Colonel Thomas Francis Cosby
4th European Light Cavalry and Bengal Cavalry
Francis Cosby Rochfort was born on the 8th of February, 1841, the
second son of Colonel Horace William Noel Rochfort of Clogrenan
House, County Carlow, Ireland.
mother, Frances Elizabeth Cosby, was the daughter of Thomas Phillips
Cosby of Stradbally Hall. Thomas’ father, Horace Rochfort, a Deputy
Lord Lieutenant, Justice of the Peace and High Sheriff of County
Carlow, was one of the largest landowners in the county, owning over
1,600 acres of farmland, and was a noted athlete who founded the
Carlow Cricket Club, the Carlow Rugby Club (officially known as the
County Carlow Football Club, which is still in existence today), as
well as the All Ireland Polo Club, the oldest polo club in Europe.
Thomas’s mother died on the 25th of March, 1841, less than two
months after his birth. Quite possibly, her death was due to
complications from childbirth, not uncommon at the time.
His father remarried within a few years, marrying the Honorable
Charlotte Hood, the daughter of Samuel Hood, 2nd Baron Bridport, on
the 4th of September, 1845. Growing up, Thomas no doubt lived a life
of privilege as a member of the landed gentry of Ireland
Thomas received the usual classical and mathematical education,
attending the Liverpool Collegiate Institution in 1854 and 1855,
thereafter being tutored by Mr. Charles Howard.
Thomas was recommended for a commission in the Bengal Cavalry for
the 1856/57 season by John Petty Muspratt at the recommendation of
Lieutenant-Colonel Valiant of H.M. 40th Regiment. Charles passed the
examination of the 18th of February, 1857, and as was customary, was
commissioned a Cornet in the Bengal Cavalry on the day he sailed for
India, the 4th of April, 1857.
Thomas arrived at Fort William on the 15th of May, 1857. Between
the time Thomas had sailed from England for India and his arrival in
Calcutta, the Great Indian Mutiny had begun on May 10th at Meerut in
Northern India and spread throughout the Bengal Presidency. On the
22nd of July, just two months after his arrival in the strange
country of India, Thomas Rochfort then age sixteen and a newly
commissioned Cornet (a “Griff” in the slang of the time), was thrust
into the thick of a savage, bloody conflict when he was ordered to
do duty with the 2nd Bengal Cavalry, which was stationed up-country
at Cawnpore. Thereafter, on the 17th of November, 1857, Thomas was
ordered to do duty with H.M. 2nd Dragoon Guards (the Queen’s Bays).
The Bays, having only landed at Calcutta in the beginning of
November, were engaged in a 500 mile march from Calcutta to
Allahabad to join the cavalry forces under Sir Hope Grant who were
then actively engaged in campaigning against the mutineers in
Northern India in a column under the command of Sir Colin Campbell
(later Lord Clyde). Cornet Rochfort probably joined the Bays when
the Regiment reached Cawnpore, and would have participated in the
hard campaigning thereafter engaged in by the column in Northern
India. The hardships and privations suffered by the troops engaged
in this portion of the war can only be imagined, as they fought not
only the mutineers in a quasi-guerrilla war, but also the terrain,
the weather and the bane of Europeans in India: disease.
It is a safe assumption that Cornet Rochfort participated in the
charge of the Queen’s Bays at Lucknow on the 6th of March, 1858,
when they made the gallant, if rash, cavalry charge for which they
were to become famous. At that time, the Army under the command of
Lord Clyde, while advancing on the rebel stronghold of Lucknow in
the province of Oude in Northern India came upon a large body of
enemy cavalry and infantry. The Bays were ordered to the front and
“Charge and Pursue” was sounded. The Regiment, accompanied by the
2nd Punjab Cavalry, rode for over three miles, cutting down and
pursuing the enemy right up to the city of Lucknow and across the
Three members of the Bays were awarded the Victoria Cross for
their actions during the Mutiny and the Regiment was granted the
Battle Honour “Lucknow” for its part in putting down the rebellion.
According to Ubique, War Services of Bengal Officers, Lieutenant
T.F.C. Rochfort’s services during 1857 and 1858 in the suppression
of the Indian Mutiny consisted of being present at the final siege
and capture of the city of Lucknow in March of 1858, with the troops
under the command of General Colin Campbell (Lord Clyde); and in the
subsequent operations in Oude under the command Sir Hope Grant,
including the actions of Koorsee (primarily a cavalry action in
which over 200 mutineers were killed) and Baree (another mainly
cavalry action which involved the rebels being routed and put to
flight after a charge by Hope Grant’s forces).
Due to the desperate need for cavalry troops created by the
Indian Mutiny, five new European Light Cavalry Regiments were raised
in 1858. Following the formation of the 4th European Light Cavalry,
on May 18th, 1858, Thomas Rochfort was promoted to Lieutenant and
transferred to the Right Wing of this newly formed regiment.
For his services during the Mutiny, Thomas received the Indian
Mutiny medal with clasp for Lucknow, named to him as a Lieutenant in
the 4th European Light Cavalry. This was the only campaign medal
Rochfort was to receive during his entire military career.
Thomas is shown in the July 1861 Indian Army List as a Lieutenant
in the 4th European Light Cavalry. Upon the disbandment of the 4th
European Light Cavalry in 1862, Rochfort did not transfer to the
British Army as did many of his peers, but remained with the Bengal
Cavalry. He appears sometime after 1861 to have been posted to do
duty with the Stud Department, and remained with that department
until his retirement many years later.
Thomas Rochfort was promoted to Captain on the 2nd of July, 1864,
to Major on the 10th of October, 1874, to Lieutenant Colonel on the
21st of December, 1880, and to Colonel on the 22nd of December,
1884. He is listed in the 1886 edition of Hart’s Army List as a
Colonel and member of the Bengal Staff Corps, serving as the
Assistant Superintendent of the Reserve Remount Depot at Saharunpore,
India. His name does not appear in the Army List after 1886.
Following his retirement from the Army, Colonel Rochfort married
Alice, the widow of the late Colonel J. C. C. Daunt, V.C., Bengal
Staff Corps, on the 19th of July, 1889 at St. Peter’s Hammersmith.
They had no children, although Mrs. Daunt had several children by
her previous husband. It appears that Thomas Rochfort and Colonel
Daunt had been close friends as Daunt’ s third son was named Bertram
Rochfort Daunt, presumably after Thomas.
Colonel Thomas Francis Cosby Rochfort died on the 14th of
October, 1901, at Chalet Lilburn, Territet, Switzerland, an
exclusive resort town on the shores of Lake Geneva. The executors of
his estate were Thomas’ older brothers John de Burgh Rochfort and
Horace William Rochfort, and Thomas’ stepson, John Hubert Edward
- Cadet Paper, L/MIL/9/240/633-40
- Service Papers, L/MIL/10/62/, 65/692,
- Ubique, War Services of All Officers of
H.M.’s Bengal Army, T.C. Anderson, Calcutta 1863.
- The Indian Army and Civil Service List,
July 1861, Secretary of State for India in Council.
- Hart’s Army List, 1886, London.
- The Times, Friday, Oct 18, 1901; pg. 4;
Issue 36589; col C.
- The Times, Wednesday, Mar 19, 1902; pg. 2;
Issue 36719; col A.
Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia c2007