Lieutenant EDWARD CLAUDE GOULBURN HIGHTON
Baker's Horse, formerly Captain, 2nd Natal Native Contingent
Born: 18th April 1850
1st Son of: Reverend Henry Highton of Cheltenham.
Educated: Cheltenham College
Died: 17th Jan 1882, accidentally shot and killed at Qumba, South Africa, Age 31
This inscription is very interesting.
We know that Edward Highton was the brother of Alfred Highton as his obituary states that he "is survived by three brothers, all of whom are abroad, and by one sister, Mrs. Lowes of Wimbledon, who is 11 years his senior. One brother was killed in the South African War." The South African War (Boer War) was from 1899 to1902. As we know from his college records, AC Highton was the 2nd son of Henry Highton, indicating an older brother. According to his obituary in the Banbury Guardian, A C Highton was born on June 22nd, 1851 E Highton was born 18th April 1850. This means that Edward Highton had to have been Alfred Highton's older brother. The three surviving brothers are named as Willie, Arthur and Frank in the account of the funeral and must have been younger.
The Anglo-Zulu war was in 1879 (not 1882). Alfred Highton became Barford Parish Vicar in 1898, 16 years after the death of his brother Edward and fully 37 years before his name was commemorated on the memorial. Put simply, the vicar's brother is included on the memorial, his inscription is longer, costing more, and the quoted date of the Zulu war is three years out. And this was 37 years before the memorial was erected. The vicar may have contributed financially to the memorial, and is likely to be responsible for the Latin inscription. George Carter, retired stonemason, suggests that the memorial was funded privately because it was erected so quickly - publicly funded memorials took much longer to appear .At the worst, the vicar used the memorial to the fallen men of his parish to commemorate his brother, at best; the vicar was attempting to share his own loss with his parishioners. There isn't enough evidence to be sure of his motives, but it is likely that the vicar paid highly for the privilege. The only suggestion of the reaction of the community to this was in a letter to me from Hubert Trevor: "the vicar caused a stir amongst some villagers by including his brother on the memorial who died in the Boer war some 30 years before".
Zulu War historian Ian Knight was invaluable in finding out about E.C.G. Highton. There is much more work that can be done. Baker's Horse was an irregular unit raised initially to fight in the 9th Cape Frontier War (1877-78). Irregulars were civilian volunteers, raised from the white settler population, and paid directly by the British Army - in this they differed from what were called 'Volunteer' units, who were part-time soldiers raised among the settlers, but paid for by the respective colonies, and properly only supposed to be used for local defence. Irregulars could be sent anywhere, and Baker's Horse (named after the commanding officer) were; after the CFW they were sent up to Zululand in 1879, and took part in the battles of Hlobane, Khambula and Ulundi. They were disbanded at the end of the war, when their service expired, but promptly raised again to take part in a number of subsequent outbreaks. They fought in the BaSotho 'Gun War' (1880/81), and then in Griqualand (which is south of BaSotholand - between there and southern Natal) in 1882.
Highton is not on the medal role for Baker's Horse in 1879, but appears as an officer in another local Corps, the Natal Native Contingent. It appears he transferred to Baker's Horse either during the war, or when it was revived after the war was over.
Unfortunately, the irregular units - together with the African auxiliary units - are the least well documented of all Zulu War units. This is because they were raised according to need, and disbanded when the need passed. Although important and useful, they were low on the official priorities, and they tended to be dismissed by regular officers. As a result, official information is pretty minimal, and it is often difficult to get even reliable lists of officers. Also, this was generally before the age of unit diaries - one or two have survived at Divisional level - so there is not much to go on there. Generally, the best one can hope for is to find an officer's memoir from a particular unit. It was when I chanced across a book in the COS about the memorial inscriptions of Oxfordshire that I read this paragraph.
"Rarely, those who died in other wars are commemorated: just a century separates Lieutenant Highton, of Baker's Horse, killed in action in the Zulu war of 1882 (Barford St. Michael) from John Heritage who died in the Falklands in 1982 and whose name is engraved on the Cropredy cross. "
Until then, I had thought that the memorial commemorated a Lieutenant Highton, and a Lieutenant Baker's Horse, both killed in the Zulu War of 1882. I though it incredibly arrogant that an officer deemed it fit to have his horse remembered on the same memorial as the men from the village. The wording on the memorial does not make this clear, and it takes someone with background knowledge of the Zulu War to make sense of it. Although it is an amusing anecdote, I feel it also highlights the gap between the knowledge that past generations had and the general knowledge we have today.
Source ‘Edward Claude Goulburn Highton web site’