|Captain Edward Studdert,
1st Devonshire Regt. and Army Service Corps
Edward Studdert was born on the 7th August 1869 at Fort House, Kilrush, County Clare, Ireland. His parents were
Richard Massey Studdert and Rosalie Frances Frings, who had married at Croom church, Rathkeale, County Limerick on
the 25th June 1861. Their first child was Richard, who was born in 1862, followed by Massy in 1863 and Robert in 1864.
Another son named Francis was born in the following year and he was followed by Ason in 1867, the fifth successive son.
After the birth of Edward in 1869, yet another male child was born in 1871 and named Charles. The final child of this
marriage was a girl who was born in 1874 and named Mary Jane Constance.
The family had come originally from Cumberland and had been sent to settle in Ireland by King Charles 1st, being given
land at Ardlaman, County Limerick and at Cashen River, County Kerry.
Richard was a land owner and owned 2,572 acres in County Clare. This land was rented out to tenant farmers who carried
out a subsistence existence on the poor soil. Following the dreadful potato famine of 1845 to 1851 the tenants found it
impossible to pay their rents and although some land owners did reduce the rent, many families were eventually evicted
from their cottages for non payment and forced to rely on the Parish workhouse. This treatment caused much resentment
amongst the population and slowly a campaign of attacks upon land owners and their property commenced.
During 1881 Richard Studdert was beaten by a mob when he attended the local fair at Skariff, and when he sought
protection, local shopkeepers turned him away. He drew a revolver on the crowd but was warned by the police not to fire
or both he and they would be killed by the angry mob. With great difficulty, they slowly withdrew to the police barracks.
Then in September he went to shoot at Turkenagh and was staying in a small lodge. At about 10 p.m. the gamekeeper
reported the sound of a shot outside and when Richard Studdert opened the hall door to see what was happening, a rifle
bullet was fired which narrowly missed him. Eight more were fired in rapid succession from a position 900 yards away,
all which struck the house.
Finally, on the 14th December of that year, he was crossing Bodyke Bridge when he was fired at but escaped without injury.
The unrest continued with placards appearing all over the county urging the tenants not to pay their landlords anything.
On the 12th April 1882 Fort House was maliciously burnt to the ground but the inhabitants escaped safely. Richard
Studdert was awarded £3,000 in compensation and decided to move to a new home in Belfast. Edward Studdert attended
the Belfast academy during the years 1884-5 to complete his education.
On leaving school, Edward considered the army as a career. His father had risen to the honorary rank of Lieutenant
Colonel with the 7th Brigade, Southern Irish division in 1883 and it seemed to be the logical step for him to take.
He achieved his commission in the 4th Militia (Reserve) Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles, which had its depot in Belfast.
This was followed by several examinations to try and obtain a commission in the regular army. On the 9th May 1888 he
came third with 5,848 marks in an examination of Lieutenants of Militia recommended for the regular army and on the
12th April 1889, he came a successful 21st in the competitive examination of Militia officers to become line officers.
On the 8th June 1889 it was announced that ... “Edward Studdert from the 4th Battalion the Royal Irish Rifles to be
2nd Lieutenant in the Devonshire Regiment, in succession to Lieutenant A. Andrew”.
The 1st Battalion Devonshire regiment had been based in Ireland from 1882, being stationed in Cork since 1886. They
had returned to Aldershot in 1888 and it was here that Edward joined his battalion. On 6th January 1890 the War office
announced that Second Lieutenant Edward Studdert was to receive a local commission of Lieutenant in the Volunteer
Rifles 1st (Exeter and South Devon) Volunteer Battalion, The Devonshire regiment.
The year 1890 also saw a succession of courses being attended, where he passed Riding at Aldershot, The school of
musketry at Hythe, Supply and finally Range finding at Aldershot.
He became a Lieutenant in the Devonshire Regiment on the 15th December 1890.
On the 28th January the Battalion had boarded the troopship “Serapis” at Portsmouth with a strength of 20 officers
and 770 men and sailed to Alexandria, Egypt to relieve the Suffolk Regiment.
It was only a short stay in Egypt for Edward as he returned home in July 1891 and remained there until returning to
Egypt in March 1892.
He remained in that country for only four months before returning to the United Kingdom again. The reason for this
return was because he had been seconded to join the Army Service Corps.
