Various documents place his year of birth between 1819 and 1828... for various reasons his interested descendants agreed on a likely year as 1826. This may be wrong.
John joined the British Army in November 1841. His place of birth is recorded as "parish of Aughaloher near the town of McGuires, county of Fermanagh in Ireland" and his age is given as 18 years 6 months... we were advised that this may have been falsified so he would be considered eligible to join. His occupation is given as servant.
In November 1854 he married Jane Dufficy in Manchester. His father is named as John Howe, a Distiller.
Based on various clues, we think his mother may have been Elizabeth Morrison.
He possibly had a brother James, who died in Ladysmith, Natal, South Africa where he was working as a constable, in 1874.
DNA matches lead me to believe he had a sister who married someone Simmonds. They had a son Thomas Christopher, in Australia in 1845. In about 1854 they, or at least the son, emigrated to San Francisco , California, USA.
Another DNA match indicates a possible sister, Elizabeth, who married John Elliot. They emigrated to Canada.
John served with the British Army as a Saddler in the Horse Guards in various Infantry regiments over nearly 23 years, in India (East Indies for 16 years 6 months), Malta (for 11 months) and Africa.
He took his discharge in 1864 a month after the birth of his daughter Eliza, and then worked as the jailer on the coast of Natal, South Africa until 1880. He then had a position as Chief Constable in Ladysmith, Natal for a short period, taking his retirement in September 1881.
He died in Stanger, Natal, SA in 1886. His cause of death was given as opium poisoning - perhaps as a treatment for malaria, or perhaps it was used to counter the pain he experienced in his legs...
More information on his family is given under the profile of his wife, Jane Dufficy, from the parish of Roscommon.