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November 2005


Thomas Bidgood - composer
Military engravings
RHMS admissions registers
RMA admissions registers

Thomas Bidgood - composer
31 October 2005

Mr. Cockerill, I am doing some research and have encountered the name Thomas Bidgood in relation to my Grandfather, Anthony Bernard. I would be grateful if you could put in touch with Peter Goble mentioned on the Duke of York’s Royal Military School website. Thanks.

Kit Jackson

31 October 2005

Kit, You will note Peter's e-mail addy on the cc line. We are colleagues and work on the histories of the military schools. Bidgood has been the subject of much of our research and writing, as you can see from the history site of the Duke of York's. If you have questions one or the other or both of us would be happy to respond. Art Cockerill

1 November 2005

Thank you for getting back to me. Your help would be greatly appreciated. My grandfather, Anthony Bernard, was a minor musical celebrity in the 20s and 30s as founder of the London Chamber Orchestra, then later musical director at the theatre in Stratford upon Avon. It was always known in the family that his early life had been “untidy”, but that was the extent of our knowledge. Various colourful rumours abound. In fact I recently discovered he was born Alan Charles Butler and changed his name by deed poll in 1919, two weeks before his first marriage, having used Anthony Bernard for at least 10 years by then. The witness to his identity was Thomas Bidgood, musician, of Harringay Road, Green Lanes. He claimed to have known Anthony since birth. I have not completed my genealogical researches but the story always was that my grandfather came from humble beginnings – West Ham I have discovered – and was tutored by a mentor who was a band leader. It was assumed because of the theatrical connection that it had been a Music Hall band leader but this now appears to be untrue. I don’t have a clue as to how they met though I suspect further trawls through census returns might throw up something. It’s possible my grandfather was also known as “Charlie” though this is uncertain.

What he also claimed was that at the age of twelve (about 1902) he won a piano competition for which he was given a violin by Harry Lauder and enough money to study piano at the Birmingham Midland Institute. (I have not yet researched the Institute) The competition is supposed to have been at Crystal Palace. I’ve searched The Times and local papers but can find no mention of this. I remember seeing that an annual brass band competition was held there, which I guess Bidgood would have attended, so that might be another connection. Certainly,  “Anthony” appears to have completely abandoned his real his family by 1905-6 and by 1910 he is the organist at St Augustine’s Abbey, Ramsgate. In 1913 he moves to the Birmingham Oratory, then in 1915 to London, occasionally playing at Westminster Abbey. It was about this time he met Elgar. As you can see, all this is a far cry from West Ham, so the influence of Thomas Bidgood would appear to be crucial to his early development and if you have any information, or ideas, I would be extremely grateful.

Kit Jackson

1 November 2005

Kit, These answers might help.

1   It is more helpful if you type the surname in capitals, preventing confusion.

2   The first line of attack is Google. Enter the name you are researching, use the UK only parameter and check the results. One for an Anthony BERNARD fits the bill, b (born) 1891 and a musician.

3   Go to the 1891 Census at the National Archives site and test the water for his name. Serendipity may strike and his name may pop up. If it does, search the surname only and try to find a match with census location (i.e. Woolwich, the home of the Bidgood family)

4   Check the 1901 census the same way

5   For absolute accuracy, you will need his Date of Birth (copy of birth Cert). This will provide his parents and where born. Marriage Certificate. Names and ages of Bride & Groom, Their fathers occupation and witness to the marriage.

6   Death certificate. Date of death, person reporting the death, address of the deceased

7   There is an extremely helpful gentleman running a site called the Hiss and Boo Company ; he has many recordings of the musical hall artistes of the early 1900's plus a plethora of detail on the artists.

8   In your local library, unfortunately I have forgotten the name, there should be a book about the Music Hall and the songs that were sung by these persons.

9   Check with the local Fam Hist web sites for the locations you mention, Westham; Ramsgate, Stratford etc they may have local knowledge waiting to be tapped.

10 log onto the Bedford Library site (url above), join for free, and have access to the Times index for free. Pop in the name, and up come (sometimes) the most amazing facts. Such as "Bidgood arrived home at 2 am, to discover a burglar in his house. His watch amongst other things were discovered in the hollow wooden leg of the burglar."

11  Persevere. Vary your search parameters. Let me know his surname prior to and after changing, and I will try to follow him.

