When people hear the name Samuel Taylor Coleridge most will say “who?” Unless you’ve learned something about the Romanticism era or English romantic poets you probably have no idea who I would be talking about. Than if I throw the name of Silas Tomkyn Comberbache out people will be very confused, even if they do have some knowledge about Coleridge and his life. The truth is Silas Tomkyn Comberbache and Samuel Taylor Coleridge is in fact the same person. How did this come to be? It started out as Coleridge being a student at Jesus College in England and being very unhappy, he joined a reformist movement and dropped out of school. Since the movement was stimulated by the French Revolution Coleridge soon started getting in trouble with the law and with debt. After an unfortunate love affair ending badly he signed up for the 15thLight Dragoons under the name of Silas Tomkyn Comberbache. Did anyone just catch that? Silas Tomkyn Comberbache. Samuel Taylor Coleridge. STC! He started his new name with the same initials of his old one, how creative. But Coleridge was not cut out for war and battles and was discharged by his brother Captain James Coleridge due to ‘insanity’. Nice cover up brother. Upon him moving to Cambridge he met future radical poet Robert Southey who would in turn jump start Coleridge’s love for poetry.
Some of you may be wondering what is the 15th Dragoons Light and what did they do. The Dragoons Light are troops that were trained for reconnaissance and patrolling, in other words scouting for many different areas of the world. The 15th Dragoons Light was the first formed during the Eighteenth Century (1759 to be exact). This is the one that Coleridge joined for a short period of time. Soon the boys became known as hussars due to their stylish uniforms, sporting blues, gold’s and yellows. Only after the British army adopted some of them did they change their style to a more khaki. Over a few hundred years the Dragoon Light troops had fought in a near dozen wars, and even changed their name (Royal Hussars). But finally in the late 1980’s they went back to Dragoons Light and took orders from the Princess of Wales, as their first colonel in chief. They have been called the best regiment in the army and still uphold that name today.
An early portrait of the 15th Dragoons Light troop.