Henry Thomas Harris Baber
by Tony and Rosalind Mooar
This article was researched and written by Tony Mooar. Contact Tony Mooar at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Henry Thomas Harris Baber may be characterised as being born with a silver spoon in his mouth - his mother was, after all the Honourable Maria Harris, grand daughter of Lord Harris of Seringapatam. But this is to put too simple a template over a man who was widely reported for his exploits under arms, who was a singer of some note and who became Colonel of his regiment.*(1)
Henry was born at Tellicheery on the 30th of July 1842 "to the Lady of H. Baber esq." It was also reported in the Madras Almanac that he was "baptised by A.G. Fennell an assistant chaplain² on 31st October 1842.
His early days are shrouded in mystery: we have researched the school role of every major institution in the UK,, Addiscombe and Haileybury, to no avail. It has been suggested that his later illnesses may have precluded formal education. But with uncles cousins and even his brother Edward attending the finest schools and universities in the United Kingdom such an unusual course would at least have gone against family tradition.
We next met Henry Thomas Harris Baber when on the 9th May 1860 when his appointment is passed by the Political and Military Committee and approved by the Council on the following day. The speed of the approval could almost certainly be sourced to his grandfatherıs recommendation. Baberıs application form was not filled in, Lord HARRIS merely noting that Henry Thomas Harris Baber is his grand daughterıs son. Enough said.
Baberıs career is predictable with new appointments coming at a somewhat faster pace than might normally be expected. He was appointed as a Lieutenant, with the 3rd Native Infantry on July 30th 1862, And he is on his way.
However, everything was not going to be as simple as hoped for. After just one month on the square HTH is sent on medical leave in India for almost eight months until April 1863. During January/February 1864, the regiment arrives at Penang and we have no way of knowing if Baber was with them. However we do know that in 1867, he was attached to the 35th Native Infantry at Penang.
The following year he is appointed 2nd Wing Subaltern, in the 29 Native Infantry, a regiment which was to figure prominently in his military career and on April 1st 1868 he returns with 29 NI to Madras, before shipping out on the 12th of June from Secunderabad with the regiment for Hong Kong. The regiment returns to Secunderabad on February 19th of 71 with Henry taking up study leave in Madras.
On the 19 August, 1871, ³Mary Anne Hogan*(Appendix 1) of Coonoor, daughter of James Hogan, gentleman of Nelson New Zealand, widow of Captain Henry Francis Emly Paymaster HM 7th Royal Fusiliers marries Lt Henry T. H. Baber of the Madras Staff Corps Coonoor, 29th Madras Infantry and son of Henry Fearon Baber at Coonoor.² She is 26, he is 28.(IOR:N/2/52f.330) By license, by Robert Parker Little, Minister and Chaplain, Coonoor.
By June 8th in the following year he is made captain. (This appointment was followed by a brief period in 1873-84 with the 3rd Palamcottah Light Infantry.) Then on 1875 April 21st at Secunderabad, Captain Henry Thomas Harris Baber of the General List feels the winds of mortality and makes his last will in favour of his wife, Minnie. He appoints her as executrix and guardian of my children ³should any be born to me".*(2) His witness is Lt Colonel Frank Davison, Madras Staff Corps, Secunderabad and R.G. Jones Col Madras Staff Corps Secunderabad, Deccan. (Also note his insurance policy on his life for 5000 Rupees is made over to Minnie on the 15th November 1878. (At that time he is noted as "Captain 3 Reg G.I.".)
From February 5th until August the 15th of the following year, a period of one year and 242 days, Henry and Minnie are on leave, probably in the UK, to attend to private affairs and certainly to see to Henryıs health.*(3) While in the UK Mary Anne and Henry Thomas Harris Baber marry for the second time on the 13 July 1878. They were living at 5 Harrington Road South Kensington in London. It is noted on their certificate that their first marriage was at Nilberry Hills, Madras East India on the 16th August 1871. Henry's father is a ³tea planter" and James Hogan a "gentleman".
