Half Pay plus "Civil Situation" in 1855?

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Half Pay plus "Civil Situation" in 1855?

Postby BingandNelsonFan » 08 Oct 2016 17:06

Hi! I have run across a reference to an officer that I'm researching, but this is all new to me. Here's the announcement as it appeared in "Bell's Weekly Messenger" on 15 Apr 1854:
THE ARMY.--- On Tuesday a return to parliament was presented of the officers who have been allowed to receive their half-pay since the 1st April, 1853, with civil situations. Five names appear in the list. Lieut. Colonel Pringle's half pay is 11s. a day and his civil appointment 128 l. 18s. 8d., as "gentleman at large" to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

I understand the basic meaning of "half pay", but a "civil situation" is new to me. What is this, and what is a "gentleman at large"?

Thanks in advance for any explanations, as I am totally confused! :)
Regards,
Sarah
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Re: Half Pay plus "Civil Situation" in 1855?

Postby mike snook » 09 Oct 2016 13:43

Sarah,

'Situation' in that context means job or appointment. 'Civil' will more obviously imply a non-military line of work. As far as I know 'gentleman at large' would be some kind of generalist assistant. 'At large' might be taken to imply some element of a roaming brief - as in travelling from place to place to do whatever it is one is charged with doing.

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Mike
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Re: Half Pay plus "Civil Situation" in 1855?

Postby Frogsmile » 10 Oct 2016 10:37

Gentleman at large seems to have been a rank, or position associated with a royal household and one of a staff that included such other personages as gentleman of the bedchamber. In the Irish context, this was because the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was also the de facto Viceroy, in a similar way to the Viceroy of India. These were in effect Colonial positions and, just as in India, Army officers on half-pay often met the necessary social standing (connections) to take on the role. Precisely what the role of a gentleman at large was I am unsure, but as Col Mike has said, it probably refers to a man with a roving brief and able to move about in the service of his master rather than be tied to the presence and residence concerned.

Here is an interesting quote from the website of Dublin Castle:

The most important period in Dublin's social calendar was the six festive weeks of the Castle's balls and dinners, which culminated on St. Patrick's Day, 17th March. During this 'Castle Season' the Viceroy resided in Dublin Castle with his personal staff, chaplain, secretary, gentlemen-at-large and aides-de-camp in waiting. Dublin hotel and boarding rooms were booked well in advance. Gentry, aspiring gentry and debutantes from the great houses of Ireland eagerly awaited the Viceroy's gilt edged invitation to attend.
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Re: Half Pay plus "Civil Situation" in 1855?

Postby mike snook » 10 Oct 2016 11:05

That's interesting Frogsmile. Do you think perhaps they might be something to do with the counties of Ireland? Perhaps something after the fashion of Deputy Lord Lieutenants as it were? I speculate wildly in saying this, as I am unfamiliar with the civil establishment in Ireland.

As ever

M
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Re: Half Pay plus "Civil Situation" in 1855?

Postby Frogsmile » 11 Oct 2016 10:26

mike snook wrote:That's interesting Frogsmile. Do you think perhaps they might be something to do with the counties of Ireland? Perhaps something after the fashion of Deputy Lord Lieutenants as it were? I speculate wildly in saying this, as I am unfamiliar with the civil establishment in Ireland.

As ever

M


It is difficult to pin down precisely, largely I think because of its later use as a euphemism for a man of leisure (private means) travelling the world. It appears to have originally been a man ranking as an officer within a royal household who was more an intimate than a servant and thus was well known or well born with a family reputation. I suspect that the at large bit meant that he could act as an envoy of some kind and run errands or embassies of a sensitivity that the servant equivalent of a galloper/runner could not. The term has several historical references in connection with royal households, but so far without precise explanation of the role.
There was the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (aka Governor and Viceroy - 1690-1922) and county Lord Lieutenants, as per England and Wales. Ergo I don't think that the gentleman at large fulfilled that role, but more the intimate one that I have outlined.
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Re: Half Pay plus "Civil Situation" in 1855?

Postby mike snook » 11 Oct 2016 12:34

Very Good. Thanks Frogsmile.

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Re: Half Pay plus "Civil Situation" in 1855?

Postby BingandNelsonFan » 11 Oct 2016 13:22

Hello, Everyone!

Thanks for all of the great responses. I think that Frogsmile has got a pretty good idea there. The Lord Lieutenant in 1853-1855 was Edward Granville Eliot, 3rd Earl of St. Germans. Colonel John Henry Pringle was the son of his cousin (though they were actually closer in age!) and, appearing from some other references that I've found, they were quite close.

I have scans of an early photo album belonging to the 3rd Earl of St. Germans, and it includes a lot of photos dating to this period in Ireland. While there is no mention of Colonel Pringle, there is a photo of another of the Lord Lieutenant's "Gentleman at Large", and this was the first time I'd seen this term used in this way.

Colonel Pringle was on half pay at the time, as well as serving as Commanding Colonel of the 6th Lancashire Militia.

If I can find out anything else about the situation, I'll be sure to post!
Thanks!
Sarah
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