'The Court-Martial of Lieut. Perry of H. Majesty's 46th Regiment, in the Mess Room at Windsor Barracks, August 1854'
Coloured lithograph, artist unknown, published by Read and Co, London, 9 September 1854.
The hierarchical and socially exclusive nature of the early Victorian officer corps was thrown into sharp relief by the court martial of Lieutenant James Edward Perry of the 46th (The South Devonshire) Regiment. The son of a tradesman, Perry had been subject to severe bullying until, losing all restraint, he attacked Lieutenant Thomas Greer with a silver candlestick. Both officers were eventually required to sell their commissions and leave the Army but the proceedings of the court martial exposed the unsavoury atmosphere in at least one officers' mess and generated much adverse publicity.
The print depicts the examination of a Lieutenant W T Waldy: ''Lieut. Waldy denies having ever heard Captain Nicholas make use of opprobius language to any young officer, or that he had ever so stated in writing. Lieut. Perry handing his letter to the president wherrin he (Lieut. Waldy) distinctly states that Captain Nicholas applied the disgusting language referred to. to Ensign Coote. Lieut. Waldy is unable to perceive the discrepancy between his written letter and his statement on oath; and also totally unable to recollect, as is the case with all his other gallant brother officers, anything prejudicial to Capt. Nicholas or to themselves, or in the slightest degree advantageous to the prisoner'.
NAM Accession Number
National Army Museum Copyright
National Army Museum, Study Collection