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Correspondence 2004

Monday, May 24, 2004

Subject: Errors

Actually, this is not about errors. It is about a couple of people I found while doing a search for my great-great grandfather, Marcus Sparling, who was in the 4th Light Dragoons. When I did a search for 'servant marcus sparling' this site popped-up with his name and that of a possible brother. Marcus named his son Alfred. I notice that your site mentions that an Alfred Sparling died in hospital. Please advise how I can get more information on both these fellows.
Thank you, Dianne

24 May 2004

There are three SPARLINGS only and you found them all. Information is rather sparse. All that is known is displayed. This information can be found at the National Archives, Kew, under the documentt references WO143/27 – Boys index 1847-1877 and WO143/78.
Although unnamed, the hospital is thought to be the Royal Hibernian Military School hospital, which had a surgeon and nurses on staff. If not there, 'the hospital' could have been the Dublin hospital.
Marcus and William were withdrawn at age 13 and 14 and would heve been either delivered to, or collected by, their mother.

Peter Goble

May 24, 2004

Re: Errors

You wrote, "There are three SPARLINGS only, and you found them all."
Peter, thank you for the quick reply, but I am a bit stumped because I only found two Sparlings, Alfred and Marcus. Now I can't even find the site again. Please send me the link. Where will I find William?
Marcus Sparling b.1822 was in the 4th Light Dragoons and stationed in Ireland where he married Catherine Connolly in Dublin 1848. He died in 1860 leaving at least two sons, Omar (Marcus. Marcus went to the Crimean War and, I believe, named his son after a leader there) and Alfred.  I am wondering if these three were his children and his mother had to pull them out of school when their father died.
Gratefully yours, Dianne

24 May 2004

Try Then follow the links via RHMS Dublin > Irish Regt PDF > Roll Calls & Lists > All Names Index. PDF
Search under S; three SPARLINGS are noted as being at the RHMS. The admission dates are close enough to suggest they were siblings.
The three were admitted in 1858, 59 & 61. Although shown as withdrawn two were at the age of normal discharge 13/14. If both joined the army their full details might well be listed in the muster rolls for the years searched.


May 24, 2004

Re: William SPARLING

Peter, I cannot thank you enough. I know that Alfred was Marcus' son because he was born in London; there is a record, and the birthdates match. It is sad to learn he died so young. God bless poor Catherine Connolly. I just hope I can get more information on her and her family.
The only other child that I found a record for, also born in London, was my great grandfather, Omar A. (I believe Archibald). I never knew there was a Marcus or William. This is terrific news.
Omar was born in September 1855, just after his father returned from the Crimean War (as a civilian photographer). Do you have any idea why he may not have been enrolled in the RHMS?  Could it be because he was born after Marcus, Sr. was discharged from the Dragoons? Alfred was also born after that, so that theory doesn't appear to make sense.
This information is a great gift to me. I am going to pass it along to family members and a woman who has written a book about the Sparlings. Marcus was a missing link for her for quite some time.  IcarusGenealogy.htm
Please let me know if you have any ideas about 'Archie' (family legend says that is how he was known).
Very gratefully yours,

Dianne Campagna
Cape Neddick, Maine, USA

24 May 2004

Hello Dianne,

To qualify for entry to the RHMS or the Royal Military Asylum, Chelsea, and applicant's father must have served in the Army for a minimum of four years, to have been of good conduct, and to have been recommended by the CO of the regiment. The child also had to be physically and mentally fit. We have reason to believe that applicant's were at the RHMS on arrival. In the registers, several applicants are noted as being Unfit, Educ. unfit. Some were rejected without explanation. It was no easy task to get through the doors on admission day.
From what you say, their father retired from the army and his second career as a photographer took him to the Crimea. All of his male children would have been entitled to join the Royal Hibernian School. It is probable that the three boys were siblings. If not, then the name is rare enough for their fathers to have been brothers or cousins. A check of the muster rolls for the 4th Dragoon Guards at the time will confirm that the fathers served in the army, and their relationship could be confirmed.
I'm really pleased to hear that you have grafted a new branch on to the family tree as a result of my research.


