Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander CairncrossPrint Page Print this page

Photographs supplied by John Huth

A plaque commemorates Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander  Cairncross of the 96th Regiment who died at sea whilst returning to England in 1843.

Alexander Cairncross was born on 29th August 1783, in Dundee, Forfarshire, Scotland.  He joined the army at the age of 19 years and 10 months, when his family purchased his commission as ensign in the 94th Regiment of Foot on 25th June 1803. Over the next nine years he earned his promotion, without purchase, through the ranks to captain. From 1803 he served in the 94th Regiment in the Peninsular War under the Duke of Wellington. He was at the Siege of Cadiz and the retreat from Portugal, at Fuentes D'dore, the siege and blockade of Badajoz, EI Bedon and Guinaldor, all during 1811. In the following year he was present at the storming and capture of Cuidad Rodrigo where he was wounded in the head and received a gun shot wound in the right elbow. He evidently recovered and was in the Battle of Salamanca and the Retreat to Portugal. He fought and was again wounded at the Battle of Vittoria in 1813; and his active service ceased.

After the Napoleonic War ended in 1815, he transferred as captain to the 8th Royal Veterans Battalion. He then transferred as captain in the 96th Foot on 20th January 1824. On 10th June 1826 he became major, by purchase, in the 96th Foot and seven years later lieutenant-colonel on 19th September 1834, also by purchase. He retired on 22nd July 1842. In more recent years the 96th Foot has become the Manchester Regiment.

On 4th January 1837, he received the Royal Hanoverian Guelpic Order (3rd class) KH., having been awarded several service medals.

Lieutenant-Colonel Cairncross also served overseas in the East Indies, Cadiz, Nova Scotia, Bermuda and New South Wales. The 96th Foot served in this last colony from 1839 to 1849. He arrived with the first contingent, but journeyed home to marry Mary Ann Williams on 24th February 1841 at Chatham, England.  After his marriage he returned to New South Wales and was posted to Launceston in Van Diemen's Land, from April to July 1842. He officially retired from the army on 22nd July 1842.

The following year he left the colonies for the last time and sailed for England on the 'St. George'. On 10th May that year the ship foundered and Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Cairncross lost his life.


Address:Cameron & George Streets, Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Launceston, 7250
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -41.43447
Long: 147.139489
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:People
Actual Event STart Date:10-May-1843
Actual Event End Date:10-May-1843
Monument Designer:J. Kenney (Launceston, TAS)


Front Inscription

This tablet is erected by the officers of the 96th Regiment, to the memory of their late commanding officer Lieut Colonel  Cairncross K. H.

He died at sea on the 10th of May 1843 on his passage home to his native land, aged 60 years,

Forty of these were passed in the British service and highly conspicuous in the annals of the Peninsula Campaigns through which he served with General Picton`s Division.

J. Kenney, Sculp

Source: MA
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