Arthur, The Rt. Hon. The Viscount Valentia C.B., M.V.O., M.P., J.P.

1Arthur, The Rt. Hon. The Viscount Valentia C.B., M.V.O., M.P., J.P.

Lord Valentia was gazetted to a Cornetcy in the Tenth Hussars on the 10th May 1864, by purchase; promoted Lieutenant on the 2nd May 1868, and retired on the 23rd July 1872.

On the date of Lord Valentia’s first appointment the Regiment was stationed at Dublin, and the day coincided with that on which the breech-loading carbine, The Westley-Richards, was first issued to the Tenth. This fact is mentioned to emphasise the vast changes in the arming of the Land Forces which have been effected since Lord Valentia joined The Tenth, to the present day; when he is still soldiering in the Yeomanry, and is interested and actively concerned in our arms. A few days later a march to the Currag for the drill season took place, and Donnolly’s Hollow was the site chosen for the camp. It is recorded that, for a few days after the arrival, very wet weather prevailed, a circumstance which will recall to the minds of many of our readers the torrential rain and hurricanes encountered in the same camp twenty-seven years later.

It was at this time that Colonel Valentine Baker adopted from the Austrian Service the non-pivot system of drill, and the formation of the Squadron into three divisions of twelve front each, which caused much discussion in military circles. “In The Tenth” we read, “there never were at any time, two opinions on the subject: the simplicity of the drill, enabling a great reduction in the number of movements to be made, the greater rapidity in execution, and the ease in leading, presented great advantages.”

Thus Lord Valentia entered the Army at a period when the breaking up of the old Conservatism and horror of any attempt towards reform and improvement was initiated; this may have helped to the build-up of that broad and open-mindedness and wise judgement for which he has ever since been famous. Lord Valentia had not the good fortune to see active service with his Regiment, but in the South Africa War, of which we may still speak as recent, he took the field with his Yeomanry Regiment, the “Oxfordshire” of which he is still the Colonel. There he did good work, was mentioned in despatches, and was awarded the Queen’s medal and four clasps.

From the day he joined The Tenth, Lord Valentia took his profession seriously and soon gained a reputation as a keen and good soldier, and, incidentally, was accounted the beau of the Army. He also leapt in prominence in all those sports in which the Regiment took part. He was one of the team of eight who played in the first game of Polo in England, on Hounslow Heath in 1869, which is reported in the Encyclopaedia of Sport as “A new game of hockey on horseback.” The opposing team was the 9th Lancers. The details of the game will be interesting. It is described thus:-

Hockey on Horseback

Nearly all fashionable London journeyed from town to Hounslow on Tuesday to witness a new game called “Hockey on Horseback” between the Officers of The Tenth Prince of Wales Hussars and the Officers of the 9th Queens Royal Lancers, who had come over from Aldershot.

The game took place on Hounslow Heath, and the various equipages quite surrounded the space allotted to the players. Four upright posts some twenty yards apart, marked the goals, through which the ball, a small sphere of white bone, had to be driven by the players, before either side could claim any advantage. The sticks used were in form, like those used in hockey, of ash, and crooked at the end, and with these the ball was often stuck a considerable distance. The distance between the goalposts was a little under 200 yards, and the players, having taken up positions in front of their respective goals, the ball was thrown up in the centre of the ground by a Sergeant-Major of the Tenth Hussars, who then galloped off, when each side immediately galloped for the ball at the best pace of their ponies. The Tenth appeared in blue and yellow jerseys, and the 9th in party-coloured shirts of blue and red, and both sides wore mob caps, with different coloured tassels attached.

The game, which has been imported from India, and which has been for a long time in vogue among the Manipuris, one of the frontier tribes, was watched with the keenest interest by the numerous and aristocratic company present. The game lasted for an hour and a half, with an interval of ten minutes when half-time had been played. The players, eight on each side, were mounted on wiry little ponies about 12½ hands high.

At the end of the prescribed time the Hussars had gained three goals, to two gained by the Lancers, and though the general remarks made it evident that the new game was one most fitted for cavalry soldiers, it was admitted by all looking on, that it was more remarkable for the strength of the language used by the players than anything else.

Again in 1870 Lord Valencia’s name appears as one of the team of The Tenth which defeated the 9th Lancers, and in The Field of the 26th August 1871 it was announced that “the present champions of the game are:-

Lord Valentia
Messrs. E. M. Dansey, and E. Hartopp, and
The Hon. H. Boscawen”

In 1869 Lord Valentia won two coveted regimental trophies, riding his own horse, Ventpiece, — The Baker Cup, presented by the late Colonel Valentine Baker for competition at the regimental steeplechase meetings, and The Tenth Royal Hussars Cup. In 1867, on his horse Moccas, he was third in the Baker Cup race.

In 1866, at Dundalk, the Headquarters of the Regiment, a pack of hounds was established under the management of Lord Valentia, and hunted with great success by him.

He acted as Aide-de-Camp to His late Majesty, King Edwards VII, when as Prince of Wales       H. R. H. Commanded the Cavalry Brigade of the Second Division in the manoeuvres in the neighbourhood of Aldershot in 1871.

Lord Valentia’s retirement from the Regiment, in 1872, universally regretted by the whole of his contemporaries of all ranks, meant the loss to the Tenth of a good soldier, a brilliant horseman, and a sportsman in every sense of the word.

Since his retirement he has lived a life of unceasing energy, never forgetting his old Regiment, and ready at all times to further its interests, as well as those of any member of it. He is one of the able Committee of the Tenth Hussars Aid Society, and takes an active interest in the Old Comrades Association, never failing, when his innumerable pursuits permit, to attend the annual meetings of the Association.

Among other important posts he has filled, and the duties he has carried out in a manner which must have entailed many sacrifices may be mentioned: M. P. In the conservative interest for Oxford since 1895; Comptroller of H. M.’s Household, 1898-1905; an Officer of high rank in Freemasonry; Chairman of the Oxfordshire Territorial Force Association; and many local Societies.

All these claim the greater part of the days of Lord Valentia, and trust that his life, devoted as it has been, and is, to his country, may be spared for many years thus perpetuating the lustre reflected on his olds Regiment, The Tenth.

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