Book Review: Lost Lives, New Voices: Unlocking the stories of the Scottish Soldiers from the Battle of Dunbar 1650

Lost Lives New Voices
Lost Lives, New Voices: Unlocking the Stories of the Scottish Soldiers from the Battle of Dunbar 1650 by Christopher Gerrard, Pam Graves, Andrew Millard, Richard Annis and Anwen Caffell

LostLives, New Voices: Unlocking the stories of the Scottish Soldiers from the Battle of Dunbar 1650. Christopher Gerrad, Pam Graves, Andrew Millard, Richard Annis and ANwen Caffell. Published by Oxbow Books, The Old Music Hall, Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 IJE, UK  www.oxbowbooks.com. £20. And Oxbow Books, 1950 Lawrence Rd, Havertown, PA 19083. www.casemateacademic.com/ oxbow. $35.00. 2018. xvi, 368 pp. Color and B&W Illustrations, index. Softcover. Also available as an eBook.

Though this book has a broad context in the stories of all soldiers from the Battle of Dunbar in 1650, its Appendix A will likely be of most interest to the American researcher seeking Scottish ancestors. This is because no passenger list for the Unity that arrived late in 1650 carrying Dunbar prisoners exists, The appendix is divided into four sections: (1) Definite – men who appear in association with the Saugus Ironworks and are not on the John and Sara list: (2) Probable – men who first appear in records shortly after the likely end of indentures, or who have strong associations with groups of Scots in Oyster River, NH, York, ME, or Block Island, RI, or who are founders of the Scots Charitable Society, and who are not on the John and Sara list; (3) Possible – men with weaker associations, with slightly later appearance in the records, who possibly appear on the John and Sara list or where the team has failed to find evidence suggestive of their status as Scots and/or prisoners; (4) Doubtful – men who have been named as Dunbar prisoners in the past, mostly by George S. Stewart, but for whom no evidence seems to show they arrive in New England other than on the Unity, mostly because they appear on the John and Sarah list or they first appear well after 1660. Entries for each individual in the four alphabetical lists provide surnames (with known spelling variations) and forenames, residences listed by state, date of first known appearance in New England records, years of birth and death based on evidence contemporary with the name, and brief notes justifying the categorization or offering other items of interest, followed by sources.

Chapters 7 and 8 will also interest American researchers. They provide context and describe the experience of the approximately 150 Scottish Dunbar prisoners transported to New England in 1650. The majority were destined to serve five to eight-year indentures working in the iron works at Braintree and Hammersmith and in the northern timberlands on the frontiers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, though others were sold off to local farmers, merchants and craftsmen. The study shows that prisoners’ lives were very different from their former lives in Scotland. Descriptions illustrate, using both archeological and documentary evidence for personal living and working conditions and industrial context of the time. This information is applicable to anyone living in the area at the time, not just the Scots, though they are used as examples.

To get a stronger sense of the people involved and their lives, mini biographies are provided for James Warren, William Furbusch, Peter Grant, William Cahoon, and William Paul. Appendix B, also provides transcripts of New England wills and inventories for Nyven Agnew, Arsbell Anderson, John Berbeene, Alexander Bow, Alexander Bravender, John Clarke, Alexander Cooper, Patrick Fassett, Peter Grant, George Gray, Robert Junkins, John Maccoon, Robert Mackclafflin, Alister Mackmallen, Alexander Maxwell, Micom McIntire, Henry Merrow, James Moore, Finaly Ross, John Taylor, John Upton, and James Warren. These men, and the other Dunbar prisoners, are tied together through family, marriage, and mutual support networks, each illustrated. The men also have an impact on the naming of the places where they settled throughout New England.

The impetus for this book was an archaeological find. In November 2013 two mass burials were discovered unexpectedly while excavating the foundations of a new café at the Palace Green Library, part of Durham cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thirty bodies were excavated, with other bodies left undisturbed, under the walls of the surrounding buildings. The goal was then to identify these men. One option, later confirmed, was that they were some of the thousands of soldiers taken prisoner at the Battle of Dunbar in Scotland in September 1650, marched south to Durham Cathedral and held prisoner. In putting this event in context, the book provides context for the battle and its results.

The book also describes in detail the archaeological dig to unearth the prisoners who died in Durham. It makes fascinating reading in explaining why this was a mass grave rather than an old cemetery and examining old maps and construction sites around the cathedral. The discussion of skeleton science showing which bones survived for which skeletons, identifying their preservation, fragmentation and completeness, whether young or mature adults, their dental health, and skeletal pathology (scars, inflammation, sinusitis, hollows, nodes, etc). For a non-archaeologist reader, this was in places technical, but clear and understandable. The scientific analysis of the teeth and bones provided impressive clues about where in Scotland many grew up, but also showed that a significant number had spent time in continental Europe, all under differing living conditions.

