Nicol Grahame - "no more gallant or braver gentleman ever gave his life"

Nicol Grahame was born on 3rd July 1835 (not 1833), most likely at "Graham's Castle" at Ardrossan in Ayrshire. (scroll down on this other web page to see a small picture). The building is now the Civic Centre, municipal offices called "Castle Craigs".

The source for Nicol's birth is the Old Parish Registers (OPR) on (The same details are also recorded in the IGI.)

Nicol Grahame fought in the Crimean War, including taking part in the storming of the Redan at Sebastopol right at the end of the war.

On his return from the Crimea he was presented with a sword by the grateful people of Irvine, where he had attended the local school (Irvine Academy).

He was killed in the Indian Mutiny (see the online medal roll) while leading a company of men from the 90th Light Infantry at Alum Bagh, as they fought their way to relieve the besieged Residency at Lucknow. He was just 24.

Sir Garnet Wolseley - a contemporary officer of the 90th, and later a respected Field Marshal - never forgot Nicol Grahame's bravery. Nearly forty years after Nicol's death, in November 1894, Field-Marshal Lord Wolseley recorded in the pages of the "United Services Magazine":
"No more gallant or braver gentleman ever gave his life for England than young Nicol Grahame, my comrade in the 90th Light Infantry."

Nicol's parents

Mother - Mary Jane LOVE, heiress and only child of Daniel LOVE, an Ayrshire sugar merchant.
Father - Major Duncan GRAHAME of the 6th Regiment was about 57 when Nicol was born and had married late after service in the Army. He was apparently with British General Sir John Moore* when he was fatally wounded at the siege of La Coru�a. And family legend has it that Duncan picked up the set of surgeon's implements used unsuccessfully on the dying General (and then abandoned in the subsequent escape from La Coru�a by the British Army), and that the equipment remained in the family for many years subsequently. As the British successfully evacuated La Coru�a, Duncan locked the "back door" of the fortress, and kept the key too!

The family lived in Ardrossan, Ayrshire, at Castlecraigs (rebuilt by Major Duncan Grahame), and also it seems they had one of the Grahame family houses at Glenny above the Lake of Menteith (Nether Glenny, or Over Glenny etc.).

  • Transcription of Nicol's letters - many of them unpublished!
  • Email if you need to contact me.

    *General Sir John Moore: British soldier, born 1761 in Glasgow. From 1794 he served in many countries in Europe and in the West Indies, but is remembered for his command of the English army in Spain (1808-9), where he was forced to retreat to La Coru�a. There he defeated a French attack, but was mortally wounded (as recounted in the poem by Charles Wolfe).

    Acknowledgement: my special thanks to Tom Burnell for contacting me in January 2003 when he came across of one of Nicol's "lost" letters.

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