October 12, 2012
Sepia Saturday #147: Short Service
The man in the picture is my husband, Kevin’s, Great-Great Grandfather. He was born in the Parish of Ashford, in Kent, England. He apprenticed as a saddler while a young man and joined the Buckinghamshire Rifle Volunteers at the age of 20. From there he went on to join the 7th Hussars and was with them for 3 years, 352 days.
In August, 1905, he signed up for “Short Service”, i.e. 8 years in “the Colours” and 4 years Reserve, to the Hussars of the Line and remained with them until he came to Canada. He died in 1929, of Broncho-Pneumonia at the fairly young age of 49. Presumably, he was gassed in the First World War, and had problems with his lungs ever after.
A sad death, surely, but not nearly as sad as that of his father, Frederick “Chas” Hall, of Easton, Kent, who was a Bricklayer, and who must have followed the boom of the building industry to Bethnal Green in London. The boom started to decline sharply in the early 1900s, and Frederick died there on Dec 5, 1912, at the quite young age of 59. Many youngish men took their own lives under these circumstances and it is not outrageous to think Frederick might have been one of them. He did still have a large family to feed, and if he had lost his job, it is likely that his wife and children could have been forced out onto the streets to cadge for food. Either that, or some disease or flu might have been the cause. of his early demise.
The worst place one could end up was The Workhouse. These were state-sponsored institutions which were more like voluntary-prisons. Not that people were keen to go the The Workhouse, but many of the children and aged population had no choice if they wanted some sort of roof over their heads. They were put to work, doing hard labour and fed the worst food imaginable; living conditions were desperate.
Fortunately, for Fred Jr., he was able to not only get out of London by signing on with the military, but he was also eventually able to emigrate to Canada and have a fairly decent life, and a family of his own, before he died. His son, Frederick Albert Hall (Kevin’s Grand-Uncle) went on to follow in his footsteps, serving in three Canadian militia regiments during his own life. He died at age 78, in 1983. Kevin’s Grandfather, Charles Herbert Hall, also served overseas in World War II. He died at age 84, in 1992.
The military figures largely on both sides of Kevin’s family. Sometime in the future, I’ll explore that here.
N.B. The problem with sites like Ancestry.com, is that they provide too many possibilities. I fell asleep last night pondering how on earth a young man in the Bethnal Green area could apprentice to a Saddler of horses? Further digging has proven my suspicions correct: Frederick "Chas" Hall was NOT a bricklayer! According to the 1901 Census, he was first a Railway Porter, and then by 1911, was working as a Bargeman at Eton College (not sure what that really means, but it provide an answer for where Fred Jr. worked with horses). Frederick Sr. was also married a SECOND time and had a new daughter. Frederick Jr. was long gone by then, but the chances of his father being the man who died at Bethnal Green, are slim to none! Thus, my further research has rendered a goodly portion of this post MOOT!
Ah, such is the path of the Amateur Genealogist, eh? The road is fraught with both brick walls, AND red herrings!
I neglected to mention to anyone who stumbles upon this post, that other fine (and perhaps better documented) articles can be found at the Sepia Saturday website.
Thank you for reading and following on this mad journey and tune in next week, as I continue to host the "calls" for Sepia Saturday while Alan Burnett is cruising the Caribbean.