Charles James BRYANT [1834-1907]
I came across this name by chance whilst looking at old British newspaper archives. The newspapers reported his death in 1908 and at the time he was living in penury, wearing old rags and living in a hovel in Tai Kok Tsui a village in what was then lierally The New Territories. He had lived at least in recent years as a recluse cut off from normal society. At the time of his death he was 73 years old.
However it turned out that he had been a soldier of the Queen. He had served in the Coldstrean Guards in the Crimean War and was awarded the Crimean Medal with a bar for the Battle of Inkerman and a bar for Battle of Balaclava. He was accordingly given a full military burial.
The other surprising thing is that he turned out to be much less impecunious than he appeared. He owned a property in the Western District of Hong Kong. He supossedly had a bank deposit for GBP1,000 and he had HKD 200 on his person equivalent to GBP40. A lot of money in those days.
He was discharged from the Army with good conduct in the rank of Sgt after 5 years service. He then joined the Metropolitan Police. He was discharged from the Met with good conduct and made his way to China where he joined the Shanghai Municipal Police. Later he joind the China Maritime Customs.
At the time of his death in 1908 he was thought to have a sister in England and a son but whose whereabouts was unknown. The newspapers reported that he was buried at the Colonial Cemetery and the Middlsex Regt provided a firing party for the salute. I looked for him on Ancestry.com and found a possible date of birth being 19th Aug 1838 but not much more. I went down to the Colonial Cemetery and looked for his grave but to no avail. I went to the office but they said they had no such burial registered. He was an old soldier who had served in some of the toughest battles in the Crimea with the Guards who were in the thick of fighting. He had been a policeman first in London and then in Shanghai always serving with good conduct and not a blemish to his name. What made him shut himself off from the world rather than enjoy a comfortable retirement which he could well afford. Had I been able to find his grave I wanted to pay my respects to an old soldier who had lived in Hong Kong and who had fought in a long ago war.