Captain George Augustus Graham

Early Life
George Augustus Graham was born in Bathwick, a district of Bath, in the County of Somerset on 6th August 1833 to Colonel Charles Graham C.B. and his wife Mary Ann (nee Taylor). At the age of 7, along with his brother Frederick William (b. 1830), he entered Cheltenham College as a day boy. At that time the family was living at 25 Promenade in Cheltenham. Graham's schooling continued until the age of 17 and a year later, on 3rd December 1851, he was accepted as a cadet in the Honourable East India Company's Bengal Infantry, at the recommendation of his father.

Military History
George Graham was commissioned as an ensign shortly after joining the Company and was soon posted to India, whereupon, after his arrival in Calcutta, he was admitted to the service on 10th February 1852. His active duty began on 28th February 1852 with a posting to the 11th Native Infantry at Barrackpore, 16 miles north of Calcutta. This was followed in November the same year with a posting as 3rd Ensign to the 28th Native Infantry and then in December by another move to the 33rd Native Infantry. Graham was promoted to Lieutenant on 19th October 1854 and then posted to the 2nd Punjab Cavalry on 30th January 1857. During March 1857 he took part in the Bozdar Expedition with the 3rd Seikh Infantry under the command of Sir Neville Bowles Chamberlain. The purpose of this was to engage the Baloch tribe which had been raiding into the Punjab. For participation in these events Graham was awarded the India General Service Medal (1854) with the North West Frontier clasp which was issued in 1868 to all survivors of the campaign.

On 10th June 1857, Graham was promoted to Captain, the rank by which he is remembered today. The following month he was present at the attack on the village of Sheikh Jana in Eusofzaie where he commanded the headquarters and a detachment of the 2nd Punjab Cavalry. At the time Graham was serving under the command of Major J.L. Vaughan who commanded the garrison at Mardan Fort and was subsequently mentioned favourably in Major Vaughan’s despatches to Major General Sir Sydney Cotton KCB.

On 18th May 1858, almost three months after the death of his father in Cheltenham, Capt. Graham was posted as Second in Command of the 4th Regiment (Rifles) Punjab Irregular Force following the wounding of the previous holder of the post at the siege of Lucknow. He stayed in post until the following year and then following short tours of duty with the 21st and 33rd Native Infantries he was posted to general duties at Rawalpindi and then on 25th February 1862 he returned to Europe to see out the final three years of his military service. He left with a Certificate of Proficiency in Hindustani, no doubt never to be called on again.

Return to Civilian Life
Captain Graham's married life began on 18th June 1863 when he was married to Lydia Caroline Potter at St. Mary's Church in Charlton Kings near Cheltenham. His new wife was the youngest daughter of the late Thomas Smalley Potter of East Court, Charlton Kings. Graham's profession is listed as Captain 107th Regiment in the Parish Register.

It was around the same time as he got married that Captain Graham began what was to be his lifetime's work, which was to preserve the Irish Wolfhound dog breed. Having taken an interest in "rough Greyhounds" while in India it seems that this large and impressive dog breed captured his imagination.

New additions to the family quickly came along with the birth of Edith Flora in 1864 and Violet Beatrice on 24th July 1865. Both of these children were born in Cheltenham but shortly afterwards Captain Graham purchased the estate known as "Oaklands" in Dursley, renamed it "Rednock" and the family moved to the small market town. It seems he was looking for somewhere with more space to embark on the dog breeding program which was ocupying his mind. One theory behind the name chage is that Captain Graham could have been establishing a link with what he considered his Scottish ancestry. "Rednock House" in Port of Menteith in Perthshire is the ancestral home of one of the subdivisions of Clan Graham so there seems to be no doubt where the name came from.

Having rooted the family in Dursley, further children came along regularly, Constance Alice in 1868, Caroline St. Clair in 1869, twin sons Malcolm George Alec and Alec George Malcolm in 1871 and Alison Mildred in 1875. Captain Graham's mother died in 1869 so wasn't to see the latter additions to the family.

Work on his dog breeding program continued and in 1879 a breed class was established by the Irish Kennel Club at their show held in Dublin for the "Nearest Approach to the Old Irish Wolfhound". Captain Graham was the judge but the results were apparently disappointing. In 1885 Graham published a book, "The Irish Wolfhound", and also founded The Irish Wolfhound Club becoming its first president, a post he held until 1908. In 1886 the Kennel Club accepted the breed standard as defined by Graham which must have been ample reward and the culmination of all his efforts. Just a few years later, in 1894, Graham published a further book "Pedigrees of Scottish Deerhounds".

To further raise the profile of the Irish Wolfhound, it was agreed that an example of the breed would be presented to the Irish Guards and this was done by Captain Graham at the Kennel Club show of 1902. The dog chosen was Mrs A. Gerard's "Rajah of Kidnal" which was presented to the Regiment and renamed "Brian Boru".

In Dursley, Graham was playing an active part within the community and was elected first chairman of Dursley Parish Council on 31st December 1884, a post he held until 1896. He also became chairman of the Highways Board, served as a Justice of the Peace and was chairman of the Dursley Bench of Magistrates.

Captain Graham's wife died on 6th April 1908 and was buried at St. Mark's Church in Dursley. The following year on 21st October 1909 Captain Graham passed away at Rednock and he was buried two days later with his wife. His obituary in the Dursley Gazette of 23rd October gives the following insight into his life and the stature which he held.


Death of Captain Graham. J.P. of Rednock, Dursley


The unsatisfactory reports of the health of Captain G. A. Graham, J.P., of Rednock, Dursley, the esteemed chairman of the Dursley Bench of magistrates, will have prepared our readers for the announcement of his death, which took place on 'Thursday afternoon last, at the age of 76.

