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April 2007


Asylum Hospital Quartermaster Sergeant
Corps of Army Schoolmasters
Royal Military Asylum
SS Pemberton orphans

Asylum Hospital Quartermaster Sergeant
6 April 2007

I have found your pages on the Royal Military Asylum interesting, especially the chapter on Pte Enos Seth and references therein to the Hospital Sergeant. My g-g-g-grandfather, James Magee, was the Hospital Sergeant shown in the 1851 Census. He was still at the RMA in 1861, listed as Master Sergeant. Is there any additional information on-line regarding the staff?

Jim Higgs, Michigan

6 April 2007

Jim, Yours is the second inquiry from Michigan this month. The first was from a descendent of a brother and sister in the RMA in 1818 for which we received a photograph of the same boy, commissioned in the States, seeing action in the American Civil War. To get to your inquiry, I've checked the index of The Charity of Mars book, which deals with that period of the Asylum's history in some detail. Sorry to tell you there's no mention of Sergeant Magee. Still, there's no telling; we might come across him in as we trawl through the records. There's mention of particular members of the staff in the Charity book and, of course, in the many articles posted on the web site.


7 April 2007

Art, Thanks for responding. Sorry, no picture of Sgt. Magee. I was hoping you might be able to point me to one, maybe in some of the material you have access to. Here's what I know about him from genealogical sources with varying degrees of reliability. He was born James Magee in Lancashire between 1798 and 1801. From the National Archives, Kew, he served in the 1st Foot Guards beginning in 1823 and was discharged at age 44. He was married to the first of his three wives, Margaret Prior, in 1821 in Liverpool. I believe I found them in the 1841 Census at the Grenadier Guards Hospital, both listed as "Servants." By 1851 they were at the RMA, where he was shown as Hospital Sergeant and she as Hospital Nurse. I am not aware that they had any children. Margaret died in 1854. James then married Jane Startup that same year and in the spring of 1855 a daughter, Frances Jane, was born. In the 1861 Census, James was shown as Quarter Master Sergeant at the RMA. His wife was simply listed as "Wife of Quarter Master Sgt." Sometime before the 1871 Census, Jane died and James married a woman named Hannah. They are shown living in Bicester Road, Long Crendon, Buckinghamshire, where he is listed as a pensioner. On his daughter's marriage certificate in December, 1873, he is recorded as a shopkeeper and government pensioner. I believe he died at about that time.

Frances Jane Magee, as far as I know, was her father's only child, though I continue searching for other issue. Frances, or Fanny, was married three, and possibly, five times. I am descended from the youngest of her three children from her first marriage to George Warner. That child, Susan Annie Warner, was married to my great-grandfather, Henry James Higgs. I, of course, have much more information on the extended family. Any thing else that you may run across that would shed any light on James Magee's career at the RMA would be appreciated. By the way, I see that you are in Cobourg. I had ancestors there as well on the other side of my father's family. the Lents of Cobourg and Hamilton Township. We have a large number of family names connected to Lennox & Addington County through my mother's family. I hope to get up there again one of these days to do some additional research.


Corps of Army Schoolmasters
6 April 2007

Peter, I have been following the thread about the CAS on Art's website and wonder just how far along you are. How comprehensive is it, does it list the Garrisons that the CAS schooled after the reforms where regimental schoolmasters were consolidated? On a personal level does it list my great grandfather who served from 1876 (after graduating from the RMA) until his death in service in 1901. I am intrigued by the comment that you also have a list of minutes that include the 'boys refused admission'. Could you look to see if any of his sons were asking for admission. It would have been between 1888 and 1897. Looking forward to hearing from you again.

Ben Burd

6 April 2007

Ben, Nice to hear that you are still sticking at what seems an impossible task. The transcriptions still go on, and seem never ending. I have managed to slot an introduction to the Schoolmaster Corps at of army schoolmasters.htm

Merely an introduction, hoping for data to come sailing back, but so far nothing. I'm beginning to wonder if it is all worth it. The modern researcher seems to be only interested in his problems and in many cases fails to even say thanks in appreciation of the effort put in answering questions. Ah well. I've transcribed two ledgers covering the Schoolmasters trained at the RMA from 1847 to 1851, which includes an introduction to the Normal School and those attending for subsequent promotion to Army Schoolmaster. The second is the Normal school letter book, 1851-1859, which cover the comings and goings of the students from Monitors to Schoolmaster Class 4 & 3. I've also set all the entries to an access data base. A printable form shows when they arrived, grade, regiment and, in many cases, their date of attestation, grade and regiment to which the were posted. Included in this ledger is the crime sheet (misdemeanours) during their stay. A further ledger covers the defaulters again, from 1869-1873. There is just one ledger, a follow-on letter book to record at the National Archives. I don't know when I'll make the final trip.

