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Soldier of the Regiment

Lieutenant Theobald Pepper Roberts

Theobald Pepper Roberts was commissioned into the King's Own as Ensign on 15th December 1840.  He was promoted Lieutenant on 2nd August 1844.  He was the regiment's senior subaltern in the Crimea in 1854, and left the Regiment in the same year, after nearly 14 years service as subaltern.

He was involved in an altercation in Edinburgh in 1853 which is detailed in this report from The Times and also referred to by his fellow officer, Captain Jasper Hall.

Article from The Times newspaper, circa Sep 1853 “Affray between the Military and Police in Edinburgh” with reference to Lieutenant Roberts of the King’s Own Royal Regiment.
Accession Number: KO3034/03

Affray between the Military and the Police in Edinburgh
(From the Scotsman)

The annual gymnastic games came off on Thursday in Belville Park, Holyrood and, the day being favourable a large number of spectators amounting, probably, to 10,000 or 12,000 assembled to witness the various sports. The different prizes were well contested, and the whole proceedings would have passed off in a very orderly and creditable manner but for a rather serious affray, quite accidental in its origin, which took place between the police and a part of the 4th Regiment, now in the Castle. About 4 o’clock a steeple race was to be run, the distance being from Belville Park up to the hill behind St. Anthony’s Chapel, and back again. The spectators, who had previously crowded round a chain, which was drawn around the park, so as to form a large circle in which the various games proceeded, now drew off in lines to watch this race, and, at its conclusion, a great press took place in the direction of the point at which the competitors arrived. In running along to get to this point a little boy named Sinclair, son of Mr. Sinclair, South Bridge, happened to jostle a gentleman who was standing on the outskirts of the crowd, and who afterwards turned out to be an officer of the 4th Regiment in the dress of a civilian. In the heat of the moment, the officer, Lieutenant Roberts, turned round and struck the boy with a cane; but the blow, probably falling with greater force than had been intended, produced a cut on the head, from which the blood flowed. Seeing this, the bystanders insisted that the police should take the gentleman into custody. A sergeant and two policeman accordingly apprehended him, and were conveying him off the ground, when some of the soldiers of the 4th Regiment, who were present among the spectators, recognising their officer, rushed to rescue him. The police maintained their hold, and a severe struggle ensued. Several of the sergeants of the 4th endeavoured to persuade the men to desist from their attempt, and the officer himself, we understand, did the same, but their efforts were fruitless, and, many other soldiers joining their comrades, a regular fight took place with the police. It is difficult to say how many were engaged in it as the combatants were divided into groups in some of which one or two policemen had to encounter eight or ten soldiers. The latter were, fortunately, without their side-arms, but they used their heavy leather belts and sticks which were supplied by their comrades, and also by some of the lowest characters in the crowd; none, however, except soldiers, took part in the fight. Superintendent Linton, Lieutenant M’Lellan, and others, were on the ground, but it was some time before they ascertained what was going on, in consequence of the immense crowd. Colonel Trevor, also, the commanding officer of the regiment, fortunately happened to be present; and but for this circumstance the disturbance would, in all likelihood, have ended far more seriously than it did. He ordered the bugles to sound as a call to the men, and in a short time all of them obeyed the summons, and were marched off to the Castle. The band and about 25 men with side-arms, who were assisting the police to preserve order at the games, but who took no part in the fight, were also withdrawn. The whole affair did not last much more than five minutes. None of the soldiers, so far as is known, are injured, and this may be accounted for by the fact that they used belts and sticks, while the police had only their short batons. The police have not been so fortunate; six of them have been wounded, two or three rather seriously, their heads having been dreadfully cut. We are glad, however, to state that dangerous results are not anticipated in any of the cases.

Five soldiers were apprehended on Thursday – three privates and two lance corporals. Two of these were taken into custody in the park; the others were afterwards found in the High Street, and, being recognised as engaged in the affray, they were at once captured. These men – John Withey and Charles Whitbread, lance corporals, and Charles Walsh, William Butler, and James Connot, privates – were brought before Sheriff Arkley yesterday at the police court, charged with assault on officers in the execution of their duty by striking them with belts, sticks and other weapons and knocking them down and kicking them – all to the effusion of blood; also with attempting to rescue a prisoner whom the police had in custody. They were at once remitted to the Sheriff Court.

Yesterday afternoon the police officers visited the Castle, and identified 10 other privates as having been engaged in the disturbances. They were accordingly removed to the police-office; but on investigation it was found that the evidence affected only three of them, whereupon the other seven were liberated.

Two of three of those who are suspected to be the ring-leaders in the affray are believed to have escaped over the hill, and they have not yet made their appearance at the Castle.

Some apprehension was entertained lest the disturbance should have been renewed last evening, but we are glad to say that everything passed off quietly.

The officer who was unintentionally the cause of the whole affair gave himself into custody at the police office on Thursday, but he was released on parole. Yesterday the charge against him – that of striking the boy – was also remitted to the Sheriff.



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