The Indian Rebellion of May 1857 to July 1859 was a rebellion in India against the rule of the British India Company. The Indian Mutiny is also known as India’s First War of Independence, the Great Rebellion, the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the Revolt of 1857, the Uprising of 1857 and the Sepoy Mutiny. The rebellion was almost exclusively confined to the regiments in the Bengal Presidency.

Henry Cory (1834-1907)

Henry Cory (Service No 3252) is on a list of Indian Medal winners. He served in the 54th Foot (West Norfolk) Regiment which was stationed at Cawnpore. Private Henry Cory, was awarded the Indian Mutiny Medal for having taken part in the first attack on the rebel fort at Siroul on 21 March 1858, the second attack and capture of the rebel fort at Dehaiga on 14 July 1858, and the third attack and capture of the rebel fort at Siroul on 17 and 18 July 1858.

Indian Mutiny MedalThe Indian Mutiny Medal was a campaign medal approved in 1858, which was issued to officers and men of British and Indian units who served in operations in suppression of the Indian Mutiny. It was awarded to all who took part in the actions and not a specific gallantry medal. The medal was initially sanctioned for award to those troops who had been engaged in action against the mutineers but later included those who had born arms or suffered under fire.

The obverse of the medal depicts the head of a young Queen Victoria and bears the inscription Victoria Regina. The reverse shows a helmeted Britannia holding a wreath in her right hand and a union shield on her left arm. She is standing in front of a lion. The words “India 1857-1858” are inscribed on the reverse of the medal. The ribbon is white with two scarlet stripes. Five clasps were authorised, though the maximum awarded to any one man was four. The medal was issued without a clasp to those who served but were not eligible for a clasp. The vast majority of these awards were made to those who became entitled to the medal as a result of the 1868 extensions of eligibility.

Cory archivist, Michael Cory, suggested that this was Henry Cory, born 1834 at Great Dunham, Norfolk, son to Robert Cory, an agricultural labourer, and Sarah née Chamberlain. This Henry was missing from both the 1861 and 1871 census documents but appeared again in the 1881 census, under the surname Corey although in that his age differed by 2 years. According to the 1881 census, Henry Corey 45, born Dunham, Norfolk, was living at 41, Garbutt Street, Shildon, Durham with his wife Eliza, 39; George Simpson, stepson, 6; Thomas Simpson, 28, and James Emerson, 20, both miners and marked as boarders; and a general servant, Jane Emerson, 17. The marriage of Henry Corey and Eliza Simpson is recorded in the December quarter of 1876 at Auckland, Durham. George Henry Simpson’s birth is recorded in the December quarter of 1875, but he is known as George S Corey in the 1901 census by which time the family were living in Walthamstow, West Ham. Both Henry and George were working as builder’s labourers. Henry Cory died six years later in West Ham. Norfolk Corys Table A3/A3a Gt Dunham

Colonel Arthur Cory (1821-1903)

Arthur Cory was born in London on 27 December 1831, one of five children born to Henry Cory, attorney, of Harley Street and Cavendish Square, London, and his wife, Caroline Frederick. Norfolk Pedigree Table: A14 Great Yarmouth/A23 India

Cory was educated first at Kensington Grammar School which at that time specialised in the education of sons of the middle class destined for the Honourable East India Company’s Service, either as soldiers or civilians. He later enrolled at the Addiscombe military seminary, near Croydon, and was appointed an ensign on 3rd October, 1848.

Cory arrived in India on 22 January 1849 and joined the 16th Native Infantry on 1 March at Benares. In 1852 he was seconded as Adjutant to the 3rd Irregular Cavalry, one of the regiments of the Bengal Native Horse that proliferated at the time, exchanging his British uniform for a far more flamboyant affair consisting of a black fez with blue turban, long red coat with blue decoration, red and gold cummerbund and yellow pyjama. European officers of such units cut quite a Byronic dash across the plains of Central India and elsewhere, before the Mutiny concentrated their minds on matters more serious than dress.

