b. 1815 or 1816 Ballinrobe, County Mayo, Ireland. d. 10/05/1889 North Shields.
Edward Jennings (1815/6-1889) was born in Ballinrobe, County Mayo, Ireland in either 1815 or 1816. He enlisted with the Bengal Artillery as a 20/21 year-old in 1836. He served in the First Afghan War (Ghazni) and the First Sikh War of 1845-1846. His correct name was actually Edmond, but a clerical error at the time of his citation shows him as Edward.
During the relief of Lucknow from 14th-22nd November 1857, Rough Rider Jennings performed a daring act of gallantry which was seen as worthy of a recommendation (and subsequent award) of the Victoria Cross, though the actual act was not officially recorded in his citation (published 24th December 1858). During the relief of the city, he and two companions were returning from carrying a message to headquarters, when Jennings heard a cry for help from a European. Telling his companions to keep a look-out, he urged his horse to jump over a high wall and found himself in a narrow street. At the far end he found a British lieutenant (sadly not identified) backed against a wall with a small group of natives wielding swords attacking him. Without hesitation, Jennings galloped forward, and hacked at the assailants until they fled in panic. Jennings then dismounted from his horse, and lifted the badly wounded officer onto his horse and took him to the medical tent.
A few days later, Jennings received a summons asking him to go to the hospital where the officer was recuperating. On arrival at his bedside, Jennings was rewarded with 1,000 rupees for his rescue from his grateful officer. He was pensioned from the Army in 1859 and returned to England. Sadly, his return to England was delayed so much that he was too late for his investiture with the VC at Windsor Castle on 9th October 1860. It is not recorded how he eventually received his medal.
Jennings then chose to settle in the North East of England and became a road sweeper, working for the local corporation (council) in North Shields. Falling on hard times towards the end of his life, Jennings sold his Victoria Cross and campaign medals, and they were acquired by Colonel Littledale, of Cheltenham. They have appeared twice at auction, the first time at Sotheby’s on 25 November 1910, when as part of the Colonel Littledale Collection (Lot 130A) they sold for £67 to ‘White’; and then secondly at Glendining’s on 24 July 1946, when as part of the Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Godfrey Dalrymple White, Bt., Collection (Lot 112) they sold for £105 to Dr. James Muirhead. Following Dr. Muirhead’s death in 1963 they were acquired by “F” (Sphinx) Battery, 7th Parachute Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery for £600. On the 10th May 1889, he died aged 69, and as a pauper, was buried in an unmarked grave in Preston Cemetery, North Shields. In 1997, following an exhibition at Newcastle Central Library on recipients of the VC, Edward Jennings’ great-granddaughter, Kathleen Lough, and her two brothers decided to ask North Tyneside Council for help in a campaign to get a proper headstone for his grave. After £2,000 was raised in an appeal, a headstone was placed on his grave on 10th September 1997. The second medal which was in private ownership was sold at auction on 14th February 2024 at Noonans for £55,000.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ONE MEDAL IS HELD BY THE “F” SPHINX BATTERY, ROYAL HORSE ARTILLERY. THE SECOND WAS SOLD FOR £55,000 ON 14/02/2024.
BURIAL PLACE: PRESTON CEMETERY, NORTH SHIELDS. RC SECTION, BLOCK J, GRAVE 328.
Noonans – Image of the Edward Jennings VC medal.