James Burne Owen and his wife Isabel Annie nee Powell purchased Fernleigh. James and Annie had married in St Leonards in October of 1882. James was working as a clerk of the Out-door Superintendant’s Joint Staff in Darling Harbour. James and Annie lived at Fernleigh until James death in 1919. At this stage, Annie was James’ executrix and made the decision to sell Fernleigh.
The House had still not sold by December 1920 when it was re-advertised including much of the furniture that had been contained in the house, a pony dogcart and a sulky and harness, both types of light horse-drawn carriage.
The Stark Family
During the 1920 sale, Fernleigh was purchased by the Stark family. George Campbell Stark was born in 1880 in Dundee Scotland. George has lived for many years in Randwick in New South Wales. During this time he became heavily involved in the Methodist Church. It was this involvement that lead to him being sent to Western Australia in 1902. This is where George met and married Gertrude Billing. Gertrude was born in 1872 in Mount Gambier, South Australia. The pair married in Perth, Western Australia in 1905. George worked in a series of positions, first as a Clerk and then Secretary and later, President of the Methodist Men’s Association.
It was at this time, while the Stark family lived at Fernleigh that some beautiful photos were taken that show how Fernleigh looked at its height.
The Stark family purchased Fernleigh and moved to Meadowbank. This was to be the home of the Starks until George Stark’s death in 1945. The Stark children, Frona, Kenneth, Arthur, Mary and Geoffrey were born at Fernleigh and spend the majority of their childhood in the house. Later electoral rolls show Kenneth as a warehouseman and Frona working as a schoolmistress. The remaining girls were shown as engaging in home duties, given George’s involvement with the Church, this probably means that the Stark girls were very much engaged with Church life. Certainly, Fernleigh seems to be a hub for Church activities at this time with regular church group meetings being advertised in the Newspapers.
As well as church meetings Fernleigh became known as a
sanctuary for wild birds and George Stark refused to allow anyone to molest the
birds and he did everything he could to encourage the birds to his land.
On the 30th of March 1945 George
Stark died leaving Fernleigh to his sons Kenneth Lawrence Stark and Arthur
Campbell Stark. Once again Fernleigh was sold, this time to Mary Jane Elizabeth
Clark and Eric Charles Clark.
Edward Atkins Jnr was born on the 10th of January 1852 in West Pennant Hills. Edward Atkins Jnr, like his father, also known as Edward Atkins, was a successful Nurseryman. He married Maria Allsop in 1878 and the family made their home mostly at Edward Atkins Snr’s property ‘Mount Pleasant’ situated at present-day Atkins Road in Ermington. In the 1880’s Edward was planning on expanding his Nursery and Orchard Company, this would also give Edward Jnr and his young family, the opportunity to move to their own house.
Edward took out a loan in 1891 to buy the section of Bennets Farm that he was interested in purchasing. He then set about building the house.
due to a series of court cases ending in eventual bankruptcy for Edward Atkins
Jnr Fernleigh had to be sold shortly after the house had been completed and the
family had been able to move into the new residence.
In particular, Edward has appointed a Mr Morris to act as an assignee to his estate while he was absent in Mildura. Edward went through a series of losses in banks and companies that he held shares. As a result, Mr Morris sold Edward’s nursery in one lot failing to account for the assets in the nursery, such as trees and other plants. These losses and poor financial management, particularly due to the resale, Mr Terry, then foreclosed on the mortgage on Fernleigh. The discharge on the Mortage after selling the estate finally came through in October of 1895.
In 1894 the house and lands were advertised for sale.
Edward did manage to build his fortune back up and do well for himself. But, Fernleigh was, by this time, lost to the Atkins family.
For further information about Fernleigh please see Part 1 below.
Like many other ancestors who have received a pension, I didn’t find out about William Pratt’s pension until I found him in a census. William Pratt was in the 1851 census at the age of 72. In the 1841 census, William had been noted as a labourer. So, it wasn’t until he was living off his pension in his older age that the pension became his sole source of income. This is often the case with those who are on pensions, they are entitled to them from the time that receives their injury but they either don’t receive them or do not use their pension as their sole or major source of income until later in life. This can make finding details of the person’s pension and service harder to find, as there is not necessarily a reason to look for army records until a reference to a pension is found. Another reason for always checking every person in every census that the person and family are likely to be living.