The Army Service Corps was formed from the amalgamation of the commissariat and transport Corps and was
constituted by Royal warrant dated the 11th December 1888. The old Corps had been very inefficient and relied
heavily upon civilian operation. The new professional Army Service Corps was to be staffed by young specialist
officers, who were to be offered full career opportunities as they had all come from a combatant role. To further
induce officers to serve in the Corps, they were offered additional pay to their regimental salary. Edward, with the
rank of Lieutenant, could expect an additional amount of 3/6d per day.
On the 24th January 1893, the War office announced that Edward Studdert had joined the 19th (London) Service
Company on 1st January 1893. The Company had a depot which was based at Woolwich.
On the 6th November 1893 Edward Studdert married Miss Mary Louisa Hyde Pearson at St. Mark’s Church, Surbiton.
The service was conducted by the venerable Archdeacon Burney. Mary came from Calverleigh, Surbiton, Surrey and
was the daughter of Colonel Hyde Pearson, late of the 4th Dragoon Guards.
Edward’s promotion to the rank of Captain was announced on the 13th November 1895.
In 1896 Edward was accompanied by his wife when they were stationed on the island of Malta, where twenty men of
the Army Service Corps were based. Tragically, on the 23rd December 1896 Mary Studdert died at Silema and was
buried in the Ta Braxia cemetery.
On his return to the United Kingdom, Edward was appointed as Adjutant to the Army Service Corps at Aldershot on
the 1st January 1898. He remained in this roll until the 10th July 1899, when he was succeeded by Captain A. Atkins.
With the threat of war with the Boer population in South Africa a strong possibility, the Government decided to
establish a strong Army Service Corps presence in the country before the arrival of further forces. Twenty one
companies of the Corps were placed on notice for service in South Africa on the 12th September 1899. Captain
Studdert boarded the steamship “Norman” at Southampton on the 22nd September and sailed on the following day,
accompanied by Major-General John French and Brigade Major Douglas Haig. They arrived at Cape Town on the 11th
The rest of number 19 (London) Army Service Corps marched to Waterloo railway station on the 6th October and
boarded a special train for Southampton. Forty four men and two officers of this company boarded the “Braemar
Castle” which sailed at 5 p.m. bound for Cape Town. Altogether the ship carried 130 officers and 1,600 men,
representatives from twenty companies, practically the entire strength of the Army Service Corps. The loss of the
vessel would have been a disaster, for replacements were simply unavailable. The “Braemar Castle” arrived safely at
Durban on the 3rd November 1899.
On the 10th October an ultimatum was received from the Boers, demanding that all British reinforcements should
immediately be withdrawn from South Africa. It was rejected by the British Government on the evening of the 10th
October. On the day that Edward Studdert arrived at Cape Town the two countries were at war.
Boer forces moved across the borders to invest the towns of Mafeking, Colenso, Ladysmith and Kimberley. In
response, the recently arrived Army Corps was split into three parts. One would relieve Ladysmith, another would
relieve Kimberley and the third would contain the Boer invasion from the Orange Free State.
The Kimberley Relief Force was commanded by Lord Methuen. His orders were to assemble his forces at Orange
River Station on the Western railway and relieve Kimberley and then Mafeking. The 19th Company A.S.C. were
responsible for the dispatch of men, animals, supplies, transport and ammunition to conform with the orders of the
Relief Force. Much of the remainder of November was spent in accumulating material for the columns advance.
It was about seventy miles from the Orange River Station to Kimberley. On the evening of the 20th November 1899
the assembled Relief Force were told that they would begin the advance to Kimberley at 4 a.m. on the following day.
Lord Methuen would advance alongside the railway line, which would be used to bring up his urgently needed supplies.
He expected to be in Kimberley within a week.
A series of easy marches brought his column to the railway station at Belmont on the 22nd November, where it was
notice that breast works had been dug by the Boers along the tops of a few Kopjes. It would be necessary to clear
these positions before the advance could continue and a night march with an attack launched at dawn on the 23rd
was proposed. The Brigade of Guards was chosen to lead the attack but an inaccurate map meant that at dawn they
were still in front of the Boer positions. There was little that they could do but to fix bayonets and charge forward
over the open ground. The Boers opened fire as they moved forward but were unable to stem the advance. They fell
back to where their ponies were being held and quickly galloped away to their rear. The position was taken but at the
cost of over 300 casualties. A newspaper correspondent noted that:-
“......the casualty’s khaki was dyed so deeply with crimson that some must have received more than half a dozen shots”.
|The Guards storm the Boer positions at Belmont|
Lord Methuen rested his troops for a day and then on the 25th proceeded to Graspan. The Kopjes there were defended
by entrenched Boers and Lord Methuen pounded them with artillery before launching another frontal attack. The result
was the same as Belmont, with the Boers bolting to the rear before the assaulting troops reached them. The column incurred
a further 200 casualties in capturing the position.
