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Correspondence 2005


Normal school register
Obesity of military children in the 19th Century

(Note: As a result of other commitments during most of April, this correspondence is not as extensive as it would otherwise be. April correspondence not registered and answered will be dealt in the record of May 2005 correspondence.)

Normal school register
27 April 2005

Art, I have described the first page in the Normal School Ledger. A first in every thing, numero uno, altogether there are 101 pages; I'll do these first, purely out of interest. They can only get better. I just thought that you would appreciate the standards of the Normal School Students, The first of anything is a memorable occasion, but the first in three fields takes some believing, me thinks he is Australian, but no, he is from Leeds, perhaps he was referring to the SOB painting?


Obesity of military children in the 19th Century
3 April 2005

Ian, (Army Catering Corps contact) I am researching the Royal Hibernian Military School, Dublin. see and

In 1877, there was a change of policy re. catering and a new diet was introduced. As a result and, for the next 60 years, additional data was entered into the ledgers: On admission, each entrant's height, weight and chest measurements were included, from 1 January 1847 to 31 December 1907. This provides an invaluable source of reliable data that records the physical measurements children in the range of 7 to 11 years admitted during this period. The data will be of immense interest to researchers doing physiological research.

In 1927, a reference appears in the minutes of the Board of Commissioners of the Duke of York's School – with references to the Gordon Boys School, Woking, and the Royal Victoria School, Dunblane – suggesting a change of diet and also to measure the boys. I'm finding it difficult to locate where these records might be if they exist at all. 

From 1959 to 1962, I was ration NCO for 3 Division, Bulford, Wilts, and from 1968, Hospital Steward at BMH Cyprus. This meant accounting for the rations issued to the Hospital Catering Department per the ration scales of that time. At Bulford I used the bed (or ration) state to calculate the rations to be issued. If my memory serves me well, the set issue was, for example, 1/7th oz tea daily and 2/7th of an egg, 1 oz sugar and so on. I might be way out, but I little realized then how useful that same information would be now. There was a living-out allowance of 6/- per day; also in my mind is a cash figure of about 3/5d per day.

Can you tell me where I might find details of these ration scales as well as the daily allowance per day for man or boy? We are doing research on the 'obesity factor' during the Victorian age during the period 1847 to 1907; another change occurred in 1927 as I've indicated. Having this data would be, as I said earlier, invaluable for anyone researching the obesity of children in contemporary children of an equivalent age group. Thanks,

Peter Goble

25 April 2005 8:13 AM

I found your site because I wanted to purchase a copy of The Charity of Mars.  I live in Toronto and am researching the Royal Victoria Patriotic Asylum set up after the Crimean War in 1857. I want to compare the two schools.

Can you please let me know how to get a copy of your book? For your information a Patricia Lin, PhD Student out of California, has written her dissertation on the RMA from it's inception to around 1820. If you want the reference let me know.

Linda (Pygiel)

25 April 2005 12:14 PM

Linda, Thanks for your inquiry. If you send me a cheque or money order to 98 Maria's Quay, Cobourg, ON K9A 5R6 I'll mail you a copy. To do so, of course, I'll need your street address.

Unfortunately for you - getting a copy of the book, I mean - I am in Vancouver at the moment. I shall be leaving Tuesday evening and will not be back in Cobourg until early Saturday morning, which means that the book will not to be mailed until a week today.

As to Pat Lin's dissertation, I do have a copy. She kindly sent me one soon after she submitted it. I urged her to get it published in a book form. Her references to the RMA, though specific, are used to support her thesis on the social aspects stemming from the military necessities of the French wars (1793-1815). I believe that my book Sons of the Brave (1984 Secker & Warburg), which is more in the nature of the story of rather than a history inspired her though I might well be mistaken. I am, however, pleased to note that a number of social historians have embarked on related projects: Howard Clarke, MA, is researching a doctoral thesis on the Royal Hibernian Military School, Dublin, and Jean Stone is working on the history of the cotton apprentices of the Cressbrook Mill, Derbyshire; others are at work on the subject too.

I'll be interested in your work on the RVPA. If I'm not mistaken, and it could be the Royal Soldiers Daughters Home was an off-shoot of the RVPA: something had to be done for the girls when they were unceremoniously excluded from the RMA in the 1840s.

Would you very much mind telling me the foundation of your research and interest in the RVPA? Are you majoring in social history, writing a doctoral thesis or what? Just curious.


25 April 2005

Art, Thank you for your email. I will send you a cheque in the mail and my address for your book. It's so nice not to have to pay in US dollars! You are just around the corner from me! I am in Don Mills. I will be in England at the Public Records Office for 3 weeks from May 3 to 24 so I don't need your book until after I get back. 

As to your questions, I am a "mature" PhD history student at York University and writing my dissertation on soldier's, sailor's, marine's widows in the mid-nineteenth century in Britain. I came across lots of references to the Patriotic Fund established during the Crimean War and the pensions and schooling provided from the contributions to the fund. This got me interested in state and charity military welfare.

In fact I am challenging Lin's assertion that "citizenship" was an outcome of these state schemes. I argue that it is another experiment by the state for manning the navy and increasing army strength and to appease the poor law contributors. Unlike the First World War when conscription came in and voting rights (which Lin does not talk about) nothing had changed in the structure of society for the rank and file in the early nineteenth century – rankers were still subject to floggings, continuous service and impressment. I can go on with some other thoughts which my supervisor and I have discussed about Lin's work but I don't want to bore you. What I am finding difficult to find in my research, however, are marriage statistics for the navy, marines and army from the end of the Napoleonic War to the Crimean War. It is a shortcoming of Lin's work that she does say who where the dependents of the sailors receiving allotments. Any thoughts on marriage rates or where I can find them?

Linda (Pygiel)

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