THOMAS FRANCIS COSBY ROCHFORT
4th European Light Cavalry and Bengal Cavalry
Thomas Francis Cosby Rochfort was born on the 8th of February, 1841, the
second son of Colonel Horace William Noel Rochfort of Clogrenan House, County
Carlow, Ireland. His mother, Frances Elizabeth Cosby, was the daughter of
Thomas Phillips Cosby of Stradbally Hall. Thomas’ father, Horace Rochfort, a
Deputy Lord Lieutenant, Justice of the Peace and High Sheriff of County
Carlow, was one of the largest landowners in the county, owning over 1,600
acres of farmland, and was a noted athlete who founded the Carlow Cricket
Club, the Carlow Rugby Club (officially known as the County Carlow Football
Club, which is still in existence today), as well as the All Ireland Polo Club, the
oldest polo club in Europe.
Thomas’s mother died on the 25th of March, 1841, less than two months after
his birth. Quite possibly, her death was due to complications from childbirth,
not uncommon at the time.
His father remarried within a few years, marrying the Honorable Charlotte
Hood, the daughter of Samuel Hood, 2nd Baron Bridport, on the 4th of
September, 1845. Growing up, Thomas no doubt lived a life of privilege as a
member of the landed gentry of Ireland.
Thomas received the usual classical and mathematical education, attending the Liverpool Collegiate Institution in 1854 and
1855, thereafter being tutored by Mr. Charles Howard.
Thomas was recommended for a commission in the Bengal Cavalry for the 1856/57 season by John Petty Muspratt at the
recommendation of Lieutenant-Colonel Valiant of H.M. 40th Regiment. Charles passed the examination of the 18th of
February, 1857, and as was customary, was commissioned a Cornet in the Bengal Cavalry on the day he sailed for India, the
4th of April, 1857.
Thomas arrived at Fort William on the 15th of May, 1857. Between the time Thomas had sailed from England for India and
his arrival in Calcutta, the Great Indian Mutiny had begun on May 10th at Meerut in Northern India and spread throughout
the Bengal Presidency. On the 22nd of July, just two months after his arrival in the strange country of India, Thomas
Rochfort then age sixteen and a newly commissioned Cornet (a “Griff” in the slang of the time), was thrust into the thick
of a savage, bloody conflict when he was ordered to do duty with the 2nd Bengal Cavalry, which was stationed up-country
at Cawnpore. Thereafter, on the 17th of November, 1857, Thomas was ordered to do duty with H.M. 2nd Dragoon Guards
(the Queen’s Bays).
The Bays, having only landed at Calcutta in the beginning of November, were engaged in a 500 mile march from Calcutta to
Allahabad to join the cavalry forces under Sir Hope Grant who were then actively engaged in campaigning against the
mutineers in Northern India in a column under the command of Sir Colin Campbell (later Lord Clyde). Cornet Rochfort
probably joined the Bays when the Regiment reached Cawnpore, and would have participated in the hard campaigning
thereafter engaged in by the column in Northern India. The hardships and privations suffered by the troops engaged in
this portion of the war can only be imagined, as they fought not only the mutineers in a quasi-guerrilla war, but also the
terrain, the weather and the bane of Europeans in India: disease.
It is a safe assumption that Cornet Rochfort participated in the charge of the Queen’s Bays at Lucknow on the 6th of
March, 1858, when they made the gallant, if rash, cavalry charge for which they were to become famous. At that time,
the Army under the command of Lord Clyde, while advancing on the rebel stronghold of Lucknow in the province of Oude
in Northern India came upon a large body of enemy cavalry and infantry. The Bays were ordered to the front and “Charge
and Pursue” was sounded. The Regiment, accompanied by the 2nd Punjab Cavalry, rode for over three miles, cutting down
and pursuing the enemy right up to the city of Lucknow and across the River Gomati.
Three members of the Bays were awarded the Victoria Cross for their actions during the Mutiny and the Regiment was
granted the Battle Honour “Lucknow” for its part in putting down the rebellion.
According to Ubique, War Services of Bengal Officers, Lieutenant T.F.C. Rochfort’s services during 1857 and 1858 in the
suppression of the Indian Mutiny consisted of being present at the final siege and capture of the city of Lucknow in March
of 1858, with the troops under the command of General Colin Campbell (Lord Clyde); and in the subsequent operations in
Oude under the command Sir Hope Grant, including the actions of Koorsee (primarily a cavalry action in which over 200
mutineers were killed) and Baree (another mainly cavalry action which involved the rebels being routed and put to flight
after a charge by Hope Grant’s forces).
Due to the desperate need for cavalry troops created by the Indian Mutiny, five new European Light Cavalry Regiments
were raised in 1858. Following the formation of the 4th European Light Cavalry, on May 18th, 1858, Thomas Rochfort
was promoted to Lieutenant and transferred to the Right Wing of this newly formed regiment.
For his services during the Mutiny, Thomas received the Indian Mutiny medal with clasp for Lucknow, named to him as a
Lieutenant in the 4th European Light Cavalry. This was the only campaign medal Rochfort was to receive during his entire
Thomas is shown in the July 1861 Indian Army List as a Lieutenant in the 4th European Light Cavalry. Upon the
disbandment of the 4th European Light Cavalry in 1862, Rochfort did not transfer to the British Army as did many of
his peers, but remained with the Bengal Cavalry. He appears sometime after 1861 to have been posted to do duty with the
Stud Department, and remained with that department until his retirement many years later.
Thomas Rochfort was promoted to Captain on the 2nd of July, 1864, to Major on the 10th of October, 1874, to Lieutenant
Colonel on the 21st of December, 1880, and to Colonel on the 22nd of December, 1884. He is listed in the 1886 edition of
Hart’s Army List as a Colonel and member of the Bengal Staff Corps, serving as the Assistant Superintendent of the
Reserve Remount Depot at Saharunpore, India. His name does not appear in the Army List after 1886.
Following his retirement from the Army, Colonel Rochfort married Alice, the widow of the late Colonel J. C. C. Daunt, V.C.,
Bengal Staff Corps, on the 19th of July, 1889 at St. Peter’s Hammersmith. They had no children, although Mrs. Daunt had
several children by her previous husband. It appears that Thomas Rochfort and Colonel Daunt had been close friends as
Daunt’s third son was named Bertram Rochfort Daunt, presumably after Thomas.
Colonel Thomas Francis Cosby Rochfort died on the 14th of October, 1901, at Chalet Lilburn, Territet, Switzerland, an
exclusive resort town on the shores of Lake Geneva. The executors of his estate were Thomas’ older brothers
John de Burgh Rochfort and Horace William Rochfort, and Thomas’ stepson, John Hubert Edward Daunt.
Cadet Paper, L/MIL/9/240/633-40
Service Papers, L/MIL/10/62/, 65/692, 66/692, 67/692.
Ubique, War Services of All Officers of H.M.’s Bengal Army, T.C. Anderson, Calcutta 1863.
The Indian Army and Civil Service List, July 1861, Secretary of State for India in Council.
Hart’s Army List, 1886, London.
The Times, Friday, Oct 18, 1901; pg. 4; Issue 36589; col C.
The Times, Wednesday, Mar 19, 1902; pg. 2; Issue 36719; col A.
|Clogrenan House, his ancestral |
home in Ireland from an engraving
|For a more detailed account of the activity of the Bays during the Mutiny and to see a copy
of Payne's picture depicting the charge, please see the Michael Hoare page in this collection