1851 Census- William Pratt, Chelsea Pensioner Ancestry.com. 1851 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.
Using the Census details for William Pratt, I was able to find his attestation papers. According to William’s attestation papers, he served in the army for over 18 years, from 1803- 1822. Even better, from a genealogy point of view, his papers were able to give me William’s birth parish and a general description of what William was like and why he had left the army. William was pensioned out because he was worn out, his conduct was good, and he had received a slight wound in his right hand and hip at Waterloo on the 16th of June 1815.
Wo 97 – Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service Records 1760-1913 William Pratt Discharge Records
Based on the information about William that I was given from his attestation papers, which also become his discharge papers, I was able to find out a lot more about William’s life and times in the British army. William had enlisted, or had been pressed at the Plymouth Dock in Devon on the 28th Day of August in 1803. William served for 18 years and 226 days, but, because he had been in the Battle of Waterloo he was attributed an additional two years of service giving him a total of 20+ years of service attributed to him on his service record. This was important because these additional days meant that he could claim a pension. A pension, at this time, could not be claimed unless the solider had served for 21 years. William had served close enough to the 21 years and had been discharged partially due to injury, being worn out, and with a good character. It is probable that he received his pension because he was this close to making the 21 years.
William’s early days in the army would have included his attestation before a magistrate. Once he had completed this William would have belonged to the Army until they discharged him. William would have been paid roughly one shilling a day, hence the saying- the “Kings shilling”. From attestation, William would have then gone through a medical process to see if he was fit for service. He would have then spent some weeks in a depot where he would be kitted-out and trained.
William’s kit would have included his uniform and a backpack. The uniform of the 28th Foot was red, like most of the other uniforms at this time, with yellow facings. The yellow facing was distinct to the 28th Foot only. The uniforms were often tight and uncomfortable for soldiers to wear. This may be why the 28th was used to trial loose grey trousers when on a campaign in 1809.
A Soldier of the 28th Foot in his uniform with the yellow facings. By Vinkhuijzen, Hendrik Jacobus (1843-1910). Published 1910 according to this NYPL catalog entry and this Google book listing. – From The New York Public Library, https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47db-b2a6-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4250304
When discharged William was 42 years of age, five feet, five inches with light hair, grey eye and a fair complexion. His trade before and after being in the army was that of a labourer.
William Pratt fought in the 28th Regiment of Foot, 1st Battalion also known as the North Gloucestershire Regiment. The 28th was particularly active during the Napoleonic Wars. William Pratt joined the Regiment in August of 1803. By 1805 the 1st Battalion was in North Germany and from there were deployed to Copenhagen. They did not arrive on the Peninsula until 1808.
On the Peninsula, the 1st Battalion of the 28th participated Battle of Copenhagen in August of 1807. Next, they were deployed in Portugal in 1808 where they took part in the Battle of Corunna on the 16th of January 1809. They were evacuated from the Peninsula the next day. The Regiment was split at this stage, with some members participating in the Battle of Talavera, the later became the second battalion, and others in the Walcheren Campaign, William stayed in the first battalion so probably saw action at Walcheren.
In 1810 the Battalion saw action in the Battle of Barrosa. Over the next few years, between the Battle of the Barrosa and the Battle of Waterloo the 28th saw action at the Battle of Albuera, the Battle of Arroyos dos Molinos, the Battle of Vitoria, the Battle of the Pyrenees, the Battle of Nivelle, the Battle of Nive, the Battle of Orthez, the Battle of Toulouse and then finally the Battles of Quatre Bras and the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
The 28th Foot at Quatra Bras By Elizabeth Thompson – Artrenewal.orgNational Gallery of VictoriaFile:Elizabeth Thompson – The 28th Regiment at Quatre Bras – Google Art Project.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4082016
The Battle of Waterloo was the first Battle where all soldiers were entitled to a Medal for their service. Along with many of his comrades, William Pratt received a Medal for his service during the Battle of Waterloo and is noted on the Medal Roll.
The Medal that all soldiers who fought in the Battle of Waterloo were entitled to.
William continued on, after the Battle of Waterloo for another seven years. The 28th served in the Mediterranean, Ireland and then England and finally in Australia. It is possible that hearing stories from members of the 28th later in life contributed to the decision that William’s son made when he chose to move to immigrate to Australia.
I don’t know if William would have seen action in every one of these Battles. It is probable that he would have been involved in most of these battles, if not all of them. No doubt, he occasionally missed out on some due to sickness or because he was on furlough.