Re. your reference to the 'failed admissions', we discovered them at the National Army Museum, Chelsea, NAM 2003-07-104-1 Dep APFS. Boys refused entry 1804-1900. This I imagine is a transcript of the Commissioners lists that appear in their monthly meetings. The problem with the NAM is that no cameras are allowed. It will be an arduous task to copy by hand. I suggest the National Archives at Kew. They have the ledgers covering Board of Commissioner Minutes for the period in which you're interested.

I have a copy of the AGC Museum Schoolmasters data base. Unfortunately this begins about 1891. There is no record of a BURD. I have yet to discover the name in my research. The only one so far is a BIRD in the 1908 image of an Aldershot Schoolmaster Course. As your Grandfather enlisted to the CAS in 1876, it could indicate his time at the RMA. From the Letter book, there are references to men enlisting to CAS twice: first on appointment (from Monitor) to Schoolmaster Class 4, then four years later after completing two years practical at a Regimental-Garrison School, and then a further two years instruction at the RMA. They were then promoted to Schoolmaster Class 3, and Enlisted again. If as a Monitor, he will have arrived circa 1864 or, as a student, in 1868. Most Monitors were between 17 & 20 years of age. Some are noted as older, but due to enlistment to a regiment, then volunteering for the RMA courses.

I must not forget the School teachers who trained as a civilian and subsequently enlisted into the CAS. I have yet to see an attestation paper of a Schoolmaster enlisting in the CAS while awaiting posting from the Normal School. I'm confident the 'Place of attestation' will be noted as 'The RMA, Chelsea.' I've transcribed the Defaulters ledger to 1873. BURD does not appear. This is not to say he was not there, but he may well have been the 'good example' we are all expected to emulate. Therefore, No crime sheet or, in other words, footprint to follow. The best place to look would be WO143/48 Normal School letter book, which can be found at Kew.

Attached is a CASMEnlist PDF example of the data extracted from the WO143/47 Ledger, demonstrating that the person named enlisted into the CAS twice. Also note his dates of arrival & posting as a Schoolmaster Class 3. The page & page No field refer to the page number in the WO143/47 ledger where the letter can be found covering the date noted. On the link there is a description of the length of training he received. As this could be as much as 6 years, it is possible to establish just which year your GGF could have attended the Normal School. If you have a copy of his attestation papers, I would appreciate a copy, which might lead to a different angle of inquiry.


Royal Military Asylum
9 April 2007

Please can you help? In your 1901 Census you have a William J Hicks under Folio no:
RG12-66-00-10, Age 13, Scholar Born in Ipswich. but you do not have him under any other records? Can you advise how I can find other details about him, such as who his father was. I think he may be my grandfather if so his father would have been James Hicks (Soldier) who was deceased on his marriage cert in 1906. My grandfather was a soldier in the 1st Suffolk Regiment at the time of his marriage on 4 Dec 1906.

Jackie Balchin

9 April 2007

Jackie, There is a William J HICKS, but I fear he is the wrong one. He was admitted to the RMA on 24 August 1888. Father James, Mother Caroline; Regiment, The Royal Artillery. Volunteered to the 12th of Foot in 1891. I have re-checked the 1901 census, he does not appear there, also the reference you give for that census is incorrect. As you are chasing your grandfather, who you think attended the RMA and was 13 in April of 1901? I doubt that he will have been allowed to marry at the age of 19. Soldiers had to apply for permission to marry, it was rarely granted to men under 25. I am still working on the admissions post-1880. I have checked the ledger for a possible omission. His name does not appear. As this ledger also includes birthdates I could discover a transcription error quite easily. I'm also able to check via Regiment. If I'm wrong please let me know and I'll try to point you in the right direction

Peter Goble

10 April 2007

Peter, I do not know if you received my reply so I'm sending it again. Sorry I gave you the wrong census year. It should be 1891. William James Hicks was born in Ipswich Suffolk 1878 and became a Soldier in the 1st Suffolk Regiment. He married in 1906 at the age of 28 and, on his Marriage Cert, his father was James Hicks (deceased soldier). In later life he became a Journeyman Tailor. I know from reading about the RMA, Chelsea, that he would have learned to make his own uniform. I hope this makes more sense and I do appreciate your help.

