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Trooper William Pearson

Penrith's Crimea War Hero

Penrith museum owns the medals and other memorabilia of William Pearson (1826-1909), the Crimea War survivor. The town has done much to ensure that the man and his bravery should not be forgotten. As long ago as 1894 townsfolk marked the 40th anniversary of the "Charge of the Light Brigade" by acquiring a life size photograph of Pearson, who was then still alive. Still in its elaborate frame it is now owned by the Museum. He has the distinction of having a corner of the town named after him 'Pearson Court' and a plaque is affixed to the property in King Street formerly the Mitre Hotel where he was born in 1826. He was brought up in North Westmorland and was a leather dresser before running away to enlist in the 4th Light Dragoons in 1848, at Westminster. He was serving in Ireland when the regiment received orders for the Crimea.

During the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava his horse stumbled over another that had fallen and he had to mount a rider-less horse of the 8th Hussars. He had an epaulette shot from his shoulder and returned from the affair with a wound to his forehead. The severe Crimean winter left Pearson with frost-bite and he spent Christmas Eve 1854 having four toes amputated. He was nursed by Florence Nightingale at the hospital in Scutari before being invalided home.

He was presented before Queen Victoria in 1855, and discharged as unfit for further military service, with a pension of 8d a day. This was later increased to 12s a week by the Royal Patriotic Fund. He received the Crimea Medal (with clasps for Alma, Balaclava, Inkerman and Sebastopol), the Turkish Medal, and he also had a Good Conduct Badge.

He met his wife at a ball in honour of the Crimean heroes held at Dover and they returned to Penrith, where Trooper Pearson became Inspecting Officer's Orderly to the Dalemain Troop, Cumberland and Westmorland Imperial Yeomanry. In 1880 he moved to Underbarrow, near Kendal, where he set up a fellmongering and tanning business. He retired in 1906, and died in July 1909, aged 82. He was buried with military honours in Parkside Cemetery, Kendal.

Letter of Trooper Pearson

You can read the letter he wrote back from the Crimea to his parents which was printed in the 'The Kendal Mercury' newspaper on 18th November 1854. Read the "Private Letter From A Penrith Lad At The Seat Of War".

BBC 'A History of the World Project'

The 'A History of the World Project' is a partnership between the BBC and the British Museum that extends across the UK. Museums across the country have teamed up with the BBC in their area and chosen objects from their own collections that reflect world history from each area's perspective.

Our chosen object is Trooper Pearson's photograph, further information on this project including an interview with the Museum Curator see Radio Cumbria webpage on 'Trooper Pearson's photograph'.

Museum admission and opening hours:

The museum is open all year and admission is free. The museum's opening hours are the same as Penrith Tourist Information Centre.

Loan, donate or bequeath to Penrith and Eden Museum

The Museum the curators will only be to happy to receive any objects you wish to loan, donate or bequeath to the museum.

Museum Curators

Penrith and Eden Museum curators are available to answer questions concerning the museum and its collections:

  • Contact: The Curators
  • Email: museum@eden.gov.uk
  • Telephone: 01768 865105
  • Address: Penrith and Eden Museum, Robinson School, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 7PT
Trooper William Pearson, his medals and in later years.