Colonel Frederick Trench Townshend (524)

Date of Birth: 28 Aug 1838
Date of Death: dunm 3 Jun 1924
Generation: 7th
Residence: Lowndes Square, London
Father: Richard Townsend [513]
Mother: Trench, Helena
Spouse: Unmarried
Issue: None
See Also: Table V ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree

Notes for Colonel Frederick Trench Townshend

Frederick was educated at Harrow and Exeter College, Oxford (BA 1860).

He purchased his commission as a Cornet in the 2nd Life Guards on 4 June 1861 (London Gazette 22516), his Lieutenancy on 28 January 1862, his Captaincy on 8 August 1865 and was promoted on merit to Major on 1 October 1877 London Gazette 24561. The Sale of Commissions was abolished in the Cardwell Reforms of 1871.

Following the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815 The Life Guards returned to England and saw no active service for 67 years. Whilst they were principally committed to ceremonial duties, on several occasions they were called out quell civil disorder and their nickname 'Piccadilly Butchers' dates from this period.

Nothing is known about Frederick's early career before 1868 when, as a young Captain, he took five month's leave to visit the United States of America and, in particular, to hunt in the mid-west (1). He recounted his experiences in his book 'Ten Thousand Miles of Travel, Sport and Adventure' which was published in London by Hurst and Blackett in 1869. Setting sail from Liverpool on the Cunard steamship 'Russia' on 1 August 1868 he landed in New York on 11 August after a rough crossing of the Atlantic - "A case of champagne, which we brought from London, we found of great assistance in preventing sea-sickness" (2).

Having explored the eastern seaboard for two months Frederick and his companion, CP Kendall, set off by train on 5 October for Chicago. They arrived there at the same time as a conference on Indian affairs was being held in their hotel and many high ranking officers were present including General Sherman and General Augur. Having presented their letters of introduction, General Sherman assigned Frederick and Captain Kendall to General Augur's Indian scouting expedition in Kansas and Nebraska as this would afford Frederick the best opportunity for bison hunting. They set out on 17 October by train for Plum Creek Station, 250 miles west of Omaha, where they met up with the remainder of the scouting expedition which included 50 Indians from Pawnee tribe.

For the next month or so the expedition travelled west and Frederick took every opportunity he could to hunt bison, elk and deer. Hunting bison was a dangerous sport and Frederick was lucky not to have been killed on one occasion near the Republican River in Nebraska. Having wounded a bison he gave chase and "Checking my horse I was just about to give him a finishing shot, at about ten yards distance, when, suddenly stopping, he cocked his tail, lowered his horns and charged me with a rush.....In a moment the bull was on us catching me with his head and horns just under the knee joint of the left leg and tossing me onto the ground several yards off." (2)

Leaving General Augur's expedition at Fort MacPherson, Nebraska, Frederick travelled up to Salt Lake City via Laramie by a combination of horseback, train and Wells Fargo coach, which he found most uncomfortable. Whilst in Salt Lake City he met Brigham Young and took the opportunity to learn everything that he could about the Mormons; he clearly found their way of life interesting but had no wish to be part of it. Frederick left Salt Lake City on 12 November and travelled to San Francisco from whence he returned to the UK via Acapulco and Panama (3). He arrived in Southampton on 28 December 1868 after an atrocious crossing with severe storms.

The following year Frederick again took leave and went off to the eastern Mediterranean where he cruised around the Aegean sea, went hunting in Tunisia and completed his journey in Cairo. His book about his experiences - ‘A Cruise in the Greek Islands with a Hunting Excursion in Tunis' - was published in London by Hurst and Blackett in 1870.

Frederick returned to America in 1874 on a hunting and fishing trip to Florida. He was not favorably impressed with the lower east coast, nor with any other part of the state. His account of his travels - 'Wild Life in Florida with a Visit to Cuba' - was published in London in 1875 by Hurst & Blackett. It is a detailed description of Florida covering agriculture, nature, people, towns, transport, fishing etc. Of special interest is his trip to Cuba with discussions of the insurgency and a first hand report about slavery on a sugar plantation.