During his time in the 28th Foot William and his companions saw parts of England briefly, usually for a short time every year. He may even have had the occasional chance to catch up with his family. However, despite some of the awful conditions that William would have experienced, would have been provided him with travel opportunities and a steady job. It is probable that no other profession could have given him any of the opportunities that the army would have given him. William was able to see parts of Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, Spain, France and Belgium as well as parts of England and the Mediterranean that we would have had no chance of seeing had he not taken the Kings shilling.
The Presbyterian Church was the scene of a very pretty wedding on Tuesday, 25th April, when holy bonds of matrimony were solemnised between ACW Betty Joyce Gransden second daughter of Corporal Robert S. and Mrs. Gransden, of Prince St. and Sapper Robert Richard Burt, on leave from New Guinea, only son of Mr. and Mrs. R. S. Burt, of Sampson St. The bride made a charming picture as she entered the church on the arm of her father. The bridal frock was of white lace over satin, and featured a long train falling gracefully from the waistline. The hand-embroidered net veil was held in place by a halo of orange blossoms. A beautiful shower bouquet of pink and white gardenias and gladioli with fern completed the picture. The bride was attended by the bridegroom’s only sister, Miss Sue Burt, who was gowned in deep pink romaine, trimmed with silver bugle beads. The duties of groomsman were capably carried out by Mr. Keith Baker. During the signing of the register, Miss Sylvia Tindall sweetly rendered “Because.” The party then adjourned to the home of the bride’s parents where the bride’s mother, wearing a smart black frock and hat, with shoulder spray of deep red roses, assisted by the bridegroom’s mother, who chose a becoming blue wool suit with matching hat, received the fifty guests. Mr. Roberts was chairman. Pride of place on the table was given to the two-tier wedding cake made by the bridegroom’s mother and artistically decorated by Mr. Roberts. Deep regret was expressed by all present at the absence of the bridegroom’s father, who has been seriously ill in the Base Hospital for the past 12 weeks. All wished him a speedy recovery. Later the happy young couple, who were the recipients of many useful gifts, cheques and congratulatory telegrams, left by train for Sydney where he honeymoon is being spent. The bride travelled in her WAAF uniform. 1944 ‘WEDDINGS.’, Leader (Orange, NSW : 1899 – 1945), 1 May, p. 1. , viewed 05 Jul 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article255246106
I found another Gransden wedding. I don’t know how I missed this one, particularly as I have two photos from this wedding. But, somehow I missed it. So, now that I have found the report I am putting the details up.
BAKER—GRANSDON. (spelling in the paper)
Holy Trinity Church was the scene of a very pretty wedding on Saturday, 10th February, when the marriage was solemnised between Thora Elaine Gransden, of Prince St., Orange, and Keith Neville Baker, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. A. H. Baker, of Edward Street, Orange. The bride made a charming picture as she entered the church on the arm of her brother, W.O. Garth Gransden, RAAF, being attired in a frock of white lace over satin and featuring a long train falling gracefully from the waistline. The hand-embroidered net veil was held in place by a halo of pink and cream gladioli. She carried a bouquet of similarly toned gladioli and fern. The bride was attended by her sister. Miss Shirley Gransden, who was gowned in a full-length frock of white crepe and white organdie picture hat. She carried a bouquet of red roses tied with red tulle. The duties of best man were carried out by the bridegroom’s brother, Mr. Tom Baker. During the signing of the register, Mrs. Weathersten gave a sweet rendition of “Oh, Promise Me.” The reception was held in the Masonic Hall, the 60 guests being received by the bride’s mother, wearing a smart black beaded frock and hat, with a shoulder spray of deep red roses, carnations and fern. She was assisted by the bridegroom’s mother, who chose a smart pink frock, with black accessories, and a shoulder spray of pink tiger lilies, frangipani and fem. The Rev. A. G. Halliday occupied the chair, and pride of place on the table was given to the beautiful two-tier wedding cake. It was regretted that the bride’s father was unable to obtain leave to be present. Later the happy young couple, who were the recipients of many useful gifts, cheques and congratulatory telegrams, left by train for Sydney, where the honeymoon is being spent. For travelling, the bride chose a green tailored summer suit with black accessories. The future home of the happy couple will be at Orange. 1945 ‘WEDDINGS.’, Leader (Orange, NSW : 1899 – 1945), 23 February, p. 1. , viewed 04 Jul 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article254669460
In 1681 Charles II issued letters patent notifying of the
intention to build “an hospital for the relief of such land soldiers as
are, or shall be, old, lame, or infirm in ye service of the crowne”. Thus,
in 1682 the Royal Chelsea Hospital, based on the French, Hotel des Invalides
located in Paris, was founded.
