Fringe Box



Parke’s People No.12. Ross Lowis Mangles

Published on: 9 Jan, 2013
Updated on: 9 Jan, 2013

In the latest of an occasional series about people who have a connection with Guildford in one way or another, Bernard Parke recalls Ross Lowis Mangles, who was awarded a Victoria Cross in 1857 during the Indian Mutiny.

A cigarette card commemorating a Victorian hero – Ross Lowis Mangles.

A cigarette card commemorating a Victorian hero – Ross Lowis Mangles.

The Mangles family left their mark not only in Guildford but throughout many parts of the British Empire.

The life of James “ potato face” Mangles MP and his son-in-law Admiral Sir James Stirling (the founder of Western Australia) are fairly well documented, but very little seems to be known locally of Ross Lowis Mangles.

Ross was the grandson son of James Mangles, and was born in Calcutta in 1833.

The Mangles family had trade connections in the Indian sub-continent, and it was through those that Ross became an assistant magistrate with the East India Company at Patna.

In 1857, Ross, at the tender age of 24 years, went down in history as being one of only three civilians to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

It was in that year that the first step on the long road towards Indian independence was taken by the mutiny of the sepoys.

The sepoys Indians who were recruited to serve the East India Company numbered some 200,000, and outnumbered the British soldiers four to one.

There was considerable discontentment among the sepoys of the regulations imposed by their British masters. This was not helped with the issue of the new Enfield rifle with its cartridges wrapped in paper and greased with tallow.

It was necessary to bite off the paper before loading. Unfortunately this did not find favour with the sepoys as animal fat was used for the tallow. Beef was forbidden by the Hindus, while pork fat was not welcomed by the Muslims. This lack of judgement by the British acted as a further flash point in the mutiny.

Considerable bloodshed ensured and many innocent women and children were slaughtered too.

On later life Ross Lowis Mangles lived in Pirbright.

On later life Ross Lowis Mangles lived in Pirbright.

It was at this time that young Ross Mangles volunteered to join a detachment of Her Majesty’s 10th and 37th Regiment of Foot with a detachment of Indian nationals to relief the town area of Arrah.

Unfortunately, they walked into an ambush and on their retreat Ross suffered a wound. Despite this he carried another wounded soldier a distance of some six miles to the safety of a river from which they were able to make good their escape by boat. For this act of unselfishness Ross was awarded the Victoria Cross.

The mutiny signalled the end of the East India Company.

On Ross’s return to Guildford he married Henrietta Molyneux. They lived in Pirbright, where he died in 1905.

Memorial plaque in St Michael and Al;l Angels' Church, Pirbright.

Memorial plaque in St Michael and All Angels’ Church, Pirbright.

He is buried in Brookwood Cemetery, while a memorial plaque can be seen in Pirbright’s Church of St Michael and All Angels.

A picture of his heroic deed was commissioned and painted by Louis William Desanges. It hangs in The National Army Museum in Chelsea where his Victoria Cross is also displayed.

Click here for details of the refurbishment of Ross Lowis Mangles’ grave by the Brookwood Cemetery Society.

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Responses to Parke’s People No.12. Ross Lowis Mangles

  1. Stella Goodwin Reply

    January 10, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    Bernard: I always enjoy your ‘historical aricles’ about Guildford and your letters in the ‘Surrey Advertiser’. When I first came to Guildford to work as a Queen’s Nurse in 1960, one of the first patients I visited (on my bicycle, of course), lived in Mangles Road: I have often wondered how it got the name, and now, thanks to you, I know! Presumably it was named after Ross Lewis Mangles?

  2. Bernard Parke Reply

    January 11, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    It was named after his grandfather James ‘potato face’ Mangles MP who was also a Mayor of Guildford.

    He lived in a Mansion on the banks of the River Wey, at Woodbridge (now the site of a Wickes store) and at one time ran three convict ships into Botany Bay. The Ships were The Mangles, The Surrey and The Guildford.

    There is still a district in Sydney called Guildford.

    His son-in-law was Admiral Sir James Sterling who is buried at Stoke Church. James founded The Swan River Colony in Australia and was the first governor of Western Australia.

    In doing so he prevented The French and the Americans taking over that part of the continent.

    Thank you for your kind remarks.

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