General History, India History, Uncategorized

Causes of the War of Independence 1857 or the Sepoy Mutiny

Causes of the War of Independence 1857 or the Sepoy Mutiny

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien


Introduction by Aleeza Javed

The War of Independence of 1857 was a very critical event towards independence for the Indian sub-continent. The rebellion began on 10th May 1857 in the town of Meerut. It ended on 1st November 1858 with a general amnesty after a bloody conflict on both sides, although the fighting didn’t totally end until 8th July 1859. The mutiny or rebellion came close to ending British power in India and the British had to gather troops and ships from across the Empire to first hold the Indians and then push them back. Many causes led to the rebellion and these are listed below.


Political causes by Sarah Fatima

1 = Lord Dalhousie applied the Doctrine of Lapse

2 = Nana Sahib was denied a pension after his father’s death

3 = Bahadur Shan’s son was not allowed to live in the Red Fort

4 = The British denied all treaties and agreements of the government



The Bengal army by Granger

Economic causes by Wanda Khan

1 = The policy of economic exploitation by the British and extensive destruction of the traditional economic structure caused widespread resentment among Indian society

2 = people were hanged or tortured if they failed to pay taxes

3 = the traditional industries collapsed under the pressure of the industrial fields


Military causes by Rameesha Pervaiz

1 = the Sepoys had helped the British established their empire in India but were not awarded or promoted at all

2 = the was discrimination between the Indian and British soldiers

3 = an Indian soldier got much less salary as compared to a Western soldier

4 = the Indian soldiers were much more numerous than the British soldiers and this encouraged the Sepoys to rise against the British

5 = the senior British officers did not pay any respect to the Indian soldier at all


Social causes by Mahroosh Fatima

1 = Lord Wellesley described the Indians as vulgar, ignorant, rude, familiar and stupid

2 = the efforts of missionaries to convert people to Christianity also angered the Indians


The immediate cause by Afsah Shahzad

1 = there was an issue of the grease cartridges that had a grease cover that had to be bitten off before loading the Enfield Rifle = the rumour was that this grease was made from cow fat or pig lard – not permitted to Hindus and Muslims. The soldiers took it as a challenge to their religion and were extremely angry with the British.




End of post



29th April 2014 to 5th September 2019





Cork history

Kenneth L.P. Lely in Castlehyde graveyard

Kenneth L.P. Lely in Castlehyde graveyard

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien


A visit to an old graveyard always presents an air of mystery and suspense. You look upon the old headstones with their faded inscriptions not knowing what to find. The people so commemorated are unknown to us. Many of the people that they knew are also dead and buried. How many times did they laugh or cry or were they good at getting up early in the morning or better working late into the night? These questions are for the most part left unanswered. On a recent visit to the graveyard surrounding the abandoned church at Castlehyde, west of Fermoy, Co. Cork I noticed a headstone recording the death in 1912 of Kenneth L.P. Lely. This article is an attempt to put some facts upon his life and make him less a stranger to this present generation.

On 20th July 1912 Kenneth Lyle Philpin Lely died at Fermoy as a Captain in the 1st Battalion Shropshire Light Infantry Regiment. He was thirty three years old according to the headstone inscription.


The headstone of Kenneth Lely at Castlehyde

Early years and family

In 1879 Kenneth L.P. Lely was born the son of K.S.P. Lely of Surat, Bombay in India. The K.S.P. Lely possibly meant Kenneth Styles Philpin Lely. If so, then Kenneth Lely of Castlehyde was a close relation of Sir Frederick Styles Philpin Lely.

Records tell us that Sir Frederick S.P. Lely (1846-1935) was the son of Rev. M. Philpin of Alcester by his wife Marietta, daughter of Styles Lely of Bath. Rev. M. Philpin was a Baptist cleric and in 1842 lived at Whitebrook in Monmouthshire.[1] In 1869 Frederick Philpin assumed the additional surname of Lely. As noted above, Kenneth’s father had the Styles Philpin names as part of his surname. Sir Frederick S.P. Lely married Helen, daughter of Rev. Dr. James Mitchell of Poona.[2] They had one daughter.[3]

Frederick Lely spent most of his career in India. He arrived in India in 1869 and first served in Bombay as a second assistant collector and magistrate. In October 1881 he was in charge of the Sachin state and December 1884 became first assistant at Surat. He stayed in Surat until June 1886 when he became administrator of the Porbandar state in Kathiawar.[4]

In 1901 Sir Frederick S.P. Lely was awarded the Companion of the Order of the Star of India in the Honours List.[5] In 1904-5 Sir Frederick Styles Philpin Lely was Chief Commissioner for the Central Provinces and Berar.[6] In 1906 Sir Frederick Lely wrote and published a book entitled “Suggestions for the better governing of India”.

Malvern College

In 1892 Kenneth Lely attended Malvern School in Worcestershire on the army side, which possibly means that he was sponsored by the army. At Malvern School Kenneth Lely was on the second eleven football team. In 1896 he left the College at the end of Christmas term. The Malvern Register of 1904 gives the impression that Kenneth Lely joined the 1st Battalion King’s Shropshire Light Infantry after leaving school.[7] But other records show that he first joined the 3rd Battalion the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles).