In 1880 Henry is made a major with 3rd NI at Hoshangabad and Kamptree. Two years later in 1883 he leaves with the 3rd for Tounghoo, Burma. Then on June 9 1884 Henry and Minnie leave India on private business. Again their stay is a long one and the trip back this time is first by rail from London to Brindisi at a cost of twelve pounds two shillings, then by sea via the newly opened Suez canal, to arrive in India on April 12 1885. From 1885-87 Henry serves in the operations round Yemethen and Myingyan in Burma.
In December, 1885, the special correspondent of the Rangoon weekly reports from Aylah "16 miles across the frontier" with the Ningyan column. The Special Correspondent ³penned these few lines to be posted at Toungoo on the Sittang River about 300km north of Rangoon².
He begins: ³Major Baber together with 850 men of the 3rd Madras Native Infantry, is accompanying the Somerset Light Infantry and the 81st Royal Artillery. The expedition is under the command of Colonel Dicken of the 3rd M.I. and the problem is dacoitry. In effect the British Units are part of a wider plan to complete the annexation of Burma.² In the first incident described, Major Baber skirmishes with some Burmese, who withdraw under heavy fire into the jungle. In the second, Major Baber is ahead of the troops with a company of sappers working on a bridge about 3km from a fort emplacement the British had built. The Burmese attack Baber and his men with two jingals (cannon) on elephants and 500 men. Baber's sappers and men of the 25th Burman and Punjabee Police, repulse the attack which began a series of skirmishes and the destruction of a native village "which was a frontier one and had a bad reputation."
In 1886 Henry returns with the 3rd returns to Trichinopoly from Tounghoo and is made a half colonel 0n 9th June and 2IC of the 5th Madras Infantry which had arrived from from Rangoon at Berhampore on 21 February 1887. Later he is awarded the Burmah Medal and clasp for his services in the expedition of 1886-1887.
Then in early 1887 the 3rd is en route from Ningyan in Upper Burma to arrive at Secunderabad, the military cantonment for Hyderabad on the 16th February. Henry and Minnie leave the regiment early to return to the UK on medical leave in January 1887. Henry returns from England alone on February 4th 1888. while Minnie gives a Concert with Senor Manjon, a left handed player of the eleven string guitar(sic).*(3)
Again on 16th March 1889 Henry is in Europe on Medical certificate for 18 months and on 9th June,1890, he is appointed Colonel and Wing Commander of the 3rd Regiment. The following year he is CO of 28th NI at Pakokku.
His term as C.O. is all too brief. On the 24 May, 1891, Colonel Henry Thomas Harris Baber dies at Gungaw, (Gingaw), Upper Burma of "delerious mania". He leaves considerable debts to firms in Calcutta, Madras, Rangoon, Cuttack, Cawnpore, Tangoo and Rochester (UK) His brother, E.M. (Ernest) Baber of the Revenue Survey Bellary is his next of kin together with his mother Mrs. Baber and his sister, Mrs. Young of 2 Grove Villas Rochester in Kent. The estate is disposed of in Gungaw by a Regimental Committee of Adjustment under the Regimental Debts Act of 1863. The estate is insolvent but a small sum is available to creditors. After it is all over the amount accruing from adjustment of the estate is 335 rupees.
1891 HARTS ARMY LIST etc:
Henry Thomas Harris Baber:
Ensign 3rd Madras Infantry, Palamcattah 9 June 1860
Lieutenant 30 July 1862
Henry is with the 35th Infantry, Penang 1866
Brevet Captain 9 June 1872
Wing Officer at Toungoo U.O. Trichinopoly 5th June 1873
Captain 18 June 1873
Major, 9 June 1880
Lieut Colonel 9 June 1886
Colonel 9 June 1990.
Burmese Expedition 1886-87 Medal and Clasp.
