An Octogenarian at Conisborough.

October 1890

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Friday 31 October 1890

An Octogenarian at Conisborough.

It is not generally known that at Firbeck street, New Conisborough, there is a resident named John Stacey now in his 89th year, who, 40 years ago as a soldier took part in several memorable campaigns.

The person referred to is a perfect wonder considering his age, and from outward appearance would be taken for a much younger man. He still retains a fresh appearance, and in stature stands erect at 5ft 10 ¾ in without any apparent inclination to stoop, as usual when age creeps on.

He can walk long journeys without fatigue, and has every appearance of living many years to come. This is all the more remarkable when it is known that Mr. Stacey has gone through in his various occupations in life first as a miner, then as a soldier, and thirdly as a miner again, in each of which spheres he suffered many privations and gone through what would have undermined ordinary constitutions to a serious extent.

The subject of our sketch was born at Nottingham in the year 1801 At the age of 27, in the year 1828, he enlisted at Nottingham in the Prince of Wales’ 82nd Volunteers, in which he spent seven years in Ireland and England. After a short period of training he was dismissed light drill as a first class swordsman and horseman. In 1841 he was ordered out to India and landed at Panwell, 15 miles from Bombay. For three or four years they lay at Kirkee under the command of Col. Wm. Havelock. They next marched to the Punjab, and afterwards to Meerut and Umballah. At this time, in 1844, serious battles were taking place between the Sikhs and Afghans and the English soldiers. After continuing their line of march, they arrived at Hagarrah, whence they had proceeded by forced marches, and, attended with guides and torch-hearers, pressed on night and day for the scene of battle.

On approaching the general army they were disappointed to learn from Sir Harry Smith, who was in command under Lord Gough, that they were to cease their march, the campaign being over, and the Sikhs entirely routed. After laying about four years in the Bengal Presidency, the Sikhs broke out again in 1848, Lord Gough still in command, along with Sir Joseph Thackwell—a one-armed old general and Sir Walter Gilbert Scott. The famous battle of Ramnagsur was fought at this time, but owing to an accident, in which his leg was broken, Private Stacey took no part therein. The next important engagement was the battle of Chillanwallah, in which the whole of the 24th regiment were nearly exterminated consequent on a wrong order given by Brigadier Pope, under Col. Pennefeather. Col. King was Stacey’s commander, whose regiment had a lively time of it. The engagement lasted the whole of one day. The enemy was followed to Puzerat, and entirely routed. The Afghans were pursued through the Khyber much to their discomfiture.

At Peacy they camped for twelve months, and after at Lahore, the capital of the Punjaub, which they eventually left for Mereut.

His next experience was in connection with the Indian Mutiny at Ratgah, where they had a lively time of it, under the command of General C. Hugh Rise and Brigadier Sir Robert Napier, the former being a relative of Lady Fitzwilliam. Among the many episodes through which our hero passed in connection with the Central Indian forces were the battle of Garrakootah, the forcing of Mudnapoor Pass, relief of Sager, in which 1,500 English people were hemmed in; battle of Beteah; storm and capture of Gensey, action of Cuensh, battle of Gallawley, storm and capture of Kulpey, capture of Meerah cantonments, storm and capture of Golyer.

His final exploit in connection with the Indian Mutiny was at the action of Ranood. After a good run of active service the regiment was ordered home, and Stacey, on arrival in Dublin. claimed his discharge, which was given him, along with a well earned pension, which he still enjoys, and although small, he finds it useful.

In proof of the active temperament of Stacey, on arriving at Nottingham he again entered the coal pit, in which he laboured 24 years, and did not cease until years old, his last employment being at Manvers Main. It should be stated that he was married at Sutton Mansfield in 1862. His wife is dead, but one son who is now in the army, and one daughter, with whom he now lives at Conisborough— survive.

The subject of our sketch retains his faculties in a surprising manner, and readily converses on the incidents which have been gone through during his lifetime, which period embraces the whole of the reigns of two kings and our present honoured Queen.