This is what I had on Arthur Sears at the time of the publication of 'The Rorke's Drift Men' in 2010; a book I had been working on since 1985. I have more now, but I am publishing an update next year under the title: 'The Defenders of Rorke's Drift'.
Arthur John Sears was born on 29 January 1854, at Harmondsworth, near Sunbury-on-Thames in Middlesex, where his family had been established for hundreds of years. He was the sixth son in a family of eight to John Sears, an agricultural labourer, and his wife, Ann (formerly Ives), who had started their married life in a house called ‘Greensleeves’ in Sunbury. Soon after Arthur’s birth the family moved to Nursery Road, Sunbury, and by 1861 they lived at a house called ‘The Ceson’ in Sunbury.
Arthur and two of his brothers, Henry and Joseph chose the army life, and Arthur enlisted at Little Warley in Essex, on 14 February 1873. He was described as being five feet nine inches tall, with grey eyes and light-brown hair. His muscular development was good, and his religion was Church of England. As 2404 Private Sears, he was posted to A Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment. Henry and Joseph also joined the 24th Regiment. He was detached to the School of Military Music at Kneller Hall in 1874-75, and in 1878 he was appointed Bandsman.
He received orders for active service in South Africa and sailed to the Cape with his battalion in February 1878. He took part in the Cape Frontier War, and during the Zulu War he was present at the defence of Rorke’s Drift. For his service he received the South Africa Medal with 1877-8-9 clasp. Sadly, as 279 Private Sears of the 1st/24th, his brother, Henry, was killed in action at Isandlwana on 22 January 1879.
He married Emma Park, the orphaned daughter of a Royal Artillery officer, at St John’s Episcopalian Church in Secunderabad, on 14 August 1882. They had seven children. Mildred Clara was born in 1883, Arthur John in 1885, Alice Emma in 1889, Charles Thomas in 1895, Florence in 1897, Walter Edward in 1900 and Cyril Leslie in 1903.
He obtained a 3rd class certificate of education, and was promoted corporal on 6 March1883, and sergeant on 1 May 1884. He re-engaged in Madras on 30 January 1885, for such term as would complete 21 years service. He was posted to Rangoon in Burma on 9 May1886, and from there to Tongou on the 2 November 1886. He was appointed sergeant-drummer on 1 June 1888. He returned to India in 1889, being stationed at Bareilly and Allahabad, and in October 1893 they boarded HMS Serapis for the journey to England. He discharged on 14 February 1894, having been awarded the Burma Medal with 1887-89 clasp, and the Long Service, Good Conduct Medal. He was granted a weekly pension of eleven shillings.
Arthur began working for the Royal Parks Department as PK24 (Park keeper) at Kensington in June 1895. He left the Royal Parks Department for health reasons in 1905. He died on 15 December 1906, at 85 Stephendale Road, Fulham, London, aged 51, having been suffering from tubercular phthisis. He was buried in Fulham Cemetery (section C18, grave 6A). John Waters lies buried in the same cemetery.