26 May 2019

The 1911 Census of Ireland

I've written here before about the 1911 Census of England and Wales, and the information that can be gleaned about the soldiers who were enumerated on it. See Unpicking the 1911 Census and 1911 Census Revelations. I completed my work on those men who were enumerated overseas some time ago, and I've recently turned back to the 1911 Census of Ireland to complete my transcription of the British Army soldiers who were stationed there on census night.

PDFs of the original census returns for Ireland in 1911 can be downloaded free of charge from The National Archives of Ireland website. Unfortunately however, many of the men were recorded only by their first and last name initials. That's a shame because there's some great information on these forms such as the men's religion and their former occupations before joining the army. All is not lost however.

On some returns, the man's regimental number has been recorded. Take this extract below, for instance, which is taken from the return of the 1st Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) who were stationed at Portobello Barracks in Grove Road, Dublin.

Using my British Army Ancestors website which, if I say so myself, is far quicker than certain well-known family history websites in getting to the result, it is a very simple task to find the majority of these men. Here are the same men on my Excel spreadsheet:

As can be seen from this tiny extract, I have identified eight of the ten men enumerated here, hardly surprising really as the vast majority of these individuals would either have still been serving with this regiment, or on the army reserve (and therefore liable for recall to the colours), by August 1914. Most of these men will therefore have surviving medal records and/or service records which can be accessed via British Army Ancestors.

Taking the last men on this list as a case study, here's how you can quickly identify these individuals. He's recorded on the census as 9225 A B of the East Kent Regiment. Simply go to the British Army Ancestors home page and type in 9225 East Kent in the search box. In this example Albert Broughton is the only result returned and this is our man. 

The L/ prefix on Albert's number confirms that he was a regular soldier and, by referring to my post on regimental numbering in the East Kent Regiment, we can see that he must have joined the regiment between January 1910 and March 1911. Actually, as can be seen above, Albert has a surviving service record which shows that he enlisted at Chatham in February 1910. That makes perfect sense because as a young soldier he would be expected to be serving with the home battalion, learning the ropes before shipping out to the overseas' battalion (which he duly did, to India, in January 1913).

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17 May 2019

An embarkation list observation

The extract above comes from an embarkation list held in IOR/L/MIL/15/45 at The British Library. The men concerned formed part of a draft of two sergeants and 186 rank and file from the 1st Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment who set sail aboard HMS Serapis on the 8th December 1886 bound for India and the 2nd Battalion.

What's interesting about this extract is that all of these men attested for service on the 17th April 1885 and, before their regimental numbers were issued to them a couple of days later at Bristol, they were organised alphabetically by surname and then issued with their numbers. So 1055 Baker is followed by 1057 Ballinger who is followed by 1058 Barnes, and so on. 1056 would have been issued to someone whose surname falls between Baker and Ballinger and who was obviously not on this draft; there are other gaps as well.

17th April 1885 was obviously a good recruiting day for the Gloucestershire Regiment. Men issued with numbers 1055 to 1118 inclusive were all recruited on this day; not at all bad going considering the average monthly recruitment figure in line infantry regiments at the time was around 350.

The embarkation lists in  IOR/L/MIL/15/42-46 fill useful gaps in service records but have not been digitised and published online, although I have my own currently un-indexed copies from all five volumes.

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