Prior to the building of the Chelsea Hospital care of
wounded soldiers was through religious foundations which were otherwise
catering to the elderly and the poor. However, many of these houses had been
demolished during the dissolution of the monasteries.
Once the monasteries were no longer providing relief Elizabeth the 1st made the first grant of pensions to the military by statute. There were administered at the local parish level by Justices of the Peace. Every soldier could make a claim on the treasury for either permanent or temporary relief. Pensions of, no more than £20 per annum could be allocated. Soldiers could also seek help at either Ely House or the Savoy were soldiers had been able to receive lodging since 1642.
Originally the Chelsea Hospital was designed outhouse 412 veterans, but even before it was opened there was a realisation that this would not be enough to house all of the soldiers that would need relief. However, in 1692 the Hospital was opened and the first 99 Chelsea pensioners moved into the building.
Residents increased in number very quickly and as funding for the hospital was through deductions from army pay it was not feasible to turn soldiers away if they needed help. As a result, the concept of outpatients came about. Inpatients lived in the Hospital, they received a uniform, their bed and board. When on the grounds, not being formal, the inpatients wore a blue uniform. When undertaking formal activities they wore a red uniform.
Out-patients lived elsewhere in the UK, or abroad. These
were the most common Chelsea pensioners and certainly the most common in
Australia. Chelsea pensioners in places other than the Hospital received a
pension that depended upon the nature of their injury and their length of
Like with the Greenwich Pension, I have two Chelsea
Pensioners, so far located.
I found Elijah Freshwater’s pension through the 1861 census. In the previous two censuses Elijah had been noted as an Agricultural Labourer, however, in the 1861 census, he was noted as a Chelsea Pensioner. It was obvious that as Elijah aged he was no longer able to supplement his income with agricultural labour and he was now supporting himself and his wife Ann on his Chelsea pension.
From the 1861 census, I was able to find Elijah in the British Army Service Records. Elijah had joined the army at the age of 17 and had been discharged in October of 1811. He had been part of the 7th foot (the Royal Fusiliers) and had never risen above the rank of Private. This lack of mobility for Elijah in the ranks suggests that he didn’t have enough money to buy preferment. Elijah only served for 2 years and 7 months before he received a gunshot wound to the hand in Spain on the 16th of May in 1811.
Based on the above date, and the fact that Elijah served
with the 7th Foot, it was possible to determine that Elijah had been
injured at the battle of Albuera during the Peninsular war. A mixed contingent
of English, Spanish and Portuguese had engaged the French in Albuera, a small
village in Spain. This battle was part of the much larger siege of Badajoz
which was eventually abandoned by the allied forces.
Elijah, once he received his pension returned to England where he was married and had 6 children.
I found Edwin Gransden in a different way to finding George Lockwood. Unlike George, I wasn’t looking at census papers. Initially, I was trying to find Edwin Gransden’s arrival in Australia. Eventually, I found Edwin as a member of the crew on the Washington Irving arriving in Australia in 1855.
This early small piece of information made me start looking into how I could find out more about Edwin’s position as a member of the crew. How had he become a member of the crew? Had he sailed elsewhere, was this his first ship etc?
Researching the Merchant Navy is not easy and it is almost impossible to get some of the records in Australia, or at least it was more difficult than it is now. Ancestry was starting to put some of the records up as I was searching, but in this case, I engaged the services of a genealogy researcher in England to go and do some digging for me at the National Archives in London. Peter from Forefathers Research did an excellent job for me. Unfortunately, he is no longer undertaking research.
The original aim was to find out what ships Edwin had sailed
on in England. This wasn’t as easy as it sounds. What we found, is that Edwin
has sailed in the Merchant Navy for a few years between the ages of 16-18. Then
Edwin had ended up in the Royal Navy for a couple of years before moving to
Newcastle where he seemed to be continuing in the Merchant Navy. Finally, Edwin
then immigrated to Australia, on a ship that he was a crew member on.
It was while researching this move into and then out of the Navy that I found out about Edwin’s pension. Like with George Lockwood earlier, I hadn’t realised that there was a difference between a Greenwich pension and a Chelsea pension, one to write about later, but finding the pension was pretty exciting.