*(1) Baber is descended on his fatherıs from a line that included Edward Baber, the secretary to Warren Hastings one of the earliest secretaries in the East India Company. He is also related on both sides to another old Indian family, the Fearons. It is relevant to note that a Captain Fearon of the HOIC navy lived in Motueka, the same small township as Mary Ann Hogan and her family. All her family were singers and in those days a fine singing voice would gain entre into all parlours of the province.
It is not without the bounds of possibility that this Captain Fearon affected an introduction for Mary Ann to the musical world of the Fearon - Harris families in India and England. And so to Baber.
*(2). It appears that Mary Ann and Henry Baber had no children although one photograph does exist of Mary Ann with a baby on her lap and a message in her handwriting to:²Mother and Dear Old Dad².
*(3) From the 5th of February until the 4th of June 1878 Henry was on a Medical Certificate and pay scale of 262 rupees a month. A total of four months at 262 rupees a month was the equivalent of about 26 pounds a month . (One rupee at that time being equivalent to 2/-.) It is regrettable than no health records survive for British officers serving with the native regiments. However it has been suggested with some justification that malaria was often contracted in India: this may have been his lifelong and indeed fatal companion. From the 5th of June 1878 until the 4th February 1879 Henry was on a Medical Certificate and paid at the rate of 250 pounds a year.
Minnie, Polly, born Mary Ann Hogan in 1842, was known as ³Polly Flinders² or ³Her Ladyship² by her brothers and sisters. Baber, called her ³Minnie².
She was stubborn, focused, talented and even as a child, always the lady. If the others were working in the paddocks, she would watch them from under her parasol - ³to keep the sun off my complexion.² She wore gloves to protect her hands and this from a farm girl in the late 1880s. Any special status in the family related directly to her beautiful voice. It took her to the musical evenings of the Nelson New Zealand squatocracy, to Europe, England and the drawing rooms of the English upper classes.
Her father, James Hogan had deserted his whaling ship the ³General Williams² in Port Underwood, Nelson and on on Christmas Day 1841 married her mother Mary Ann Beard, widow of William Henry Beard who had been murdered some months previously on the Wairau bar near Blenheim New Zealand.
At 18 Mary Ann married her first husband Thomas Hunter Kilgour., a ³mariner². Family history tells us the couple ³split up² Mary Ann leaving Kilgour to go to Australia where the Kilgour family believe she told of Thomas Hunter dieing and where she remarried and had several children.
There is no evidence of this, however as if to preserve the fiction, later in life Polly wrote three short poems about the death of her loved one at sea. We do know that with two years she was in Wanganui, probably living with here cousins there and marrying Henry Emly, paymaster and major in the 57th West Middlesex Regt of Foot bigamously. Emly served in the sap (under fire) before selling his commission in Wanganui and possibly setting up a law practice in that town or using his purchase monies to simply climb aboard the next ship from Wanganui or Wellington to head back to the UK .On the 1st of August 1868 Henry became Paymaster of the 7th Royal Fusiliers and moved on active service with the regiment to Aden.
Only a few months later on 24th September 1870 he died of apoplexy and was buried at the Aden Camp Graveyard. Unfortunately the headstone has been destroyed and the graveyard removed. Nothing remains but a dusty, silent parade ground. It is pertinent to mention that Emlyıs military papers are the only record of their marriage - there is no civil registration in the NZ BDMs.
Polly sang with various artistes, among them Miss Maria Vere, Lilian Greville, Norah Hayes, Madame Schuberth, Louise D'Ouste, Leita Dufour, Jeanne D'Ouste, Madame de Bono, Madame La Baronne D'Adelsdorfer as well as Messrs Norman Roe, the Marquis de Leuville, Arthur Jackson, Victor Barry et al. An impressive list but alas, at this stage, merely names. (On occasions she sang with Henry privately and in public. She knew Adelina Patti-a signed photo of Patti exists dedicated to ³Mrs Baber with fond remembrances".
