Lord William Beresford

For other people named William Beresford, see William Beresford (disambiguation).
Lord William Beresford

Lord William Beresford, c. 1880
Born 20 July 1847
Mullaghbrack, County Armagh
Died 30 December 1900 (aged 53)
Dorking, Surrey
Buried at Clonagem Churchyard, County Waterford
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Rank Lieutenant-Colonel
Unit 9th Queen's Royal Lancers
Battles/wars Anglo-Zulu War
Awards Victoria Cross
Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire

Lieutenant-Colonel Lord William Leslie de la Poer Beresford VC KCIE (20 July 1847 30 December 1900) born Mullaghbrack, County Armagh, Ireland was an Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Early years

William Leslie de la Poer Beresford was born on 20 July 1847, the second son of John de La Poer Beresford, 4th Marquess of Waterford.[1] Beresford was sent to Eton in 1858.[2] When he was sixteen he left Eton and went to Bonn, where he studied French and German at the home of a tutor.[3] In 1867, at the age of twenty, he joined the 9th Queen's Royal Lancers as a cornet.[4] In 1875 the regiment was sent to India, where it was stationed at Sialkot.[5] Later that year he was appointed A.D.C. to Lord Northbrook, the retiring Viceroy, in Calcutta. He did some racing, and won the Corinthian Purse at a meet attended by the Prince of Wales.[6]

Zulu war

Beresford became a captain in the 9th Lancers during the Zulu War of 1879.[1] On 3 July 1879 at Ulundi, Zululand, South Africa, during the retirement of a reconnoitring party, Captain Lord William Beresford went to the assistance of Sergeant Fitzmaurice of the 24th Regiment, whose horse had fallen and rolled on him. The Zulus were coming in great numbers, but Lord William, with help from Sergeant Edmund O'Toole of the Frontier Light Horse.,[7] managed to mount the injured man behind him. He was, however, so dizzy that Sergeant O'Toole, who had been keeping back the advancing Zulus, gave up his carbine and, riding alongside, helped to hold him on until they reached safety.[8]

Initially the VC was only awarded to Beresford but he told the Queen that O'Toole also deserved to receive the VC

Her Majesty pinning it on to the hero's breast, but not before he had explained to his Queen he could not in honour receive recognition of any services he had been able to perform, unless Sergeant O'Toole's services were also recognised, as he deserved infinitely greater credit than any that might attach to himself. The Queen, appreciating this generosity and soldierly honesty, bestowed the reward also on Sergeant Edmund OToole of Baker's Horse, and Lord William was satisfied.[9]

Later career

Lord William Beresford's funeral, 3 January 1901

Lord William Beresford became a member of the staff of the Viceroy of India. He won the Viceroy's cup at the Calcutta Turf Club in 1881 with his black gelding Camballo. He later won it three more times with Myall King.[10] Beresford strongly believed in the merits of English thoroughbreds. He was rivaled in Indian racing circles by the wealthy Calcutta merchant Apcar Alexander Apcar, who owned a stud of Australian race horses, and his partner the barrister Malcolm Peter Gasper. This competition did much to improve the quality of horses in India.[11] In England, Beresford's filly Sibola won the 1899 1,000 Guineas Stakes, and came second in the Epsom Oaks. In 1899 his two-year-old Democrat beat Diamond Jubilee, winner of the Triple Crown. Democrat did not continue racing, but later was Lord Kitchener's charger in India.[12]

Lord William Beresford achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel.


In 1895 he married Lillian, widow of George Spencer-Churchill, 8th Duke of Marlborough, and daughter of Commodore Cicero Price. He died at Deepdene, Dorking, Surrey on 30 December 1900 from perotinitis at the age of 53. He had one child, William Warren de la Poer Beresford (4 February 1897 - 28 January 1919).[1]





Listed in order of year of publication

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