• Stephen Callaghan

Colonel William Windham Lukin

During a random trawl through online auctions a letter caught my attention, written by an officer of the 17th Regiment of Foot and sent from Beggars Bush Barracks, Dublin regards his commission as Lieutenant. Reasonably priced I bought it and was able to uncover the following.


Frederick Windham Lukin was born on 28 April 1833 in Nursling, Hampshire, England. He was the son of Reverand John Lukin and Lucy Elizabeth Lukin (née Byng).


The 1851 census records Frederick living with his older brother John Lukin and his family in All Saints, Southampton. John was the curate of North Stoneham, Hampshire. 17 year old Frederick’s profession is given as a Cadet. Frederick had entered Sandhurst Military College for officer training in 1848. After completing officer training Frederick was commissioned as an Ensign, via purchase in the 17th Regiment of Foot on 16 July 1851. This was a common practice at the time, obtaining commissions with money, rather than on the basis of merit, this was later done away with in 1871, during the Caldwell Reforms.

Lukin's letter written in Dublin 1853.

While based in Beggars Buch Barracks, Dublin in October 1853, Ensign Lukin wrote a letter to Rev Edward Timson in Southampton about getting together 350 pounds (28000 pounds in today’s money) to pay army agents for his commission as a Lieutenant. The letter is an interesting incite in the practice commission purchasing. Lukin received his commission as a Lieutenant on 18 November 1853.


The 17th Foot were sent to the Crimea where it was engaged at the Siege of Sevastopol from December 1854 to June 1855. While in the Crimea, Lieutenant Lukin and his fellow officers were immortalised in a photograph taken by war photographer Roger Fenton. For his service, Lieutenant Lukin received the Crimea medal with the clasp ‘Sevastopol’ and the Turkish Crimea medal.

Officers of the 17th Foot in the Crimea. Lukin is 6th from the right. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Lieutenant Lukin was transferred to the 2nd Dragoon Guards, where he was appointed paymaster on 10 August 1855. He served with the 2nd Dragoons during the Indian Mutiny (1857-1859) and received the Indian Mutiny medal with the clasp ‘Lucknow’.


He was granted the honoury rank of Captain on 10 August 1860 and later the honoury rank of Major on 16 May 1866.


Major Lukin married Elizabeth Hay Cassidy in Jullundar, Bengal on 9 May 1867.


He left the 2nd Dragoons and joined the 3rd Hussars in January 1870 until being appointed as Staff Paymaster in the Army Pay Department on 1 April 1878. He went on retired pay in April 1886, finishing up with the honoury rank of Colonel.


The 1901 census records Frederick and his wife Elizabeth as a visitor at the house of Clergyman Carleton Rashleigh at 1, Boyle Park Somervile Gardens, Tonbridge Wells, Kent.


He died on 7 November 1909 at 35 Moore Street, Cadogan Square, aged 76 years.

Colonel Lukin's medals, thanks to the South African National Museum of Military History for providing the image.

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