After resting again for a few days, the force marched on towards the Modder River, making a camp at Wittekop on the
27th. In the distance were the hills of Magersfontein, just in front of Kimberley. Lord Methuen decided that the Boers
would stand and fight there and dismissed any thoughts about the river being defended.
The railway bridge over the river had been blown up by the Boers, which meant that supplies would have to be moved
onwards from there by horse and wagon. It had been difficult enough for the 19th A.S.C. to operate a two way system
of rolling stock on the single track railway line.
|Supplies being moved |
over the Modder River.
The Boers had been prepared for the arrival of British troops and had dug trenches where the Modder and Riet rivers
met on both banks and considered their position to be nearly impregnable.
At 4 a.m. on the 28th November 1899, the battle at Modder River began. By 7 a.m. the Guards were advancing towards
the river in extended order when they were met with a hail of fire from the hidden Boers. They were unable to move
and remained like that until nightfall. The 9th brigade eventually managed to cross the river but could go no further.
In temperatures of 108 degrees the troops were pinned down with little cover. They suffered mounting casualties as
the day progressed. It was decided that a further attack would be launched the following day but the Boers withdrew
during the night and headed for Jacobsdal. The following morning the British crossed the river without interference
and made camp.
|The British camp at Modder River.|
60 men had been killed and a further 300 wounded during the battle, a casualty rate of 7%. During the campaign so
far casualties had amounted to 966 men. The advance to Kimberley was halted while the situation was re-assessed.
On the 1st December 1899 it was announced in Cape Town that Lord Methuen’s force would be reinforced with a brigade
of Highlanders and cavalry.
By the 10th December the column, still following the railway line, had approached the Magersfontein hills. Once the Boers
had been driven from these hills there would be nothing to stop the advance into Kimberley. A night march followed by
a dawn attack on the 11th, would be launched by the Highland brigade. Unfortunately, the Boers firing from well hidden
trenches, shattered the advancing Highlanders, who at first lay down to return fire but eventually began to crumble.
During the night the decision was taken to retreat and at noon the following day the exhausted men fell back to their
camp on the Modder River. They had lost nearly a thousand men killed, wounded or prisoner and many companies had
lost 60% of their officers.
When the Queens South Africa campaign medal was issued, it had numerous clasps for the events that the recipient had
taken part in. A clasp for Belmont was awarded to over 50 men of the 19th A.S.C. including Captain Edward Studdert.
No clasps were awarded for the Graspan battle but over 50 men of the 19th A.S.C. received clasps for Modder River.
However, Edward Studdert did not qualify for this clasp. As the 19th Army Service Corps had not incurred any
casualties during the advance to Kimberley up to that time, it would indicate that Edward had been detached from
his company for other duties and had not taken part in the Modder River campaign. It is not possible to ascertain what
these duties may have been but a clue to his detachment can be found a couple of months from this date.
Lord Methuen, following his withdrawal to the Modder River, had to sit quietly, waiting for instructions of how to
proceed. He was advised to withdraw all of the way back to Orange River station if he considered himself not strong
enough to attack the Boers again. However, 11,000 newly arrived reinforcements gave him fresh confidence to hold his
position until additional supplies could be brought forward.
In early February the camp at Modder River began to show signs of new preparations to attack the Boers, who had
been preparing new positions in front of Magersfontein to meet this expected advance.
On the 3rd February 1900 Major General Hector MacDonald, known as “Fighting Mac”, had moved out in a westerly
direction towards the Riet River, with the Highland Brigade, 9th Lancers and 9th & 62nd Royal Field Artillery. The
purpose of this advance was to capture the drift at Koodoesberg and by doing so prevent a force of Boers who were
reported to be coming in that direction, joining forces with the Boers at Magersfontein and threaten the line of
communication. It was also meant to attract the attention of the enemy and divert it from the proposed advance of
Lord Roberts recently arrived reinforcements, towards the east.
