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Edward Jennings VC


Edward Jennings was awarded the Victoria Cross whilst serving with the Bengal Horse Artillery during the period September 14 1857 and September 22 1857

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He was approximately 37 years old, and a Rough-Rider in the Bengal Artillery, Bengal Army during the Indian Mutiny when the following deeds took place at the Relief of Lucknow for which he was awarded the VC:
Elected respectively, under the 13th clause of the Royal Warrant of the 29th of January, 1856, by the Officers and non-commissioned officers generally, and by the private soldiers of each troop or battery, for conspicuous gallantry at the relief of Lucknow, from the 14th to the 22nd of November, 1857.
For most of his life Edward Jennings was employed by the local council as a road sweeper and must have fallen on hard times as he sold his Victoria Cross to a private collector. His Victoria Cross is now displayed at the Royal Artillery Museum, Woolwich, England.

Edward Jennings VC died on 10 May 1889 and was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave, one of 190,000 bodies interred in Preston Cemetery, North Shields, North East England. In 1997 an appeal was launched to raise the necessary 2000 to place a headstone on Edward Jennings grave. A memorial service at graveside took place on 10 September 1997 to dedicate the new headstone.

Sadly in a July 1946 edition, the Yorkshire Evening Post reported the above

Shields Gazette. May 9 1896

The Indian Revolt of 1857

The Sepoy Mutiny was a violent and very bloody uprising against British rule in India in 1857. It is also known by other names: the Indian Mutiny, the Indian Rebellion of 1857, or the Indian Revolt of 1857. In Britain and in the West, it was almost always portrayed as a series of unreasonable and bloodthirsty uprisings spurred by falsehoods about religious insensitivity. In India, it has been viewed quite differently, and events of 1857 have been considered the first outbreak of an independence movement against British rule.

Background of the Sepoy Mutiny

By the 1850s the East India Company controlled much of India. A private company which first entered India to trade in the 1600s, the East India Company had eventually transformed into a diplomatic and military operation. Large numbers of native soldiers, known as sepoys, were employed by the company to maintain order and defend trading centres. The sepoys were generally under the command of British officers.
In the late 1700s and early 1800s, sepoys tended to take great pride in their military prowess, and they exhibited enormous loyalty to their British officers. But in the 1830s and 1840s tensions began to emerge. A number of Indians began to suspect that the British intended to convert the Indian population to Christianity. Increasing numbers of Christian missionaries began arriving in India, and this led to resentment. There was also a general feeling that English officers were losing touch with the Indian troops under them.
Under a British policy called the "doctrine of lapse," the East India Company would take control of Indian states where a local ruler had died without an heir. The system was subject to abuse, and the company used it to annex territories in a questionable manner.

A New Type of Rifle Cartridge Caused Problems

The traditional story of the Sepoy Mutiny is that the introduction of a new cartridge for the Enfield rifle provoked much of the trouble. The cartridges were wrapped in paper, which had been coated in a grease which made the cartridges easier to load in rifle barrels. Rumours began to spread that the grease used to make the cartridges was derived from pigs and cows, which would be highly offensive to Muslims and Hindus.
There is no doubt that conflict over the new rifle cartridges sparked the uprising in 1857, but the reality is that social, political, and even technological reforms had set the stage for what happened.

Conflict & Dates:

The Siege of Lucknow lasted from May 30 to November 27, 1857, during the Indian Rebellion of 1857.

Armies & Commanders:


Sir Henry Lawrence

Major General Sir Henry Havelock

Brigadier John Inglis

Major General Sir James Outram

Lieutenant General Sir Colin Campbell

1,729 rising to approx. 8,000 men


Various commanders

5,000 rising to approx. 30,000 men

Siege of Lucknow Background

The capital city of Oudh, which had been annexed by the British East India Company in 1856, Lucknow was the home of the British commissioner for the territory. When the initial commissioner proved inept, the veteran administrator Sir Henry Lawrence was appointed to the post. Taking over in the spring of 1857, he noticed a great deal of unrest among the Indian troops under his command. This unrest had been sweeping across India as sepoys began to resent the Company's suppression of their customs and religion. The situation came to head in May 1857 following the introduction of the Enfield Rifle.
The cartridges for the Enfield were believed to be greased with beef and pork fat. As the British musket drill called for soldiers to bite the cartridge as part of the loading process, the fat would violate the religions of both the Hindu and Muslim troops. On May 1, one of Lawrence's regiments refused to "bite the cartridge" and was disarmed two days later. Widespread rebellion began on May 10 when troops at Meerut broke into open revolt. Learning of this, Lawrence gathered his loyal troops and began fortifying the Residency complex in Lucknow.