17 May 2004

Bandmaster W J Clancy

HI Art  

I was at school 1946-51 and I was in the band (v. poor saxophone player), the Bandmaster was WO 1 A. A. Singer. It is almost certain that WJC was a WO 1. I believe in the Army an Officer is a Director of Music, a WO is a Bandmaster.

Best Wishes, Malcolm Dooley
(Royal Engineers 1954-83)

17 May 2004

Hello Malcolm,

Thanks! I had the same response from Kneller Hall. As to your confession, the brightest and best of us all went into the Sappers. You must have been in the Corps when I was writing Sons of the Brave and in correspondence with a fellow in Chatham about the then Chief Engineer Foulkes, former CO of 35 Engineer Regt. in which I did unmemorable time. Four of five brothers were sappers, too. I met the youngest in Vancouver a couple of months ago, first time we'd met in 20 years. Discussing the past, I said I came to Canada because of the Suez crisis and learned for the first time that he'd been in the invasion force with a field engineer regiment, converted overnight into stevedores. You can guess why. They were each issued with five rounds of ammo for their 303s and put ashore in Port Said where they spent the day haggling with dirty postcard sellers. The vendors of Port Said never passed by an opportunity to sell their wares.

Cheers and thanks, Art

11 May 2004

Dear Art; I enjoyed the piece on the Hibernian School and was surprised to learn they were open before the DYRMS. I thought we were first. I imagine I might be the only one left who was there when the Hibs came in 1924. The ex-Dukie in Australia who is 97 would have been out in 1924. My brother Pat would be 97 now, were he alive. So he and the Australian chap would have entered the same year, 1916 and would have left in 1921. However, Pat was a prefect for three years and didn't leave until 1924, so he was there a year with me. Prefects had their own house then and each had a room. I used to visit Pat on a Saturday or Sunday. The prefects house was near the church. 

Did you see any Kirwans on the Hibs list of names? My Granddaughter Judy's youngest son, Stephan › 21yrs of age › is in the National guard and his outfit has been federalized and retrained as M.Ps. He and we have gotten a break; they are going to Guatanimo Bay, Cuba, to guard Iraqi prisoners. I was lucky, Five years in the infantry and never heard a shot fired in anger. There was a rumor that I had a mark against my name, saying, "Don't send this man even if we are losing."

Regards, DAN

Editor's note: Dan Kirwan is one of the oldest living Dukies. He was at the school in 1924 when the Hibs, moved from Dublin to Shorncliffe, were amalgamated with the School in 1924. He refers to this fact in his first paragraph. When Dan left the school, he went to the United States of America to live with his one of his uncles. His father was killed in WWI. Dan served in the U.S. Army during WWII; hence his remark about being sent overseas.

8 May 2004,

Re: Royal Hibernian Military School, Dublin

The Royal Hibernian Military School built 1769 which provided care and education for the children of members of Irish Regiments who had been orphaned or whose parents had been posted abroad. It was then turned into St. Mary's Hospital in 1922 and turned over to the Irish government for the defense forces until 1948.  It was then taken over by the Dublin Health Authority for use as a chest hospital and including the care of TB patients. In 1964, its role was again changed to its current role as a facility for the elderly. My grandfather was James Armstrong, his son James Albert. On his birth certificate it states they were living at the school. At the time my grandfather was a color Sergeant apparently assigned there.  My grandmother was a nurse. James Albert's date of birth was 14 August 1886.

Any information would be appreciated. 

Alena Wolhar

Saturday, May 08, 2004 10:27 PM

Hello Alena,

Thank you for your response. Unfortunately, the detail of your master ARMSTRONG James is rather vague. A James Alls Armstrong appears in the ledger, but the entry is undated. Due to the poor handwriting the Als could be a shortened Alb for Albert. A guestimate using a dated entry with a petition number close to that of James, suggests that this James ARMSTRONG was discharged between 1896 and 1900. This boy's father was with the Royal Berkshire Regiment. The boy is shown as NOT ADMITTED. and the reason is entered, "Father doesn't want the boy to join." This detail has been extracted from the WO143/27 Boys alphabetic index 1832 - 1918. I have discovered that not all boys are entered into this ledger.
There is another ledger at the PRO, Kew.  WO143/79 A boys index1877 to 1907. This holds a lot of detail: height, weight, chest, trades taught, date IN and OUT, good conduct stripes – a veritable cornucopia of facts. Copies can be had from the PRO, but they are quite expensive.
If this boy is the one you are looking for, it opens up a new area of research for our group. Father was a member of staff, the boy educated at the RHMS' Was he taught as a day boy as as opposed to being a member of the RHMS? Some 763 boys applied, but failed to join; none can be linked to a member of staff because of lack of information re. staff lists or census returns.
I would appreciate any details re the time the boy spent at the RHMS, and I will keep a watching brief on the name, informing you of any new discovery.