Attached to the column was Captain Edward Studdert. As MacDonald’s intention was to merely occupy ground and
draw enemy attention towards them, it was not necessary for an A.S.C. Officer to have been involved in the manoeuvre.
It was obvious that he must have been present for another purpose and that was due to the losses incurred by the
Seaforth Highlanders at their recent battle at Magersfontein. They had suffered many casualties on that day,
including one Major being killed, as well as two Captains killed and two Captains wounded. Edward Studdert, with the
experience of serving in a line regiment and with the appropriate rank, would have been attached to the regiment
temporarily to replace a missing senior officer.
The march to the drift was made in scorching sunshine and dust. Some of the men dropped out with sunstroke but they
bivouacked for the night at Fraser’s drift. On the following morning the column continued along a rough road, suffering
greatly from thirst and arrived exhausted at Koodoesberg drift at 1 p.m. As no Boers had been observed on the march,
the officers allowed the men to bathe in the river. A hurried meal of bully beef and biscuit was eaten and then the men
were ordered to prepare defensive positions at the drift and north and south of the river. The 9th lancers reconnoitred
the area and discovered a small party of Boers who quickly fled when approached.
On the 5th February both sides of the river around the drift were occupied and a large party of Boers exchanged long
range shots but no serious conflict took place.
On the 6th February another large party of Boers appeared and both sides made for a large Kopje, which the British
troops just managed to occupy. The Boers turned and retreated, pursued by the lancers.
|The Highland Brigade in action|
at Koodoesberg drift.
|Captain Studdert attached to|
At 9 a.m. on Wednesday the 7th February, the Boers managed to drag
a heavy field gun close to the drift and opened fire on the Seaforth
Highlanders, who were positioned with half of the battalion at the south
of Koodoesberg on the right bank of the river and the other half of the
battalion on the left bank. A sharp exchange of rifle fire took place
during which Edward Studdert was severely wounded by no less than
The Seaforths were pounded with shrapnel in a desperate attempt to
dislodge the Highlanders from their positions.
Eventually the Boer gun was silenced.
The arrival of the 12th lancers forced the Boers to withdraw, but the
lancers and their horses were completely exhausted
in the intense heat and could do little to catch the retreating enemy.
Orders to return to the Modder River followed and Edward Studdert
would have had to endure two days of being jolted
around in a wagon before receiving medical attention. His wounds required
complex medical treatment and he was placed on board a train designed to
carry injured soldiers and transported to the Wynberg General hospitals
in Cape Town.
Edward spent three months at
Wynberg before being considered
strong enough to be returned to
the United Kingdom. His wounds
were healing but they severely
affected his movement and general
The “Kildonan Castle” arrived at
Cape Town and Edward, together
with over three hundred other
invalids, were loaded on board.
The ship sailed from Cape Town
on the 25th April 1900 bound for
Southampton. The number of
officers on board was stated as
being the most officers ever
brought home by one vessel.
The “Kildonan Castle” arrived
at Southampton on the 14th May
and in less than two hours every
man was disembarked, entrained
and on their way to Netley
After convalescing at Netley
hospital, Edward Studdert
returned to South Africa at
some time in 1900. A record of
his passage there cannot be
located, but shipping lists had
ceased being published with
every officer’s name on them
during this year. He must have
been considered not fit enough
to undertake his military duties,
as he is recorded as returning
to England on board the “Bavarian”,
which sailed on the 8th February
1901 and arrived at Southampton
on the 9th March 1901.
|Transport ship “Bavarian”|
By the end of 1901 he was recorded as being based in Egypt where he remained until 1903. On the 1st April 1903 he
received promotion to the rank of Major.
On the 6th December 1902 the following paragraph appeared in a small New York news paper:-
“David Bispham, the noted American baritone, today confirmed the report that he had instituted proceeding for
divorce, naming a well known business man of this city as co-respondent. The suit was begun in England, where Mr.
Bispham has a residence”
If this divorce had taken place in America it is unlikely that very much interest would have been raised in the matter.
However, because David Bispham lived in England, he discovered that he was unable to get a divorce in his native state
until he had returned and lived there for 12 months. He therefore decided to domicile the case in England. He also
named a further co-respondent in the divorce of his wife, as being Captain Edward Studdert.
After a hearing in June 1903 it was agreed that the case would take place in the divorce courts in December 1903.