Using the pension documents, I was able to find out that
Edwin had sailed on two ships, the Firebrand and the Gorgon. The Firebrand was
the main ship that Edwin had sailed on and was exciting because it was part of
an experimental fleet that was using paddle steamers on some of the ships,
including the Firebrand.
Edwin’s time on the Gorgon, also a paddle steamer, was probably just his transfer from the Firebrand to the hospital. Edwin was injured during the battle of Obligado in Brazil. To date, I have not been able to find out specifics about Edwin’s injury.
Edwin was given a partial pension, not a very large one as
he had only served in the Royal Navy for a short time. He became an outpatient
and moved to Newcastle. Whatever Edwin’s injury it obviously made him
unsuitable for work in the Royal Navy but not in the Merchant Navy as he
obtained his Merchant Navy ticket and continued to work on ships around the
Newcastle area. Edwin did this until he immigrated to Australia.
Edwin’s pension was transferred to Australia with him and
appears to have followed him to Sydney, Melbourne and finally Rockhampton.
Certainly, the knowledge of Edwin’s death was noted in the pension books as the
reason for cessation of his payment. There is a comment about his payment being
transferred but, to date, I have been unable to find relevant documents in
Australia to see how that transfer was managed.
Edwin only travelled on one other documented ship once he
immigrated to Australia. On his move from Victoria to Rockhampton in
Queensland, Edwin is recorded as working on the same ship as his brother Silas
Gransden. It is probable that this is how Edwin and his wives moved from Sydney
to Melbourne and later from Melbourne to Rockhampton.
Finding Edwin’s Greenwich pension helped me to find out so
much more about Edwin than I could have hoped to ever find out without those
Ancestry.com Wo 22
– Royal Hospital Chelsea: Returns Of Payment Of Army And Other Pensions
Naval Officer and Rating Service Records, 1802-1919 [database on-line]. Provo,
UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Merchant Navy Seamen BT114 http://search.findmypast.co.uk/record?id=tna%2fmsea%2fbtoth%2f4620365%2f00548&parentid=tna%2fbt113%2f2132922312%2f1
British Royal Navy & Royal Marines service and Pension Records, 1704-1919
National Archives ADM 38-8197 Muster Book of Her Majesty’s Ship Gorgon
National Archives ADM 38-750 Muster Book of Her Majesty’s Ship Firebrand
1 April to 30th June 1845
National Archives ADM 38-752 Muster Book of HMS Firebrand 1st Jul
1846-30 Sep 1846
National Archives ADM 38-752 Muster Book of HMS Firebrand 01 Apr 1846-31
National Archives ADM 38-8110 Description Book of HMS Firebrand 07 Sep
1844- 17 Jun 1848
National Archives Wo 22 – Royal Hospital Chelsea: Returns Of Payment Of
Army And Other Pensions 1842-1883 3210 4/2 3/12/46 Seaman Edwin Gransden
transferred from Southampton 31/5/50 permanent pension
Fernleigh was a house very close to where I live. I had no
idea it existed until I read an obituary notice for Mary Atkins nee Annetts, my
three times great grandmother.
The funeral notice for Mary Annetts read-
I like to look at the places that my ancestors have lived at. So when I saw the details for Fernleigh Ryde I went looking for a place of that name. It didn’t take me long before I found an address, Fernleigh, Sherbrooke Road, Meadowbank. A few minutes later I was taking a walk to find a block of land that I thought would have nothing left of the house that I was looking for because I had never seen or heard of it and I had lived in that area for five years at that stage.
When I got to the place where the property was I was surprised to see that Fernleigh, to some extent, still existed.
the beginning of a fascination with this house. There was not a lot of the
original house able to be seen from the street, just a few chimneys and some
sections of sandstone. Large sections of the house were hidden from view behind
some more modern red brick renovations. However, I wanted to know more. What
had this house had to do with our family, when did it become a nursing home and
what was the land like that the house had originally stood on?
First I went searching through my personal archives and family photos and memories. There were just tiny snippets of information including the possibility that Edward Atkins Jnr had built the house and some reference to photographs of the house that belonged to our family connections. But, no one knew much about the house. There was one potential reference to the house from a collection of family letters, but the details were too vague and others had attributed the description to another house ‘Eulalia’ that had been known to belong to the same family. However, the description didn’t really match that of Eulalia. It is possible that this description is that of Fernleigh, however, it is likely that the description is too late to be of Fernleigh.
basis of this information, and some information from another member of the Ryde
District Historical Society, I went searching further to see what I could find
out about Fernleigh.
