Robert Loyd-Lindsay, 1st Baron Wantage
Brigadier-General Robert James Loyd-Lindsay, 1st Baron Wantage, VC KCB (17 April 1832 – 10 June 1901) was a British soldier, politician, benefactor to Wantage, one of the founders of the British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War latterly called the British Red Cross Society, for which he crucially obtained the patronage of Queen Victoria, and a distinguished philanthropist and luminary of Victorian society.
Lindsay was born in 1832, the second son of Lieutenant-General Sir James Lindsay, 1st Baronet and Anne, daughter of Sir Coutts Trotter, 1st Baronet. His elder brother Coutts Lindsay succeeded his maternal grandfather as second Baronet in 1837 (see Lindsay Baronets). In 1858, he married The Honorable Harriet Sarah Jones-Loyd, the only surviving child and heiress of Samuel Jones-Loyd, 1st and last Baron Overstone, one of the richest men in the country, who endowed the couple with a considerable fortune and the Lockinge estate near Wantage.
Lindsay fought as a captain in the Scots (Fusilier) Guards during the Crimean War. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 20 September 1854 at the Battle of the Alma and 5 November at the Battle of Inkerman. The London Gazette described his actions as follows:
When the formation of the line of the Regiment was disordered at Alma, Captain Lindsay stood firm with the Colours, and by his example and energy, greatly tended to restore order. At Inkerman, at a most trying moment, he, with a few men, charged a party of Russians, driving them back, and running one through the body himself.
On 9 November 1858 Lindsay was appointed as Equerry to HRH The Prince of Wales and served as such before resigning on 7 February 1859. The brief period as Equerry was due to his engagement and impending marriage to The Honorable Harriet Sarah Jones Loyd.
Lindsay was later involved in the volunteer movement, serving as Colonel of the Royal Berkshire Volunteers, and subsequently Brigadier-General of the Home Counties Brigade. He was one of the first recipients of the Volunteer Officers' Decoration. He was also Lieutenant Colonel of the Honourable Artillery Company from 13 November 1866 to 17 August 1881.
Career in public life
Lindsay sat as Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Berkshire from 1865 until 1885 and served under Lord Beaconsfield as Financial Secretary to the War Office between 1877 and 1880. He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in 1881. In 1885 he was elevated to the peerage as Baron Wantage, of Lockinge in the County of Berkshire. He then served as Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire from 1886 until his death. Having been initiated as a freemason, passed and raised in Malta en route to the Crimea in 1854, he became Provincial Grand Master of Berkshire from 1898 until his death in 1901. He was appointed the first Chairman of the Council of the National Rifle Association of the United Kingdom on 25 November 1890.
Lord and Lady Wantage lived at Lockinge House at East Lockinge in Berkshire (now Oxfordshire). He died on 10 June 1901, aged 69. On his death, Florence Nightingale, a close personal friend since the Crimea wrote:
Lord Wantage is a great loss but he had been a great gain. And what he has gained for us can never be lost. It is my experience that such men exist only in England. A man who had everything (to use the common phrase) that this world could give him, but who worked as hard, and to the last, as the poorest able man and all for others for the common good. A man whose life makes a great difference for all. All are better than if he had not lived, and this betterment is for always it does not die with him. That is the true estimate of a great life. God bless him and we will bless him. And we will bless God for having made him.
Lady Wantage erected a monument to Lord Wantage on the Ridgeway. There are various inscriptions on the faces of the monument with the one on the North East side, being in Latin and is similar to that inscribed on the Iona Cross on Gibbet Hill, Hindhead, Surrey, namely:
- IN OBITU PAX
- POST OBITUM SALUS
- POST TENEBRAS LUX
- IN LUCE SPES
Which translates according to the National Trust as “Peace in passing away. Salvation after death. Light after darkness. Hope in light."
As he had no children the title died with him. In 1908 Lady Wantage officially opened Wantage Hall, the first Hall of Residence in the University of Reading, in honour of Lord Wantage. She died in August 1920.
Loyd Lindsay the Franco-Prussian war and the beginning of the British Red Cross. http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/Museum-and-archives/Historical-factsheets/The-founding-of-the-British-Red-Cross
©InfoIn July 1870, war broke out between France and Prussia. Colonel Robert James Loyd-Lindsay was immediately concerned about the suffering the war would cause.Since the British government had ties with both sides, he wrote a letter to The Times on 22 July 1870 to propose the country create a neutral, impartial aid organisation to help wounded soldiers on both sides of the frontlines.