The Cameronians

The Cameronians was the only rifle regiment among the Scottish Regiments of Infantry. The Regiment was formed in 1881 with the amalgamation of the 26th Cameronian Regiment and the 90th Perthshire Light Infantry.[8] By 1899 records show Kenneth Lely in the 3rd Battalion of the Cameronians. On 18th January 1899 Kenneth L.P. Lely left the 3rd Battalion the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), on his promotion to the rank of second lieutenant in the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry in succession to Lieutenant G. B. Arbouin.[9]


Castlehyde graveyard

King’s Shropshire Light Infantry

In 1881 the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry was formed by the union of the 53rd Regiment of Foot (Shropshire) which formed the 1st Battalion and the 85th Regiment of Foot (Buckinghamshire Volunteers) which became the 2nd Battalion. The 53rd Regiment of Foot was raised in 1755 as the 55th Regiment and became the 53rd in 1757. The Regiment served in many different parts of the British Empire. Before 1912 the Regiment served a few times in Ireland such as in 1768-1776, 1803-1807, 1809, 1826-1829, 1844, 1864-1866, and 1875-1877.[10] The Regiment fought in the Boer War (1899-1902) and at Paardeberg during Kenneth Lely’s time with the Regiment.[11]

Among the many soldiers serving in the Shropshire Light Infantry in 1899 was Edward Pendawe Smith-Dorrien.[12] This Edward Smith-Dorrien was a possible cousin of Horace Smith-Dorrien who was one of the senior commanders of the British Expeditionary Force in 1914.[13]

Promotion to Lieutenant

In October-November 1899 the 2nd Battalion of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry was sent to South Africa at the start of the Boer War.[14] On 9th May 1900 Second Lieutenant Kenneth L.P. Lely was made a Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry.[15] By that time the 1st Battalion of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry had gone to South Africa to fight in the War. In fact nearly every infantry regiment in the British Army fought in the Boer War.[16]

Kenneth Lely returns to India

In 1902 the 1st Battalion of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry was based at Poona, Bombay while the 2nd Battalion was still in South Africa. Sir Henry Percival le Bathe was then the Colonel of the Regiment.[17] By 1900 Sir Henry le Bathe had a long service career. He was with the Scots Fusiliers Guards in the Crimean War and was at the siege and fall of Sebastopol.[18]

Promotion and Africa

In July 1905 Lieutenant Kenneth L.P. Lely was adjutant to the 2nd Volunteer Captain of King’s Shropshire Light Infantry.[19] On 3rd August 1905 the London Gazette recorded that Lieutenant Kenneth L.P. Lely was seconded from the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry by the Colonial Office.[20] We later find out that he was attached to the King’s African Rifles.

On 15th September 1906 Lieutenant Kenneth L.P. Lely was made a Captain in the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry to fill the vacancy caused by the retirement of Brevet Major W. S. W. Radcliffe. On the same day of 15th September 1906 Christopher H. Cautley, replaced Kenneth L.P. Lely, who was seconded for service under the Colonial Office while Peter F. FitzGerald, replaced C. H. Cautley, seconded for service as an Adjutant of Volunteers.[21]

In 1908 the 1st Battalion of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry was at Bordon Camp in East Liss. Sir Charles Knox was then the Regimental Colonel. Knox had served in the Bechuanaland expedition of 1884-5 and in the Boer War 1899-1900 where he was active in the Orange Free State. He was severely wounded at the battle for Paardeberg.[22]

In 1910 the 1st Battalion of the King’s Shropshire Light infantry was based at Lichfield with Sir Henry Knox as its Colonel. At that time Captain Kenneth Lely was attached to the King’s African Rifles (Central African Battalion).[23] Captain Kenneth Lely was Nairobi, East Africa with the 2nd Battalion. On 22nd July 1908 he was made a company commander.[24]

King’s African Rifles

The King’s African Rifles was a multi-battalion British colonial regiment raised from Britain’s various possessions in British East Africa region from 1902 until independence in the 1960s. The rank and file were drawn from native inhabitants, while most of the officers were seconded from the British Army. Many detachments from the Indian Army also served in British East Africa and as Kenneth Lely was born in India and had family connections there he was well placed to be able to manage the various nationalities.

Again with the Shropshire Light Infantry

In 1912 the 1st Battalion of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry was based at Fermoy, Co. Cork while the 2nd Battalion was at Secunderabad.[25] A list of servicemen in the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, taken in 1912, stated that Kenneth L.P. Lely was thirteen years with the Regiment.[26] By that time Captain Kenneth Lely had returned from Africa and was again with the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry.

The records in Hart’s Annual Army List often give the military record of the senior officers saying in what battles they fought in. Captain Kenneth Lely does not feature in these accounts. This is unfortunate in establishing his military career but it also says that Kenneth Lely was a modest man who didn’t want to boast about the battles he fought in.

