Augustus Anson VC

b. 05/03/1835 Haverfordwest, Wales. d. 17/11/1877 Cannes, France.

The Honourable Augustus Henry Archibald Anson (1835-1877) was born in 5th March 1835 in Slebech Hall, near Haverfordwest, Wales, the third son of the 1st Earl of Lichfield. He was commissioned into the Rifle Brigade on 27th May 1853 and two years later was sent to the Crimea where he was promoted to Captain. He exchanged to the 84th Regiment of Foot and was made Aide-de-Camp to his uncle, General the Honourable George Anson, Commander in Chief in India.

Augustus Anson VC

On his way to take command of the Delhi Column on the Ridge, General Anson succumbed to cholera. His nephew was then appointed Aide de Camp to Colonel Hope Grant. Anson joined Greathed’s Flying Column and attached himself to the cavalry. He rode his late uncle’s horse described by Captain Garnet Wolseley as “a big, flea-bitten, greyish Gulf Arab that had belonged to his uncle, General Anson….Augustus was an indifferent horseman and a bad swordsman, but never lost the chance of taking part in any cavalry charge that was going on in his neighbourhood.”

When the mutineers began to withdraw into Bulandshahr town on 28th September 1857, the infantry refused to move, fearing they would suffer the same experience they had endured in the streets of Delhi. He now joined the charge into the main street, passing through heavy musket fire. The 9th Lancers reformed and prepared to rejoin the main body but found their way blocked by a number of carts that had been dragged across a gateway so trapping them in the serai. Anson took the initiative, grabbing a lance and knocking the drivers from their carts.

During the Delhi siege, Anson had his forefinger of his right hand shot off by a bullet that had then passed through his left arm. This had weakened his grip so he was not in complete control of his horse, which plunged into a group of mutineers, who fired a volley at him. His horse galloped on and he was lucky to escape with just one musket ball passing through the flap of his coat.

Anson went onto to perform more brave deeds, including joining the storming party at the taking of the Secundra Bagh during the Second Relief of Lucknow. Anson was gazetted for the VC on 24th December 1858 and he received his medal from Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace on 8th June 1859. He also married the same year to Amelia Claughton (daughter of the Bishop of St Albans) before returning to the Far East and acting as ADC to General Sir James Hope Grant during the China War. Once again he was in the thick of the fighting and cut the ropes holding a drawbridge at the North Taku Fort. To show his appreciation, Grant sent him back to the UK with his despatches announcing the capture of Peking.

He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and he entered Parliament as MP for Lichfield. He held the seat as a Conservative until 1868. At a by-election in Bewdley in 1869, he was re-elected and remained their MP until 1874. He died at the early age of just 42, on 17th November 1877 in Cannes, France. He was buried in the Cimitiere Protestant du Grand Jus in Cannes. His medal is held by The National Trust, Shugborough Estate in the possession of the current Earl of Lichfield.





Paul Lee – image of the VC memorial plaque