence purchased a commission of Lieutenant on 22 February 1850. The 32nd Foot stayed in India until the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny :
"Served during the Indian Mutiny in 1857-58, commanded the Head Quarters 32nd Regt. at the evacuation of Fort Muchee Bhawan on 1st July 1857, and from that date was engaged in the defence of the Residency of Lucknow until its final relief on 24th Nov. by Lord Clyde, during the greater part of which he commanded the Redan Battery ; led a sortie on 7th July and a division of another on 26th Sept., where his Company captured a 9-pounder gun at the point of the bayonet-mentioned in despatches by Sir John Inglis and the Governor General, and received the Victoria Cross (Brevet of Major, Medal and Clasp, and a year's service for Lucknow)."

The Army lists teach us that he was promoted to Captain on 1st July 1857, which is interesting in relation to the above mentioned events. He will be granted the Brevet of Major on 24 March 1858.

His Victoria Cross was gazetted on 21 November 1859 :
"On 7th July 1857 at Lucknow, India, Lieutenant Lawrence was the first person to mount a ladder in order to enter the window of a house held by the enemy and to discover whether or not a mine was being driven from it. His pistol was knocked from his grasp by one of the enemy while he was in the act of carrying out this task. Also on 26th September the Lieutenant charged, with two of his men, in advance of his company, and captured a 9-pounder gun."

Samuel Hill Lawrence exchanged from the 32d Foot into the 25th Foot on November 29 1859. He exchanged from the 25th Foot.into the 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars on September 23 1862  He will go back to England on board the St. Lawrence East Indiaman, reaching Portsmouth on April 26 1864. The St.Lawrence had left Calcutta on January 13, calling at the Cape of Good Hope on March 1, and St. Helena on March 12.
The 8th Hussars then proceeded to York, but upon arriving, Lawrence exchanged  into the 11th Hussars (vice Captain Montagu) on June 21 1864. The 11th Hussars were then stationned in Dublin.
Captain and Brevet Major Lawrence will retire on January 24 1865.

Samuel Hill Lawrence died on 17 June 1868 in Montevideo, Uruguay, at the age of 37.
His medals are held by the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry Museum, Bodmin, Cornwall.
Samuel Hill Lawrence was the cousin of Lieutenant Thomas Cadell, who also gained a VC in the Indian Mutiny.

This photo displays the sabretache of the 8th Hussars, and the Regimental "plain" pouch belt without chain and prickers. The photograph was taken between September 1862 and January 1864.

Many thanks to Glenn Fisher for identifying Samuel Hill Lawrence.

Lady Julia Inglis, whose husband commanded the 32nd Foot, mentions Samuel Hill Lawrence in her diaries of The Siege of Lucknow :
July 7th.—A sally was made this morning by the light company 32nd and some Sikhs, under Captain Lawrence and Captain Mansfield, Mr. Green, 13th N.I., and Mr. Studdy, the latter leading the sortie. The object was to search ahouse outside our position, called Johannes House, where the enemy was supposed to be mining. A hole was made in the wall large enough to admit of one man getting out at a time, and we kept up heavy cannonading during the process to hide the sound and to divert the enemy’s attention. The party started at twelve o’clock, after the men had had some dinner, and John had said a few words to them. I felt very sad as they passed through our courtyard, for I thought perhaps few would return. However, in a quarter of an hour, or less, their work was done. They rushed into Johannes House. Ensign Studdy being the first to go through the wall, bayoneted some thirty men they found there, and then, reckless as soldiers are, were running down the Cawnpore road, when John called them back. We had one Sikh and one 32nd man slightly wounded, and poor Cuney, of the band, severely so in two places. He was a fine fellow, and had once before made a sortie on his own account and spiked a gun. He sat down on our doorstep, and John gave him some brandy and praised him for his bravery. Captain Lawrence had one of the legs of his trousers blown to pieces, but was not touched. This little affair raised all our spirits, as it had been so thoroughly successful, and showed what we could do. As we were at dinner this evening an officer was carried by on a litter, and on inquiry we heard it was Major Francis, of the 13th N.I., who had just had both his legs nearly taken off by a round shot, when sitting on a chair at the top of the brigade mess-house. Death ensued very shortly.
Sunday, 26th.(July)— (...) Captain Birch says: The vigilance of the enemy had at this time a little relaxed, though they still surrounded us in great numbers. We managed to make several sorties to examine their ground. I was engaged in one in command of the Sikhs of my regiment. We cut a large hole in the wall of Mr. Gubbins’ garden, and rushed out into the houses opposite to us; we were thankful to find no traces of mining, and only lost one man. A laughable incident occurred on one of these sorties. One of my Sikhs, Alla Singh, a man of great muscular strength but small heart, hid himself when we started, and on our return dropped down from the wall amongst the party, hoping to escape notice; he was discovered, and his cowardice lost him his promotion. One day we entered a fresh earthwork about forty yards outside the Redan battery. Lieutenant George Hutchinson, of the engineers, gave it as his opinion that it was merely a covered way to enable the enemy to pass to and fro at a corner much exposed to our fire. Sam Lawrence, of the 32nd, commanding at the Redan, who was always cheery and jolly, assured the brigadier that he and his men expected very shortly to be up amongst the little birds, as he was convinced it was a mine. George Hutchinson maintained his opinion, on which the brigadier acted, and would not allow of a sortie. At night Lieutenant Hutchinson determined to verify his opinion, and stole out under cover of the darkness; he asked me to accompany him, and we certainly went round a very ticklish corner. Hutchinson was right; it was only a covered way or trench. (...)
26th. (September) —A sortie was made by our garrison to-day, and four guns taken. (...)
We left on the morning of February 10. (...) Suddenly we were startled by a loud grating sound something like the letting down of an anchor, and just then saw a large rock close to us. I said, ‘We must have touched that.’ Several men rushed to the wheel, and then again we heard the same sound, only louder, and a quivering of the whole ship. She then remained stationary, only heaving backwards and forwards.
We ran below and found the saloon filled with ladies and children, evidently just out of bed. Meeting Captain Lawrence, of the 32nd, he seized my hand and said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Mrs. Inglis.’ This decided me that there was some cause for fear, but I thought we had run ashore. I begged him to ascertain what was to be done, and, going into my cabin, roused up my nurse, Mrs. Campbell, and told her to be prepared to leave the steamer. My cabin was forward; I was getting something for the children to put on, when Captain Lawrence rushed in and said, ‘Don’t wait a minute! Come on deck at once!’ Mrs. Case, Miss Dickson, and self, communicated our determination to keep to­gether under all circumstances. On going on deck we found the boats were being lowered. The captain, Kirton by name, a young man of twenty-eight, was giving his orders in a quiet, calm manner; the greatest order prevailed, no one appeared to have lost his presence of mind, and not even a child cried. The first boat was launched in about twenty minutes, and Captain Lawrence and Captain Foster came and said that I was to go in it. I objected at first, not liking to be the first to leave the scene of danger; but they pressed me and said all would follow immediately, so I made no further remonstrance. As I left the steamer, the captain said, ‘This is only a precautionary measure. Captain Lawrence had run down into my cabin, and brought me up my cash-box, containing £50, and my writing-desk. (...)
For a website on the Relief of Lucknow, the Inglis Family and Lady Julia's complete diaries :