• Stephen Callaghan

Captain George Colthurst Vesey from Lucan, Dublin

Updated: May 21


Captain Vesey's trunk plate - held in the Shropshire Light Infantry regimental museum

George Colthurst Vesey was born in Lucan, County Dublin on 27 April 1859. He was the eldest son of Charles Vesey Colthurst Vesey and Annie Colthurst Vesey (née Fraser) of Lucan House. The Vesey family built Lucan House in 1772 and lived there since.


Charles married Annie on 20 July 1858. He was a Deputy Lieutenant of County Dublin and also gained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the local militia, the Dublin County Light Infantry, later redesignated the 5th (Militia) Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers.


Charles and Annie had three children, George, Charles Nicolas and Edward Robert.


Charles was commissioned into the Dublin County Light Infantry as a Sub Lieutenant on 10 January 1877 and further promoted to Lieutenant. After serving in the militia for years he was commissioned into the 53rd Regiment of Foot (the regular army) as a Second Lieutenant on 11 October 1879. His papers note he could speak French and German.


After the Childer's army reforms of 1881 the regiment became the Shropshire Light Infantry. Lieutenant Vesey served at home with his regiment until 9 August 1882 when the regiment moved to Egypt where they saw service during the Anglo-Egyptian War of 1882. For his Service Lieutenant Vesey received the Egypt medal dated 1882 and the bronze Khedive’s Star. The regiment left Egypt for Malta in February 1883. Later service in Egypt included Suakin and Lower Egypt.


Vesey was promoted to Captain on 20 August 1888. In December 1891, the regiment moved from Egypt to Hong Kong. While stationed there, bubonic plague broke out in May 1894. At the time of the outbreak immediate legislation was passed making the reporting a plague cases mandatory. 15 officers and 300 men of the Shropshire’s volunteered to preform house inspections and disinfecting to prevent further spread of the plague, these groups were known as the 'whitewash brigade'. Men performing these duties typically got an extra ration of rum.


of all the volunteers from the Shropshire’s, Captain Vesey and one Private were the only ones to die from the disease. Captain Vesey succumbing plague on 4 June on board the ship Hygeia. He was buried in Hong Kong.


For his service during the epidemic he was entitled to the gold Hong Kong Plague medal which was sent to his mother. In Saint Chad’s Church, Shrewsbury a memorial was erected to his memory.




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