The original site for the Fernleigh house was owned by William Balmain the assistant surgeon with the First Fleet. William was given a grant of land in 1799 which he called Meadow Bank.
didn’t stay in Australia, instead he left Wentworth D’Arcy to act in his stead,
as agent, with regards to his Meadow Bank property. D’Arcy sold the property to
John Bennett, however the deeds to the estate never arrived from England to
confirm the sale and purchase of the property.
an ex-convict from Ireland. He had arrived on the Marquis Cornwallis in 1796.
The wrangling over the Meadow Bank property went on for many years as Bennett
attempted to finalise the purchase of the property. In 1824 Bennett
unsuccessfully applied to the Governor and the Supreme Court for Justice hoping
to finally receive the lands that he had paid for. During his lifetime Bennett
was never to see a successful outcome.
John Bennett died in 1827 and his estate, including all of the troubles that went along with it, was passed on to Captain William Andrew Bennett, the nephew of John Bennett. Finally, on the 31st of December 1838, more than 10 years after the death of John Bennett the family received formal notification of their ownership of what was then called the Bennett farm. That farm included the lands of present-day Meadowbank.
During John Bennetts ownership of Bennett farm a section of the farm was sold off to the Darvell family, a prominent family of the area. When Captain William Bennett died in 1866 and the Bennett Farm was transferred to his wife Susan Bennett. Susan Bennett lived on the Bennett farm until her death in 1883. At this stage, John Bennett, son of William and Susan Bennett subdivided the Estate and sold off sections of the farm over a number of years.
For more information on Fernleigh please see Part 2.
Greenwich Hospital operated from 1692 to 1869. It was built on the instructions of Queen Mary II and designed by John Webb. Right from the start, there was a bit of controversy surrounding the hospital as it blocked the view of the Riverside from the Queen’s House. So, the building was split in two so that the view from the Queen’s House remained.
Pensioners were first admitted to the Hospital in 1705 and later the pensions of the Chatham Chest were transferred to the Greenwich Hospital to be maintained as outpatients of the hospital. As well as the hospital and administering the Greenwich pensions the hospital also had a school opened up in the grounds. The school was to educate the orphans of seafarers of both the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy.
As many sailors, over the years, died at the hospital some of the grounds were given over to a cemetery. The hospital was closed in 1869 and a few years later in 1875 all soldiers who had been interred at the hospital were moved and reinterred in Pleasuance Park.
Pensioners who lived at Greenwich were given a blue uniform and a tricorn hat. However, if any of the mariners did anything that was against the rules they were given a yellow coat to wear. While wearing the yellow coat they were required to do menial tasks around the hospital. The bright colour of the coats led to the nickname- the canaries. Continued poor behaviour could result in expulsion from the hospital, like the mariner who sired nine illegitimate children while a resident.
Accommodation at the hospital was basic but good quality. It was certainly better than many of the sailors would be able to pay for anywhere else. However, this did not ensure the behaviour of the pensioners. The poor behaviour and the blue uniform resulted in the pensioners being given the nickname the ‘Greenwich Geese’.
I have two ancestors who received Greenwich pensions.
George Lockwood- Greenwich Pensioner
In the 1841 census, a 16-year-old George Lockwood was found at Greenwich with a lot of pensioners in their 40-60’s. Even though he was there in the census with a bunch of pensioners it didn’t at first cross my mind that George Lockwood was a pensioner himself. My 21st-century brain wasn’t really on-board with a 16-year-old boy being a pensioner. I think my assumption was that George was working at the hospital, particularly as I knew that later he worked as a barber.
Once I started to do some research into the Greenwich Hospital I realised that George was probably there due to an injury. So, on researching through the Greenwich Pension records I finally found details about George being admitted to the hospital. These records told me that George had lost his left leg. George had been training and had last served on the William and Mary, a yacht built in 1807 and broken up in 1849.
George remained at the Greenwich Hospital for 6 years from 1841, the year of his injury, until 1847 when he was discharged. During this time George put his time, his youth and his access to a different way of life to use and became a barber. By the next census George was living outside of the hospital with his wife Louisa, he had become a hairdresser a profession that he continued, with some additions, until his death in 1900.
George became a well-loved and respected member of his community as shown by the obituary that I eventually found for him. One that I had struggled to find prior to knowing about George’s life as a pensioner as I had been unable to be sure that I had the correct obituary for George Lockwood.
