Four line infantry regiments with the numeral 96 were raised and disbanded between 1761 and 1818.A fifth 96th was raised in February 1824 at Salford Barracks, Manchester. It was later allowed to carry the battle honours awarded its predecessor – Peninsular, Egypt and the Sphinx.
Over the next decade, the regiment spent eight years in Halifax, Nova Scotia and two in the West Indies. It then garrisoned in Britain until 1839, when it was tasked with guarding its first of many convict ships bound for Australia. Some of these are profiled on this website’s Ships page.
During the regiment’s time in Australia, the 96th served in Windsor, Sydney and Parramatta, New South Wales; Hobart and Launceston, Van Diemen’s Land; and Adelaide, South Australia. In VDL many of the troops were garrisoned at Port Arthur, the major convict prison. The Anecdotes page of this website will take you to a story of the ‘Military Outrage’ in Launceston in May 1845.
The 96th sent a detachment to New Zealand in 1844 where it remained during the New Zealand Wars until the end of 1846. Again, the Anecdote page will write of the regiment’s missing medal roll.
In February 1847, 111 officers and men arrived in Western Australia on Java from Hobart; a further two arrived on John Bagshaw in January 1849. Thirty seven of the Java men took their discharge and settled in Western Australia; one of them was this man featured on the right. Four of the men transferred to a detachment of the 99th Regiment to receive their final pay.
The 96th in Australia left for India in two waves. In February 1849 General Hewitt left Launceston and then in April the balance left Hobart on Ratcliffe, picking up the 96th detachment from Western Australia on its way to Calcutta.
|NAME: John DREURY||Name variations: Drewry, Drury.|
|Birth Date and Place||c. 1822/23 Bradwell, Braintree, Essex – not verified [WO23-150 & WO12-9612-154].|
|Baptism Date and Place|
|Marriage Date and Place||28 Sep 1850 Guildford, Western Australia [WABDM Reg.#339A].|
|Children||Elizabeth Ann b. 1851 Guildford, Western Australia [WABDM Reg.#1666].|
Clara Maria b. 1853 Middle Swan, Western Australia [WABDM Reg.#2289].
Isaac John b. 1855 Toodyay, Western Australia – not verified [ERIC p.896].
Constable Fremantle Government Gazette 12 Jun 1849 [& Bark p.59].
|Land Acquisition in WA||None.|
|Death Date and Place||July 1857 Toodyay, Western Australia – not verified [ERIC p.896].|
|Burial Date and Place|
|Death, Funeral, Obituary Notices|
|Will and Probate||None.|
|Regiment||96th Regiment of Foot.|
|Soldier No. and Rank||#1565 Private.|
|Enlistment Date and Place||10 Nov 1840 Chelmsford District [WO12-9612-154].|
Age 18 years. Bounty paid to recruit £3 5s. 0d.
|Physical Description||Height: 5 ft. 5 ins. Complexion: fair. Eyes: brown. Hair: brown [WO23-150].|
|Medals, Clasps and Badges||None.|
|Casualty/Medical||Unfit for service in India and worn out [WO28-266-101].|
Gunshot wound right hand by accident firing a tribute on H.M. birthday [WO23-150].
|Arrival Australia Ship and Date||Prince Regent. Embarked 1 Jul 1841 Gravesend.|
Dep. 7 Aug 1841 Dublin. Arr. 3 Jan 1842 Hobart, [WO12-9613-230 & DPS].
|Arrival Western Australia: Ship and Date||Java 24 Feb 1847 from Hobart, embarked 27 Jan 1847 [WO12-9620-334].|
|Military Postings within Western Australia||York 24 Feb to 30 Nov 1847.|
Perth in custody 1 Dec 1847 to 5 Jan 1848.
Round House, Fremantle in prison 6 Jan to 30 May 1848. After trial at Quarter Sessions 6 Jan 1848.
Perth 1 Jun 31 Jul 1848 in hospital.
Perth HQ 1 Aug 1848 to 12 Mar 1849 inc. On Command Jan & Feb 1849.
Perth HQ 13 Mar 1849 confined after Garrison Court Martial (see below).
[All sourced from WO12-9620 TO 9622].
|Civil Court Quarter Sessions||6 Jan 1848 Perth, before His Honor W H Mackie.|
Charged with stealing money from Peter Fraser, Shepherd. Found guilty; recommended to mercy on the ground of his good character. Sentenced 12 months’ imprisonment and hard labour. Good character testified by Major Bush 96th Regiment.
[Inquirer 12 Jan 1848 p.3].
|Courts Martial in Western Australia||Garrison Court Martial 13 Mar 1849. Convicted: Mutilation Accident [WO86-6-119].|
|Discharge Date and Place|
See Additional Notes below
|15 May 1849 General Order [WO-266-101].|
9 Oct 1849 Examination of Invalid Soldiers [WO23-150].
31 Aug 1851 General Order [WO28-266-135]; Pay List 99th Detachment [WO12-9817-50].
|Age at Discharge||c. 27 years|
|Length of Service||c. 9 years.|
The character reference given by Major Robert Bush, Dreury’s 96th Regiment commanding officer, was probably genuine. The evidence against Dreury at his felony trial on 6 Jan 1848 was not wholly convincing; everyone was under the influence of alcohol, it seems. Dreury’s early release from his imprisonment was organised by a fellow soldier – Commandant of Troops, Lieutenant Colonel Frederick C Irwin, while in the position of de facto governor. [WO28-266-85]. It is interesting that Bush commented on Dreury’s ‘court martial-free status’ at this time, as this was about to change.On 13th March 1849, Dreury faced a Garrison Court Martial which was described as an ‘accident’; no sentence and no stoppages for this incident were described. Errington did not have a record of Dreury being imprisoned in the Fremantle Gaol (Round House) and there were no comments in the newspapers in the relevant timeframe. Nonetheless, the explanation can be found in the document ‘Examination of Invalid Soldiers’ dated 9th October 1849 [WO23-150]. Dreury suffered a gunshot wound when firing at a tribute for H.M. birthday. It seems too obvious to suggest that March is not a month associated with the sovereign’s birthday (24th May). Supposition: Was this an Army cover-up for the fact that the wound was self-inflicted and Dreury wanted to ensure he stayed in the Colony and not sail to India with the regiment. He was a man in his 20s, perhaps without any reason to discharge from the Army after only nine years’ service. Perhaps the gunshot wound to his right hand guaranteed a discharge. However, a court martial was held as a firearm had been discharged; the Army inflicted no punishment; the newspapers did not report the incident; Dreury’s service papers were ‘lost’; no pension was paid; but Dreury did not go to India!
In General Orders dated 14th May 1849, Dreury was one of three soldiers whose service records were ‘lost’ [WO28-266-101].
In General Orders dated 25th August 1851, all three 96th Regiment soldiers – John Boag, John Drury, and John Sale, were finally granted their discharges, albeit at that time they were ‘attached’ (not transferred) to the 99th Regiment detachment in Perth. It was confirmed that pay had been issued to 31st August 1851 but would cease from that date; they would be struck off; and receive their Parchment Certificates of discharge [WO28-266-135]. In the event, John Boag’s service records were ‘found’ and he received a pension. Dreury and Sale appear not to have been so fortunate. All were recorded as ‘non-effective’ in the Pay List of 99th Regiment for the quarter July to September 1851 [WO12-9817-50].