Francis Plum – A Soldier’s Story

The personal history of Private Francis (Franz) Plum is typical of the hundreds of foreign soldiers who served in the 7/60th Foot.  Plum was born on 12 May 1790 in the city of Aachen, Germany, then a Free City within the Holy Roman Empire, but occupied and annexed to France in 1795.  He is described as being 5 feet 7 3/4 inches tall, with a fair complexion, brown hair, blue eyes, and a round face.  Nothing is known of his early life, although it is probable he was at some point conscripted into Napoleon’s Grand Armee, and eventually captured by British forces while serving in the Iberian Peninsula.

While in British custody, Plum volunteered for the 7/60th Foot, joining the battalion from the Foreign Troops Depot on the Isle of Wight on 20 October 1813.  He appears (like the majority of soldiers in the battalion) to have enlisted on limited service for a period of 7 years only, indicated by his receiving a bounty of £4.4.0.  Upon joining the battalion he was placed in No. 6  Company (later renumbered No. 8 Company)  under command of Captain Charles Barrington, and trained with the battalion on the island of Guernsey before embarking for Halifax in May 1814.

For the duration of the War of 1812 Plum performed garrison duty in Nova Scotia.  However, during the autumn of 1815 No. 6 Company was posted to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.  Soon after arriving Captain Barrington was embroiled in a disbute between the island’s governor and the militia over the appointment of militia officers.  In November 1815 Barrington refused orders from the governor to forcefully suppress a mutiny over the issue by the militia, restricting Plum and his comrades to their barracks until the dispute resolved itself without bloodshed.  Despite Barrington’s acquittal by court martial of disobedience, No. 6 Company were eventually recalled to Nova Scotia.

Plum remained with the 7/60th Foot until the battalion was disbanded in June 1817.  Along with 198 men from the 7th Battalion, he was transferred to the 3/60th (then also at Halifax), joining No. 3 Company.  Plum continued to serve in the regiment until July 1818, when he obtained his discharge from the 3rd Battalion, and subsequently settled in New Brunswick, where he entered the shipping business.

The 7/60th Reenactment Association is indebted to Mr. Malcolm Jardine for the information concerning Private Plum, and for the images of Plum’s paybook, held in his family’s private collection.

Banner photo courtesy of Alex Luyckx.