Recent Acquisition: Ceremonial Sword, 1866

Recent Acquisition: Ceremonial Sword, 1866

BY DR. GEORGIANA STANCIU

This sword was presented to Sergeant Major Thomas McKenzie by the officers of the St. John 62nd Volunteer Battalion in 1866, according to the inscription on the blade. At the time, McKenzie was the RSM of this unit, having arrived in St. John, New Brunswick in 1862, where he settled after a long career in the British Army. Initially a member of the regimental band, McKenzie raised through the ranks and participated in the Persian War (1854) and the Indian Mutiny (1856). McKenzie continued to be active in the Canadian Militia as the Regimental Sergeant Major of "A" Company of the Infantry School Corps.

It is a British infantry officer pattern, with ornaments, inscription and Queen Victoria's royal cypher "VRI." A 1822/45 British infantry pattern, marked "Reynolds and Johnson/69" the sword may have been commissioned (and purchased) at 89 High Holborn, London, UK. The item is in fair condition, with the scabbard damaged at the bottom and some corrosion of the brass guard.


DATE: 1866
DONATED BY: Bequeath, the Estate of Richard Segee
OBJECT ID: RCRM2021.003.0001a-b
Ceremonial Sword in Scabbard

RSM Thomas McKenzie (1830-1910)


RSM Thomas McKenzie is familiar to all those who serve, past and present, with The Royal Canadian Regiment as the "first recruit." His name is indeed entered as the first non commissioned officer to join "A" Company of the Infantry School Corps, established following General Order 26 (21 December 1883). In fact, McKenzie gave up his officer rank in the Canadian Militia to join the first unit in the regular army. He was appointed Regimental Sergeant Major, a position he maintained until his retirement in 1895. In 1898, McKenzie published "My Life as a Soldier", an autobiographical account of his exploits in the British, and the Canadian Army.

In this image, the first page of "A" Company enlistment ledger, from 1883 to 1901, with McKenzie's service number "2001", age 53 and date of enlistment, 7 January 1884. The ledger is part of The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum, Archives Collection. 

More Ressources

The following links direct to more ressources about Thomas McKenzie including "My Life as a Soldier" and two noteworthy biographical presentations by the New brunswick Military History Project and the Regimental Rogue.