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Muckleston Family History Group

researching all references to the surnames Muckleston, Mucklestone, Muckelston and Mackleston please get in touch via the contact us page with any additional information or to correct any errors.

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Samuel Roger Muckleston

Samuel Roger Muckleston was one of the sons of John Muckleston the Grocer of Shrewsbury famed for his Shropshire Sauce. This branch had been shrouded in mystery. It was known that John and his wife Mary had eleven children born between 1836 and 1850. Of these 4 were sons and 7 were daughters. Of the daughters one died in 1844, two married, one in 1873 the other in 1883, three others died as spinsters in 1899, 1917 and 1922. Of the four sons only John remained in Shrewsbury, the other three took some tracing. We eventually located the eldest son Robert who went to Canada married and had a family there. Hoeskyn also joined him in Canada and died there in 1902 .

Samuel Roger however eluded us for a while and then Neil Priddy in Australia supplied some information on Births, Marriages and Deaths which went part of the way to solving what happened to him. A marriage between Samuel R Muckleston and an Emma Hodge took place in 1882 in Sydney, New South Wales. Samuel was born in 1848 so did he emigrate and marry? Samuel and Emma went on to have at least three children. They were Ernest W H Muckleston who died young, Samuel John Muckleston born in 1884 who it appeared never married and a daughter Adeline L Muckleston born in 1887 who married a Harold George in 1904. On a 1936 voter register Samuel was still alive (now 88 years old) and classed as retired, he was living with his wife and son Samuel, a railway employee, at 47 Kenilworth Street, Bondi, NSW. 

At this point we thought mystery solved! He had obviously emigrated to Australia sometime between 1861 when he appeared on the census in England and 1882 when he married Emma Hodge in Australia. 

Many months later we came across more Muckleston information this time in the Overseas Marriages - Army Returns 1796-1880 where there is a Samuel Mucklestone who married while stationed at Natal in South Africa in 1873/4.  Samuel Roger would have been 25 or 26 at this time. His spouse was Mary Ann Bingham. His marriage certificate has him as a Corporal of the 5th Regiment based at Fort Napier, PMBurg Natal, South Africa.  Unlike British birth certificates the parentage was not recorded and no middle name was given, so we were not sure if this was the Samuel Roger Muckleston found later in Australia but there was no other known Samuel who fitted the bill. Our thought were that maybe as a soldier he went to South Africa married, perhaps his wife died and then he moved to Australia and remarried. 

However a document found on the South African Archives website has more or less confirmed it was indeed Samuel Roger but now it appears he was a bigamist. The document found was dated 1885 and is a divorce of Mary Ann Muckleston from Samuel Roger Muckleston. The divorce was granted and finalised in 1886.


At this point my thoughts were that Samuel, as a soldier, was moved with his regiment to Australia and decided not to take his wife with him, maybe he told her he would send for her or even return. That he never returned to South Africa and that she decided to divorce him, probably for desertion! Probably unbeknown to Mary Ann, Samuel had already remarried, thereby making him a bigamist and had at least one child his new wife, Emma, before his divorce.

As time went on more information came to light on Samuel's life in Australia, thanks to the Australian archives and in particular their newspapers.
More recently further information from Rowley Foster assisted me in updating my original scenario regarding Roger, his first wife and the move to Australia. Rowley Foster supplied me with this  information "On Wednesday the 19th of April 1876, the sailing ship Arundel Castle arrived in Adelaide from Plymouth. Amongst the passengers was Sam MUCKLESTON, 28, and his wife Mary, 19." Clearly Samuel had not left his wife behind but brought her to Australia with him probably to take up his new post as a police constable in South Australia. Further information from Rowley Foster shows that they went on to have a child together whom they named Arthur Valentine Muckleston and he was born in Adelaide to father Samuel Roger MUCKLESTON, and mother Mary Anne BINGHAM in 1877. They were clearly still together at that point. I know that Arthur remained in Australia but the question was, "What happened to Mary Ann?"
Ancestral search supplied the answer to this question.