Peter Goble

Military engravings
8 November 2005

Hello,  I wonder if I could have your advice regarding some Military engravings. They have clearly come from a book, the printer of which was John Tallis. The prints are 10.75" x 7.25" and are of the Indian Wars, Tippoo Sultan, Abercrombie, Mooltan, Wolfe ETC. Any thoughts on what book this is please? Is it from the one you feature on your web site, The Life and Times of the Duke of Wellington? Attached is a sample print. Thanks.

Roderick Gibson

8 November

Hello Roderick, Yes, I recognize the type of plate in the sample. I'd put it about 1850-60, not much later, but I'm no expert so I'd treat that opinion with caution. It is almost identical to the plates in the Duke of Wellington volumes. See the sample attached along with your own etching. It is not, however, from the Wellington volumes. Are your engravings loose? Do your by chance have any maps of this period. If so, you might describe them. I mention this because if you have - and they are finished by hand with county and district borders - they are worth about $250 each framed or, say, about £125 framed. I reckon your engravings, loose, are worth about £15 – 20 and up. I'm forwarding a copy of this response to a colleague who is far more knowledgeable on matters of art than am I. He might have some thoughts on the subject. The name John Tallis, however, does mean something to me. I've come across that name in connection with my own material. I'll see what I can dig up.


8 November 2005

Art, The name Tallis rang a bell. One of his more famous set of prints are the Bermuda Maps (c 1850). With 'Tipoo Sultan' set as a search parameter, an interesting set of results appears  including one re. a bio of the Sultan. Unfortunately, it is a dial in, I can access some data but not all. There are many book references. Perhaps your inquirer will be able to see what he is looking for there. There are also several Antique Print vendors who have a selection of the work of John Tallis.


RHMS admissions
26 October 2005

Dear Sirs, I am looking for GEARY, Alexander. His father GEARY, Jeremiah was in the West Yorks Regiment 1st Batt. I think Alexander came to the RHMS in 1891 or 1892 – any info would be very helpful. Thanks.

Gillian Geary

26 October 2005 12:19

Gillian, I have yet to transcribe the detail from 1877 to 1907, however I have  photographed the Ledger WO143/79 RHMS Boys index 177-1907. It is in alphabetic order. I have checked the names from 1883 to 1906, three pages of the G index. Unfortunately the name GEARY does not appear. Can you let me have his date of birth. Boys at this time were still being admitted at 8 years old. This may indicate an accurate
assessment of his admission. If he was at the RHMS, he may have been employed as a monitor, not necessarily a boy at the school. On the attestation papers of all recruits, there is a printed line: Educated at the DYRMS or RHMS. This does cause some confusion, for it is an aide memoir to the clerks providing data for analysis of the two establishment.
Peter Goble

26 October 2005

Thank you for your reply, Alexander GEARY was born in approx 1884, birth place Ballincobs, Ireland.

Gillian Geary

27 October 2005

Gillian, As Alex GEARY does not appear in the WO13/78 ledger, I discover that he is named in the WO143/27 Boys admissions 1840-1918. This has minimal information. His petition No was 3273; his father was deceased at the time of admission. He arrived at the RHMS for admission, but failed the medical examination due to defective vision, and was returned to his home. The date of his arrival at the school is not recorded. I will dig out the ledger later and forward a line scan of the entry.


26 October 2005

Gillian, Only a partial success here. The ledger shows how much information was transferred from the main ledger, to construct an alphabetic index of admissions. From this it can be seen that No 2 = Father deceased; 3273 = Petition No. The final hurdle crossed by all applicants was that each one accepted for admission was given an admission date. If; your estimate of the DOB is 1884, then he falls within the parameters of age for admission at that time, 8y and 2m to 11 and 4m. This means page 99 in the original ledger with regiment of father being 1st Bn. of The Yorkshire Regiment. The applicant having 'Defective vision' failed his entry medical. There is no indication as to when he was scheduled for admission. However the boy above this entry, John E GREEN, was admitted 14 March 1893. The page with his name on is to be found in WO143/27 - Boys Index 1838-1918, on index page G8. I hope this answers some of your questions and helps you in your research. Peter

10 November 2005 wrote: Could you please furnish me with details of the Royal Hibernian Military School. I am researching my wife's family history and have found out that her father John W Reeves was attending the RHMS in 1917. We are unable to trace the whereabouts, or any other details. of his parents at that time. The only record we have is a Life Saving Certificate dated 1917. The Royal Life Saving Society have confirmed that his name appears in their records of that year, but cannot confirm the address of the school. Could you please let me have any information of the School including the address, age of entry, length of stay, and details of the children who attended. I believe he was born in 1903/4, but have not located any details through the normal research channels. Any information you can supply would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
Ron Bayley