A REAL “HANDY MAN”
DEATH OF A WELL-KNOWN GREENWICH WORTHY.
A remarkable man- a man who, in his time, has played many
parts indeed- has just passed away in the person of Mr. George Lockwood of
Claremont street Greenwich. Entering the Navy as a boy, he was only 16 when an
accident on shipboard in Dublin Bay resulted in the loss of his leg, and he
became an inmate of Greenwich Hospital. But although his active connexion with
the Navy ceased at so early a period he did as much in his time to deserve the
appellation of “handy man” as the handiest of them all. At the hospital he was
appointed barber and such an artist did he become with the brush, and so apt
with the razor, that it occurred to him that he could earn a living by their
means outside the hospital walls, and left the institution on a pension of 14s
per week. But a man on his diversity of gifts could not long be content with
barbering alone, and Mr. Lockwood soon added to his accomplishments a fair
knowledge of simple and ordinary ailments and to his barber’s stock in trade an
assortment of drubs. Then he came to vend drapery, then stationary then
hardware and shoemaking sundries, and so on, until his establishment became a
local Whitley’s, and he himself the recognised authority on all manner of
subjects. He was, in a way, the people’s trusted banker too, for during upwards
of forty years he was the treasurer of the “Star of Kent” Foresters Court. The
inside of his shop in Claremont Street was something of a wonder. There were
there, exposed for sale, side by side on the counter and on shelves, cod-liver
oil, and corsets, Kentish Mercury’s and cobbler’s wax, sewing cotton and
sarsaparilla, paper collars and baby’s comforters, senna and stockings- Mr.
Lockwood did a rattling trade in these garments on a Sunday morning at 1 2/3d
per pair; who could afford to wash and darn at that price?- corn plasters and
jam, tobacco and toffee, neckties and envelopes, boot soles and sausages-
goodness knows what else. Standing at his shop door, with his wooden leg
peeping from under his white apron, his was the most familiar figure for a wide
area, as his personality was the most respected people roundabout had dealings
with him from the time their mothers brought them in their arms for advice as
to their little ailments, and medicine to cure them and lollipops to keep them
good, and that they felt for him real love and held him in genuine respect was
proved on Saturday, for when he was borne out in his coffin to be carried to
the grave the mourning population of the neighbouring streets, tiny children
and old folk stood about the door in ranks scores deep to see the last of their
old friend. Mr Lockwood, who was 76 years of age, had in the course of his
industrious life amassed a nice little fortune and has appointed as his executors
Messrs. Andrew Holmes, of London-street, Greenwich, and W. E. Whitehouse, of
The Kentish Mercury, June 1 1900
FindMyPast The Kentish Mercury, June 1 1900
FindMyPast British Royal Navy & Royal Marines Service And
Pension Records, 1704-1919
Greenwich Hospital out-pensioner candidate registers 1737-1859 ADM 6/303, George Lockwood
FindMyPast British Royal Navy & Royal Marines Service And Pension
Entry Book of
Pensioners ADM 73/069 George Lockwood
Royal Navy & Royal Marines Service And Pension Records, 1704-1919 Rough
Entry Book of Pensioners ADM 73/060 George Lockwood
I haven’t written many blog posts over the last year. I have taken on a new job and am trying to complete another degree. So, unfortunately, some of my family history time is currently being taken up. But, I have not stopped researching.
Currently, I am working on a talk for the Ryde District Historical Society (RDHS). I was at a conference where someone was giving a talk on resources from the U.K. Chelsea pensions came up and I thought, I know a bit about that. I can turn that into a much longer talk about Military Pensions in general and do that for the RDHS when I give my next talk. Little did I know!
When I first started to work on my talk I thought I would talk about the Chelsea pension but I had kept on reading about the fact that the Chelsea pension was only for those in the army. Yet, two of my most researched ancestors were from the Navy. They had pensions so I was confused. So the first thing I did was try to find out what there was for Navy people. I discovered the Greenwich Hospital and the Greenwich pension. Then, on further investigation, where once again, I had an ancestor that didn’t quite fit the bill, I found out about the Chatham Chest. So, now I am going to break up my talk into sections and try and give an overview of the Chatham Chest, the Greenwich Pension and Hospital and the Chelsea Pension and Hospital.