The deceased gentleman had been for many years a prominent figure in the life of Dursley. He was one of the town's most useful and influential public men, and up till the time of his long and trying illness, borne with great fortitude, he had displayed considerable vigour, both bodily and mentally. Despite his age and infirmity, hopes were general up till comparatively recently that he would be spared to live a few more years among those who respected his good name, and the regret felt at his death is very marked.

Captain Graham was an old Army officer, and for some years served in India, seeing active service in the terrible Mutiny of 1857.

He took a keen interest in the magisterial side of his public duties, and no one was more zealous in upholding the high traditions of his position as chairman of the Dursley Bench, to which he succeeded the late Mr. W. J. Phelps, of Chestal. He was very regular in his attendance at Court, even when in ill-health, and always endeavoured to temper justice with mercy. The last occasion on which he appeared at Court was when a prisoner was brought up for an offence at the Union Workhouse. Another magistrate was not available, and the police sought the services of Captain Graham, who was being wheeled through the town in his invalid chair. He was carried into the Court, and dealt with the case, and was then conveyed back to his chair.

Captain Graham was at one time chairman of the now defunct Highway Board, and on the formation of the Parish Council be was appointed chairman. He was very interested in the work of the Council, and conducted the business with impartiality and courtesy. Before the Poor-Law Acts were amended, Captain Graham, by Virtue of his office as magistrate, occasionally sat on the Board of Guardians.

Captain Graham was a famous breeder of the Irish wolf-hound - a breed, in fact, which he revived when nearly extinct. The Irish Wolfhound Society recognised his valuable services in preserving this breed of dog by presenting him with a very handsome trophy, of which he was justly proud.

He was a staunch Churchman, and a Conservative in politics. He showed his sympathy with temperance work in a very practical way, and used his influence as a magistrate to further the cause. He was a liberal subscriber to local sporting organizations, Church objects, and charities, and no deserving cause ever appealed to him in vain.

His wife, an esteemed lady, pre-deceased him about eighteen months ago. Much sympathy is felt for his family in their bereavement. The funeral will lake place at St. Mark's Church today (Saturday) at 3pm.


One week later, the Gazette gives a report on his funeral saying that it was "a grand affair, no doubt due to the part he played in the life of the town. The notice then goes on to say that "As the procession passed through the town the business premises en route were closed, and windows shuttered, whilst blinds were drawn at the private residences; and one was cognisant that a gentleman highly respected by all had passed away."

I am indebted to Dr Nicholas Wilkes for his research into the career of Captain Graham which has been the source of much of the information within this article. Additional information has come from Capt. Graham's great grandson, Rory Webster; local newspapers and Gloucestershire Archives.

  Picture Gallery (Click on picture for larger view)
    Captain George Augustus Graham (1833-1909)
Captain Graham pictured while attending a dog show.
(Courtesy Rory Webster)
    Captain Graham wearing the tartan of Clan Graham
Captain Graham, taken from a formal family portrait.
(Courtesy Rory Webster)
    George Augustus Graham in his younger days
Sporting a fine pair of sideburns a young George Graham makes a dashing sight.
(Courtesy Rory Webster)
    Captain Graham and dogs at Rednock
Accompanied by two of his Irish Wolfhounds, Captain Graham stands in front of his home, Rednock House.
(Courtesy Rory Webster)
    Rednock House, the home of Captain Graham
Captain Graham purchased the estate called "Oaklands" in 1865 and renamed it "Rednock". This view, taken during his residence, shows the impressive size of the house and the picturesque nature of the estate. Some of the cedar trees survive to this day in the grounds of the new Rednock School but the house was demolished in 1971 when the Grammar School, which was to occupy the house in later years, became Comprehensive.
(Courtesy Rory Webster)
    Lydia Caroline Graham (1841-1908)
George Augustus Graham married Lydia caroline Potter in 1863 at St. Mary's Church, Charlton Kings.
(Courtesy Rory Webster)
    Colonel Charles Graham C.B. (1788-1858)
Charles Graham was George Graham's father and went on to become a Colonel, and a distinguished officer. He passed through the Military Academy at Marlow and the Royal Academy in 1804-1805. He served in the Ava War of 1824-26, held many senior positions in the military and was rewarded with the Companionship of the Bath. He retired from the service in 1848 and returned to live in Cheltenham where he died in his 70th year.
(Courtesy Rory Webster)
    Alec George Malcolm Graham (1871-1914)
One of Captain Graham's twin sons (the other being Malcolm George Alec Graham). Captain Alec Graham served with the 6th Worcestershire Regiment and died at Le Touret during the First World War. There is a memorial tablet to him in St. James' Church in Dursley.
(Courtesy Rory Webster)
    Malcolm George Alec Graham (1871-1952)
Alec's twin brother went on to join the Merchant Navy.
(Courtesy Rory Webster)

Dedication to Captain Graham
Dedication inside a copy of Captain Graham's book presented to one of his daughters in 1939 by the President of the Irish Wolfhound Club of Ireland.

The inscription reads "Presented by the Irish Wolfhound Club of Ireland to Caroline St. Clair Graham as a token of her father's great work in the restoration of the Irish Wolfhound".
(Courtesy Rory Webster)


Wedding of Constance Alice Graham
Captain Graham stands with his family at the wedding of his daughter Contance Alice Graham to Spencer Drummond Cox at Newton Abbott. Standing (left-right) are Beatrice Violet Webster (nee Graham), Edward Montague Webster, Lydia Caroline Graham, George Augustus Graham, Edith Flora Graham, ?, Caroline St. Clair Graham. Seated (left-right) are Alec George Malcolm Graham, Constance Alice Graham, Spencer Drummond Cox.
(Courtesy Rory Webster - January 18th 1906)