Peter Goble

8 May 2004

Sample of a register page listing the boys in the school

Hello Alena,

The name of applicants for admission to the RHMS were entered chronologically in the admissions ledger, then transferred to an alphabetical index and one of four classes noted as can be seen by the columns displayed in this index. That is, the four classes of applicant and other data were:

CLASS 1: orphan 2: Father dead, mother alive 3: Mother dead, father alive 4: Both alive
PET: Petition or plea for admission number to the RHMS
PAGE: Page number in the chonological ledger. Lost or destroyed.
REGT: Regiment or unit of the applicant's father.
DISPOSAL: Reason for the student's discharge.

By comparing the exit dates of petition numbers it is possible to guestimate the discharge dates by finding the closest to the number being researched.. Without an age on entry, this has been assumed to be in at 10 and out at 14, showing a possible discharge date between 1896 and 1900.

James ARMSTRONG is noted as 'not joining' at age about 10 years in 1896.


9 May 2004

My grandfather was with the Royal Berkshire Regiment. He joined in Halifax, Yorkshire, July 13, 1869. He served in Bombay, the East Indies and Southern Afghanistan 1879-1880, and received the Afghanistan Bronze Star for the march with General Sir. F. Robert's force. He was listed as being at the Royal Military School, Dublin January 15, 1886 to June 30, 1887 as an instructor then transferred back to Royal Berkshire Regiment July 1, 1887 until July 11, 1889.
His son was born there August 14, 1886, which is why he probably wasn't considered a student. Also, my grandfather and grandmother died from TB and might have been in that hospital.

I really would appreciate any information you have. It has taken me five years to find he was born in Tipperary, Ireland. My family always said they were English because all the children except the first were born in England. Both grand parents are both buried in Blackpool. My mother was a six year old when her parents died, but you would think the older children would have known something and their children would have asked.

Thanks again, Alena

9 May 2004


You have all the information that I have. The scan of the entry for James Alls I forwarded to you I can now accept as James Alb(ert) ARMSTRONG. This, together with the confirmation from you that his father was with the Royal Berkshire Regiment adds weight to the argument.

As the parent refused to allow the boy to join the RHMS, there will be no other information on this boy. The next ledger, WO143-79, an alphabetic index for the period 1877 to 1907, only lists boys that were admitted to the School. No rejections, refusals or unfit boys were clerked for admission.

I keep a 'Look out for' file. If I discover anything else regarding James Albert ARMSTRONG I will contact you.

8 May 2004

I am researching a HENRY BRIGGS who was resident at the Royal Hibernian Military School and the Duke of York's Royal Military School circa 1882 to 1891. I would be most grateful for any advice.

J. H. Briggs.

Hello Mr. Briggs,

I have checked the ledger for a Henry BRIGGS during the time specified. There is a T. H. BRIGGS at the RHMS, petition No 382. He was discharged 9 Jan 1884, volunteering to the Norfolk Regiment. Unfortunately, the admission date and the boy's age does not appear in this ledger. His father was with the 30th Regt. of Foot.
As he was discharged to the army, he could not have been transferred to the RMA. 
The data on T. H. BIGGS can be found in  WO143.27 RHMS Boys index page B10 line No.24. A T. H. (not Henry) BRIGGS is noted in th RMA ledgers transcribed from 1803 to August 1880
If this is the correct person, then there will be additional data on this boy in the ledger WO143/79 RHMS Boys index 1877 to 1907. This includes information as to height, weight, chest, trades taught at the RHMS. Photocopies of the ledger pages are available from PRO Kew, but the price is quite high, approx £15.


