Garibaldi’s Double

May 31, 2013 / Local Interest
garibaldi on capreraEveryone knows Italy’s Risorgimento hero, Giuseppe Garibaldi, for there is not a village or city in Italy that does not have a street or piazza named in his honor.

Few people are aware that he had an English double, John Whitehead Peard, known as Garibaldi’s Englishman, who also played a small, but interesting, part in the Italian war for Unification in 1860.

Peard worshipped Garibaldi and followed him to Sicily with other English volunteers known as the Excursionists, to fight alongside the charismatic Italian leader.  Along with this Garibaldi look-alike, other English and Scottish volunteers took part in battles in Sicily and Naples to help unite Italy, some wearing their Scottish tartans.

In Sicily Garibaldi’s Englishman was often mistaken for Garibaldi, confusing the enemy and changing the events of the war, for they both had a commanding presence, long hair, beard tinged with grey and blue  eyes.

john whitehead peardThe Colonel wrote a first-person journal during the voyage to Sicily, the battles on the island and the adventurous march north towards Naples.

The Illustrated London News published a portrait of Col. Peard and war correspondents wrote of his intrepid conduct and great marksmanship and the courage of the English Battalion in the battles of Milazzo and Palermo.

The portraits of Col. Peard in his blue great coat and that of Garibaldi on Caprera are from the Ann S.K. Brown  Military Collection, Brown University, R.I.

Based on information in Mary Jane’s latest publication, “The Irish and English in Italy’s Risorgimento”.  See Books page on

Garibaldean Volunteers

garibaldi a palermo
court of enquiry
english excursionists Immagine1


Mary Jane Cryan

by Mary Jane Cryan

Mary Jane is a historian, cruise lecturer, author and publisher of books on Italian history and central Italy has been residing in Italy for half a century.

See her award winning website and weekly blog posts on 50YearsInItaly for more about central Italy and to order books directly from the author.

12 Responses to “Garibaldi’s Double”

  1. Giuseppe Spano
    Giuseppe Spano

    It has been said the statue in the square in Naples is based on Pearl’s image. Is therE ANY truth to that?

  2. Mary Jane, It was such a pleasure to meet you, and “Thank You” for the lovely lunch. I am reading your book Etruria and can’t put it down! You are truly a wealth of information.
    Hope to see you soon,
    Nedra Bottieri
    Village Vacations In Italy

  3. Angela Finch

    Mary Jane, thank you for your interesting report on Garibaldi’s Double and the fact that some English and Scots mercenaries went down to Sciliy to fight for Garibaldi. I don’t understand the hand-written report re Edward Styles. Why did he get into trouble or was that why he had to leave Britain for a while so he joined with the Resorgimento or perhaps it was after the the unification.

    • veronica ashworth

      Hi . I am the great great granddaughter of Col Peard and live near Fowey in Cornwall.
      Do you have any information about him?

  4. Great article ! Rita Mantoan Rosen wondering who the first comenter is!

  5. Janice Wrigg

    I am researching a William John Newby who was part of the British Legion that went to Italy. I’m confused. Were the British Legion part of the British Army ? There are letters from other soldiers referring to Newby as a Leiutenant but in later like he always used the rank of Captain. is there any records where this can be confirmed?

    • Ross Newby

      Captain William John Newby is my Great Grand Father. He went to Italy as a lieutenant and received the rank of Captain after a successful mission. I have a photo of him in his uniform and I found his sword held at the Auckland Museum. I also found documents and letters held by the Auckland Public Library where I also lodged an original photograph. Hope this helps, please feel free to contact me.

      • craig cessford

        Hi, I am an archaeologist working in Cambridge and some years ago we excavated a property occupied in the 1840’s and 1850’s by William Newby his wife Elizabeth and their children including William John Newby born in 1836. This included a well that had been filled with material that can be linked to the Newby family. I believe that the son is probably the same William John Newby and whilst I have found out something about him on-line I would be interested in learning more.

        • Phillipa Langford

          Hello Craig, Capt William is my great great great Grandfather. I do have photos and info if you are interested. I am located in Auckland New Zealand.

          kind regards

  6. David hall

    Am looking for any record of William Henry Bullock who I am told was “with garibaldi” in Italy in 1860.


Leave a Reply