Charles Flanagan, J.P. - Cookhouse Town Guard 7 months 6 days ago #67985
Flanagan's son's medals were featured here but now, as a reunite, I attach the story iro Flanagan senior, a medal recently obtained
Charles James Flanagan, J.P.
Private, Cookhouse Town Guard – Anglo Boer War
- Queens South Africa Medal to 69 Pte. C.J. Flanagan, Cookhouse T.G.
Charles Flanagan’s son, Louis, fought alongside him in the Cookhouse Town Guard and later went on to become a commissioned Officer with Brands Free State Rifles in WWI, but it is with Charles we deal in this work.
Flanagan was born in Dartford, Kent on 18 September 1842, the son of John Flanagan and his wife, Catherine (born Turner) Flanagan. Mr Flanagan passed away in July 1850, months before the 1851 census, leaving his widow to look after and raise a large broad. The Flanagan’s, despite living in Kent, were an Irish family who believed that there was “safety in numbers”. To this end a 5 year old Charles, in 1851, didn’t want for company – he had with him in 6 Orange Grove, Dartford, the following siblings – Mary Ann (19), Elizabeth (15), Jane (13), William (7), and 9 month old baby Agnes bringing up the rear. Visitors to the family at the time were Block Printer Lawrence Henry and William Kenyon.
Mrs Flanagan didn’t let the dust settle under her feet, becoming a Mrs Turner ere long. Of Charles Flanagan in 1861 there was almost no trace but the census for that year finally revealed that he was a Porter by occupation in a large hostelry in the City of London – aged 20 he was employed at 1414 Graham Street in the City.
In 1868 Flanagan’s mother passed away and it is thought that, soon afterwards, with no immediate ties to bind him, he sought greener pastures and emigrated to South Africa where he settled in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. On 12 April 1877 he wed Maria McMahon and by the time 1883 came round, he was living in the small settlement of Cookhouse in the interior where his son Louis Aloysius was born.
What he did for a living is open to speculation but he must have held a responsible position in society being made a Justice of the Peace for the Colony – an honour reserved for the well-heeled and highly regarded.
When he was a mature 58 years old, the Anglo Boer War burst onto the world stage. This conflict between the two Boer Republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State and Great Britain commenced on 11 October 1899 and, despite the pundits’ predictions wasn’t “over by Christmas” but was to drag on in its various guises until May 1902.
Initially the Eastern Cape where Flanagan and his family were domiciled wasn’t in the firing line but, as the Boer Commandos became more adventurous and more desperate for supplies and additional manpower from the regions Dutch-speaking population, they strayed further south and invested, on many occasions, the small towns and villages that dotted the landscape.
Town Guards, comprised of men and youths from the various settlements were called into being as were District Mounted Troops, the rural equivalent. Their task was to guard the property and people of their towns and the farms and livestock of the surrounding areas, respectively and it was to the Cookhouse Town Guard that Flanagan, along with his son, gravitated enlisting for service under Captain A.J. Beaton.
Assigned no. 69 Flanagan commenced service. In order to gauge to what extent the Town Guard was involved I turn to an article entitled Captain Beaton’s Farewell which appeared in the Somerset Budget (the newspaper printed in the neighboring town of Somerset East), on Thursday, 30 January 1902. It read, in part, as follows:
“Captain Beaton, Officer commanding Town Guard, on the eve of his resigning his command of the Town Guard, invited the officers, non-commissioned officers and men to a smoking concert and social, held at Kluge’s Railway Hotel on Friday, the 20th instant.
Captain Beaton, in opening the proceedings said: Comrades in Arms, we are meeting tonight under more auspicious circumstances than we could a month or two back. The district is at present free from our unwelcome visitors, the Boers, and this in a degree is due to the activity of the Cookhouse Town Guard, who at all times since I have been your Captain were always ready and willing to obey orders, turning out of your beds at all hours, when the alarm sounded.
I found it a difficult matter sometimes not to offend some of the members, sending detachments out on patrol or in the armoured wagons, as all wanted to be where danger was greatest, some had to be kept in the forts to defend the town. Colonel Cavaye desired me to convey his personal thanks to you for the great services rendered in being always ready and willing to go anywhere or do anything.
I feel proud at having commanded you for the last nine months.” The toast was proposed by Mr Flanagan, J.P. (Charles Flanagan – the subject of this very piece)
Flanagan’s Queens Medal was awarded off the roll Cookhouse T.G. roll but was only issued to him on 5 January 1910 to an address in Donkin Street, Grahamstown to which place he seems to have repaired.
He lived a long life, finally answering the Grim Reaper’s call on 22 August 1922 at the age of 89 years 11 months. He was regarded as a Retired Gentlemen and was living at 59 Waverley Road, Bloemfontein when he died. Survived by his two sons, Louis Aloysius and Charles Benedict, he left a number of bequests:
- To his sister-in-law, Annie Theresa Playsted in Graaff-Reinet he bequeathed £50
- To another sister-in-law, Katie Frames, also of Graaff Reinet, he bequeathed £50
Various other bequests were made to, among others, St. Augustine’s Cathedral and St. Aidan’s College – Flanagan, a devout Catholic, wasn’t about to let the Church go without reward. All told he left an estate in excess of £4000 fro distribution.
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