John Tritton Jnr was born on 7th September 1796 and baptised at St Leonard’s Hythe, some six weeks later, on October 23, I believe he was left in the care of his father’s older brother, William; I doubt if John Snr would have taken his young son to the military cantonments of India, considering that he was a widower at that time and would have been dependent on strangers to care for the boy.
John Jnr was only 16 yrs of age when, on January 14 1813, he obtained the commission of Cornet with the 24th Light Dragoons, no doubt with the help of his father. This was the beginning of a long and distinguished career that lasted more than 40 years and involved him in many of the major battles fought in India during that time. He was with the horse artillery of the 24th’s ‘Gallopers’ at the siege and capture of Hattras in 1817 (witnessing the terrible carnage and devastation that occurred when underground gun powder stores were blown up); afterwards, Hart’s Army List records that he served with the Centre Divison of the Grand Army during the Mahratta Campaign of 1817/8, when the British shattered a combined force of Mahratta and Pindari estimated at 200,000 men and 500 guns.
John’s military records seem to indicate that he did not accompany the ‘24th’ back to England in 1818. By October 1819 he had joined the 11th Light Dragoons and it was as a Lieutenant of his regiment that on November 1, 1821, at Cawnpore, he married Frances (‘Fanny’) the only surviving daughter of John Maxwell, who during ten years in Cawnpore had owned a rum distillery, cotton presses and an indigo factory and amassed a fortune. One of the witnesses at the wedding was Elizabeth Grant, wife of Robert Grant, father of Mary. John’s stepmother, John won a silver medal for his services at Bhurtpore, and although there is some doubt as to whether his father was there too, we know that his cousin William Tritton was there, serving as a Lieutenant with the 41st Bengal Native Infantry.
Four years later John, together with another cousin, Edmund (who was also his brother-in-law) having married Harriette Elizabeth in 1828) and Adam Maxwell (Fanny’s brother) acted as executors for John Snr’s Will.
On October 7 1836, John obtained his Captain’s commission with the ‘11th’ and within a year transferred to the 3rd Light Dragoons, possibly in order to remain in India when the ‘11th’s’ period of overseas service was over. He serviced with the ‘3rd’ in Afghanistan, including the historic forcing of the Khyber Pass on April 5 1842. John and Fanny’s second son, Robert Burnett, an ensign with the 31st Foot @Regiment, died in 1842, likely during the Afghan Campaign. John’s half-brother William Mills, mentioned earlier also took part in the forcing of the Khyber, with the 26th BNI. John was also involved in the storming of the Heights of Ingdulluck in September 1842. At the close of the actions in Fazeen and Huft Kotul he was sent in pursuit of the enemy and with a party of twelve men overtook and captured one of their guns. He and William were also part of the occupation force at Kabul. For his services in the Afghan Campaign John received another silver metal.
He next served with the Army of the Sutlej, action as assistant adjutant general of the cavalry. He captured an enemy standard during the Battle of Moodkee on December 18 1845, and in the Battle of Ferozeshah on December 22 and 23 he accompanied the ‘3rd’ in their celebrated charge on the enemy’s batteries and forced a passage through the entrenched Sikh position. At the battle of Sobraon on February 10, 1846, his horse was shot from under. Once again he was decorated for his actions, this time with a silver medal and two clasps. John’s youngest half-brother, Charles Hill Grant Tritton, also mentioned earlier, a Lieutenant with the 31st Foot Regiment, died of wounds received at Sobraon. His name is inscribed on a memorial in Canterbury Cathedral in honour of those who died in what proved to be a decisive victory.
Soon after the first Sikh War, John obtained the commission of Major with the 10th Hussars, a prestigious cavalry regiment commanded by Colonel Lord Henry Beauchamp and later known as ‘the Prince of Wales’ Own. It was with the ‘10th’ that John served his last seven years in India, mostly in Bombay. He became a Lieutenant Colonel on February 27, 1852. His various purchases of commissions would have cost him £6,175 and I wonder if some of this may have been paid from Fanny’s sizeable inheritance. John’s long and uninterrupted Army career in India came to a close on December 13, 1853. He died two months later on February 8, and was buried in the English cemetery, Somapur B Ward, Charni Road, Bombay.
All four of his sons (John Maxwell, Robert Burnett, Edmund Spry and Nicholas Bruton) died in India. John and Fanny also had four daughters, Charlotte Louise (who married Edward Stacey, a Captain in the 10th Hussars), Helen Margaret (who married Dr Samuel Currie, an Army surgeon who later became Hon. Physician to Queen Victoria), Fanny Georgiana (who married Alfred Stephen Chapman, a Major in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers) and Emily (who married William Fanning, a Lloyds underwriter). Fanny died at 13 Orsett Terrace, Paddington, London on June 24 1874.