Saturday, 7 April 2012

Who was Captain Morley, late of the Light Brigade, U.S. Army and Ayrshire Yeomanry?

A poster found in the archives of the Ayrshire Yeomanry was printed as an appendix in their 1964 history "Proud Trooper". Can anyone shed any light on it nearly fifty years after being printed in the book? I wonder if the original poster is still in existence?


One of the strangest relics in possession of the Regiment is a large print poster which research has failed to explain. It reads as follows: 

in the 

Capt. Morley, late U.S. Army, and late Regimental Sergeant Major, Ayrshire Yeomanry Cavalry, will explain to the members of the Corps and the public of Ayr why he has been compelled to leave the British service, and the gross injustice he has suffered, in the Corn Exchange Hall on Monday evening, 18th June, at half-past seven o’clock.

N.B. Mr Morley was one of the ‘Noble Six Hundred’, and brought the last remnants of the Light Brigade out of that terrible charge, forming the few survivors, and charging with them through the Polish Lancers, while the Earl of Cardigan, who had command of the Brigade only succeeded in bringing out himself and his horse.
Adnussion by Ticket

It is calculated that 18th June fell on a Monday in 1860, 1866, 1877, 1883, 1888, 1894, 1900 and 1906. The poster itself is stuck in the scrap-book opposite printed orders dated 1908, 1909 and thereabouts, but it may of course have been old by then. The Charge of the Light Brigade was in 1854.

If Mr Morley was a Light Brigade veteran then he was also late of one of the following regiments -  4th or 13th Light Dragoons, 17th Lancers, or the 8th or 11th Hussars


  1. From the recent book "Echelon" by James W Bancroft:

    "Thomas Morely - 'a great, rough, bellowing Nottingham man' - was born in 1830. He had been an engineer before he enlisted into the 17th Lancers in 1849, being promoted to sergeant after the charge in 1854. 'The man of the hour' was disappointed that he did not receive a gallantry medal for his actions at Balaclava and Inkerman. He purchased his discharge in 1857 and became drill sergeant to the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry at Mansfield. When the American Civil War began he gained a commission in the 12th Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry, Union Army, being taken prisoner again during the Battle of Bull Run. He spent several months in Libby Prison before being released for medical reasons. He resigned his commission as captain in 1865. Returning to Britain, he lived in Scotland and was appointed Drill Troop-Sergeant-Major in the Ayrshire Yeomanry in 1868. He returned to America in 1884, where he becamse Quartermaster in the United States Army and took American citizenship to work in the War Department. Returning to Nottingham, he was admitted to the Nottingham City Asylum, where he died in 1906. He was buried with full military honours in Nottingham Cemetery."

    The book also details how he yelled at the top of his voice for men to rally to him. About 20 men responded, and he led these men in an sttack against Russian Hussars who were blocking their return to the British lines. The book also has a photo of him in old age, wearing his medals and a rather long beard!

  2. I think, given the date he returned to America, that the 18th June mentioned in the poster was most probably 1883.