10 November 2005

Ron, With regret, I cannot help with your request. The ledger from 1907 to 1922 is missing. There is one other, document WO143/27 at the National Archives, Kew, that contains minimal information. I copied details from the 'Lost Ledger', to this one giving basic details of the boys as they left. There are two REEVES. One, a Leo J, died in 1903 and the other an Albert, declared medically unfit in 1903, and therefore did not join the RHMS. The RHMS was located in Phoenix Park. Dublin, near to the parish of Chapelizod. Moving first to Folkstone, Kent and later to amalgamate with the Duke of York's Royal Military School, In 1922, the RHMS moved to Folkstone, Kent, and was amalgamated with the Duke of York's School in 1924. The last Hibernian boy was discharged in 1927. Children aged between 10 & 12 were admitted and were discharged either to their parents, apprenticed to a trade or volunteered to the Army. To qualify for entry, the applicant's father had to have been a regular soldier with at least 4 years service. His father of mother might have been deceased on the child's admission to the school. If you go to you will find a mine of information on the Royal Hibernian School.


RMA Admissions
13 November 2005 wrote: I recently obtained my grandfathers service record, he was born Thomas Henry Davis in 1871 and enlisted in the 6th Dragoons in 1889, on his record it states that he was educated at The Royal Military Asylum and also the Royal Hibernian Military School, am I correct in thinking the Hibernian was in Ireland, there is no mention of Ireland in his service record.
Pauline Poustie.

13 November 2005

Pauline, I have checked the ledger WO143-79 Boys admission RHMS from 1877 to 1885. Thomas Henry DAVIS has not been entered into the ledger. If you have his attestation papers. This will be a PRINTED form, on one of he pages there is a line commencing "Educated at the RMA .......          RHMS ....." As the soldier's details were being entered, he would have been asked, were you educated at the RMA or the RHMS? If the volunteer said 'Yes', then this was entered into either of the spaces on the 'Educated at.... line It was used for statistical purposes to establish the No. of boys from the schools that volunteered to the army. If as you say he was born in 1871, he would have been suitable for admission in 1881 aged 10 and discharged at 14 in 1875. He was therefore 18 when he volunteered to the 6th Dragoons (Inniskilling). The RHMS was based in Dublin and was within the boundary of Phoenix Park and the parish of Chapelizod. I am sorry that I can't confirm your grandfather as a Hibernian or RMA boy.

Peter Goble

11 November 2005 wrote: Can you please tell me whether the details under the "From what Regiment" section of the Admissions Register are indicative of the regiment in which the child's father served? Details given for the ancestor in question are 1/24th which I take to be the 1st Battalion of the 24th Foot Regiment, i.e. the Warwickshire Regiment. Since I have no other information on the father, this would seem to be the most logical starting point. The child was baptized in March 1879 - the parish register records the father as a soldier and does not state that he is deceased. However, he dies before the 1881 census and there is no apparent GRO death registration. I wonder therefore if he was perhaps a casualty of the Zulu Wars. Any research guidelines would be much appreciated. Thanks.
Mary Moate

11 November 2005

Mary, Yes, the Regiments shown are the Regiments of the boys' fathers. If the father-Mother is shown as deceased, then they had died before the admission date of the child. Therefore he must have died after the birth  and before the Census. If you let me know the name the boy in question, and I will confirm all detail, with a strip scan of the ledger entry.
Peter Goble

14 November 2005

Peter, Many thanks for your very speedy reply which has enabled me over the weekend to discover that the boy's father was one of the many killed in the Battle of Isandlwana in January 1879. Perhaps you can enlighten me on another question relating to the RMA records: I searched WO 143/80 and WO143/22 at Kew. The first indicates that the boy was discharged from RMA on 21/1/1893 to the *33rd Ft*.  The latter shows that he was discharged to his *mother*. However, the line *above* the entry in the latter states discharged to the 33rd. Therefore there is some ambiguity about his discharge -  the entry may have been transposed. Certainly this person was a soldier in 1901 as shown on the census. My question is, if he was indeed discharged to the 33rd in 1893, he would have only been 14 years old.  Was this the norm and if so, in what capacity would he have been serving whilst still so young?