The Natal records in South Africa identifies that Mary Ann Bingham was baptised in Natal on 17th Feb 1856 and her parents were Thomas and Cecilia Bingham. Thomas at that time was a Private with the 45th Regiment. In addition we find a second marriage for Mary Ann Muckleston (nee Bingham) to Charles Edward a Tinsmith on 11th December 1886; the same year that she obtained her divorce. They married at the home of Mrs C Bingham (who is probably her mother) in Victoria Street, Durban, Natal, South Africa. Despite her divorce Mary Ann’s status is recorded as a widow on the marriage certificate. It would therefore appear that she had returned home at some point between 1877 and 1886. Whether she took her son with her or left him with Samuel is unknown.


There is an A V Muckleston who appears on the Anglo-Boer War records 1899-1902 A transcriptions listed on the findmypast website shows that he was a Private in the Natal Royal Rifles and his service number was 329. This would seem to indicate that he returned to South Africa with his mother. On the medal rolls he was entitled to QSA Clasps: CC,OFS,T,RoL. He was fighting for Great Britain and information can be found under the following reference: WO100/260 page 224. By 1902 he can be found on the crew list of the ship Drayton Grange working as a deck hand in Australian waters. Two years later he is still a seaman on the Ashmount. By 1906 Arthur was again a soldier and can be found living at The Military Barracks, Thursday Island, Herbert, Queensland, Australia. He finally settled in Perth, Western Australia dying there in 1935. As far as I can tell he never married.


A newspaper article relating to an interview with Samuel gives his story regarding his army service. We can prove some of his dates are incorrect but whether this is deliberate to cover up aspects of his life he did not want to disclose, or if it was just down to a failing memory.

22nd September 1912




Popular Australian Officer who has won Commissioned Rank after years of Meritorious Service in all parts of the Globe.





Of medium stature, with steely blue eyes, a pleasant countenance and unassuming manner is Lieutenant Samuel Roger Muckleston, quartermaster of the Administrative and Instructional Staff of the 2nd Military District whose photo we publish on this page. He is known to every soldier and to not a few civilians, and all join in congratulating him on his promotion from the position of Garrison Sergeant Major to that of commissioned rank.


Behind that face lies a fund of information which though it has taken years in acquisition and which has been gathered from all quarters of the globe, must surely be invaluable when Australia’s day of danger arrives. Lieutenant Muckleston is a fine specimen of the British soldier and when a Sunday Times representative called upon him at the Victoria Barracks during the week, the characteristic modesty of the British soldier was the first thing that struck him.


“I was born in the town of Shrewsbury, County Shropshire, England on December 21st 1850*” said Lieutenant Muckleston when relating his experiences to the reporter “and was educated at the local school. During the period in which I was receiving my education I found myself frequently interested in the incidents of the career of my school teacher who ‘by the way’ was formerly a soldier. I felt that I too would LIKE TO SERVE WITH THE COLOURS and on the advice of my schoolmaster I joined the 1st Battalion, Gordon Highlanders, in 1867. I was then about 17 years of age and immediately developed a liking for soldiering. I was not long in England before my regiment was ordered to Gibraltar, where we remained for about 17 months. Gibraltar is a beautiful place but from a soldiers point of view the life was very hard – we were continually drilling. During my stay there I was made Lance-Corporal.


From Gibraltar the regiment was ordered to China. We arrived at Hong Kong just at the time that a scourge of smallpox was raging. Thousands of Chinese were carried off during our 18 months residence and one of our duties included the burial of those who had succumbed to the disease. The work itself was not arduous, but very nauseating. The disease was principally confined to the lower classes who lived in hovels and it was not an uncommon sight to find whole families dead and their bodies decomposing. I wasn’t sorry when that experience was over.


Up to this time the regiment was 1000 strong, but it was divided, and our half was sent to Singapore. Life there was much more congenial though we had a good deal to do. Shortly after we had gone into barracks, which were situated about four miles from the city; we were called upon to quell a riot which had broken out between the Chinese and the Malays. For hours a pitched battle was waged in the streets of Singapore in which weapons of all kinds were brought in to play. Upon our arrival on the scene we could see nothing but a mass of seething humanity, and missiles of all descriptions were hurling through the air. We fired a volley of blank ammunition

