He could perhaps be the only British solider in
to have been court-martialed and shot dead for refusing to drink rum. He was then stationed in India as part of the British forces and he was not even in his thirtees when he met such a bizarre end. Bangalore
His mode of death has made it to the Ripley’s Believe it or Not and his grave is in the Protestant cemetery at Agaram which is located between the ASC officers Mess and the KSRP Parade Grounds.
It was November 1815 and the British troops were already billeted in Cantonment which had come up a few years before in
. The British had turned to Bangalore Bangalore after they defeated Tipu Sultan in 1799 as they found Bangalore to be a little of . The weather suited them and they could build their bungalows on sprawling estates. England
The British Army too preferred
Bangalore to and Srirangapatna. The 84th Regiment of the British Army was stationed in Mysore and its regulars were being given their daily ration of “grog”. Bangalore
The word grog actually refers to a variety of alcoholic beverages. Originally grog meant a drink made with water or small (weak) beer and rum, which British Vice-Admiral Edward
, introduced into the Royal Navy on August 21, 1740. Vernon then had worn a coat of grogram cloth and was nicknamed Old Grogram or Old Grog. Vernon
The grog then became standard supply for the British Army too. The grog came to
India with the British troops and stayed with them till they left . India
Coming back to the story, a private called John Williams was with the rest of his colleagues in
. He had been recently drafted into the 84th Regiment that had been asked to do duty in Bangalore . Bangalore
All the officers of the regiment received their daily ration of “grog”. When Private Wilson’s turn came, he declined the offer and said he was a teetotaler. The Regiment stood astonished by this act of indiscipline. Since decades, the grog was part of the drilled discipline and none refused it.
But here was a private who dared to defy tradition. The angry Regiment charged
with perhaps pone the strangest acts of mutiny. His “act of rebellion” was considered serious enough to merit a court martial. Wilson
The court ruled that
’s refusal to accept his daily ration of rum, customary in the British army as each soldier is allowed a "grog ration" daily, was nothing short of mutiny. The court martial took place ion November 1815 and it declined his plea that he had been a lifelong teetotaler. You see, tradition came first and all the rest next. Wilson was declared guilty and then shot. Wilson
He was later buried in the Agaram cemetery but there is no record to say whether he was or not given military honours. There is only a plaque to mark his grave. The unfortunate private, his grave and the manner of his death have made it to Ripley’s Believe it or Not.