On the 11th December the petitioner’s case was stated that David Bispham has first met Captain Studdert in 1896
and had borrowed £400 from him, which was repaid at a rate of 4.5%. He had not the slightest suspicion of Captain
Studdert’s conduct, who was on visiting terms with the Bisphams. He had become a frequent visitor when the husband
was away. If Captain Studdert stayed the night he would occupy Mr Bisphams room. In 1898 Mr Bispham, due to his
wife’s extravagance, took a country house in Gloucestershire, and there his wife was visited by Captain Studdert, who
was seen embracing and otherwise familiar to her. Adultery was committed between 1897 and 1898 in the house at
Kensington and at Tretheme Lodge.
William Boston, the family butler and his wife were the chief witnesses for David Bispham’s case. They both stated
that Captain Studdert came to the house two or three times a month and then returned to Aldershot. Caroline Bispham
and Captain Studdert were very friendly towards each other and the butler’s wife further said that seen Mrs Bispham
with her arms around Captain Studdert’s neck. He called her Kitten and she called him Teddie.
Edward Studdert represented himself in court and cross examined the witnesses. He gradually wore them down into
admitting that they had observed no actual familiarity. When he gave his own evidence he stated that he was wounded
early in the South African war, and after he was invalided home Mrs Bispham called upon him. She had visited him at
his rooms, but on the day it was said she had her arms round his neck he had no recollection of her being there at all.
He denied in the strongest possible manner that he had ever committed misconduct with her. His relations with Mrs
Bispham had been nothing more than friendly. It had been suggested that he called her Kitten, but he had not done so.
In the first place he was not fond of pet names, and in the second he considered Kitten inappropriate.
He then addressed the jury and stated that council for Mr Bispham had introduced a romance of a balcony at the
Lodge in Gloucestershire, making him a sort of “Romeo in pyjamas” to which the court burst into laughter. There was
no evidence given to support this claim.
Mr Justice Barnes then summed up the evidence and alluded to Major Studdert’s conduct in the case. He stated
that although the Gentleman was obviously in bad health he had done remarkably well. He had conducted his case in a
courteous and Gentlemanly manner, also with a perfect candour. Had he been at the bar he would have become a
He then mentioned that the case rested on the evidence of Boston the butler, and that servants were prone to
exaggeration. He considered the relationship of Edward Studdert and Caroline Bispham to have been an honourable
and loyal friendship. The jury, after an absence of only twenty minutes, found Mrs Bispham and neither of the co-
respondents to be guilty of the charges. His Lordship dismissed the husband’s petition with costs and also dismissed
the co-respondents from the suit with costs. It was stated that there was to be an appeal against the sentence on the
grounds of misdirection.
On the 3rd March 1904 the Court of Appeal granted an application made by Major Studdert to postpone the hearing
until the next sitting, due to him being seriously ill.
Major Studdert resigned his commission and retired with a gratuity on the 26th April 1904. He had been in Egypt
but returned to England at the beginning of May, but was taken seriously ill again. He gave up all hope of conducting
his own case and was forced to engage counsel.
The appeal, which was held on the 18th May 1904, was quickly dismissed with costs against Mr Bispham.
With Edward Studdert’s health now failing he was advised by a friend to travel to the Castle hot springs in Arizona,
which was a new health resort and had opened in 1896. Many additional buildings had been added between the years
1900 and 1904, including a palm house.
Edward Studdert boarded
the R.M.S. “Cedric” at
Liverpool and sailed on the
30th September to America,
landing at New York on the
8th October 1904.
He then travelled to Phoenix, Arizona and stayed there for a short time before travelling to the hot springs. This
involved a train journey to Morristown and then a four hour journey by stage coach over dirt roads to cover the
24 miles to the resort.
He arrived in very poor health and his Boer war wounds were described as “undermining his system”. The hot springs,
dry desert air and the “miraculous recoveries” which were claimed could not cure this problem and Edward Studdert
died on the 4th March 1905. An undertaker was called to embalm the body until friends could decide what they wished
done. It would appear that Edward Studdert was buried in the cemetery at Castle springs because no evidence can be
found of repatriation. The small cemetery there contained between 15-20 graves.
A news paper report mentioned that amongst his possessions were a number of medals received for distinguished
service during the Boer war. It can only be presumed that the paper was referring to the Queens South Africa medal
which Edward Studdert received with its clasp for Belmont, which was issued to him on the 14th January 1902.
|Queens South Africa medal awarded to Captain E. Studdert with engraved naming (usual for Officers)|