Ireland, Barbados and British Guyana 1833-39

In May 1830 the 67th moved to Ireland to aid the civil authorities quell unrest there. Although not traditional soldiering it was nevertheless trying work. Disturbances in Kilkenny and Meath saw the regiment engaged in ‘harassing duties’ which were carried out patiently and conscientiously in a manner which reflected great credit on the troops. The Commander in Chief in Ireland, Sir John Byng, also praised one company for suppressing a disturbance at Cootehill with ‘good temper and spirit’.

The regiment had been significantly under strength when it moved to Ireland, but vigorous recruiting in early 1831 nearly wiped out the deficit. However, an outbreak of desertion in April 1831 (40 men in two months) meant the recruiters had to work to bring the regiment back up to numbers once more when six of its companies – the so-called ‘service’ companies – sailed for Gibraltar in January 1832. The other four companies (totalling some 260 rank and file) remained in Ireland and continued the somewhat thankless task of policing civilian disturbances, such as those which broke out in March 1833 over the payment of tithes.

The four companies in Ireland were praised in inspection reports, with the commanding officer, Major Johnston, commended for his efforts to make something out of indifferent material. A few bad characters, always in trouble and responsible for much crime, did hamper his efforts in 1834 and 1835.

In February 1833 the service companies moved from Gibraltar to Barbados where they arrived on March 29. In the autumn two companies were detached to Grenada, a third following in January 1834. Tensions were running high in the West Indies over the approach of negro emancipation and the men of the 67th had to be ready to repress disorder. In June 1834 disturbances on St Kitt’s, where black workers were resisting ‘the laws as to apprenticeship’, led to detachments parading the island to enforce law and order.

May 1836 brought a move to British Guyana where the regiment remained for three years. The climate was unhealthy, an outbreak of yellow fever in 1837 killing more than 60 men. Several others were invalided home, the surgeon having to be carried on board the transport ship on a stretcher. The regiment returned to Barbados in 1839 before transferring to Canada the following year.

An interesting footnote to the regiment’s time in British Guyana is the mention made in reports of a certain Captain Harpur. Harpur had somehow been commissioned into the 37th in 1796 when aged only five, but had been put on the half pay of the abortive ‘Irish Brigade’ in 1798, later becoming an Ensign in the King’s and then promoted to the 67th in 1809. In October 1839, with no field officers present, he was running the regiment’s headquarter wing in Barbados – and doing a fine job, too, according to an official inspection that month.

 

Ireland, Barbados and British Guyana