Thomas Pride was born on March 29, 1835 at Wool, Dorset, England. He was the son of agricultural labourer, Robert Pride and his wife Ann King. Thomas spent his childhood around Wool where he is recorded in 1841 at Bovington and in 1851 at Bindon Lane. Whilst his father was from Dorset it should be noted his mother, although a British Subject, was born in America.
Thomas entered the Navy in 1854 and served in the China War between 1857 and 1860. In the 1861 census he is recorded as serving aboard HMS Chesapeake. Later that year he marries Mary Eliza Coombs from Wareham and a daughter, Flora Elinor Pride is born late in 1862.
On August 17, 1864, a squadron consisting of nine British, five Dutch and 3 French warships together with 2,000 soldiers steamed out of Yokohama to open Shimonoseki Strait. The two-day battle that followed on September 5 and 6 destroyed the Prince of Nagato’s ability to wage war. Thomas was serving aboard the British flagship Euryalus.
“On 6 September 1864 at Shimonoseki, Japan, Captain of the After Guard Pride was one of the two colour sergeants who accompanied the midshipman, D.G. Boyes, from HMS Euryalus when they carried the Queen’s Colour into action in the capture of the enemy’s stockade. They kept the flag flying in spite of the fierce fire which killed the other colour sergeant and severely wounded Pride. He and the midshipman, however, did not falter and were only finally prevented from going further forward by direct orders from their superior officer.”
Both Boyes and Pride were presented with the Victoria Cross in Portsmouth on 22 September 1865. Thomas Pride was discharged from the the Navy in 1866 and a son, Albert McCullock Pride was born that same year at Sandford, Dorset. Also at Sandford in 1868 a second son, Walter Charles Pride, was born.
At some point after the birth of Walter and before the 1871 census the Prides move to Stanpit, Christchurch, Hampshire where they are sharing a home with brother-in-law, George Coombs, a tailor, and his wife Maryann. Thomas’s occupation at this time is described as an ‘out pensioner of Greenwich’. During their time at Christchurch a second daughter, Alice Louisa Pride is born.
Thomas finds employment as a Toll collector and in the 1881 census the family can be found living in the Toll Gate House on the Bournemouth Road at Parkstone, Dorset. Daughter Flora has found employment as a pupil teacher whilst the younger children are all still at school. With the children all grown up Thomas and Mary may have moved back to Mary’s home town of Wareham, where they can be found living at St. John’s Hill in the 1891 census, however Thomas died on July 16, 1893 at the age of 57 and the death was registered in the Poole district and he was buried in All Saints Churchyard at Branksome Park.