The book continues by describing the battle and then what happened to the survivors, of which the New England soldiers were a very small number, though the only group individually identified by name. Other survivors worked in the coal mines and salt pans in the Northeast of England, others were sent as laborers to drain the Fens, as soldiers to France, along with discussion of other places considered but apparently not acted upon – Crete, Virginia, West Indies – mainly because of political leanings.

The book is heavily footnoted, with an extensive bibliography, providing lots of additional options for further research. Certainly, for anyone with known or possible Scots ancestry in New England this book is a must read, but it is also of value to others wanting to understand life in New England. This book combines archaeology, modern DNA studies, and documentary research, illustrating life during the English Civil War, in the context of European and North Atlantic trade.

Remembering those who died on the First Day of the Battle of the Somme – 1 July 1916

Private John Finnigan, Private John Finnegan buried 10 July 1916 in Elswick Cemetery Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
Private John Finnigan [Finnegan] of the 11th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers wounded 1 July 1916 at the Battle of the Somme.
100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme

Today I want to remember two of my great-uncles Corporal Robert Finnegan and Private John Finnegan. Robert Finnegan died 100 years ago today on 1 July 1916, during the first day of the Battle of the Somme. He is remembered on the Memorial to the Missing at Thiepval, the largest of such memorials on the Western Front, with over 72,000 names. His brother John Finnegan was wounded on 1 July 1916 and died on the hospital ship returning to England and was buried on 10 July 1916 in Elswick Cemetery in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Northumberland.

For readers who know little about the first day of the Battle of the Somme, it is regarded as the worst day in British military history.  At the end of one day the British Army suffered nearly 57,000 casualties, with nearly 20,000 killed, the rest were wounded or captured.

The British were attacking along an eighteen mile front stretching south from Gommecourt, where sections of the Third Army were to make a diversionary attack, south to Maricourt where the British joined the French army. The main effort was made by the Fourth Army under the command of Sir Henry Rawlinson. At 7:30 a.m. on July 1, 100,000 soldiers went over the top to be followed shortly afterwards by a second wave of men.

Thiepval Memorial to the Missing built by Edwin Lutyens.
Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, the largest of such memorials with over 72,000 names of British soldiers dead and missing

Both Finnegan brothers were in the 11th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, part of the 36th (Ulster) Division. They were part of the second wave, coming out of the trenches following the 9th and 10th Battalion’s Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. By then the Germans knew the attack was underway and the machine guns were working hard. The result was very high casualty rates which included the Finnegan brothers.

The image with this blog is a newspaper photograph of John Finnegan from the Illustrated Chronicle, a newspaper from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.  I am still searching for a photograph of Robert Finnegan.

There is a lot of material online, in print and in film about the Battle of the Somme. If you would like information about some good documentary films and original footage from the Battle have a look at Genealogy a la carte for June 29, 2016 for an excellent blog posting by Gail Dever, a Montreal based researcher.

Book Review: Tracing Your Merchant Navy Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians by Simon Wills.

Review of Tracing Your Merchant Navy Ancestors
Tracing Your Merchant Navy Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians by Simon Wills

Tracing Your Merchant Navy Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians. By Simon Wills. Published by Pen & Sword Family History, 47 Church Street, Barnsley, South Yorkshire S70 2AS, UK www.pen-and-sword.co.uk. US Distributor: CasemateIPM 908 Darby Road, Havertown PA 19083. www.casemateipm.com. 2012. x, 180 pp. Illustrations, index. Softcover $29.95

Pen & Sword continues its excellent Family History book series with this guide to researching your Merchant Navy ancestors, a common occupation for many British ancestors, yet they can be difficult to trace. This guide book puts your ancestors into social context and provides guidance on where to find specifics on the men, and the ships on which they sailed.

The book is divided into nine chapters: Britain’s Merchant Fleet; life in the Merchant Service; finding and following a ship; tracing seamen and non-officers; captains and other officers; disaster and bravery; Merchant Navy in wartime; places to visit; case histories.

