Joseph Kellaway VC

b. 01/09/1824 Kingston, Dorset. d. 02/10/1880 Chatham, Kent.

Joseph Kellaway (1824-1880) was born in Kingston, Dorset on 1st September 1824, and was baptised in Stinsford, near Dorchester on 13th August 1826 (his elder sister Annie was baptised there in July 1824). He was the sixth of ten children born to John Kellaway and Phoebe Fever who had married on 26th January 1814 in Abbotsbury. John was a carpenter and dairyman and frequently moved around the villages of South Dorset. Joseph was listed on the 1841 Census as 14 and living in Buckland Newton. He enlisted with the Royal Navy later that year, though it is believed he lied about his age.

Joseph Kellaway VC

On 28th December 1853, Joseph married Hannah Cleverly at Portsea, Hampshire, and not long after he joined the crew of the HMS Wrangler which had been launched on 19th June 1854. On 9th December 1854, the HMS Wrangler sailed for the Crimea with Joseph as Boatswain Third Class. The ship was under the command of Lieutenant Commander Hugh Talbot Burgoyne (also a recipient of the VC). Burgoyne led the Wrangler into the Black Sea and became heavily involved in the actions against the Russians.

On 31st August 1855, in the Sea of Azoff, a detachment consisting of Mr Odevaine, the mate, Joseph Kellaway and three seamen had been despatched from the Wrangler to endeavour to burn some boats, fishing stations, and hay-stacks, on the opposite side of a small lake. They had nearly reached the spot when they came under heavy fire from 50 Russian soldiers, who suddenly rushed to cut off their escape. One man fell into the enemy’s hands, but Mr Kellaway and two men had made their escape, when Mr Odevaine fell. Kellaway, who assumed that Odevaine was wounded, went back to rescue him. They were then surrounded by the enemy and captured and made prisoners of war.

Despite his capture, he was released at the end of the war, as he had returned to England by the time of the award of his VC on 24th February 1857. Kellaway was the 7th man in line of the 62 men who lined up in front of Queen Victoria at the first investiture in Hyde Park on 26th June 1857.

Joseph and his wife Hannah went on to have two daughters: Hannah Phoebe born on 29th May 1857 and Ada Emma born in 1859. Sadly, Ada died before the age of 1, and Hannah would die unmarried in Chatham in 1890. Joseph, who was also awarded the Legion of Honour by the French, died on 2nd October 1880 in Chatham, and was buried in Maidstone Road Cemetery, Chatham. It is not known who inherited Joseph’s medals after his death but it did turn up for sale in August 1971 for £2100. It was purchased by a private collector and is still held in private ownership.





Al Winstanley – Kellaway VC’s grave in Maidstone Road Cemetery, Chatham, Kent.