Greg's Family History

Thomas Harley Harraden (x2)

Thomas Harley Harraden senior was baptised in Abingdon, Berkshire on 6th Mar 1771. He was the son of Edward Harraden, an excise officer, and Betty Batchelor who were married in Cumnor, Berks (now Oxfordshire) on 4 Aug 1761. Betty's family had lived in Cumnor for several generations.

At the age of 18, Thomas was articled to a lawyer in Chipping Norton to learn 'the practice of an Attorney and Solicitor'. For some reason he did not complete his articles and, in February 1794, he enlisted into the 1st Regiment of the Life Guards.

The 1st Life Guards are the premier regiment of the British Army. They are based in Knightsbridge/Chelsea. Thomas served until 1818 during which time the Life Guards saw action overseas in the Peninsula and at Waterloo. Thomas does not appear to have played any part in these campaigns and his name does not appear on the Waterloo Medal Roll. On his discharge he became an out-pensioner of the Chelsea Hospital. His discharge papers describe him as Five foot Ten ¾ inches tall, with black hair, Black eyes and dark complexion, a musician by trade. He died in 1843 (aged 73) from inflammation of the lungs at 4 Bury Street, Chelsea, where he had been living with his wife, Elizabeth, at the time of the 1841 census.

Thomas and Elizabeth had several children, including Thomas Harley Harraden jun who was born in Knightsbridge probably on 8th May 1809. Young Thomas was schooled at the Royal Military Asylum, Chelsea (The Duke of York's School) until he was 14. He joined the 98th Regt. in 1824. On his enlistment he is described as a tailor by trade though, as he had only left school six months earlier, he had not had time to complete an apprenticeship. While still under age Thomas spent two periods as a drummer.

The 98th was a newly formed unit and was soon posted overseas to South Africa, stationed mostly in Cape Town but spending two years in Grahamstown. Thomas married Mary Mountfort, the daughter of one of the Cape settlers, at St George’s Church, Grahamstown on 16th July, 1832. Shortly after his marriage he was promoted to corporal and then (in April 1834) to serjeant. His promotion was short-lived as in December he was convicted of “highly disrespectful and insubordinate conduct towards Lieut. Kennedy of the Regt. His Superior Officer and at the time in execution of his duty.” He was reduced to private but was soon promoted again, regaining his serjeant's stripes in August 1835. He remained a serjeant for the rest of his career with two periods of appointment as Drum major.

The 98th returned to England in 1837 and were based in Newcastle upon Tyne where they were called upon to support the civil powers during the Chartist troubles. Thomas and Mary had a daughter, Sarah Elizabeth who was born at the end of 1838 and a son, Thomas Edward, who was baptised in Newcastle in 1840.

In 1842 the 98th were sent to China to fight in the Opium War. Mary must have accompanied her husband as their daughter, Lucy Ann was born in China in abt. 1842 and Mary Jane, was born in Hong Kong in abt 1844. In 1846 the 98th were transferred to Dinapore in northern India; Thomas and Mary had a son, William Arthur, later that year.

In 1847 tragedy struck. According to a notice in the Grahamstown Journal (South Africa) on Saturday 11th December, 1847:

Died at Dinahore [sic], Mary HARRADEN, the beloved wife of Thomas Harley HARRADEN, Bandmaster HM 98th Regt, who departed this life 2nd June 1847 aged 34 years and 10 months. She was a virtuous wife and a kind mother.
Sarah Elizabeth HARRADEN, daughter of the above, who departed this life 3rd June 1847, aged 8 years and 8 months.
William Arthur HARRADEN, son of the above, who departed this life 6th June 1847, aged 6 months and 6 days.
These lovely buds, so young, so fair,
Called hence by early doom,
Just came to shew how sweet a flower
In Paradise may bloom.
The deceased was the daughter of Wm. MOUNTFORT and her premature death is much regretted by her aged parents and family.

Thomas remained in the army for another two years during which time the 98th was involved in the Second Sikh War. It seems that he remarried whilst in India but this marriage was ended by his return to England. Thomas had married again by 1851 (by which time he was living in Kennington, Kent). A Trumpeter William Harraden, possibly Thomas and Mary's son, served in the army in India during the 1850s and 60s and is mentioned in the Indian Mutiny medal roll.

Thomas's daughter, Mary Jane Harraden, married Morton William Miller at Canterbury, England in 1866. Morton was a merchant seaman and was rarely at home, so Mary Jane continued to live with her Father. In 1871 they are living in Hall Road, Wanstead. Thomas’s occupation is given as Music Master, and his place of birth as Knightsbridge. He is living with his third wife, Mary, his daughter Mary J Miller, his grandson Morton Miller and his niece Emma Gurney.

By 1881 they had moved to 17 Picardy Street, Erith, Kent. Thomas (now styled ‘Professor of Music’), his wife, Mary, three grandchildren Christianna, Phillip and Jane Millar (age 9, 5 and 3). Sometime between Jane’s birth and the census date, Mary Jane Miller had been committed to the Surrey County Lunatic Asylum at Wandsworth, possibly suffering from post-natal depression. She is probably the M. J. M. age 36 in the Asylum in 1881. Mary Jane died in the asylum 30 Sept 1887, aged 42. Cause of death was 'Asthenia' - a general term defined as "Loss or lack of bodily strength; weakness; debility." - which sounds consistent with loosing the will to live. The death was certified by the doctor resident at the asylum and the informant was described as an 'attendant upon the insane' [in 1881 census].

Thomas Harraden died at the end of 1881, a few months after the census. His wife followed him a few months later in early 1882. I do not know exactly what happened to the grandchildren: it is believed that they may have been sent to a Catholic boarding school and have passed some of their holidays with an aunt and uncle.

Thomas Harraden’s oldest son, Thomas Edward, seems to disappear from the record immediately after his birth. It is possible that he was left in Chelsea with his grandparents, Thomas senior and Eliza when his parents sailed for China. A Thomas William Harraden, born in Chelsea moved to the Chester / Liverpool area where he worked as a butler.

Lucy Ann Harraden married William George Hickson, a paperhanger and glazier from Finsbury, London. In 1871 they are living at 6 Elm Street, Finsbury with William's parents. She died in 1880 of TB.