Mary Moate

Mary, You seem to be more aware than I re the docs available at the National Archives Kew. I have not seen the WO143/22 ledger. This was compiled from the chronologic  ledger and as you have discovered, it contains many transcription errors. I am happy to confirm that the entry in WO143/80 is the most accurate source. We  consider that ledger transcription was completed by the senior boys, transferring the names into the Alphabetic index must have been an extremely onerous task, and at that age the attention must have wandered.

I have checked the entry for 9612 John G BRENNAN admitted aged 8y 10 months on 3 Feb 1888; Father. C/Sergeant Jeremiah, Mother Jennete M; Regiment, the 33rd of Foot or as it is better known  'The Duke of Wellington's Regiment'. John G BRENNAN Volunteered to the 33rd on 21 Jan 1893. This was quite normal, boys volunteered to the Army after their 14th birthday and received initial  training as Band Boys, Drummer etc. The recruiting area is jokingly referred to by the DWR as Cleckhudersfax. (Cleckheaton, Huddersfield and Halifax), really, the West Riding of Yorkshire. They also went under the name of the 'The Duke of Boots' & the 'Havacake lads'. Their training depot used to be at Highroadwell, Halifax. I trained there in 1955. It is now a girls school. I have attached an image of the DWR Badge, cap, tunic and greatcoat buttons for your information.


15 November 2005

Art, I have spoken to George O'Reilly about the Hibernian Military School in St Pauls Dublin. He could not help me in my enquiry, but recommended that I asked you. My name is Grantley Hoath and I am researching the Irish connection of the McDermots, my wife's family. The person that I am trying to trace is James McDermot who was a soldier in the British Army. From his records he was born in St Paul's Dublin. Now I understand that the Hibernian Military School for boys was situated in this parish in the 1780's. Could you tell me if they were taught to write and if their activities included an apprenticeship as a farrier at that time. Thank you for any help you can give me.


15 November 2005

Ian, Two things about your inquiry by way of helping with your investigation into the history of your wife's forebears. First, I recommend you visit our website at (you'll have to navigate your way to the History section of the Royal Hibernian School, which is separate from other subjects dealt with on the site). This will give you as full an account of the Royal Hibs and aspects of its history as anything I know exists. Most of the school's records were destroyed in the London Blitz although we've located a few through which my colleague Peter Goble of Harrogate is slowly plowing a path. Our resurrected history of the Hibs will certainly answer your question about the education these boys enjoyed. Secondly, and Peter is the authority for tracing people through his analysis of the admission records, you need to give as much information as you can. That is, you should supply Peter with the subjects full name, date and place of birth if known, his regiment, and what leads you to believe he attended the Royal Hibs? Do you have any documents about this. Our records are scanty (as a result of the Blitz), but we know of those transferred to the Duke of York's school when the Phoenix Park institution was closed in 1922 and Ireland gained Dominion status. It became a republic much later. That's about as much as I can offer at the moment. I've copied Peter on this response. I suggest you supply him with everything you've got. He might be able to help. I'd like a copy for my records, too, and if you're successful and have photographs of your wife's ancestors there could be an article for posting on our web site. Good luck. Art

15 November 2005

Ian, I have extracted the McDERMOTS that I attended the RHMS (list of McDermot entrants supplied). Records pre-1840 have not survived. If any of them fit, let me know and I'll  forward fuller details. Peter

28 November 2005

Peter, Still can't get into the name index. Thanks very much for the info. Filled a hole in the life of Henry. His father, James died whilst on recruiting duties in Dumfries in 1866. Have traced Henry in 1881/1891/1901 Census. He lived in Chelsea after discharge in 1894. Continued as a musician in Civilian life. Died in 1938. Could I ask on more favour? Was there a William Johnston (Henry's brother) in the RMA around the same time. Don't know whether he was older or younger than Henry. Haven't been able to find a single thing about him. Regards,

28 November 2005

Bob, Thanks for the contact.  I have checked my web site and all seems to be in order. I have been working on an infection problem now sorted, you may well have been trying to access whilst I was re arranging. I have extracted the line entry on the WO143-18 Ledger. RMA Admissions Chronological 1826-1880. This discloses all that I have on your Gr. Uncle. He was admitted aged 6 years & 5 months, the date of admission is a ditto consequently it is missing, but it was the 2nd June 1867. His father James, a Sgt in the Scots Fusilier Guards, was deceased at the time of admission, his mother alive. Henry volunteered to his father's Regiment on the 14th December 1875 aged 14. I hope that this solves your immediate need for information, please try my site again, and also for additional information about the RMA. Regards  

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