RSM Uniform (small)John Beaton was born in Camberwell, Surrey in about 1831 (1).

Beaton joined the Army in 1848 (2) and served four years, four months in Western Australia including his journey to Fremantle. Before he left England, however, he participated in the Great Exhibition of 1851. Together with other Sappers, he was briefly quartered in Kensington Cavalry Barracks for the duration of his duty at the Exhibition. He was awarded a medal and fourth prize for his services (click here for more detail).

John Beaton was one of 30 soldiers of the 20th Company who came to Western Australia on the ship Marion in 1852 (4). He was a mason by trade and one of the few single men on board who made up the first complement of the Company to serve there as Instructing Warders.

Beaton served his time in Western Australia in Fremantle, York and Guildford. In York he was overseeing a convict ‘road party’ i.e. building roads. He was in Guildford supervising convict bricklayers in 1853, and again for several months from October 1855 with Corporal John Rose and fellow-Sappers John Park and John Lidford (5, 6).

In February 1856 Beaton and Lidford, unmarried men, were recalled to Fremantle; the order had been received that single men were required to return to England. Thus two officers and 19 Sappers, John Beaton among them, left on Esmeralda on 25th February 1856 (7) to give fight in a war against the Russians that was already over – for further details, see the Crimean War connection.

No War Office series 97 Chelsea Pension documents were issued for John Beaton thus these other sources were accessed:
(1) 1851 Census of England & Wales [HO107-1480].
(2) Monthly Return of 20th Company RSM in Western Australia [WO1-437].
(3) Perth Gazette 21 Jan 1853.
(4) Muster Rolls & Pay Lists October 1851 to January 1852 [WO11-130].
(5) Dictionary of Warders & Gaolers, D J Barker.
(6) Muster Rolls & Pay Lists December 1855 [WO11-146].
(7) Perth Gazette 29 Feb 1856.
Image: History of the Royal Sappers & Miners, T W J Connolly, Vol.2, Plate 14.