Family Oral History & James Cooper Lamb

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.I often find family oral history fascinating. I’ve found there are usually grains of truth in the oral story; invariably, some details aren’t quite right. I think I may have found the basis for an oral history from my wife’s second great-grandmother, Margaret Lamb

The oral history said that Margaret Lamb had a “brother who was an officer in the Indian Army, British Service.” Not a lot to go on.

First, I found a probate record for Margaret’s father, Edward Lamb, which said that Edward Lamb of Sandford, Warcop, Westmorland, died 1 November 1893. Probate was in 1894 in a Carlisle court. James Cooper Lamb was a Sergeant in the 4th Royal Dublin Fusiliers at that time.

Second, I found another probate record, this time 1898, for James Cooper Lamb, who was a “Colour-Sergeant,” 4th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Isabell Lamb widow inherited.

I had never heard of a “Colour-Sergeant.” Still, thanks to Wikipedia, I learned that a colour-sergeant is a non-commissioned title ranking above Sergeant and below a warrant officer.

Cap Badge for the Royal Dublin Fusiliers – Image by Dormskirk, CC BY-SA 3.0 – via Wikimedia Commons.

Also thanks to Wikipedia, I learned that the Royal Dublin Fusiliers was created in 1881 from two regiments in India, the Royal Bombay Fusiliers and the Royal Madras Fusiliers.

During the 1881 Census, James appears to be a servant in the house of John Lancaster. He must have joined up shortly after that. It would have been quite an accomplishment to have made Sergeant by 1894 and Colour-Sergeant by 1898.

It seems that James may have joined either the Bombay or Madras units and was then transferred to Dublin. If he ever went to India to be part of either of those units, it would be easy to see how the oral history of his being in the Indian Army, British Service could occur. Likewise, a “Non-Commissioned Officer” is often thought of as an officer by those who haven’t served. So, his being an officer in the oral history also makes sense.

I hope I can find a source for his military record to understand his military service much better.

Margaret had another brother, Edward Lamb (1864-___). It is also possible that Edward is the brother who was “an officer in the Indian Army, British Service.” He’ll be my next Lamb after finish researching James, to research.[i]

By the way, James may not have joined the Royal Fusiliers until 1886, but more on that later.


[i] I need to keep focused that my purpose in examining the lives of Margaret’s siblings is to learn of the whereabouts of Margaret’s mother, Isabella Atkinson.

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