Sergeant Edward John Bishop Perrin, a remarkable discovery – maybe

Edward John Bishop Perrin was born at Silverstone, Northamptonshire in 1854, the eldest son of William Perrin and Catherine Bishop, my great-great-grandparents. He served in the Army Hospital Corps and died in 1878, aged about 24,of wounds,  it was later said, received in the Ashanti War of 1873-74.

What follows is an extract from an article published in the Lancet in August 1874, on the effect of issuing spirit rations during the Ashanti campaign, in part including testimony from individuals. One such is “Sergeant Perrin, Army Hospital Corps”:

A temperate man; never takes spirits. Usually takes one pint of beer every day; it is very seldom that he takes more. He had no sickness on the Coast; the day after embarkation he had fever, and was ill for three days; has been quite well since.  Made the march to Ooomassie (sic) with the 1st Field Hospital. He always took the rum ration, which, except on one occasion, was issued in the evening.  He certainly felt revived by it, especially after a long march. Can give what he thinks a good example of this. It was on the first day’s march homewards after Ooomassie was burnt. They started about half-past 5 a.m., and were greatly delayed by swamps; sometimes the men were marching through water up to the waist; during the day perhaps they had altogether three miles of this marching through water. They did not get to their halting-ground until the evening. There was no rum; only tea and biscuit. About 2 in the morning the rum arrived, and was served out immediately.  He felt a great deal better for it; it took off the languor and made him feel warm. The march recommenced between 6 and 6 o’clock, and was well done; but then it was shorter and there were no swamps, so the men were not much tired. All the men, as far as he knows, thought the rum did good; the quantity was enough. If the rum had been given on the march itself it would have done no good, only harm. His reason for saying so is that on two or three occasions on the march one of the doctors gave him a glass of grog ; the effect was  reviving for a quarter of an hour, and after that he  felt a great deal more languid than he did before.  He was so convinced of this that he would have refused it had it been offered again.

Originally from: Issue Of A Spirit Ration During The Ashanti Campaign of 1874. London 1875 J. & A. Churchill, New Burlinqton Steeet

The Introduction begins: “The following pages contain a reprint of a Report on the issue of spirits during the Ashanti campaign, which was written for Sir William M. Muir, K.O.B., the Director-General of the Army Medical Department, and was by him communicated to the ‘ Lancet.’ (Published in the ‘Lancet’ August 1874″

My source is the Internet Archive: “The Internet Archive, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, we provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, and the general public”. http://www.archive.org/stream/cu31924014519783/cu31924014519783_djvu.txt

I do not know how we can be sure this our “Sergeant Perrin” but circumstantial evidence suggests it might be. In any case, it reports an action in which he was surely involved with the 1st Field Hospital. The problem lies, remarkably enough, in that there was a second Edward Perrin, serving with the Army Hospital Corps at the same time click over here now. He was already a Colour Sergeant No.947 when Edward Perrin No.2341 was transferred to the AHC and remained so until his discharge on 2 January 1877. Information provided at that time in the Muster noted that he was born in Birmingham, was a Boot Maker by trade and had originally enlisted on 11 November 1855 having completed his 2nd Period of service.

A remarkable find, nonetheless.

3 thoughts on “Sergeant Edward John Bishop Perrin, a remarkable discovery – maybe

  1. Norman Perrin says:

    Edward Perrin’s death certificate states that he died of “pneumonia 9 days” and not of wounds received in the Ashanti war. That does not prove that he did not have such wounds, of course.

  2. mike green says:

    Realy interesting to read your account of Sergeant Perrin. I too am trying to find out more about my GGGrandfather who was in the Army Hospital Corps. It seems to me a difficult search as there is not much info around about the “Corps”. My relative was listed at North Camp Headquarters Staff as a Sergeant Major in 1871 census.
    Any help researching him would be gratefull
    Mike Green

    • Norman Perrin says:

      Hi Mike

      Really sorry not to have responded long since but for some reason have only just a moment ago read your comment.

      My interest in the Corps relates solely to Edward Perrin’s service in it and, especially, his service in the Ashanti War.

      I’d be very happy to swap whatever notes we might each have – and promise to respond a bit more promptly in future.

      Best wishes

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