Private William Nesbitt


William Nesbitt was born on 26 May 1874 at Tyrardan, Ballybay, County Monaghan, the sixth of thirteen children of farmer Joseph Nesbitt and his wife Mary Anne (née Hollinger). By 1896 he was working as a farmer at Clownagh Parish, Drumcree, County Armagh. On 7 August that year he married Letitia Middleby in the Lurgan Registrar's Office. The couple had twelve children over the next twenty years.

Nesbitt had enlisted in the Royal Irish Fusiliers militia (No.808) on 15 October 1892. He was promoted to corporal on 21 May 1894. He was transferred to the militia reserve on 10 June 1895, re-engaged on 1 June 1898, and called out on permanent service on 7 March 1900. Two weeks later he was transferred to the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers, and embarked for South Africa for service in the Boer War. He served there until 17 September 1900 when he returned to the UK. He was then transferred to the reserves.

For his war service Nesbitt was awarded a Queen's South Africa medal with Laing's Nek clasp.

At the time of the 1901 Census he was living at 12 Railway Terrace, Ballybay, County Monaghan, with his wife and two children, and working as a labourer.

On 28 January 1908 at Monaghan he joined the special reserve of the Royal Irish Fusiliers (No.2155) and was attached to the 4th Battalion. He was discharged on completion of his term of engagement (18 years) on 14 October 1910. His military character was recorded as 'good'.

At the time of the 1911 Census Nesbitt and his wife were living at Cornasoo, Caddagh, County Monaghan, with their seven surviving children (three more would be born in later years). William was working as a labourer.

Between 26 April and 20 May 1913 he re-enlisted, this time with the North Irish Horse (No.848). He embarked for France with C Squadron on 20 August 1914, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne.

C Squadron then served as corps headquarters cavalry until April 1915, when it was attached as divisional cavalry to the 3rd Division. In June 1916 it joined with F Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, attached as corps cavalry to X Corps.

A year later a number of older and less fit Horsemen were transferred to home service units prior to the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment being disbanded and the men transferred to infantry service. Nesbitt was one of these. On 9 July 1917 he was transferred to the Labour Corps (No.333722) and posted to No.664 Home Service Labour Company. He remained with the Labour Corps until the end of the war.

After the war Nesbitt lived at Tappa, Stranooden, County Monaghan. In March 1921 he was granted £50 from the King's Fund towards starting as a cattle dealer. He later moved to England. At the time of the 1939 Register he and his wife and two children were living at 118 Hanging Lane, Birmingham. William was employed on land tunnelling. He died there in September 1950.


One of William's brothers, George Nesbitt, also served in the war, in the North Irish Horse and the 9th (NIH) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.


This page last updated 8 November 2023.