over the heads of the rival forces; We remained in Singapore for almost three years when we were again on the move this time to South Africa. I had then attained the rank of Sergeant. There was no railway in those days from Durban to Pietermaritzburg and we were compelled to tramp the whole distance – nearly 100 miles – which we accomplished in a little over four days. We were very quiet for some time until the Lobengula rebellion broke out. The Kaffirs had refused to pay the kraal or hut taxes which were imposed by the Government and defied the authorities. The Natal Carbineers – 150 strong – were dispatched to the scene but were surrounded in the Dragerisburg Pass and attacked by hundreds of natives. Four of the Carbineers were killed including Corporal Erskine, son of the then Chief Secretary. The Kaffirs were armed with assegais and long spears – the former used at close quarters and the latter thrown from a distance – which they used to deadly effect. We were encamped at the time in the Dragerisburg Mountains about 12 miles from the pass and a Kaffir despatch bearer brought news of the encounter. I was among an advance company which was sent to their assistance. It was an all-night march but we found on our arrival that the carbineers had retreated. They subsequently re-joined the main body of our forces. We collected the dead but owing to the extremely rough nature of the country it was impossible to give them decent internment so we hollowed out shallow graves and covered the brave fellows over with stones and bushes. I took several mementos from the pocket of Corporal Erskine’s tunic which I subsequently handed over to his father. Sometime after a monument was erected in the Market Square of Pietermaritzburg to perpetuate the memory of those who fell in the rebellion. It remains to this day. The rebellion, however, was finally quelled and we captured the king, Lobengula and 150 prisoners. The former was exiled to Robben Island, while the latter were sentenced to work for various terms on the roads. I remained in Pietermaritzburg for nearly four years,


In 1877* having completed my ten years’ service I went back to the Old Country and landed in Dublin. For a short time afterwards I was stationed at Drogheda. Life there was very pleasant there being practically nothing to do. The same year found me back in my native town of Shrewsbury, but I confess that I felt like a fish out of water. The craving to be again UNDER THE UNION JACK came over me and I was offered an opportunity to proceed to South Africa which I accepted. A comrade in my old regiment got an appointment for me in the Control Department in Pietermaritzberg. This department was practically the same as our Army Service Corps and my work consisted of supervising the transport of rations and ammunitions to outlying stations. I was called Acting Assistant Conductor of Transport. It was a very rough but healthy life, for we frequently had to camp under the transport wagons. It had its attractions though and I spent many happy hours in shooting a species of deer called Wildebeest. Owing to the timidity of the animals’ nature they were extremely difficult to secure. I spent two years in this manner, and was then appointed instructor to Willoughby’s Horse, my rank being increased to Squadron Sergeant Major. Our headquarters were at Coxstadt, and my work


consisted of training troops for the Basuto war. They were the most heterogeneous collection of recruits I ever saw, and were composed for the most part of runaway sailors and ‘pick ups’. While in Coxstadt I fell ill of enteric fever and spent six weeks in hospital. When I partially recovered my health again broke down and I was advised to seek new pastures so I handed in my resignation – boarded the Glen Ivor at Cape Town and sailed for London where I arrived early in 1879. While I was recovering my health at Camden Town I heard that there were OPPORTUNITIES FOR MILITARY MEN IN AUSTRALIA and in the same year* the Arundel Castle brought me to Adelaide. Colonel Downs was then Commandant of South Australia and I remained in Adelaide as Staff Sergeant Major until 1881.


Being desirous of seeing more of Australia I resigned and came across to Sydney and saw Colonel Richardson but as there were no vacancies on the staff I accepted a position offered by Inspector General Fosbery as drill instructor to the Police Department. I severed my connection with the police in 1885 a step which I have always regretted and was appointed Staff Color Sergeant with the 1st A.I.R. stationed at Newcastle in October of the same year. I became Quartermaster Sergeant.


In 1890 I was advanced to Warrant Officer and Regimental Sergeant- Major for the Northern Reserves with Headquarters in Maitland. During my stay there I travelled the whole of the Northern District.


The year 1891 found me back in Sydney as Warrant Officer and Sergeant-Major to the 1st A.I.R. and in 1894 I was promoted to Sergeant Major and subsequently to the rank of Lieutenant.


What would you say was your most exciting experience?


My most exciting experience occurred while in Singapore. I happened to walk over the top of a covered-in pit which had been excavated to imprison wild boars. When I felt the covering collapse and I landed at the bottom of the pit. Resigning myself to my fate I spent the night in the pit and though the prospect of having a wild boar for a companion was not alluring, nevertheless I slept soundly and was subsequently helped out by a native bush beater.


What do you think of Australia?