Rani of Jhansi
Rhani of Jhansi (1828-1858)

At the time of the uprising, the 3rd Irregular Cavalry had just arrived at Saugor from Jhansi, whose Rani was to die later in battle, a latter-day Joan of Arc- leading her troops in rebellion against the British. Arthur Cory, like all of the British soldiers stationed in Saugor that summer, would always remember the 1 July 1857 when his regiment mutinied. None of the European officers were killed in the siege that followed and the 26 year-old survived to serve elsewhere.

From January till June 1858, Arthur Cory was on special duty with the Gurkha forces sent by the Chief Minister of Nepal, to help his British allies. This force under Jang Bahadur himself, rendered invaluable service at Lucknow and Cory was three times mentioned in despatches during the campaign.

Some two years later Lieutenant Cory sought excitement of another kind, marrying Elizabeth Fanny Griffin on 4 January 1860. In September of that year the first of two sons was born to the couple. Ernest William John Cory died three weeks later. Harcourt Frederick Cory died aged 18months in April 1863 shortly after the birth of his sister, Isabel Edith Cory (1863-1912). Two other daughters were born to the Corys and lived; Adela Florence (Violet) Cory (1865-1904) became the poet ‘Laurence Hope’; Annie Sophia (Vivian) Cory (1868-1952) became known as the scandalous romantic novelist ‘Victoria Cross’. Isabel was to succeed her father as editor of the Sind Gazette.

In October 1876 Arthur Cory retired from the Bengal Army with honorary rank of Colonel. He now turned his eyes to a life of writing which might at first sight seem surprising. As a captain he had already given vent to a poetical urge, producing lyrical verses remarkable not for their genius but for the fact that they all appeared at all – the average Army captain not publishing verse, even if he wrote it. The Reconquest (Parts I and II) may not have been a runaway best-seller in 1865 and 1868, but his Shadows of Coming Events, The Eastern Menace of 1876 (reprinted in 1881), with its fulminating warnings, in prose, against the advancing might of Russia created quite a stir in Government circles, earning him a lengthy review in the London Times.

In 1877 Colonal Cory bought into the Civil & Military Gazette in Lahore, a semi-official government mouthpiece for the most part- and invested not only his money but his energies into making a success of the newspaper immortalised by its connection with the young Rudyard Kipling. He edited the paper in those early days and then in 1886 he moved to Karachi, founding the Sind Gazette. Karachi in those days was a fast developing port on the fringes of the desert. Here colourful Sindhi traders in the native bazaar, and Afghan kafilas from the north were to provide two of his daughters with rich material for later poetry and novels but for them India, while beckoining seductively, remained for the moment tantalisingly out of reach. The colonel now extended his interests to trade and was soon considered a stalwart pillar of the Chamber of commerce, a post which he was to hold for two years.

He was increasingly dogged by ill-health but this did not prevent him from speaking on behalf of Karachi, advocating additional railway communications, improved Municipal Government, a direct Mail Service to Aden and other matters in which he very rightly believed that Karachi was inadequately served. Cory must have made enemies with his outspokenness, he openly criticised both local and national government policies and even poured scorn on the conduct of the South African War, but this did not worry him, and his lack of concern about public approval was surely passed on to his daughters.

In 1902 the Colonel left India and sailed for Europe. In June of that year he settled in the pleasant little seaside town of Viareggio in Italy. However, he died six months later in London, at 22 Gower Street. The death certificate shows that the informant was his sister-in-law G. Griffin of 5 Pembroke Square, Earls Court who was present at the death on 15 January, at the age of 71.

In private life,” said an obituary, “he was of a retiring disposition and he made few friends, but to all who knew him well he was the soul of honour and chivalry.”

What remains to be said of an unusual man, eccentric even, but whose integrity was admired by adversaries as well as family and friends.

From a Cory Newsletter article by Jennifer M T Carter,
President, Kipling Society of Australia, 1994.

Read more about Arthur Cory’s daughters here.

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