17 February 2018

1911 census revelations

Some while ago I wrote a post called Unpicking the 1911 census in which I demonstrated how men of the 2nd Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment had been enumerated. I continue to unpick the 1911 census myself and have set myself the task this year of completing a full transcription of all men serving overseas in 1911. I began this project some while ago, one of several uncompleted transcription or editing tasks that I aim to complete in 2018.

The 1911 census of the British Army is important because it is a virtual census of a large portion of the 1914 British Expeditionary Force. Men enumerated in 1911 would, for the most part, still be serving - or on the Army Reserve - in August 1914, and understanding how the census was compiled can add useful information about soldiers for whom no service record now survives.

For the most part, and talking about infantry only for the time being, men tended to be enumerated in two main ways: by company, or in order of longevity or seniority. Officers may or may not be enumerated separately.

In the screen shot below, I have added regimental numbers by searching for the men on my British Army Ancestors website. It's  a very easy process. I looked for the man with most unusual name - in this case, DULIEU - and typed in WILLIAM DULIEU RIFLES. That gave me his regimental number 3573. I then typed DERMODY RIFLES which gave me that man's number, 4430.

You can see that I have also added regimental numbers for some other men; the point being that I wanted to prove my theory correct, that these men had been enumerated in order of seniority, or longevity, or regimental number order; call it what you will, they all amount to the same thing. 

I had thought this regimental number precedence probably was the system in play when I noticed senior NCOs interspersed with privates, and so I'm feeling rather smug that I proved myself correct.  Better still, some of these men have surviving service records in WO 97 (and WO 363 and WO 364). 4487 Hugh Bonar is a case in point here. He joined the Cameronians in 1892 and was discharged as Time Expired in 1913 having completed 21 years exactly. He was appointed lance-corporal in March 1905 but reverted to private in November that year at his own request.

The photo above shows officers of the 2nd Battalion, Cameronians in Malta in 1913.

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1 comment:

Bryan Pready said...

I found this was the case for 2nd Loyal North Lancs who were in India in 1911. I suspect a clerk was given the job of filling in the census form in advance of the census date, working from a card index or register that listed the men in s/n order. On the day, they were then checked off as present, or not. I did find one officer recorded simultaneously with his unit in India and at home in England.

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