|Signed "H. G. Thornton. Feb 1901" the identity of this soldier was confirmed in a somewhat unexpected way when I
simply Googled the address - 58 The Ropewalk - that was written on the back of the card (see below). That address in
Nottingham was the home to Henry Edward Thornton, a banker, and his family. The H. G. Thornton pictured above was
his eldest son Henry Grenfell Thornton who was born in Nottingham on 9 February, 1873. Henry's mother was
Katherine Charlotte Grenfell the sister of Field-Marshal Francis Wallace Grenfell, 1st Baron Grenfell. He had at least
three younger brothers - Pascoe Spencer Thornton, Claude Cyprian Thornton, Godfrey St. Leger Thornton.
One biographical sketch of his father Henry Edward Thornton mentions two sons being killed in World War I and one
being the Rector of Wollaton. The later would be the youngest of the above mentioned brothers Claude Cyprian (d.
1939). Pascoe Spencer died in Tientsin, China in 1917. Lieutenant Colonel Godfrey St. Leger Thornton D.S.O. of Royal
Field Artillery, died of sickness on 4 February, 1918.
Thornton was educated at Rugby and was for a time involved with the Boys Brigade being appointed Lieutenant in the
12th Nottingham Company upon its establishment around 1891-92.
Henry Grenfell Thornton was appointed Second Lieutenant in the 1st Nottinghamshire (Robin Hood) Rifle Volunteers
on 11 February, 1893.
Promoted Lieutenant - 23 June, 1894
Captain - 18 May, 1898
Resigned - 25 January, 1899
The photograph is dated Feb 1901 which is some two years after his resignation from the 1st Nottinghamshires and after
his enlistment a Private in the 19th Battalion (Paget's Horse) Imperial Yeomanry.
Serving as No. 20405, Trooper Henry Grenfell Thornton is also listed with the 106th Company (Staffordshire), 4th
Battalion of the Imperial Yeomanry. He deployed to South Africa on 22 February, 1901 and served there for one year,
128 days. Accroding to her Yeomanry service papers Thornton took his discharge at Elandsfontein on 29 June, 1902 in
order that he could take up civil employment at Johannesburg. Thornton qualified for the Queen's South Africa Medal
with the clasps: "Cape Colony", "Orange Free State", "Transvaal", "South Africa 1901" and "South Africa 1902".
It is interesting to consider why a man holding the rank of captain in the volunteers resign to serve as a private trooper
in a unit shipping overseas? I have read of examples of this happening though it was unusual since officers in the
volunteers could receive temporary commissions in the regulars sometimes at their current volunteer rank though often
at one rank lower - a captain of volunteers being commissioned a lieutenant in the regulars. One would think that having
an uncle who was a Field-Marshal, not to mention a name sake would have negated Henry Grenfell Thornton the need to
resign a commission let alone serve as a private trooper in the Yeomanry.
I recently received information from Liz Thornton the great niece of Henry Grenfell Thornton and she related that
according to family history Thornton may not have been a very efficient officer in the Yeomanry the fact of which
prevented him from receiving a commission or appointment as an officer with the troops deploying to South Africa.
Another family tradition tells that Field Marshal Grenfell thought very highly of his nephew and felt that he should have
received a commission had he applied for one.
Henry Grenfell Thornton died on 5 March, 1934 at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, Bermuda leaving an estate
worth some £37103 17s. 8d. No mention of a wife or children was made in the probate records.
George Pendry - Photographer
38 Long Row, Nottingham, England