Help needed identifying insignia and referencing on watch

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Help needed identifying insignia and referencing on watch

Postby Andr3wG » 02 Oct 2017 13:07

Hi Everyone. My dad recently gave me this old pocket watch as I have a bit of a thing for watches. It was given to him by his mother, who was born 1927, but the inscription at the back doesn't match anyone in our immediate family (although could be a more distant relative). The watch is definitely old, the inscription is for 1879, and I believe the hallmarking dates to 1876. Our family has a strong colonial spirit - I'm a 1st generation South African under my surname, my dad was born in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe to a Rhodesian mother (my grandmother where the watch came from). I believe her ancestors were British, but had come to South Africa/Rhodesia pretty early in the colonisation of those countries. My paternal grandfather was born in Burma, but he is also of British descent, and just because my dad got the watch from his mother, it could just have easily come from my grandfather's side.

In case the inscriptions are unclear - this is what I can make out:
- Pocket watch made by/presented by E.D. Johnson & Son of 10 Wilmington Squ. London (E.D. Johnson was a noted watchmaker in London, and a founding member of the British Horological Society)
- Watch serial # 26622
- Was awarded to Lieut. Col. Radcliffe in 1879 at the "1st Battalion Prize, 39th Mx R H"
- The insignia on the back reads Semper Idem, which means "Always the same"

My initial research led to look for a Liet Col. in the 39th Dorsetshire Regiment of Foot, but I couldn't find any Lieut Col. named Radcliffe that served in that regiment between 1877-1880, and searches of Lieut. Col. in the Lists over 1879 and 1880 didn't turn up anything. Closest I found in the Lists was a Lieut. Col Ratcliffe Chamber who was in the Madras Staff Corps in 1880.

I have had no luck identifying the insignia, and that might be a clue on where to look next. 39th Mx R H might be referring to the 'competition' rather than regiment. If anyone can help with this search it would be greatly appreciated!

back.jpg
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inscription.jpg
inscription.jpg (259.81 KiB) Viewed 142 times

movement.jpg
movement.jpg (296.6 KiB) Viewed 142 times

hallmarks.jpg
hallmarks.jpg (274.25 KiB) Viewed 142 times
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Re: Help needed identifying insignia and referencing on watc

Postby crimea1854 » 02 Oct 2017 13:57

Could the 'H' be a 'V', making the inscription to a member of the 39th Middlesex Rifle Volunteers, which would provide a closer link to the point of manufacture of the watch?

Martin

Have now found the following notice in the London Gazette: https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/24229/page/3668, so my money is on this being your man.

According to the 1881 census Henry Radcliffe was a lodger with his wife Margaret at 42 Coleherne Road, Kensington. He gave his age as 57, place of birth Salisbury, Wiltshire and occupation as Lt. Col Aux Forces.
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Re: Help needed identifying insignia and referencing on watc

Postby Frogsmile » 03 Oct 2017 10:51

I agree with Martin that the pocket watch relates to the 39th Middlesex Rifle Volunteers.

The Clerkenwell Rifle Corps was formed on 6 April 1860, and was re-designated as the 39th Middlesex Rifle Volunteer Corps as part of the Volunteer Force raised in response to the perceived threat of invasion by France.

Over the next four and a half decades it was redesignated or renumbered on three occasions:

39th Middlesex Rifle Volunteer Corps (The Finsbury Rifle Volunteer Corps) (1862-80)
21st Middlesex Rifle Volunteers (The Finsbury Rifle Volunteer Corps) (1880-91)
21st Middlesex (Finsbury) Volunteer Rifle Corps (1891-1908)

In 1881 the re-organization of the Army and auxiliary forces had led to the disbanding and amalgamating of weak Volunteer corps and the renumbering of the battalions. The Volunteer Battalions affiliated to the 60th (regular) Regiment now became part of the KRRC for the purpose of the Army Act, and included the 21st (late 39th) Middlesex ('Finsbury' - which joined 60th KRRC in 1884 as a Volunteer Battalion, but apparently without changing its name).

During the 2nd Anglo/Boer War and in common with other units of the Volunteer Force, the Finsbury Rifles formed active 'service companies' to provide reinforcements to regular army troops fighting in South Africa. Officially a volunteer battalion of the King's Royal Rifle Corps, which had four regular battalions in the conflict, they were awarded the battle honour "South Africa 1900-'02".

In 1908 the auxiliary and reserve forces were completely reorganised. The volunteer force battalions and the yeomanry were combined to form a new Territorial Force, administered by county associations. All infantry battalions in the City and County of London became numbered battalions of a new, 'London Regiment'. The Finsbury Rifles battalion of the KRRC became the 11th (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (Finsbury Rifles), with headquarters at Pentonville.

I enclose some interesting images of the 39th Middlesex Rifle Volunteers insignia.
Attachments
group-photo-finsbury-rifles-dart-club-outside-their-headquarters-and-g3d4bn (1).jpg
group-photo-finsbury-rifles-dart-club-outside-their-headquarters-and-g3d4bn (1).jpg (70.38 KiB) Viewed 106 times
finsbury-rifles-recruitment-poster (1).jpg
finsbury-rifles-recruitment-poster (1).jpg (237.96 KiB) Viewed 106 times
original.jpg
original.jpg (101.95 KiB) Viewed 106 times
39th (Finsbury) Officers Busby badge c 1878 became 11th Btn London 1908.jpg
39th (Finsbury) Officers Busby badge c 1878 became 11th Btn London 1908.jpg (85.09 KiB) Viewed 106 times
WRV,obv,2..jpg
WRV,obv,2..jpg (123.23 KiB) Viewed 106 times
sq
Relic of many a fight and siege and sack, it points a moral and adorns the back.
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Re: Help needed identifying insignia and referencing on watc

Postby Andr3wG » 04 Oct 2017 13:24

The H could very well be a V. I've zoomed in and the connector lines on the H don't actually connect. I'll start exploring more along these lines. Thanks a million!

Watch  H vs V.jpg
Watch H vs V.jpg (79.1 KiB) Viewed 77 times
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Re: Help needed identifying insignia and referencing on watc

Postby crimea1854 » 04 Oct 2017 13:51

I wonder if you had picked up the PS to my original post?

Martin
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Re: Help needed identifying insignia and referencing on watc

Postby Andr3wG » 04 Oct 2017 15:38

crimea1854 wrote:I wonder if you had picked up the PS to my original post?

Martin

I did and I think that solved the case! I tracked down the original census entry and also living at the same address with Henry and Margaret Radcliffe was a Maude Roe. My great, great grandmother was Margaret Roe, who was Maude's sister. Not sure why Maude was living with the Radcliffe's, there was quite an age difference (23 vs 57 and 56 respectively), so its possible that they were close family friends/further removed relations and she came to live with them for some or other reason. Maude and Margaret were alos born in the same town. At some stage, the watch was gifted to Maude (supporting the close family/family friend theory), who in turn gifted it to my great grandfather, and so it continued until it found its way down to me.

Thanks for your help in this - not sure I would have ever gotten there on my own!
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Re: Help needed identifying insignia and referencing on watc

Postby ploughman » 05 Oct 2017 12:18

The coat of arms and motto on the watch is of the Radcliffe family .
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