The book is full of fascinating helpful facts that put your ancestors and the research issues into context. For example, in 1899 there are 10,998 British-registered steam and sailing ships over 100 tons, dwarfing the closest rival the USA which had only 2,739 seagoing ships, while other countries went down from there. The ships are also not necessarily where you might expect them to be for in 1835 a list of the top ten ports where ships are registered includes, not surprisingly in the number one position London with 2,663 ships, Newcastle in number two with 987 ships, but how about Whitehaven, Cumbria in the number 7 slot with 496 ships, and Southampton a well- known port does not make the list.

One of the keys to Merchant Navy research is understanding where and when your ancestor was likely to have been as sea. The records, and thus where and how to search vary greatly by time period. In additional many of the record collections have been broken up and disseminated to archives scatted around the British Isles, with a large collection to the Maritime History Archive at the University of Newfoundland. Luckily the book does provide suggestions on when the records are centrally located, plus where and how to search when they are not.

The book is not just for those who served as ships masters, mates and seamen, but also includes all the other occupations you may find at sea such as carpenters, cooks, donkeymen, engineers, firemen, greasers, gunners, medical officers, pursers, stewards, storekeepers, telegraphers, and trimmers. The role of women is also highlighted.

Each chapter has numerous illustrations of ships, crew and the documents they used or those created by officials. There are numerous finding aids, and references suggested and where you may also find material online the web addresses are provided. I was actually surprised at how much may now be online, making the search process from outside the British Isles a little easier.

If you have Merchant Navy ancestors you will certainly want to have a look at this up to date research guide.

 

Book Review: A List of the Officers of the British Army to August 1755 edited and annotated by Nicholas Steward

A List of Officers of the British Army to August 1755
A List of Officers of the British Army to August 1755

A List of the Officers of the British Army to August 1755 (with an Appendix to October 1755). Edited and Annotated by Nicholas Steward. Published by Steward Archives, Salem, MA www.stewardarchives.com 2015. xxxi, 261 pp. Index. Softcover $17.95.

This is an edited and annotated version of the second edition, published in 1755, of A list of the General and Field Officers, as they Rank in the Army. A List of the Officers in the several Regiments of Horse, Dragoons, and Foot, &c. on the British and Irish Establishments: with the Dates of their Commissions, as they Rank in each Corps … , what became more familiarly known as the published Army Lists. Its publication by the War Office let it be formally known that these were the officially recorded officers of the army as of the date of publication, a problem with an army spread across the globe in an era with slow communications, and thus these were the people who would be paid by the War Office.

The first edition of the list was published in July 1754. The second edition, published in London, in early August 1755 is freely available for download from The National Archives digital microfilm as WO65/2. However, what is used here is the November 1755 Irish printing of the list. This is important because by then news of Major General Edward Braddock’s defeat by French forces in the wilderness of North America on the 9 July 1755 had been widely reported in the newspapers and those identified as dead are now in the published list.

There are problems with using the published Army Lists. The army was constantly changing: officers died, retired, were promoted within their own corps or exchanged to another one; new corps were raised; existing corps were transferred between the British and Irish establishments, with the consequential changes in number of officers and men. But a major problem arises in that there was no connection between editions, so if an officer left the army for any reason he would just be absent from the next list. What Mr. Steward has done is adapted an idea from the unofficial Hart’s Army Lists, (1840-1915) which included a listing of officer changes since the last publication indicating who had been promoted, resigned, or died. Thus in this annotated publication if the reason why an officer is absent from the 1756 is known then it is included in the footnotes on the same page as the officer.

The footnotes include numerous helpful identifiers for researchers. The official listing may identify officers only by title, e.g. Earl of Loudon, who is further identified in this volume as John (Campbell) 4th Earl of Loudon, which is obviously much more helpful. Looking further at the 44th Regiment of Foot as an example we see in the original published Army List the Colonel is listed as Sir Peter Halkett, but here he further identified as the 2nd Baronet. Later in the same regimental listing are Captain Francis Halkett and Lieutenant James Halkett, identified by Mr. Steward as the sons of Peter. It is also states here that Peter and James were both killed at the Battle of the Monongahela, America on 9 July 1755 (Braddock’s Defeat). There are many officers in this regiment identified as killed or wounded in this battle.

What the published Army Lists provide is details of:
• Field Officers and above in the army from the Captain-General to major with on one or more of the following rubrics: date of their rank in the army; date of their rank in the regiment or corps, their office in the garrison, or if they were on half-pay.
• The regiments, corps, and garrisons on the British Establishment listed by seniority.
• Half-pay officers on the British Establishment
• The regiments, corps, and garrisons on the Irish Establishment listed by seniority.
• Half-pay officers on the Irish Establishment
• Annual and daily pay rates, succession of regimental colonels, uniforms, and regimental locations.