8 May, 2004

Royal Hibernian Military School, Dublin

My grandparents were at this school in 1886 when my uncle was born, what is your connection to the school and do you have any further information about it? 

Thanks in advance!

8 May 2004

Thanks for your enquiry. I do hold a transcribe copy of two RHMS  ledgers, copies of the originals, a boys index from 1832 to 1918, not all of the boys are entered in this, and a more accurate ledger form 1847 to 1877. If you could let me have the name and Christian name of your Grandfather, I will check and let you know.


21 April 2004

Re: Royal Military Asylum for Children of Soldiers of the Regular Army

On 16 April I attended the "Ghosts Reunion" organized by the Crimean War Research Society at the National Army Museum. A fellow member of the Society told me about your CD regarding the Asylum/Schools and their admission lists. He informed me that my grandfather, Thomas Fallows Brown, and his brother, Frederick William Brown, both born in Rugby, Warwickshire, are both listed at the School on the census of 1891. They do not of course turn up in any admissions list as that information on your CD obviously only goes to 1880. Their father (39th Regt of Foot.) died in 1882, so they were both admitted after that date.Are their any admissions records for the post 1880 period available? I have looked on PROCAT but it seems likely the years I want to check are missing. Perhaps you could advise.Anyway many thanks as your CD as already enabled me to fill in missing years in my family history- previously I had no idea at all which school my Grandfather and Great Uncle attended.

Thank you,

Gareth Browne

April 21, 2004

Hello Garreth,

It is always encouraging to learn that someone somewhere has found useful information on my CD. There does seem to be a ledger segment missing for the period 1890 to 1909, which was the year the School moved to Dover. There may, however, be a glimmer of hope on the horizon.

Write to Lt Col. R Say, Bursar, Duke of York's Royal Military School, Dover, Kent, CUT 5EQ, including as much detail as you know: date of birth, father's regiment, home address and your claim of relationship. The Data Protection Act gets everywhere.

There are some records at the school. I can't guarantee that those you are after will be there, but it is possible. If so, photostat copies are available for a donation of about £10 to cover of copying and postage. In my case, it was well worth the effort and the 'donation', The results included the original plea, medical certificates and school reports for the years spent at the school, not forgetting some letters written to the school by my mother.

Regards, Peter Goble

9 May 2004

Dear Peter,
Many thanks again for your information, I have been in contact with Lt Col. R. Say, and was amazed by the information I received. Exactly as you said, which is incredible as the records were from 1877 for my grandfather and, for my great uncle, from 1879. It has filled a real gap in family history.
Yours, Gareth

8 February 2004

I am researching the Weatherhead branch of my family tree and have discovered that one of my ancestors attended the Royal Military Asylum in Chelsea. His name was Albert Edward Weatherhead  who was the son of Henry Weatherhead, a career soldier. Henry was a Private in the 1st Battalion 24th Regiment of Foot and was attested on 28 July 1859, aged 19 years. He lost his life on 22 February 879 at Isandlwana during the first battle of the Zulu War.
After her husband's death, Albert's mother gave birth to a sibling in 1880, increasing the children to three.  I can only assume that she must have hit upon 'hard times' as Albert was sent to the Royal Military Asylum and his sister Mary Anne was sent to the Soldiers Daughter's Home in Roslyn Hill, Hampstead.
The only information that I have regarding Albert is that in 1881 he was aged 12 years and living at the RMA and in 1901 he was a postman living in Farnborough (near to his mother, who also lived there).
From your website I gather that you have access to the RMA admissions register.  Would it be possible for you to look for Albert? I have no other information on him, or his father, other than that described here.
Graham Marley

3 March 2003

Hello Graham,

A boy fitting your description was admitted to the RMA 1 Aug 1879 aged 10 years and 5 months, noted as being a Protestant, son of Lance Corporal Henry of the 24th Regt of Foot and Mary Ann. He was delivered to his mother on the 17th February 1883. No address is shown. Albert Edward also appears in the 1881 census folio 92 page 10, aged 12, and declared as being born in Malta. A line scan of the entry in the WO143-18 admissions ledger, 1826 to 1880 is attached as a jpg image. Any further details of this student would be appreciated.

Peter Goble

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