Thomas DENNIS (1828–1875)
St Paul section: Position of grave not recorded by Bostock [St Paul ref. N.19]
Thomas Dennis was born in Oakthorpe, Leicestershire in 1828, the son of Joseph Dennis, who was a coal miner, and his wife Sarah. At the time of the 1841 census he was living there with his parents and his older siblings Mary, Sarah, Joseph, and John and his younger sisters Elizabeth, Ann, and Selina.
Thomas joined the army on 31 March 1846 at the age of 17 years 6 months. He had hitherto been working as a labourer, and his army records state that he was then 5 feet 10 inches tall.
At the beginning of his army career Dennis’s name appeared 30 times in the defaulters book, and he was tried three times by court martial and imprisoned. His record then improved, and he was promoted to Corporal on 1 May 1855, Sergeant on 6 September 1855, and Colour Sergeant on 23 September 1857. He served in the army for over 21 years, but his only service abroad was at the Cape of Good Hope in the Kaffir War for 1 year 10 months.
He was discharged at his own request from the 3rd Battalion Rifle Brigade on 9 March 1868. He then settled in Oxford and served on the staff of the Oxfordshire Militia.
Dennis’s wife Harriet was born in Botley in 1843/4.
At the time of the 1871 census Thomas Dennis (43) was living with his wife Harriet (27) at Radcliffe Row (which ran off the west side of the Woodstock Road, between the present Nos. 17 and 19). He described himself as a pensioned staff sergeant of the Oxford Militia.
By the time of his death in 1875 Dennis appears to have moved to Juxon Street in Jericho:
† Thomas Dennis died at Juxon Street at the age of 46 on Monday 10 May 1875, and was buried in St Sepulchre’s Cemetery the following Friday (burial recorded in the register of St Paul’s Church).
His obituary in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 15 May 1875 reads:
DEATH OF ANOTHER MILITIA STAFF-SERGEANT. — On Monday evening another of the Staff-Sergeants of the Oxford Militia, named Thomas Dennis, died at his residence, Juxon-street, Walton-street, in this city. The deceased, who was only 46 years of age, served in the 60th Rifles at the Cape during the Kaffir War, for which he received a medal. He also served in other parts of the world and completed several years of foreign service, and in April, 1868, was appointed on to the staff of the Oxfordshire Militia, previous to which, however, he had for a short time been engaged by Mr. Owen to drill the recruits in the County Constabulary. He had been for some time in failing health, and was in consequence to have been left at home in charge of the depôt during the absence of the regiment at Aldershot. On Monday morning he was rather excited at having a hard day’s work before him in serving out the clothing, &c., to the men who came up on that day for the training; this brought on a vomiting of blood, and in the evening he died. The funeral took place yesterday (Friday) in St Paul’s [St Sepulchre’s] Cemetery, and was of a non-military character.