Exhorting Psalm 91, Scarlett led his troops into Crimean battle

Dr John Hargreaves, President of Halifax Antiquarian Society, made a welcome return visit to Todmorden Antiquarians last week to present “Sir James Yorke Scarlett, Cliviger’s Crimean War Hero”.

James Scarlett, son of Lord Abinger of Sussex, had a privileged educational upbringing.

He purchased his Colonel status in 1840, and arrived in Burnley with Irish Dragoon Guards to support public order in industrial localities during the Chartist uprisings.

Colonel Scarlett met and subsequently married Charlotte Hargreaves, daughter of local colliery magnate living at Banks Hall along Colne Road, Burnley (our Dr John Hargreaves was not related, but actually born in Banks Hall when it later became a Maternity Home.)

Amongst many interesting pictures setting the scene was one depicting the Royal Irish Guards’ preparations for departure to Crimea. John showed a pictorial map of Balaklava and hinterland to explain the battlegrounds.

He also described Britain’s support, other countries’ involvement, and General Scarlett’s operations commanding the Heavy Brigade.

General Scarlett, a devout Christian, would exhort Psalm 91 before leading his troops into battle.

The Crimean War was the first to be extensively reported in British newspapers.

John continued with the second dimension to General Scarlett’s career. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had requested he supervise the wayward Prince Albert.

However, he declined as his wife was poorly at that time.

Returning to Burnley, General Scarlett was persuaded, in retirement, to stand as Conservative candidate in 1868 elections.

He gained support from his heroic war records, family largesse bestowed during the cotton famine and from many working class Tories. Richard Shaw, the Liberal opponent, won the election narrowly.

When Sir James Scarlett died in 1871, crowds gathered to see the gun carriage procession to St Peter’s Church thence to be buried in Lady Scarlett’s family vault in St John’s graveyard at Cliviger.

Todmorden Antiquarian chairman, Dorothy Parker, thanked John for his presentation which was the last speaker meeting until next October.