Maurice Gifford

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Maurice Raymond Gifford
Maurice Gifford.jpg
Col. Maurice Gifford, CMG, ca. 1900.
Born(1859-05-05)5 May 1859
Ampney Park, Gloucester, United Kingdom
Died1 July 1910(1910-07-01) (aged 51)
London, United Kingdom
AllegianceBritish Army
Years of service1882–1893, 1893, 1896, 1900
UnitFrench's Scouts, Canada 1882–1893; Scout, British South Africa Police, 1893; Rhodesian Horse, Imperial Yeomanry, 1900.
Commands heldGifford's Horse, Bulawayo Field Force, Rhodesia, 1896.
Battles/warsRed River Rebellion
Mahdist War
First Matabele War
Second Matabele War
Second Boer War:
Relief of Mafeking
— Defence of Kimberly
AwardsOrder of St Michael and St George
Queen's South Africa Medal
British South Africa Company Medal
Other workCorrespondent to the Daily Telegraph, Merchant Service, General Manager of the Bechuanaland Exploration Company.

Hon. Maurice Raymond Gifford CMG (5 May 1859 – 1 July 1910) was a British military officer.


Marice Gifford (right), Frederick Russell Burnham (middle), Matabeleland, 1893.

Born at Ampney Park, Gloucester, he was the son of Robert Francis Gifford, 2nd Baron Gifford, and the brother of Edric Gifford, 3rd Baron Gifford. On the completion of his education he entered the Merchant Service, and was on board the training ship Worcester for three years. In 1878, he entered the service of the British Steam Navigation Company, in which he remained until 1882, visiting many parts of the globe. That same year he fought in the Mahdist War and served as assistant correspondent to the Daily Telegraph at the time of the engagement of Tel-el-Kebir.[1] He then went to Canada for 11 years and fought in the Red River Rebellion as one of French's Scouts under Lord Minto, earning a medal and clasp.[2] Next, Gifford went to South Africa and became General Manager of the Bechuanaland Exploration Company and soon became involved in the First Matabele War, 1893.[3] In the Second Matabele War, 1896, he was part of the Bulawayo Field Force during the Siege of Bulawayo, raised Gifford's Horse, and lost his right arm to a Nbatabele bullet.[4] In the Second Boer War he was attached to the Imperial Yeomanry and was part of the Rhodesian Horse. He participated in the Relief of Mafeking.[5]

Sir Byron LeightonClaud GrenfelMajor Frederick Russell BurnhamCaptain Gordon ForbesAbe BaileyunidentifiedLord BrookeMajor Bobby WhiteLord DowneMajor-General Sir Henry Edward ColvilleMajor Harry WhiteMajor Joe LaycockSir Winston ChurchillSir Charles BentinckColonel Maurice GiffordunidentifiedA formative photograph of 17 men. Eight stand, seven sit on chairs and two are on the floor.
Returning from the Boer War on the RMS Dunottar Castle, July 1900.[6] Standing L-R: Sir Byron Leighton, Claud Grenfel, Major Frederick Russell Burnham, Captain Gordon Forbes, Abe Bailey (his son John would marry Diana Churchill in 1932), next two unidentified, John Weston Brooke. Seated L-R: Major Bobby White, Lord Downe, General Sir Henry Edward Colvile (a year later Churchill as MP would demand an inquiry over his dismissal from South Africa), Major Harry White, Major Joe Laycock, Winston Churchill, Sir Charles Bentinck. Sitting L-R: unidentified, Col. Maurice Gifford (who had lost his arm in the Second Matabele War).

He married Marguerite Thorold, the daughter of Capt Thorold of Boothby, on 21 September 1897. Among the presents Gifford gave to his wife at the wedding, was the bullet that cost him his arm. He set it in Matabele gold and arranged it so that the yellow metal formed a double-headed serpent.[3]

On 1 July 1910, while undergoing a rest cure for nervous breakdown, Col. Gifford met his death from a fire caused by his clothes being set alight by a cigarette.[7] He had been cleaning his clothing with petrol just before the incident.[8]


  1. ^ Wills, W.A.; L.T. Collingridge (1894). The Downfall of Lobengula. London: American Review.
  2. ^ Burnham, Frederick Russell (1926). Scouting on Two Continents. New York: Doubleday, Page & company. OCLC 407686.
  3. ^ a b "Capt. Maurice Gifford Weds". New York Times. 22 September 1897.
  4. ^ Creswicke, Louis (1901). South Africa and the Transvaal War. Edinburgh: Putman.
  5. ^ "The Relief of Mafeking". New York Times. 23 May 1900. p. 3.
  6. ^ "FinestHour" (pdf). Journal of the Churchill Center and Societies, Summer 2005. Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 August 2007. Retrieved 2 August 2007.
  7. ^ "Portraits & World's News: Col. Maurice Gifford, CMG". Illustrated London News (3716): 46. 9 July 1910.
  8. ^ "THE HON. MAURICE GIFFORD. FATAL BURNING ACCIDENT". Sydney Morning Herald: 7. 5 July 1910. The Hon. Maurice Raymond Gifford, C.M.G., while undergoing the rest cure at Hoddesdon, a village near Hereford, was discovered rushing through the garden in a mass of flames. Before dying, he said that he had been cleaning his clothes with petrol, when he lighted a cigarette. A doctor stated at the Inquest that deceased had been suffering from acute nervous prostration. A verdict of accidental death was returned.