Thomas Martin Shelley
Thomas Martin Shelley was born on 3 December 1829. He was the son of
William Martin Shelley of Wood Street London, Clerk to the Independent
Gas Company, and his wife Ann Elizabeth and was baptised at Christ
Church in Middlesex on the 12th of March 1830.
The petition of Thomas Martin Shelley to enter the military service of the
H.E.I.C. as a cadet of Bengal Infantry was submitted on the 27th
November, 1850. The nominating director was John Petty Muspratt Esq.
at the recommendation of Shelley's uncle Robert Graham Esq. of Buxton
House, Forest Leyton, Essex. By this time Shelley's father, formerly clerk
in the Independent Gas Company, had passed away and he was living with
his mother at No.1 Downham Road, Kingsland. He described the nature of
his education at Mr. Dudley's School in Kingsland as classical.
Shelley was appointed Ensign on 20 January 1851 and on this same day he
proceeded to India by the overland route to take up his appointment.
Ensign Shelley arrived in India and was posted to the 1st Bengal Fusiliers
on the 6th of March, 1851. On the 24th of September, 1851, he exchanged
to the 11th Bengal Native Infantry, then stationed at Barrackpore. The
11th BNI moved to Allahabad in January of 1853. In 1855, Ensign Shelley
was appointed Adjutant to a wing of the 11th Bengal Native Infantry at
On the 13th of August, 1856, Thomas Shelley married Flora Loudoun Orchard, daughter of Brevet Colonel Joseph Orchard,
late 1st Bengal European Fusiliers, at Delhi.
As of the 23rd of November, 1856, Thomas Shelley was promoted to Lieutenant. On May 10th, 1857, Lieutenant Shelley was
present at the mutiny of the 11th Bengal Native Infantry at Meerut, the beginning of the great Indian Mutiny. (See Melville
Clarke, vide, for a discussion of the events surrounding the start of the Mutiny at Meerut). Lieutenant Shelley was attached
subsequently to H.M’s 60th Rifles and to the Bengal Artillery, and “raised the volunteers at Meerut”.
Tragically, Flora Loudoun Shelley died in Meerut from premature confinement at age 26 years on the 30th of May, 1857.1
Lieutenant Shelley joined the 1st Punjab Rifles (better known as the famous Coke’s Rifles), of the Punjab Irregular Force
(the “Piffers”), an elite Sikh regiment, at Delhi on 12 August2 and served in all the actions with that Regiment until the 29th
of September. He was wounded (slightly) on the 14th of September during the final assault on Delhi with No. 3 Column.
For his services Thomas Shelley was awarded the Indian Mutiny Medal with 'Delhi' clasp, named to him as a Lieutenant in
the 1st Punjab Rifles. It was the only campaign medal he was to receive during his career.
In 1858 Lieutenant Shelley was granted leave to Europe on sick certificate. On 4 September 1860, he married Mary
Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Tong Esquire at Beckenham in Kent, England. They were to eventually have three sons
together: Archibald, Percy and Bertram.3
In 1861, Lieutenant Shelley was appointed to the staff at Warley Depot in Essex as Orderly Officer and Acting Adjutant,
but returned to his Regiment later that same year. He was promoted Captain in the Army from 20 January 1863 with the
11th Bengal Native Infantry, continuing to be stationed at Meerut.
Captain Shelley was granted furlough to Europe on private affairs for 3 years from 31 March 1865. He returned from
Europe on the 18th of January, 1867, and was attached to H.M’s 20th Regiment of Foot (although granted furlough to Europe
for three years, he returned to India and regimental duty after a little over two years) 4
On the 10th of March, 1867, he was attached to the 33rd (The Allahabad) Regiment of Native Infantry at Morar. In April
of 1868, Captain Shelley joined the Barrack Department and was appointed Barrack Master 1st Class at Morar and Sepree
from 7 November, 1869.
Captain Shelley was promoted to Major in the Army from the 20th of December, 1870 and Major in his parent Regiment
(the 1st Punjab Rifles) from 6 August 1871 (while still serving as Barrack Master at Morar and Sepree.) He was promoted to
Lieutenant Colonel from 14 December 1871, and appointed Barrack Master 1st Class at Morar, Sepree and Jhansi in 1872.
Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Shelley ceased to be actively employed from 13 July 1873, and he returned to Europe on the 1st
of April, 1874 (where he remained for the rest of his life.) He was promoted Colonel from 1 July 1881 and transferred to
Unemployed Supernumerary List from 3 December 1882.
Thomas Shelley was promoted Major General from 17 August 1890 (he was still recorded on the Unemployed Supernumerary
List in the January 1906 Indian Army List.)
1 Flora Loudoun Shelley gave birth to a premature baby William Robert Orchard Shelley, who died at Meerut in May 1862,
aged 5½ years.
2 Shelley’s own statement of services records that his field services with the 1st Punjab Infantry commenced on 12 August
1857, in which case he probably took part in the action that resulted in the capture of the rebel guns located in
‘Ludlow Castle’. His entry in Ubique gives the starting point as one day earlier, the medal roll as one day later.
3 Elizabeth Shelley died at Withycombe Raleigh in Devon on 25 November 1902.
4 Bengal Army Lists for January 1866, 1867 and 1868
Hodson Index card [National Army Museum]
Meerut Protestant Cemetery Burial Register 1855-1857 [BACSA records]
Bengal Army List; East India Register; Indian Army List
L/Mil/9/224: H.E.I.C. cadet papers
L/Mil/10/65-67: service records [early]
L/Mil/10/78-85: service records [late]
L/Mil/5/101 folio 74: roll of one claim for the Indian Mutiny medal
Thacker’s Bengal Directory
Calendar of Wills (Probate Administration)
Major General Thomas Martin Shelley
died at Withycombe Raleigh, Exmouth at
age 76 on the 10th of December, 1905.
He is buried at the parish church of St.
John in the Wilderness in Wythycombe
Raleigh, where his memorial remains in