Jackie Balchin

10 April 2007

Jackie, Thanks for the corrections. It is now apparent that W. J. HICKS is your Grandfather. It all slots into place. Thirteen years old for the 1891 census. Volunteered to the Suffolk Regt, and marrying over the age of 25. There is the added bonus that his father is named as well as his father's Regiment. Now that all that is cleared up, write to Lt Col R Say. Bursar, Duke of York's School, Dover. Kent. CT15 5EQ to ask if there are any records of William J. Hicks on file. Give full details: date of Birth, Father's & Mother's names, date of admission & Discharge and the Regiment in which he volunteered. Most importantly, state your relationship: my Grandfather or Great Grandfather etc. There is no guarantee that his records have survived, but you should not be disappointed. The Bursar is helpful. Please let us know of your success.


SS Pemberton orphans
2 April 2007

While doing a Pemberton search, I wondered whether anyone had kept flying the flag for Mr Fawcett's research.  I was particularly interested in the passenger lists, & more information on the Pemberton's journeys out to Australia for reasons that will become apparent, should you have time to read & respond, as below. My query is as an Australian descendant of a child aged 7 yrs who supposedly came out on the Pemberton, according to a cousin, Lois Spurrell.  My ancestress was an orphan & was known as Sarah Matilda O'Meara/O'Malley from County Limerick, who married a Richard Smith.  Several months before she died, she told her nephew Charles Smith that she was an orphan born in England, her original surname was "Goodchild" & that she had come out to Port Phillip, Australia "with the Bowens".  Apparently her father & two uncles had perished in the "Spanish Wars" (I'm assuming that would be the battles of the Peninsula War), & her mother had died of grief.

My g g grandfather was George Vaughan b 1818, a carpenter, married to Martha Bowen (could be spelt Bohan/Bowman) , & they arrived from Milford Haven, Wales to Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne on the Gilmore in 1841.  After staying some time, the family, increased by a son, went to Port Fairy (known in the old days as "Belfast"), where their first child William (b.1842) died, aged eleven, in an accident.  His namesake, their youngest child, William George, was married to Mary Jane Smith/Smyth/Smythe (her father being Richard Smith & her mother being the Sarah O'Meara/O'Malley/Goodchild as above).  He was my g grandfather.  The 1868 Belfast Directory listed him as a carpenter in Lehman Street, Woolsthorpe,Victoria, where they settled.  & so the story goes on.

Any leads would be gratefully accepted,
Debra Vaughan

2 April 2007


I have read your inquiry with interest. With regret, however, it is unlikely that any information I or my colleague have will prove satisfactory to you. The fact is that item on the SS Pemberton to which you make reference came from a hw history of the Royal Hibernian Military School written in the 1950s by a couple of Army teachers who were themselves former students of the Hibernian School. Their information on the Pemberton came from a published account in – I believe – the Australian press. I will check that source and get back to you. Meanwhile, and for what it may be worth, I shall pass your inquiry to my colleague, who is more familiar with genealogical sources than am I. He might have some ideas that might help in your search of your family history. More than this – checking my records and referring you to Peter Goble – I am afraid that I can be of little further help. You will hear from Peter.


2 April 2007

Debra, unfortunately I have to agree with Art that we can't help. The only accurate ledgers available begins in 1847 and these are male admissions only. There is a ledger that has entries from 1838, again with male entries only. Ledgers pre-1847 were destroyed in 1942 during WW2. I have checked the RHMS entries for other O'MARA, O'MEARA for possible brothers; none are entered for that period. The same applies for the RMA, Chelsea, it would have been possible admission could have taken place there. From the information you supplied re Sarah, there is no entry for a female aged 7 on the Pemberton in 1841. If her father was killed during the peninsular war, 1808-1814 she could have been aged up to 25. The oldest girl from the RHMS was 20. There are two O'MARA OMARRAH girls admitted to the RMA: Bridget 7, 10 October 1810 & Ann 10, 3 June 1815. Their father's Regiment was the Kings' Regt or 4th Regt of Foot, father Cornelius, mother Mary. If on the Pemberton they would have been 38 and 36. And again at the RMA, Chelsea, a  William O'MARA 10, 6 October 1815 9th Light Dragoons; father Thomas, mother Mary. I don't dispute your claim that she was aboard the Pemberton, but from the information on file, she was not amongst the RHMS contingent. She may well have been a passenger under the care of the Bowens, Mrs Bowen could have been a sister to Sara's mother or father. Information reference the father may be found in the Muster Rolls at the National Archives, Kew. You will need his Regiment and other details, to establish his identity. Each Regiment did keep a casualty roll. He will appear there if Killed in action. I know of no other source, where information re the Female admissions to the RHMS, are to be found

Peter Goble  

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