LEIGH'S LINK TO THE TOWER OF LONDON
1881 living at the Tower of London there was a Chelsea Pensioner and Warden of the Tower named Kester Knight. With him were his wife Elizabeth, born in Leigh, and a son, Edwin Thomas aged 16, born in Chatham. Elizabeth was 54 i.e. born about 1827. Edwin Thomas was a lawyer’s clerk.
In 1891 Kester is still at the Tower but is married to a Mary Ann aged 64 also born in Leigh.
Were Elizabeth and Mary one and the same - they were both born in Leigh and the same age?
On 1 October 1826 at St Clement’s Church, Leigh a Mary Ann Mitchell Surridge was baptised, the daughter of Henry and Elizabeth Surridge. Henry was the parish clerk.
Mary did have a sister Elizabeth but she married a Benjamin Mitchell in 1863.
Edwin's birth certificate, however, confirms his mother’s name as Mary Surridge and the Chaplain's Marriage Registers for Gibraltar confirm that sometime between 1850 and 1859 Kester married Mary Ann Surridge. So the entry for Elizabeth in 1881 would appear to be an error.
Kester Knight had had a long and distinguished career in the service of the Queen. He was a Serjeant Major in the Royal Sappers and Miners and had been born in 1827 in Haslemere, Surrey, the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Knight.
He was a carpenter and served in Gibraltar for 5 years 8 months, in the Crimea and Turkey for 2 years 2 months, then in China for 2 years 9 months. In all he served 22 years 295 days and was discharged in 1869 at Chatham to live at New Brompton.
He became a Yeoman and Warder of the Tower from 14 July 1878 and lived at Broad Arrow Tower.
His medal tally is quite impressive:
Queen’s Crimea (Inkermann and Sebastopol)
Meritorious Service Medal 1869 with £10 annuity for gallantry in China)
French Medaille Militaire
Turkish Crimea Medal
The citation for his French medal reads ‘Joined the Army at Scutari in May, 1854. Present at every bombardment. Specially selected by Colonel Tylden for important daily duties in the trenches of the right attack, and was subsequently strongly recommended by him for promotion which he received’’.
Kester died in Broad Arrow Tower and was buried at Bow in 1894.
This picture is taken in 1856 when Kester was photographed as one of the heroes of the Crimea at Aldershot in preparation for the London Victory parade.
(The military information and pictures are taken from a marvellous website and is produced here with the permission of the curator of the website)