Hugh Wishart was born during December 1862 in Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland. He was the eldest son of William Wishart, a labourer and army pensioner from County Tyrone, and his wife, Elizabeth Mooney.
By 1881 Hugh was working as a weaver and on 5 January 1882, he enlisted with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers at Omagh. The Fusiliers had been formed in July the previous year with the ‘regimental district’ comprising of Donegal, Londonderry, Tyrone (where Hugh was presumably living) and Fermanagh. Two battalions were formed from what had been previously known as the 27th and 108th Regiments of Foot.
Hugh was posted to the 1st Battalion and stationed in Hong Kong between 1883 and 1885 after which he was sent to Mauritius for a further two years. In September 1887 Hugh found himself based in South Africa where he remained until the start of 1889 when he returned to the UK. Hugh spent the next twelve years largely based in Ireland, during which time that he met and married his wife Sarah Anne McKenna, a labourer’s daughter from Tyrone, in Omagh on 9 February 1892.
In 1893 a son named John James was born in Omagh and followed by daughters, Emily Mary (1894) and Kathleen (1896.) Another boy – Hugh Joseph, was born in 1898 and followed two years later by a third, William Henry, who was born in Aldershot in 1900 but died in Belfast the same year.
In 1901 Hugh was garrisoned at the Fusiliers barracks in Gortmore, Omagh Town while his family were living nearby. On 21 August, Hugh was posted to South Africa and served as a Driver with the Inniskillings until 14 March 1902, after which he was discharged from service on 4 May.
By 1911 the family had moved to 65 Verner Street in Shankhill, Belfast. Hugh was working as a tobacco drier, and of those living in the household ten years earlier, only his wife and daughter Emily remained. They had been joined by daughters Jenny Theresa (known as Theresa) in 1901, Eveline (1905), Louie Elizabeth (1907) and Ernest (1911.)
After the outbreak of war, Hugh rejoined the colours on 5 September 1914 and was posted to ‘C’ Company of the 6th (Service Battalion) Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. At the time Hugh re-enlisted he was a little economical with the truth regarding his age, stating that he was nearly 45 when in actuality he was over 50. Within several months he was promoted to Lance Corporal however on 5 February 1915, he was subject to a regimental court-martial held at Richmond Barracks in Dublin. The details of the case against Hugh were as follows:
On the 29 January 1915 about 10 pm, Sergeant Major F Gorman of the 6th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers was parading the Tattoo Staff Parades and noticed that the orderly bugler (L/Cpl Hugh Wishart) did not sound the last post. The Sergeant sent for him to find out why this had not been carried out and noticed that he was drunk. Two N.C.P’s were ordered to inspect him (Sgt. S Doyle and Cpl J Walsh) and also considered that he was drunk. Hugh declined to cross-examine the witnesses and pled guilty stating that “I have completed 21 years with the colours before returning to the service and during this time there was never a crime of disobedience against me, the court will deal leniently with my case.”
Hugh was found guilty and sentenced to revert to the rank of private and fined five shillings. On 10 May 1915, he was transferred to the 4th Battalion and missed out on overseas action as a result (the 6th landed at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli in August 1915) spending the remainder of the war on home soil. He was discharged from the military on 10 May 1919 but rejoined one month later and sent to the Labour Corps at the Irish Command Labour Centre in Belfast. On 10 July he was posted to France from Newtownards and assigned to 53 Coy, Labour Corps, who were a graves unit employed in exhumation duties.
On 16 January 1920, Hugh was admitted to 35 General Hospital in Calais suffering from Gena Valgum (Knock-knees) and returned to England on 12 February where he was sent to the 1st London General Hospital in Camberwell. One week after arrival he was discharged from service having been considered physically unfit for further military service.
Hugh died from a heart attack on 27 February 1939 at 51 Lisburn Road in Belfast.