Fermoy Barracks

Fermoy in the nineteenth and early twentieth century was defined by its military presence. The barrack complex was one of the biggest in Ireland and dominated the northern ridge over the town. The first army barracks was built in 1806 in response to the desperate need for army accommodation. The war with France demanded a lot of resources, both human and material. By 1805 there were 50,000 soldiers in Ireland who needed a place to live and train.

Fermoy barrack

Part of Fermoy Barracks about 1922

The East Barracks stood on 16.5 acres of land. It was followed in 1809 by the West Barracks or New Barracks. Later a military hospital was built. After the end of the Napoleonic War the number of soldiers at Fermoy was reduced but later increased in times of need to quell unrest and train for overseas wars.[27]

In the 1890s the army purchased a large amount of land around Kilworth for a training ground. The people of Fermoy felt that the town would lose out to the new facilities at Kilworth but instead more soldiers came to the town. In 1907 the army did threaten to reduce the number of soldiers at Fermoy from two to one battalion. The Town Council petitioned against this and after agreeing to a list of conditions like suitable cottages for married soldiers, the army kept the two battalions at Fermoy.

In 1918 one of the few aerodromes established in Ireland was built at Fermoy even though the Royal Flying Corps preferred other locations such as at Moore Park by Kilworth. After the acceptance of the Treaty in 1922 the British Army left Fermoy and handed over the Barracks to the local Irish Army. The mostly empty barracks was later occupied by Anti-Treaty forces in the Civil War and many of the buildings were burnt by them in their retreat in the face of the Free State advance.[28] The ruins of the buildings were left for many decades until bulldozed in the 1970s.

Death at Fermoy

It was while in Fermoy that on 20th July 1912 Captain Kenneth Lyle Philpin Lely died and was buried at Castlehyde. It is not known how he died, possibly from some illness acquired in Africa. It is not known if Captain Kenneth Lely was married or not and if he left any children. The Irish 1901 and 1911 census returns are of no use as Kenneth Lely was not in Ireland in those years.

Captain Kenneth Lely was not the only member of the Regiment to die at Fermoy in 1912. Also buried at Castlehyde was Captain Leonard Duckworth Furber of the 1st Battalion King’s Shropshire Light Infantry.[29]

The Great War and Africa

It is beyond this present article to ever know if Captain Kenneth Lely would have survived the killing machine that was the Great War. It is possible that with his long experience in Africa that he would be part of the campaign against the Germans in German East Africa. During the Great War a small German force of about 10,000 kept an Allied force of over 300,000 fully occupied for the duration of the war. The German commander, Lieutenant Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, was one of the last German commanders to cease fighting in 1918; surrendering on 28 November 1918.[30]

Shropshire Light Infantry return to Fermoy

If he had survived he may have returned to Fermoy in 1919 with the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. While stationed there on 7th September 1919 Corporal Frank Hudson and 15 privates marched from the barracks, down through the town, to the Wesleyan Church for Sunday service. At the same time a party of 25 Irish Volunteers entered the town and attacked the church. The Volunteers were after the soldier’s rifles which were left at the porch of the church. The rifles were successfully captured but Private William Jones of the Shropshire Light Infantry was killed trying to protect the rifles. In retaliation for this ambush the Shropshires returned to the town that night and ran amok. The Shropshires smashed shop windows and looted shops for over two hours before returning to the Barracks.[31]


This of course is a part of Kenneth’s life that never happened. Instead he rested at Castlehyde through it all and still does today. This article is but a brief account of his life and a way of adding some flesh to the inscription on a long forgotten headstone in a far away field.


End of post


[1] The Baptist Magazine for 1842 (Houlston, London, 1842), p. 367

[2] accessed on 9 September 2015

[3] accessed on 11 September 2015

[4] Anon, The India List and India Office List for 1905 (Harrison and Son, London, 1905), p. 546

[5] accessed on 9 September 2015

[6] accessed on 9 September 2015

[7] L.S. Milward & E.C. Bullock (ed.) The Malvern Register 1865-1904 (Malvern Advertiser, 1905), p. 309

[8] accessed on 16 September 2015

[9] accessed on 9 September 2015

[10] accessed on 9 September 2015

[11] accessed on 9 September 2015

[12] accessed on 9 September 2015

[13] accessed on 9 September 2015

[14] Donald Featherstone, Victorian Colonial Warfare: Africa (Blandford, London, 1993), p. 78

[15] accessed on 9 September 2015

[16] Donald Featherstone, Victorian Colonial Warfare: Africa, p. 81

[17] accessed on 9 September 2015

[18] accessed on 9 September 2015

[19] accessed on 9 September 2015

[20] accessed on 9 September 2015

[21] accessed on 9 September 2015

[22] accessed on 9 September 2015

[23] accessed on 9 September 2015

[24] accessed on 9 September 2015

[25] accessed on 9 September 2015

[26] accessed on ( September 2015

[27] Bill Power, Fermoy on the Blackwater (Brigown Press, Mitchelstown, 2009), pp. 261, 263

[28] Bill Power, Fermoy on the Blackwater, pp. 321, 324

[29] Bill Power, Fermoy on the Blackwater, p. 137

[30] accessed on 16 September 2015

[31] Bill Power, Fermoy on the Blackwater, pp. 295-299