Thursday, 22 December 2011

Royal Cyphers on attestation papers

There is some great artwork on early attestation and discharge papers and here's an example from the discharge papers of 131 Private William Nelson of the 74th Regiment of Foot who left His Majesty's Army on the 31st July 1836 after 24 years and 129 days' service which included "7 years and 5 months in North America [and] one year and 8 months in the West Indies". He was discharged at his own request (and in apparently robust health) signing that:

"I perfectly understand , that in receiving my discharge at my own request, I entirely relinquish all Claim to Pension, and that, even if I should re-enlist, my past Services prior to the date of my present Discharge cannot be allowed to reckoned for the purpose of obtaining any benefit from Chelsea Hospital".

Little wonder that the army often struggled to recruit and was consistently below establishment (despite the relaxing of standards in height, weight and chest expansion) throughout the nineteenth century.  Still, the Royal cypher is excellent.

July 1915 attestation in WO 97

Here's an anomaly: a 1915 attestation within a pension series (WO 97) which supposedly ends in 1913.  David Marshall was 60 years old when he attested with the Rifle Brigade at Hereford on the 14th July 1915.  He had previously seen service with the Rifle Brigade and the 2nd Dorsetshire Regiment and gave his trade as General Labourer.  He was discharged after seven days.

Is this the latest attestation in WO 97?

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Samuel William Franklin - a mystery solved

My grandfather gave me the two photos I'm publishing on this post.  Both were, he said, of his mother's father, Samuel William Franklin.  Also passed over to me at the same time was a document citing 175 Colour Sergeant Franklin when he was serving with the 2/2nd Regiment of Foot.  Dated 14th November 1861 when he was stationed on the Greek island of Corfu, Col Sgt Franklin had sought "the indulgence" of getting married.  The request had been recommended by his Commanding Officer and counter-signed by Lt Colonel Bruce who commanded the 2/2nd Regiment of Foot. The marriage between Samuel Franklin and Sarah Nelson duly took place later that year.

The photo above was obviously taken many years later when Samuel had swapped his British Army uniform for a Salvation Army one.  The Franklin family were devoted Salvationists and Samuel's daughter Margaret, and in turn her daughter Queenie would follow in Samuel's footsteps, journeying to India and mixing with (and in Queenie's case marrying) other Salvation Army members.  But what of the photo showing a young Samuel Franklin in army uniform?

A few years ago I posted a query on a forum stating that Samuel had been born in 1833 and suggesting that the photo, taken in a studio in Colchester, Essex probably dated to the late 1850s.  I quickly received two responses stating that the uniform was wrong for the 1850s and that besides, the bursting grenades on the collar indicated the Royal Artillery or Royal Engineers and not the 2/2nd Foot, later the Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment.  The 1890s was suggested as a possible date rather than the 1850s.

Last night. picking up threads again via findmypast, I found Samuel William Franklin (still in Corfu) on the 1861 Worldwide Army Index.  There appears to be no service record for him in The Chelsea Pensioners' series in WO 97 and I know that by 1871 he was back in England and is listed on the census as a sergeant instructor of Volunteers.  This was possibly the 1st or 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry as he was by then living in St Austell.  I did however, check on his children and was pleasantly surprised to see that his son, Samuel Franklin, born in 1863 in Gibraltar, followed his father into the army and joined the Royal Artillery at Colchester on the 7th January 1886. He attained the rank of Company Sergeant Major until he fell foul of the authorities in 1900 and was reduced to the rank of sergeant.  He was discharged from the army (by now serving with the Royal Garrison Artillery) on the 6th January 1907 having served exactly 21 years.  His trial in 1900 robbed him of a Long Service and Good Conduct Medal and neither did he qualify for any campaign medals, spending over 18 years in the United Kingdom and the remaining two and a bit years in Malta.  He died in 1910.

But for me, the mystery of the two photos is now solved.  They do indeed both show Samuel Franklin, albeit one is the father and the other the son.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Wellington's Men on Find My Past

Find My Past has added 130,000+ records of men who served - or who could have served, under the Iron Duke.  The new Napoleonic War Records series (1775-1817) is comprised of the following three datasets:

1. Army of Reserve 1803
26,000+ records from WO 12 (muster books and pay lists) and E 182 (deserter bounty certificates) at The National Archives.

2. Regimental Indexes 1806
97,000+ regimental records from the 1st-50th Regiments of Foot and the Cavalry, Foot Guards and Royal Waggon Train.

3. Foot Guards Attestations 1775-1817
9,000+ records from the 1st Foot Guards