Major-General Francis Ringler Thomson

1794 - 1863
Royal Engineers

Francis Ringler Thomson
Francis Ringler Thomson
Image source: Malta Family History.

Thomson Arms
Thomson Arms
Quarterly 1st & 4th Argent a stag's head cabossed Gules attired Or
on a chief Azure a cross crosslet of the third between two mullets of the
first 2nd & 3rd Azure three annulets Or.
Source: Sir James Balfour Paul's Scottish Ordinary 1825.

Francis Ringler Thomson, born 13 January 1794 to John Thomson and Catherine Ringler, was baptised in the French Church, Threadneedle Street, London, on 14 February 1794.

He is recorded as having joined the Royal Engineers, 1 July 1812 becoming a 2nd Lieutenant and being promoted Lieutenant on 21 July 1813. After service on Guernsey, Channel Islands, from January to 20 June 1815, had joined the Army of the Duke of Wellington by 1 July, on attachment to the Prussian Army, engaged at Maubeuge, Landrecy, Phillipville and Rocroi.

On 1 August 1817, departed from Bocqinham to disembark at Dover on the 5th. Taking up duty at Chatham Barracks on 22 August, he remained there until 14 March 1820 when he took ship for Ceylon. On 31 August 1823 he sailed from Trincomalee to land at Deal 6 February 1824.

Having been promoted 2nd Captain at Edinburgh, 29 July 1825, he arrived at Corfu on 20 November 1826 and stayed there until 19 July 1831. Back at Edinburgh by 23 November 1831, he was transferred on 20th June 1833 to spend short periods at Devonport and Woolwich.

His marriage to Selina Harriett Cotton (nee Carisbrooke), widow of the late G. H. Macartney, took place on 16 October 1833 at St Mary Woolwich. A week later he sailed on the Transport Stentor for Gibraltar.

During his stay on the Rock of Gibraltar he was promoted Captain, 10 January 1837, before returning to England a year later. At Hythe, Kent, on 28 June 1838, he advanced to the rank of Major and during 1841 was sent to Canada to work on the Rideau Canal project. He took up residence, with his family, at Montreal from October 1841until August 1843 when he moved to Bytown (named after Lieutenant Colonel John By of the Royal Engineers) - which became the City of Ottawa.

A mural tablet in Christ Church, Sorel, Quebec, is inscribed: - 'Sacred to the memory of a sincere friend, a kind mistress, and affectionate daughter, sister, wife and mother, a pious Christian, Selina Harriett Cotton the beloved wife of Major Francis Ringler Thomson, R.E., daughter of John Carisbrooke Esq., and Marianne Brooker. She died June 16th 1843, aged 43 years. The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away blessed be the name of the Lord Job. C. 1 v 21, Eugenia Carisbrooke Thomson daughter of the above died at Bytown Nov. 1st 1843 aged 7 years and 11 months. Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not for of such is the kingdom of Heaven. Mark C. 10 v. 13".

On 21 May 1844 at Bytown, Canada West, Major Ringler Thomson, R.E., married secondly Caroline, daughter of the late Major James Powell, and widow of George Buchanan, Esq. A daughter, Caroline Ann Ringler Thomson, was born 29 May 1845.

Having been promoted Lieutenant-Colonel, 1 March 1847, he departed Canada on 27 September in that year to become involved in the construction of new barracks at Limerick, Ireland. Following his arrival on 5 November 1847 there were additions to the family. A son Francis Drummond Hay Ringler Thomson, was born 3 October 1848 and baptised 13th June 1849 at St.John's Parish Church, Limerick, a daughter Louisa Florence Ringler Thomson appeared on 21 March 1850- baptised on 19 May at Ardleigh, Essex. Another son born in Ireland, Edward Charles Ringler Thomson, on 17 March 1851 came to be baptised the following 11 June at St. Michael's Church, Limerick.

In January 1852 Lt. - Col. Thomson sailed from Southampton on the P.&O. Steamer Bentinck, with his wife, eight children, and two female servants, to take command of the Royal Engineers on Malta. Subsequently he oversaw the construction of the Verdala Fort and barracks within part of the bastions of the 17th century Santa Margherita Lines at Cospicua, Malta. The Fort Verdala Plan of Privies as proposed by Lt. Col. Thomson, C.R.E, 24 May 1852, are held in the National Archives under reference MFQ 1/329/20 together with many other plans bearing his signature.

Promotion to the full Colonel took place on 28 November 1854.

In April 1855, he fell down a flight of stairs to dislocate his right ankle and sustain a Potts fracture of the fibula. On 24 April 1856, suffering from ill-health, he left Malta on board the P.&.O. Steamer Pera for England.

Retiring on half pay, 14 June 1856, he was elevated to the honorary rank of Major General.

Subsequently he spent some time at Summerland House, St Helier, Jersey, possibly as a guest of John Ringler Thomson, but died at 5 Stanley Villas, Epsom, Surrey, 10 October 1863. Probate was granted to his relict, Caroline Ringler Thomson - Effects under £600. Since Mrs Thomson is also recorded as having lived at 5 The Terrace it is thought that they were tenants of a property in 'Railway Terrace' on the south side of Station Road, Epsom, two doors up from the Liberal Club. His widow died on 3 January 1869 and followed him to the grave, from 5 Stanley Villas, 4 days later. Executor Francis Drummond Hay Ringler-Thomson, Estate under £450.

The Ringler Thomson Family Grave
The Ringler Thomson Family Grave.
Tapering Slab with Cross moulded on Top. With Rectangular base and surround.
South Inscription
"Sacred to the Memory of M GENERAL FRANCIS RINGLER THOMSON Royal Engineers, Born 14th January 1794. Who after an uninterrupted service of 45 years in Europe, Asia and North America retired from failing health May 1850 and departed this life beloved and lamented by all who knew him 10th of October 1863.
Mark the perfect man and behold the upright for the end of that man is peace. R. XXXVII V.3(7)
North Inscription
Also of CAROLINE his beloved wife Born 13th June, 1810. Died 3rd January 1869 Having a desire to depart and to be with Christ Her children ......... up and call her blessed .".

Brian Bouchard, July 2016



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