William Henry Gibbon,
Officer in Austrian Empire:
William joined the Austrian Army in the war between Austria and (most of) Italy, now called the First Italian War of Independence, in 1848 (he was only age 16). The Austrian Empire at this time included part of northern Italy.
He started as an Ensign. Rapidly promoted to Captain for gallantry on the battlefield.
He was described as "formerly an Officer in the Austrian Army" in will of Cecilia Markham 1866.
[Bentley's Miscellany, 1853] says that in 1848, Gibbon "together with Count Spaur, an Austrian, followed by 30 men only, stormed a breach at Rivoli" [Rivoli Veronese, NE Italy] "and carried it, driving back a considerable force" [of Piedmontese] "who were defending it. To the young ensign," [Gibbon] "who was instantly promoted for his gallant conduct, was due the credit of having proposed this daring exploit to Count Spaur. Mr. Gibbon escaped unhurt, but Count Spaur received many wounds."
After a truce in 1848, war broke out again in 1849.
mar 1stly, 24 Mar 1854, to Flora Fogolari
[Flora Elizabeth Francisca Fogolari,
born 26 Oct 1832,
dau of Joseph Fogolari, banker].
She is also listed as "Flora de Fogolari D'Asolda". NOT Fogalari. NOT Franzisca.
They were married at Venice, Italy, by a Catholic clergyman.
And again later at Colchester (see below).
Austria sided with Britain
William joined the British German Legion (German nationals raised 1856 to fight for Britain in Crimean War, part of the British Foreign Legion).
He is listed as Captain in 6th Regiment of Light Infantry, British German Legion, as at second mar ceremony Nov 1856 (below).
The Crimean War ended Apr 1856, before British German Legion saw action.
The men of the British German Legion were based at Colchester in summer 1856.
William Henry and Flora had a second (English, Protestant) marriage ceremony at St.Botolph's church in Colchester, 25 Nov 1856 [GRO.UK]. They are both listed as living Wyre St, Colchester.
Goes to South Africa, 1857:
After the Crimean War, Britain had the problem of what to do with all these foreign nationals it had recruited, many of whom were now unwelcome in their home countries. Britain decided to use them to help settle South Africa. Land was granted by Britain to members of the British German Legion in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.
An effort was made to get all these young single men married before they went, so that they might settle in South Africa and not wander again. Wives and children got free passage. This might have prompted Gibbon's second marriage ceremony, to make sure he was married under English law.
The men were settled in Eastern Cape 1857, though they still had some military responsibilities.
William Henry went to South Africa (The Cape Colony, or "The Cape"), 1857.
He was living at Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa (see map) as at 1857.
He arrived 16 Mar 1858 in Alexandria, Eastern Cape, South Africa (between Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown, see map), lived there for rest of his life.
The South African British-German Legion finally disbanded 1861.
He is listed as "late Captain, German Legion", living Alexandria, at son Sidney's bapt 1870.
William and Flora divorced, after "a long drawn-out affair".
Flora committed adultery with an Officer on a ship on a voyage from South Africa to England.
She signed a confession at Alexandria, 13 Aug 1872. She says: "I left Algoa Bay on 29 Jan 1871" [her age 38, apparently leaving her new baby and other children behind] "as a 1st class passenger in the steamer 'Northain' bound to Southampton. The vessel touched at Table Bay ... After leaving Table Bay and recovering from sea sickness I met on board a person styling himself Captain Valler, an officer belonging to the Union Mail Service." [the shipping line, the Union Mail Packets Company, which later merged to form the Union-Castle Line] "I occupied a cabin alone ... About 12 days after leaving Table Bay, after myself and all the passengers had retired for the night, on two several occasions the said Captain Valler entered my cabin, and on his persuasion I on both occasions committed adultery with him, and I make this voluntary admission as an atonement to my husband for the wrong I have done him."
Letter of 22 Mar 1872 to William's brother says "I hear your sister in law, Mrs. William, is just on the eve of returning" [i.e. returning to South Africa from her trip to Europe].
William and his wife eventually divorced 12 July 1883.
Their divorce is not found in UK list of Private Acts (including divorces) 1866-1910.
After divorce she settled in Romania. All surviving children grown-up at this point except Sidney.
William Henry is described as "widower" at 2nd mar 1883
but think this is wrong.
He had issue by 1st wife:
William Henry is listed as an "Inspector of Roads" at 2nd mar 1883.
Extract from [Bentley's Miscellany, 1853] about William Henry Gibbon's exploits in First Italian War of Independence in 1848.
Elizabeth van Niekerk (born 1849).
Photo at Christmas 1910 (age 61).
Image courtesy of Mike Hilligan.
Supposed to be Elizabeth van Niekerk.
But does not match pictures above. Must be an older woman.
Image courtesy of Mike Hilligan.
Albina Guicciardi, Contessa di Cervarolo,
who married Antonio Winspeare [born 1840, Prefect of Florence, Prefect of Turin, Prefect of Milan, Prefect of Venice, died 1913, NOT Heanspeare].
Winspeare were an old English Catholic family who left for exile in Italy after the fall of the Stuart cause.
Albina is probably sister of Count Carlo Guicciardi.
Image courtesy of Mike Hilligan.
"There is one warning lesson in life which few of us have not received,
and no book that I can call to memory has noted down with an adequate emphasis.
It is this:
"Beware of parting!"
The true sadness is not in the pain of the parting, it is in the "When"
and the "How" you are to meet again with the face about to vanish
from your view!
From the passionate farewell to the woman who has your heart in her keeping,
to the cordial good-by exchanged with pleasant companions at a watering place,
a country house, or the close of a festive day's
and careless excursion
- a cord, stronger or weaker, is snapped asunder in every parting,
and Time's busy fingers are not practised in re-splicing broken ties.
Meet again you may: will it be in the same way?
- with the same sympathies?
- with the same sentiments?
Will the souls, hurrying on in diverse paths, unite once more,
as if the interval had been a dream? Rarely, rarely!
Are you happy in the spot on which you tarry with the persons
whose voices are now melodious to your ear?
- beware of parting; or, if part you must, say not
in insolent defiance of Time and Destiny,
'What matters! - we shall soon meet again.'"
- William Henry Gibbon, 27 June 1886.
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