He wrote: “The news which daily reaches us from abroad shows that nations can at times go mad as well as individuals. It is strange to read in your columns of the preparations which are being made simultaneously to destroy life and to save it. Unfortunately it is far easier to destroy than to save, all the glory being reserved for the former, and ten times the scientific resources being devoted to it.
“The part that we [the British] may be destined to take in this war is unknown, but we know well that as soon as a battle has been fought there will be a large amount of sympathy excited on behalf of the wounded soldiers on both sides for the French, our staunch and faithful allies in the Crimea, with whom I, in common with many others, spent two years in constant and friendly intercourse, and for the Prussians, related to us by ties of friendship, and by our Princess Royal, destined to be their Queen.
“The difficulty will be how properly to direct our friendly aid. England has before now marked her sympathy in various wars by largely contributing aid and succour to the wounded on one side but any one-sided demonstration would in this case be singularly out of place. What is done, should be done impartially and, above all, systematically.”
The first meeting When the Prussian army surprised the small garrison of soldiers at Wissembourg, northeastern France, on 4 August 1870, none of the men fighting for their lives knew that a who’s-who of British society was meeting in London to discuss ways of helping survivors.
Colonel Loyd-Lindsay had written to influential people, including the foreign secretary Lord Granville, asking for their support after his letter was published in The Times. Florence Nightingale, who had made a name for herself nursing wounded soldiers during the Crimean War, sent a message that Colonel Loyd-Lindsay was “quite on the right tack”.
At the meeting on 4 August, the group passed several resolutions to create an organisation called the National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War, which later changed its name to the British Red Cross in 1905.
The resolutions called for the organisation to be based on the rules of the Geneva Convention, and that it adopt “the Badge and Flag which have been recognised by the International Convention of Geneva”. The badge and flag showed a red cross on a white background, a legally protected symbol of humanitarian aid.
The group also resolved that:
aid be given impartially to the sick and wounded of the belligerent armies sub-committees of the organisation be established in various parts of the country (these later became known as Branches) a ladies’ committee be established. The organisation’s aims were not political. It would not attempt to interfere with state operations, or military medical staff, but only to help them in relieving the miseries of war.
The first members A committee of 22 prominent men – including military officers, surgeons, and members of the House of Lords – formed to guide the fledgling organisation. Colonel Loyd-Lindsay was the chairman.
The ladies’ committee was headed by Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Christian. Florence Nightingale was also a member.
Queen Victoria was the organisation’s patron, and the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, was the president.
The first donations
©InfoFrom the beginning, The Times played a crucial part in raising money for wounded soldiers. Colonel Loyd-Lindsay’s original letter in the newspaper pledged £1,000 of his own money. He said: “If the money is not wanted we shall all rejoice, but I fear that much more will be needed.”
The British public responded in kind. Donations were sent from various sources, including the royal family, the staff of 100 companies, 257 schools, 5,824 congregations and parishes, 139 concerts and events, and 11,832 individuals.
Contributions ranged from £1,000 to a few shillings. Little ornaments and trinkets were frequently given to the organisation, which sold them to raise money. Small packets of food and clothing were brought to the organisation’s office every day.
By the end of the Franco-Prussian war, the British Red Cross had raised £250,000. That would have the spending power of £11,425,000 in today’s money.
Getting aid to wounded soldiers abroad Right after the meeting on 4 August, John Furley – who had worked alongside Colonel Loyd-Lindsay to bring the committee together – left for Paris, Geneva and Berlin to see how the newly formed organisation could help.
The committee decided to give an initial £40,000 to help the sick and wounded soldiers of the French and German nations.
Loyd-Lindsay carried cheques for £20,000 each to the Germans at Versailles and to the French in Paris. The cheques were drawn from Messrs Coutts Bank.
Furley also travelled extensively through the battlefields, distributing aid and reporting back to headquarters in London. In his publication Struggle and Experiences of a Neutral Volunteer, he called the war “the most terrible contest that has ever disgraced a civilized country”. He met many of the most senior military commanders as well as witnessing the conditions of the ordinary soldier and local population.