What has been added to this annotated volume, as introduction and appendices are:
• An excellent introduction to the history of the development and content of the published Army Lists, plus an explanation of changes added here and why
• Corps of Engineers (Office of Ordnance) which are not listed in the Army Lists until 1757, identifying name, rank and location
• Annual Full-Pay, Half-Pay & Strength of the Land Forces
• Regiments reduced or disbanded with Half-Pay Officers
• An essay on the political state of Europe and Great Britain in 1748
• Chronology of events from 1748 (Peace of Aix-La-Chapelle) to 1756
• Braddock’s Defeat
• Other Offices held by Army and Garrison Officers.
The book provides a full index to all officers, a good glossary of period specific military terms and a bibliography. Researchers will want to read the introduction closely to understand what is and is not included, how to understand dates (calendar change) and abbreviations, plus the raising of numerous permanent Corps of Marines and where their officers came from.

Much has been written in North America about the French and Indian Wars. It needs to be remembered that this was one part of the much more global Seven Years’ War and the British Army was fighting around the globe. This annotated listing targeting North American researchers is of value to anyone doing British Army research in the period. The layout makes it easier to read, use and understand than the original published lists and is thus recommended as a research tool.

Book Review: Tracing Your Naval Ancestors – A Guide for Family Historians by Simon Fowler

Review of Tracing Your Naval Ancestors by Simon Fowler ISBN 978 1 84884 625 8
Tracing Your Naval Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians by Simon Fowler

Tracing Your Naval Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians. By Simon Fowler. Published by Pen & Sword Family History, 47 Church Street, Barnsley, South Yorkshire S70 2AS, UK. www.pen-and-sword.co.uk. ₤12.99. US Distributor: Casemate Publishing, 1016 Warrior Road, Drexel Hill, PA 19026. www.casemateathena.com. US$24.95. Australian Distributor: Gould Genealogy & History, PO Box 119, St. Agnes SA 5097. www.gould.com.au. AUS$34.95. 2011. xi, 186 pp. Illustrations, index. Softcover.

Even the author admits that researching a Royal Naval ancestor can be intimidating, especially in comparison to working with the records of the British Army or the Royal Air Force. Yet, Fowler provides a clear guide on how to use and access these records found in numerous repositories around the British Isles. The bulk of the records are found at The National Archives at Kew, and he recognizes that Tracing Your Naval Ancestors by Bruno Pappalardo will be needed to fully use this repository but it is the identification of resources in other locations, including the internet, that makes this a valuable addition for Royal Navy research.

The book begins by providing a short introduction on how to get started in your research, emphasizing which common generally utilized records may provide indications of a career in the Royal Navy. Records of officers and ratings can be located back to 1660, with a higher rate of success than is likely to be found with the land forces. The discussion for officers and ratings are different and thus separated into two chapters, yet these chapters appropriately cover the whole period up to 1914. A separate chapter addresses all levels of the service after 1914. Additional chapters address the: auxiliary services (of which there are many) and the coastguard; care of the sick and wounded; the Royal Marines; researching ships; and HM Dockyards. Appendices identify: the large number of different naval ratings, how they compare with one another as they existed in 1853; documents now held by the Fleet Air Arm Museum; how to access merchant navy records (since many Royal Navy personnel also served on these ships); jackspeak, the language of the navy; useful addresses; and bibliography.

There are many records to use for naval research, varying depending upon the time period. This book gets you into these voluminous records, explains well what they contain and is well illustrated. It is also up to date highlighting which records are online, and there are many.

This book would make a fine addition to a personal or genealogical library for anyone interested in Royal Naval ancestors, British military and any British Isles reference collection because of the sheer number of families with maritime ancestors.

Remembrance Sunday – Soldiers Who Died in World War One

John Finnigan (Finnegan) C Company 11th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Wounded 1 July 1916 near Thiepval. DIed 10 July 1916 on Hospital ship returning to ENgland. Buried in Elswick Cemetery Newcastle upon Tyne Northumberland.
Private John Finnigan, C Company of the 11th Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, wounded on the First Day of the Battle of the Somme, died 10 July 1916 on the hospital ship returning to England

Today is Remembrance Sunday, the second Sunday in November each year. It is the day originally to remember all those who died in World War One.

Following is a list of my own relatives on my family tree who I know to have been killed during World War One. I would like to remember these brave soldiers. I have many others who served during the war but who survived.