The First Siege & Relief of Lucknow

Full-scale rebellion reached Lucknow on May 30 and Lawrence was compelled to use the British 32nd Regiment of Foot to drive the rebels from the city. Improving his defences, Lawrence conducted a reconnaissance in force to the north on June 30, but was forced back to Lucknow after encountering a well-organized Sepoy force at Chinat. Falling back to the Residency, Lawrence's force of 855 British soldiers, 712 loyal sepoys, 153 civilian volunteers, and 1,280 non-combatants was besieged by the rebels. Comprising around sixty acres, the Residency defences were centred on six buildings and four entrenched batteries. In preparing the defences, British engineers had wanted to demolish the large number of palaces, mosques, and administrative buildings that surrounded the Residency, but Lawrence, not wishing to further anger the local populace, ordered them saved. As a result, they provided covered positions for rebel troops and artillery when attacks began on July 1. The next day Lawrence was mortally wounded by a shell fragment and died on July 4. Command devolved to Colonel Sir John Inglis of the 32nd Foot. Though the rebels possessed around 8,000 men, a lack of unified command prevented them from overwhelming Inglis' troops.
While Inglis kept the rebels at bay with frequent sorties and counterattacks, Major General Henry Havelock was making plans to relieve Lucknow. Having retaken Cawnpore 48 miles to the south, he intended to press on to Lucknow but lacked the men. Reinforced by Major General Sir James Outram, the two men began advancing on September 18. Reaching the Alambagh, a large, walled park four miles south of the Residency, five days later, Outram and Havelock ordered their baggage train to remain in its defenses and pressed on. Due to monsoon rains which had softened the ground, the two commanders were unable to flank the city and were forced to fight through its narrow streets. Advancing on September 25, they took heavy losses in storming a bridge over the Charbagh Canal. Pushing through the city, Outram wished to pause for the night after reaching the Machchhi Bhawan. Desiring to reach the Residency, Havelock lobbied for continuing the attack. This request was granted and the British stormed the final distance to the Residency, taking heavy losses in the process.

The Second Siege & Relief of Lucknow

Making contact with Inglis, the garrison was relieved after 87 days. Though Outram had originally wished to evacuate Lucknow, the large numbers of casualties and non-combatants made this impossible. Expanding the defensive perimeter to include the palaces of Farhat Baksh and Chuttur Munzil, Outram elected to remain after a large stash of supplies was located. Rather than retreat in the face of the British success, rebel numbers grew and soon Outram and Havelock were under siege. Despite this, messengers, most notably Thomas H. Kavanagh, were able to reach the Alambagh and a semaphore system soon was established.
While the siege continued, British forces were working to re-establish their control between Delhi and Cawnpore. At Cawnpore, Major General James Hope Grant received orders from the new Commander-in-Chief, Lieutenant General Sir Colin Campbell, to await his arrival before attempting to relieve Lucknow. Reaching Cawnpore on November 3, Campbell moved towards the Alambagh with 3,500 infantry, 600 cavalry, and 42 guns. Outside Lucknow, rebel forces had swelled to between 30,000 and 60,000 men, but still lacked a unified leadership to direct their activities. To tighten their lines, the rebels flooded the Charbagh Canal from the Dilkuska Bridge to the Charbagh Bridge.
Using information provided by Kavanagh, Campbell planned to attack the city from the east with the goal of crossing the canal near the Gomti River. Moving out on November 15, his men drove rebels from Dilkuska Park and advanced on a school known as La Martiniere. Taking the school by noon, the British repelled rebel counterattacks and paused to allow their supply train to catch up to the advance. The next morning, Campbell found that the canal was dry due to the flooding between the bridges. Crossing, his men fought a bitter battle for the Secundra Bagh and then the Shah Najaf. Moving forward, Campbell made his headquarters in the Shah Najaf around nightfall. With Campbell's approach, Outram and Havelock opened a gap in their defences to meet their relief. After Campbell's men stormed the Moti Mahal, contact was made with Residency and the siege ended. The rebels continued to resist from several nearby positions, but were cleared out by British troops.


The sieges and reliefs of Lucknow cost the British around 2,500 killed, wounded, and missing while rebel losses are not known. Though Outram and Havelock wished to clear the city, Campbell elected to evacuate as other rebel forces were threatening Cawnpore. While British artillery bombarded the nearby Kaisarbagh, the non-combatants were removed to Dilkuska Park and then on to Cawnpore. To hold the area, Outram was left at the easily held Alambagh with 4,000 men. The fighting at Lucknow was seen as a test of British resolve and the final day of the second relief produced more Victoria Cross winners (24) than any other single day. Lucknow was retaken by Campbell the following March.

Many years later


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