Following his expedition to Florida, Frederick returned to ceremonial duties with The Life Guards in London. In a letter (4) from 3 Spenser Park, Wandsworth Common, dated 22 July 1879, John Townsend [622] wrote to Edward Mansel Townsend [630] "I suppose you saw the sad accident that befell our cousin Major Townsend of the 2nd Life Guards. He was leading the cavalry on a review at Aldershot a day or two ago and his horse fell and he broke his leg. Major T is you may remember brother to J.T. (5) of Myross."

Frederick commanded the Captain's Escort of the 2nd Life Guards at the marriage of His Royal Highness Leopold, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, fourth son of Queen Victoria with Her Serene Highness the Princess Helen, fourth daughter of the Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont, in St. George's Chapel, Windsor, on Thursday, the 27th April, 1882. (London Gazette 25102 of 2 May 1882.)

It was during the short Egypt Campaign of 1882 that Frederick, as a Major, finally saw active service. Following the mutiny of the Egyptian army in 1881 and riots in Alexandria on 6 June 1882 British interests and the Suez Canal were clearly at risk. An expeditionary force under command of Sir Garnet Wolseley was sent to Egypt and this included a composite Household Cavalry Regiment of about 600 drawn from the 1st and 2nd Life Guards and The Blues. Upon landing in Egypt the expeditionary force was in action almost immediately as the troops defending the Kassassin Lock on the canal were under intense pressure from Egyptian forces. The Household Cavalry, with the 7th Hussars and the Royal Horse Artillery raced to Kassassin and immediately swung into action even though darkness had fallen. They swept around the left flank of the Egyptians in bright moonlight (6) and, despite devastating fire, cut through the Egyptian infantry to reach a battery of guns behind. It was during this charge that Frederick was wounded.

Awarded the Khedive Star and the Order of Osmania (4th Class) in November 1882 (London Gazette 25169 page 5170) for his services in Egypt, Frederick was promoted at the same time to Lieutenant Colonel (London Gazette 25169 page 5173). He was promoted Colonel on 18 November 1886 (London Gazette 25645) and, somewhat strangely, appointed to command 2nd Life Guards on 20 March 1888 some three months after he actually assumed command! (London Gazette 25798)

When Queen Victoria celebrated her Golden Jubilee on 21 June, 1887 the 2nd Life Guards, commanded by Frederick were part of the contingent lining the route to and from Westminster Abbey. The Queen attended several further events to celebrate her Jubilee and at each of these Frederick was the Silver Stick in Waiting - (London Gazette 25773 pages 123, 173, 188 and 191 dated 5 January 1888).

Two years later Frederick was involved in further State ceremonial duties when the Field Officer's Escort of the 2nd Life Guards under his command participated in the marriage of Her Royal Highness the Princess Louise, eldest daughter of the Prince and Princess of Wales with Alexander Wjlliam George, Earl of Fife, on 27 July 1889. (London Gazette 25962 dated 8 August 1889.)

Frederick was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a member of three distinguished London Clubs - Arthur's, Batchelor's (7), Carlton. He was placed on half pay on 12 January 1891 (London Gazette 26124.)

He died at his home at 6 William Street, Lowndes Square, London and was buried in Brompton Cemetery. His will was proved in the Probate Division of the High Court of Justice at the Principal Registry on the 19 of June 1924 by Helen Wade and his nephew William Tower Townshend [535], the executors - (London Gazette 32950)

(1) For British sportsmen, the American West offered unrivalled hunting opportunities. Without exception, their reports describe the abundance of large game, in particular bison, bears, cougars and deer. Many of these Britons visited the West specifically to hunt, and they would join organised parties which often lasted for more than a month.

(2) 'Ten Thousand Miles of Travel, Sport and Adventure'

(3) This would have been overland. The canal was not built until 1914.

(4) Llanvapley Papers.

(5) John Hancock Townsend [523]

(6) This was to become known as the 'Moonlight Charge'

(7) Established by Robert Burns on 17th November 1780 as a debating club.

Shown by Judge John FitzHenry Townsend [250] and 'An Officer of the Long Parliament' as a General in 1891.

See Who Was Who 1916-28.