Finnegan, Robert – Corporal in 11th Bn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Died 1 Jul 1916 – First day of the Battle of the Somme. Commemorated on Thiepval Memorial (Memorial to the Missing on the Somme)
Finnigan, John – Private “C” Copy, 11th Bn. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Wounded 1 Jul 1916 – First day of the Battle of the Somme, died 10 Jul 1916 on hospital ship returning to England. Buried Newcastle-Upon-Tyne (St. John’s Westgate and Elswick) Cemetery, Northumberland.
Finnigan, William – Lance Corporal in 8th Bn. West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales Own). Died 26 Jul 1918 and Buried in St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen
Croudace, John – Private in 12th/13th Bn. Northumberland Fusiliers. Died 21 Mar 1918. Commemorated on Pozieres Memorial (Somme Battlefield, 6 km. north of Albert)
Crowhurst, Bertie Walter – Private in 2nd Bn. Dorsetshire Regiment. Died 18 Mar. 1916. Buried in Kut War Cemetery (modern day Iraq)
Hayes, Herbert – Sergeant in 178th Siege Bty. Royal Garrison Artillery. Died 7 Jul. 1917. Buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery (Poperinge, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium – 2nd largest Commonwealth Cemetery in Belgium)
Doran, William Henry – Private in 1st Bn. Border Regiment. Died 5 Jul. 1915. Buried in Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery (near village of Krithia, Turkey – Gallipoli battlefield)
Doran, Bernard – Private in 5th Bn. Border Regiment. Died 4th Feb. 1916. Buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery (Poperinge, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium – 2nd largest Commonwealth Cemetery in Belgium)

Yes, if you have a connection to any of these soldiers I would like to hear from you.

Index to my Military Blog Posts

Captain Gavin Alexander Elmslie Argo of the Royal Army Medical Corp - 21st Field Ambulance
Captain Gavin Alexander Elmslie Argo of the Royal Army Medical Corp – 21st Field Ambulance – Image from Imperial War Museum Flickr account common license.

Index to my Military related Blog Posts – On Friday of this week I am doing a three-hour workshop on tracing your British Army ancestors at the British Isles Family History Society of Great Ottawa conference in Ottawa, Canada. In preparation for that I wanted to pull together an index for the blog postings I have had on the site so far dealing with British military resources and news. Most of the postings have focused this year on World War I, but there are additional items of military interest. Some of the posts explain in detail how to use  or interpret the results found in a military resource, some deal with a search process that by choice has a military example. The list is an index for blog postings so far.

1892 Attestation Form for William Henry Milner into Royal Artillery
1892 Attestation Form for William Henry Milner into Royal Artillery

World War One Soldier’s Documents

WWI Soldiers – Online Records – pt1 Introduction
WWI Soldiers – Online Records – pt 2 case study Albert William Alfred Milner
WWI Soldiers – Online records – pt3 case study William Henry Milner

Tracing Your Dead World War One Ancestors
Highlights how to trace your ancestors who did not survive the war, looking in detail at the Commonwealth War Grave Commission site, published lists in “Soldiers Died in the War”, and what the soldiers left behind (Scottish wills)
WWI – Finding the Dead – Commonwealth War Graves Commission part 1 – case study John Croudace
WWI – Finding the Dead – Commonwealth War Graves Commission part 2 – case study John and Robert Finnigan
WWI – Finding the Dead – Commonwealth War Grave Commission part 3 – advanced search fields
Searching “Soldiers Died in the Great War”
Scottish Military Wills – Tips for Searching, Using the Results and Workarounds
News Release: Historical Wills of Scottish Soldiers Go Online

World War One Related News Stories and calls for assistance
WWI: Operation War Diary – Your Help Wanted
WWI Centenary Preparations by Commonwealth War Grave Commission
News Release: Historical Wills of Scottish Soldiers Go Online
Guardian Newspaper publishes collection of Untold Stories of World War One
WWI Centenary: The Path that led from the Playing Fields to Flanders Fields
World War I Publications on Sale

Tracing Army Officers – Accessing the Army Lists, example is for pre-WWI
Digital Microfilm at TNA – changes coming – Army Lists as example

Boer War – large but incomplete index and how to understand what is in a dataset.
FindMyPast website: Search Techniques Pt. 3 – Search By Record Set

Tracing Your Army Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, Second Edition by Simon Fowler
Tracing Your Army Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, Second Edition by Simon Fowler

Military Book Reviews
Book Review: Tracing your Army Ancestors. Second Edition. By Simon Fowler