The Chatham Chest
The Chatham Chest was established in 1590 by Sir John Hawkins, Sir Francis Drake and Charles Howard, Earl of Nottingham, to provide pensions for wounded seamen in the Royal Navy. Pensions were payable according to the degree of severity of the injury that the seaman received. For example, £7 pa was paid in 1704 for half a limb lost but only £4 for the loss of a finger or thumb or an eye.
When a person was first injured they would receive a ticket called a ‘smart ticket’ to allow them to be provided with the first year of their pension effectively in advance. The term ‘Smart Money’ comes from this time.
Only those who paid into the chest were entitled to receive a pension from the chest if they were injured and how much they could pay varied depending upon what they earned. In general, every officer and Rating in the Navy was expected to pay 6d. But of course how easy that was depended upon the salary of the individual and whether or not the salary was being paid in the first place.
There were also fluctuations in how much the money in the chest was needed due to wars and of course, the chest was not free from corruption among those who looked after it. However, over the 224 years that the chest provided pensions it seems to have been relatively successful for many injured seamen. To find out more about the chest itself there is an excellent blog post here https://thedockyard.co.uk/top-ten-collections-chatham-chest/
In 1805 the administration of the chest and the chest itself were moved to the Greenwich Hospital.
My interest is, of course, to do with my ancestors. I was searching through ancestors who may have received benefits from the Greenwich Hospital when I came across Leonard Mosey. Leonard was baptised 8 July 1751 and buried 23rd of May 1793. So, his entire life was before the Greenwich pension. But, until I knew about the Chelsa Pension I didn’t know that there was any other sort of pension that someone could have. Then, when I found out about the Greenwich Pension it took a bit more hunting to find out about the Chatham Chest. So, it was only recently that I figured out that Leonard Mosey’s pension was from the Chatham Chest rather than anywhere else. This means that Leonard had to travel to Chatham every single year to obtain his pension. That alone is an interesting challenge for someone who lived in Yorkshire.
I first found out about Leonard Mosey’s time in the Royal Navy when I found the details of his marriage. Leonard was married to Mary Dehane on the 2nd of May 1781 in Kildwick Parish, Yorkshire.
Of course, I wanted to know more. I found some very limited information under the 1790 Universal Directory of Great Britain Index, which no longer seems to exist. But not really much. I did find that Leonards pension was that of 5s per day.
Eventually, I did a general search for Leonard Mosey in
google books and came up with-
Lieutenant Leonard Mosey, late of His Majesty’s galley Cornwallis, in consideration of his sufferings, who on the 16th of November 1777, in the attack of Mud Island received a cannonball from the battery, and was thereby much wounded, and entirely lost the use of his right arm, so far as the shoulder.
Unfortunately, I have been able to find very little else about Leonard Mosey in the Chatham Chest documents. The books are available to look through on FindMyPast but they are unindexed and it is extremely difficult to figure out what book is likely to have what information, or when that information is likely to be in the books. The one book that was alphabetized and covered the time that Leonard was on their books, does not seem to have his name. The remaining books may well have his name but his details are not on the date of the Orders or on the date of his accident. So, although I have searched further, I have not yet found more information.
The Chatham Chest
books are kept under the name of the Greenwich Hospital Books.
However, based on a
declaration, made after Leonard Mosey’s death on the 31st of
December 1793, it is obvious that Leonard was having trouble obtaining his
“First these Declarants declare that they have been informed and believe that there was the sum of nineteen pounds or thereabouts due to the said deceased at the time of his death for half-pay as a Lieutenant in his Majestys Navy but they protest against being charged therewith until they shall receive the same.”
“Also these Declarants declare that they have been informed and believe that the sum of thirty-seven pounds or thereabouts was due to the said deceased at the time of his death for Pension Money but they protest against being charged therewith until they shall receive the same.”
National Archives United Kingdom PROB_31_843_844
So, what we can tell about Leonard Mosey from the pension records that I have been able to find?
Leonard Mosey was in the navy for a relatively short period of
time. He can’t have been there for long as he was injured in 1777 and received his
pension, due to that injury in 1779. Leonard was married two years later and
was only 30 years old at that time. It is possible that Leonard was still in
the navy at this time, but unlikely given he was allocated a pension. If he was
able to work in the navy he would not have been granted a pension.
Leonard had been injured at the Battle of Mud Island. The battle of Mud Island was a battle that occurred in the American War of Independence. Instead of me giving an account of the Battle of Mud Island, part of the Siege of Fort Mifflin, I am including a video that will describe the situation much better than I can.