The Crown Prince of Prussia wrote a letter of appreciation, saying the contribution “deserves somewhat more than a simple acknowledgment. On this, as on other occasions of distress, the help of the English public has been poured out with a liberal and impartial hand. The gifts . . . have excited a feeling of heart-felt gratitude amongst those in whose name I speak. In doing so I am repeating the feelings of the whole of my countrypeople.” (2 November 1870)
The first relief items
The total amount spent on transportation, food, clothing, medical stores, surgical instruments and grants to local funds was £223,717.
In 1870, that bought:
256 brass bedsteads 83,858 blankets 83,962 cotton shirts 68,440 pairs of drawers and trousers 14,800 pairs of slippers 3.5 cwt of disinfecting powder (3,500 lbs) 150 boxes of fumigating papers 200 lbs castor oil 2,390 bottles of chloroform 33 flags with the red cross emblem, to protect humanitarian workers 100 horses' nosebags 2786 lbs calf’s foot jelly, thought to be nourishing for the ill over 500 amputating knives 259 pairs of crutches 75 boxes of a dozen nightlights three teapots over 6 tons of soap one refrigerator. After the war, part of the surplus funds was devoted to the training of women nurses at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley. The remainder was spent on the organisation’s long-term work, including providing relief during the 1876 Turco-Servian War.
Early aid workers
By 17 September, there were 110 people working for the organisation in the field or at hospitals in France and Germany, including 62 surgeons and 16 nurses. One of them, Dr Sims, wrote a report to the committee giving strong testimony to the value of the nurses. “From the moment that women were introduced as nurses, the whole aspect of our establishment changed. Only last night a poor wounded soldier’s life was saved by one of our lady nurses in a most remarkable manner.”
The first member of the organisation to die on active service was during the Franco-Prussian War. John McIntosh (pictured), a 19-year-old from Hamilton in Scotland, offered his services on 10 October 1870. He was sent to Germany to dress wounds. He died on 23 November 1870 in Saarbrücken, Germany.
Division of labour between women and men Women didn’t just serve as nurses on the battlefield. They were also instrumental in raising money and organising the relief items that were sent abroad.
©InfoThe ladies’ committee managed the gifts given in the form of goods, keeping track of the incredible number of donations coming in. They sorted the donated items and organised sending them abroad. They also managed the relief item storerooms.
Since the ladies’ and the men’s committees were housed at St Martin’s Place, relief items were stored in a wing of the disused St Martin’s workhouse, the vaults of St Martin-in-the-Fields, and a tent in the churchyard.
Local women’s committees across the UK helped tremendously. One group, run by Lady Augusta Stanley – whose husband was the Dean of Westminster – had over 100 volunteers mending donated clothing and sewing linen into useful garments.
John Furley dedicated his book Struggles and Experiences of a Neutral Volunteer to Mrs Loyd-Lindsay, who was involved in one of the women's working committees, “in grateful remembrance of the work which she and the women of England performed in 1870-1, towards the alleviation of the victims of the war”.
The central committee managed the administrative business and organised the selection and despatch of agents abroad. They dealt with requests from foreign aid societies for more resources and help. They also facilitated the transport of people and goods through areas disturbed by war.
- thepeerage.com Lt.-Col. Robert James Lindsay-Loyd, 1st and last Baron Wantage of Lockinge
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- leighrayment.com House of Commons: Bedford to Berwick upon Tweed
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- leighrayment.com Peerages: Waddington to Welles
- Original Charter of National Rifle Association of the United Kingdom
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Robert Loyd-Lindsay, 1st Baron Wantage.|
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Robert Loyd-Lindsay
- Location of grave and VC medal (Oxfordshire)
- Royal Berkshire History: Colonel Sir Robert James Loyd-Lindsay, Baron Wantage of Lockinge
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Berkshire
With: Richard Benyon 1865–1876
Sir Charles Russell, Bt 1865–1868
John Walter 1868–1885
Philip Wroughton 1876–1885
Hon. Frederick Stanley
|Financial Secretary to the War Office
The Marquess of Ailesbury
|Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire
James Herbert Benyon
|Peerage of the United Kingdom|
|New creation||Baron Wantage