Nineteenth Century Conflicts
In the census of 1841 and 1851 Samuel Morley lived on Water Lane, Radcliffe with his father Francis, mother Mary nee Barratt, sisters Rebecca and Sarah and brother George. His father was a coal higgler. A coal higgler sold coal to householders, usually by horse & cart.
In the British Legion Hall hangs a painting by Michael O’Brien of Private Samuel Morley V.C. and a description of his service career.
Samuel Morley was born in 1829 and baptized at St Mary’s Church, Radcliffe on Trent, Nottinghamshire. He began his military career serving with the 8th Hussars, being sent out to the Crimea in September 1855 as a replacement due to the regiments heavy casualties. He returned to England with the regiment the following year and transferred to the Military Train.
Samuel Morley was, to say the least, a ‘bit of a lad’ during his service. His name appears no less than sixteen times in the Regimental defaulters book. He was court martialled twice and served two terms of imprisonment, being prone to going absent without leave. He was, however, one of the bravest men ever to serve with the British Army.
Morley next saw service in India, travelling with his Regiment to help suppress the Mutiny of 1857. It was during this campaign that Morley was to win his Victoria Cross.
His citation read: ‘Samuel Morley, Private 201, 2nd Battalion Military Train. On the evacuation of Aximghur by Kooer Singh’s Army on the 15th April 1858, a squadron of the Military Train and half of troop of Horse Artillery were sent in pursuit. Upon overtaking them and coming into action with their rear guard, a squadron of the 3rd Sikh Cavalry (also detached in pursuit) and a troop of the Military Train were ordered to charge, when Lieutenant Hamilton, who commanded the Sikhs, was unhorsed and immediately surrounded by the enemy who commenced cutting him and hacking him whilst on the ground. Private Samuel Morley, seeing the predicament that Lieutenant Hamilton was in, although his own horse had been shot from under him, immediately, and most gallantly, rushed up on foot to his assistance and in conjunction with Farrier Murphy, who has already received the Victoria Cross for the same thing, cut down one of the Sepoys and fought over Lieutenant Hamilton’s body until further assistance came up and thereby was the means of saving Lieutenant Hamilton from being killed on the spot’.
The award was Gazetted on the 7th August 1860.
Morley’s award was not as straightforward as most and is one of the more colourful cases in the complex history of the Cross. It will have been noticed by reading Morley’s citation that as well as Morley, Farrier Murphy also defended the wounded officer. Murphy was awarded the Victoria Cross for this action (London Gazette dated 27th May 1859) but at first Morley was not. On returning to England, Morley learnt of Morley’s award and was more than a little aggrieved. In May 1860 he complained to General Lord Paget C.B. who was making his half yearly inspection at Aldershot. General Paget ordered an immediate enquiry. The evidence was collected and Morley’s claim to the Victoria Cross was upheld, and on the 9th November 1860 he received his Cross from Queen Victoria at Home Park, Windsor.
Samuel Morley was discharged from the army in 1870 after serving 14 years 249 days, and returned to his home in Radcliffe on Trent. The people of Nottingham were very proud of their Victoria Cross winner and soon found Morley regular employment at the Gas Works. He continued in his civilian life settling down to bring up his family and died aged 59 on 16th June 1888, whilst residing at 13 Garnett Street Nottingham. Again the city of Nottingham rallied round and paid for an inscribed headstone which can still be seen in the General Cemetery Nottingham.
His Victoria Cross and campaign medals were missing for many years but are now in the hands of the Royal Corps of Transport having been presented to them by the Institute of medals in 1964.
Above is the first page of Samuel’s Army service records. It shows that he served not only in India but in Canada and the East Indies.
In 1881 prior to his death he was living at 8 Garnet Street in Nottingham with his wife Mary and niece Harriet Price, daughter of his sister Rebecca.