She performed for many "worthy causes" including a "Grand Bazaar² in a large marquee in a meadow in Newington Turning, Highbury Park for clearing the debt upon St Johns church Highbury Vale" and the Forest Hill Creche at the garden Round Hill Villa Sydenham in 1887, (where Colonel Baber appeared on the same programme to sing "The Yeoman's Wedding Song" and "The Powder Monkey" for the School Enlargement Fund at St Marys Stroud.)
Polly sang in London (the Steinway Hall, Benholme House, the Princes' Hall, the Steinway Hall and Collard and Collard's Pianoforte Rooms in Grosvenor Square), at Rochester (in the old Corn Exchange), at the assembly Hall in Worthing, Portland Hall in Southsea, the Royal Concert Hall St Leonards, the Bath Salon Torquay, the Town Hall in Ryde, the Church room in South Street Eastbourne, Messrs Barnes' Music Salon in the Western Road Brighton and in the Great Hall in Tunbridge Wells. She appears to have given one concert in Ostend at the Casino d'Ostende and on one occasion a programme is printed in French and German as well as English. Tickets to her recitals cost between 4/ and one guinea. And naturally because of her social position she always sang as an amateur.
She was reviewed in several regional papers including the Chatham and Rochester News, the Folkestone News, the Brighton Examiner, the Devon County Standard, the Western Guardian, the Western Daily Mercury, the Western Morning News, the Topical Times, the Hastings and St Leonards Observer and The Queen. And she was always well reviewed. As an example, in early 1888 The Brighton Examiner notes that "The fair vocalist possesses a fine mezzo-soprano voice which has evidently been well cultivated in a good school".
On Baberıs death Minnie received a widows pension of £225 & 9/- a year and 5/- a day from the Lord Clive Fund. The Pension Pay Books show that she was also granted a further £114 pounds 5/9 passage money to New Zealand which is authorised for payment to Grindlays on the 6th of October 1891. (Under the rules of the Madras Pension Fund a widow is entitled to such passage money only once.)
In 1892 Minnie visited her parents in the hamlet of Herbert south of Oamaru NZ . 1898 April 13, Minnie made her will. and on August 18th 1898 Minnie died at Richmond Lodge, Nibley Head, Southsea, in the registration district of Portsea Island in the sub-district of Portsmouth Southsea, the County of Portsmouth on the 18 August, aged 56. She had been in a coma for three days following a cerebral hemorrhage. The informant was Sarah Reynolds of 66 Marion Road Southsea, who was present at the death. Mary Ann also known as Polly, Madam and Minnie is buried in an unmarked grave Highland Road cemetery, Southsea, M1-97 (reused) -meaning others have been buried here with headstone appropriate to them.)
She died in Portsea and in a final irony her death certificate records that she was married to Baberıs father! Wrong of course - he had died many years before in India. Her estate was worth 496 pounds 9/2.
All her linen, furs, jackets and other wearing apparel were sent to ³her sister Ellen Wilson, wife of George Wilson of Herbert Otago New Zealand². She require Ellen divide these things "as she shall think fit with my other sister Charlotte Cullen wife of Charles Cullen of Tasman Street, Nelson". James Henry Matthews received her large album of photos, her collection of New Zealand ferns also a small stand of white porcelain with blue edges "as a slight return for much kindness received from him". Her niece Irene Crosthwaite (daughter of Mrs YOUNG of Kensington Rochester) received ³all my music, my set of nautilus shells (one mounted in gold) and my opera glasses and all my Indian embroidered handkerchiefs". Her nephew Willie Crosthwaite received Henry's "private and favourite album of photos and scraps and his Burmah medal".
She required her executors to sell "all her diamond rings and other effects not otherwise disposed of" and together with any money due to me from the estates of Ellen Somerville Baber, Thomas Hervey Baber and Henry Fearon Baber to be given to Ellen Wilson. This money is "for her own use absolutely" and some allowance should be made out of the bequest for her father old James.
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