Lord William Beresford
Lord William Beresford
Lord William Beresford, c. 1880
|Born||20 July 1847|
Mullaghbrack, County Armagh
|Died||30 December 1900 (aged 53)|
Clonagem Churchyard, County Waterford
|Unit||9th Queen's Royal Lancers|
Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire
Lily Spencer-Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough
(m. 1895; his death 1900)
Lieutenant-Colonel Lord William Leslie de la Poer Beresford VC KCIE (20 July 1847 – 30 December 1900) was an Irish soldier and recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Beresford was born on 20 July 1847. He was the third son of the Church of Ireland minister John Beresford, 4th Marquess of Waterford and his wife, the former Christiana Leslie. His eldest brother, John Beresford, became the 5th Marquess of Waterford and his second brother, Admiral Charles Beresford, became the 1st Baron Beresford. His younger brother, Lord Marcus Beresford, was a prominent equerry and racing manager.
In 1867, at the age of 20, he joined the 9th Queen's Royal Lancers as a cornet. In 1875, the regiment was sent to India, where it was stationed at Sialkot. Later that year he was appointed aide-de-camp to Lord Northbrook, the retiring Viceroy, in Calcutta. He did some racing, and won the Corinthian Purse at a meet attended by the Prince of Wales.
Beresford became a captain in the 9th Lancers during the Zulu War of 1879. On 3 July 1879 at Ulundi, Zululand, South Africa, during the retirement of a reconnoitring party, Captain Lord William Beresford went to the assistance of Sergeant Fitzmaurice of the 24th Regiment, whose horse had fallen and rolled on him. The Zulus were coming in great numbers, but Lord William, with help from Sergeant Edmund O'Toole of the Frontier Light Horse., managed to mount the injured man behind him. He was, however, so dizzy that Sergeant O'Toole, who had been keeping back the advancing Zulus, gave up his carbine and, riding alongside, helped to hold him on until they reached safety.
Initially the VC was only awarded to Beresford but he told the Queen that O'Toole also deserved the honour:
- Her Majesty pinning it on to the hero's breast, but not before he had explained to his Queen he could not in honour receive recognition of any services he had been able to perform, unless Sergeant O'Toole's services were also recognised, as he deserved infinitely greater credit than any that might attach to himself. The Queen, appreciating this generosity and soldierly honesty, bestowed the reward also on Sergeant Edmund OToole of Baker's Horse, and Lord William was satisfied.
Lord William Beresford became a member of the staff of the Viceroy of India. He won the Viceroy's cup at the Calcutta Turf Club in 1881 with his black gelding Camballo. He later won it three more times with Myall King. Beresford strongly believed in the merits of English thoroughbreds. He was rivaled in Indian racing circles by the wealthy Calcutta merchant Apcar Alexander Apcar, who owned a stud of Australian race horses, and his partner the barrister Malcolm Peter Gasper. This competition did much to improve the quality of horses in India. In England, Beresford's filly Sibola won the 1899 1,000 Guineas Stakes, and came second in The Oaks. In 1899 his two-year-old Democrat beat Diamond Jubilee, winner of the Triple Crown. Democrat did not continue racing, but later was Lord Kitchener's charger in India.
Lord William Beresford achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel.
In 1895, he married American heiress and socialite Lillian, Duchess of Marlborough, widow of George Spencer-Churchill, 8th Duke of Marlborough, and daughter of Commodore Cicero Price. Together, Lily and William were the parents of one child:
- William Warren de la Poer Beresford (1897–1919).
- Lt.-Col. Lord William Leslie de la Poer Beresford.
- Menzies 1917, p. 4.
- Menzies 1917, p. 8.
- Menzies 1917, p. 11.
- Menzies 1917, p. 26.
- Menzies 1917, p. 51.
- "No. 24769". The London Gazette. 10 October 1879. p. 5830.
- "No. 24760". The London Gazette. 9 September 1879. p. 5395.
- Menzies 1917.
- India: Asian Racing Federation.
- Late Sir A. A. Apcar: Straits Times.
- Beresford, William Leslie de la Poer.
- "Beresford, William Leslie de la Poer (Lord) (1847 - 1900)". Horse Racing History. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
- "India". Asian Racing Federation. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
- "Late Sir A. A. Apcar". The Straits Times: 9. 30 April 1913. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
- "Lt.-Col. Lord William Leslie de la Poer Beresford, V.C". thepeerage.com. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
- Menzies, Mrs. Stuart (1917). Lord William Beresford, v. c.; some memories of a famous sportsman, soldier and wit.
Listed in order of year of publication
- The Register of the Victoria Cross (1981, 1988 and 1997)
- Clarke, Brian D. H. (1986). "A register of awards to Irish-born officers and men". The Irish Sword. XVI (64): 185–287.
- Ireland's VCs (Dept of Economic Development, 1995)
- Monuments to Courage (David Harvey, 1999)
- Irish Winners of the Victoria Cross (Richard Doherty & David Truesdale, 2000)