It’s the finest country on the face of the earth. Every Australian should be proud of it and defend it with the last drop of blood.


And of compulsory service?


The best thing that ever happened. It’s going to make Australia.


*Some records indicate different dates than in Samuel’s recollection.

- Samuel was baptised on 1st January 1849 as therefore his birth year is likely to be 1848 making him two years older than he states in the article.

- Discharge documents show that he was discharged from the Gordon Highlanders - 75th & 92nd Foot on 15 Jun 1875 not 1877

- Passenger lists show that Samuel and his wife came to Australia in 1876 not 1879.


Here follows a chronology of known events in his life - updated 15/08/2017 thanks to the new information from Rowley Foster..


1848 born in Shropshire, England (Twin with Caroline)

1867 joined the Army serving with the Gordon Highlanders (Roger gave this date in the newspaper article)

1867- approx 1875served in Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Africa

1874 Married Mary Ann Bingham in Natal South Africa (he was a Corporal).

1876 Arrives in Australia with his wife Mary Ann

1876 Appointed Constable in the Foot Police in South Australia.

1877 Son Arthur Valentine born to Samuel and Mary Ann

1878 A Sergeant Major (acting staff officer) in the Volunteer Military Force.

1881 Still in Adelaide South Australia where he offered a reward for the safe return of his small black and tan dog.

1881 A probationary Constable in the NSW foot police.

1882 Appointed a first class constable in the NSW police.

1882 Married Emma Hodge in Sydney, NSW, Australia. (Bigamous).

1884 Son Sidney J Muckleston born.

1885 Resigned his position of senior constable in the NSW police force.

1885 Became a Staff Sergeant based at West Maitland in the army.

1886 Divorced by first wife Mary in South Africa (for desertion).

1886 Is a quartermaster sergeant at West Maitland.

1887 Daughter Adeline Leigh Muckleston born.

1890 His eldest son dies.

1894 He is a warrant officer who is appointed assistant instructor in the Infantry School of Instruction.

1900 WO SR Muckleston is Quartermaster at Randwick Camp.

1903 He was awarded the Meritous Service Medal.

1904 Married Emma Hodge (his wife) for the second time maybe to make it legal, he may have found out about the divorce. His daughter also married Harold George this year.

1905 A Seargeant Major put in charge of the Thursday Island Garrison.

1910 The age of retirement for Warrant Officer Muckleston (the garrison sergeant major) is extended.

1912 Still working as an instructor for the army.(aged 64).

1915 Enrolling Officer at the Victoria Barracks.

1916 A Sergeant Major who caught 6 Germans trying to enlist in the Australian army.

1920 Son Sidney J Muckleston marries Esther Agnes Richardson.

1939 Died in Waverley, NSW Australia (aged 90).


Much of the above information has been taken from newspapers and police gazettes. It would appear that within 2 years of his first marriage Samuel had left the British army, moved to Australia and joined the police force, moving from South Australia to New South Wales around the time of his second marriage. He may have missed the army, as in 1885 he joined the Australian army and worked his way through the ranks, ultimately becoming an instructor. It would also appear that he did not want to retire as his retirement age was extended. Whether he actually retired and then came out of retirement when war broke out is not clear, but he certainly played his part as a recruitment officer during that time.


Currently the last information we have regarding his career is in 1916 and by this time he would be 68 years old. He lived a long life dying at the age of 90. During his service he can be found attending many social events and I would imagine he kept up his contacts as a veteran.


He had a few troubles in his private life, his son Ernest died as a child in 1890, and his daughter Adeline’s marriage had its troubles which must have been an embarrassment to him. Adeline married Harold George in 1904, but in 1909 he petitioned for the restitution of conjugal rights which was granted by the court and Adeline was ordered to return to her husband within 10 days. He stated that she was a singer who sang under the name of Addy Leigh, that they had a daughter who was looked after by his mother in law and whom she neglected, that she refused to wear her wedding ring in public and refused to live with him. Four months later in March 1910 Harold George was again in court this time petitioning for divorce on the grounds of desertion – she had returned to him for just 2 days after his previous court petition and had then gone off travelling. The judge would not grant the divorce on the basis that she might change her mind. A divorce was finally granted in 1921 and in 1943, when her mother died, her name was given as Adeline Leigh Fisher. She had married Cuthbert Awan Fisher in India in 1930.