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Natal Mercury

The Natal Mercury 1924 2 April - June


Within Two Years of his 100th Birthday

The death has occurred in Durban, within two years of his 100th birthday, of Mr. Lewis Goldsmith LESTER, a veteran soldier and colonist. His life story is one of service to the Empire, for he joined the British Army as a young man, and was with the colours in the Crimean War and Indian Mutiny, not to mention other punitive engagements and early Native wars in this country. Until a couple of years ago Mr. Lester enjoyed very good health, but latterly his strength has been failing. It may be mentioned that he was operated on at the age of 92.

The late Mr. Lester was born in Ireland on June 11, 1826, in the reign of King George IV., and had had the unique distinction of living under five separate rulers on the throne of Great Britain.

It will be seen that he was on the eve of his 98th birthday when he passed to the Great Beyond.

As a young man, he joined the 41st Light (Welsh) Regiment. He was drafted with his regiment to India, subsequently going to Mauritius. When the Crimean War broke out in 1853 his regiment was transferred to the scene of operations, and he went through the heavy fighting and hardships associated with that campaign.

There was little rest for the British soldier in those days, and no sooner was the war over than Lester found himself back again in India, where the rebellious outbreak of the Native troops was threatening the safety of the Empire.

After the Indian Mutiny had been quelled, Mr. Lester left the Army, and after a well-earned holiday with his relatives in Ireland, he secured a free passage to the Cape. He could not, however, find employment in Capetown, and after journeying to Port Elizabeth, eventually secured an appointment at East London, which was then only a collection of wood houses and wattle and daub huts.

Here he was given an appointment in the Customs Office - this being in the late fifties. Later he was appointed Chief Constable and Court Messenger. From East London, Mr. Lester journeyed to Kingwilliamstown, where he conducted the business of a cattle dealer, and in 1870 he bought a farm in Pondoland. Mr. Lester participated in the Pondoland Rebellion with the Cape Mounted Rifles, and after its conclusion he came to Durban, where he spent the remaining years of his life.

Mr. Lester was married three times, and had five children, residing with his youngest son, now 54 years of age, at the time of his death.

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