Michael Daniels
Edward St John Daniel VC
 The story of the first man to forfeit the Victoria Cross



The Life of Edward St John Daniel


Death at Hokitika

On 16th May 1868, Edward St John Daniel, who, according to later reports, had been ill for some time, was admitted to Hokitika Hospital where he died on 20th May. He was 31 years of age. Daniel's death certificate gives the cause of death as "delirium tremens".

The following day, 21st May 1868, Daniel was given a full military funeral. The West Coast Times of 22nd May 1868 reports Daniel's death and describes the occasion:


"We regret to have to record the death of one of the members of the Armed Constabulary, Mr Edward St. John Daniels [sic]. He had been ailing for some time, and on Saturday was taken to the Hospital, where he expired yesterday. In former years he served in the Royal Navy, as master's mate, in the Diamond, on the Mediterranean station. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery displayed in the China [sic] war. He served three years in No. 5 Company of the Taranaki Military Settlers - from 1864 to 1867, in which year he joined the Armed Constabulary, by the members of which body he was much respected. The men of both forces started from the barracks at two o’ clock, and proceeded to the landing stage, Gibson’s Quay, to take charge of the body, and on the coffin being received, the firing party presented arms, and then, reversing arms, moved on in front, the remainder of the force counter-marching inwards. The body having been placed in the hearse, the band took up its position in front, the firing party leading. In this order the mournful cortège proceeded with measured tread up Wharf, Camp, and Revell streets, to the Cemetery, the band playing Handel’s funereal composition, "The Dead March in Saul." Arrived at the burial-ground gate, the firing party halted and faced inwards, resting on their arms reversed. The body was then taken out of the hearse, and borne by four of the deceased’s comrades through the ranks of the firing party, the remaining portion of the procession following, the firing party bringing up the rear. On entering the Cemetery, the body was met by the Rev. Archdeacon Harper, the officiating clergyman, who led the way to the grave. Arrived at the grave, the Archdeacon took up his position at the head, the firing party along one side, resting on their arms reversed, the remainder of the mourners forming round. The assemblage at this point was most solemn and imposing, particularly when the venerable archdeacon, in feeling measured voice, proceeded to read the beautiful and impressive service for the dead appointed by the Church of England. At the conclusion of the funeral service the firing party fired three volleys, the reveille being sounded by the drums and fifes between each volley, and thus was rendered the last military honors to the departed soldier. At the conclusion of the ceremony the men re-formed and returned to barracks. The deceased during his connection with the Armed Constabulary Force was much respected by his comrades, and certainly, on this mournful occasion, everything was done that lay in their power to testify their regard for their now lost friend and comrade."

    Funeral of Edward St John Daniel
Report on Daniel's
death and funeral

West Coast Times
22nd May 1868

Edward St John Daniel was buried in Grave No. 851, Block 27, Hokitika Cemetery.

Back in England, news of Daniel's death was published in the Bristol Times and Mirror on 1st August 1868. No mention was made of the forfeiture of his VC, nor of his exile in Australia and New Zealand.


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