Enlisted under a different forename

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Enlisted under a different forename

Postby canary66 » 08 Feb 2017 22:24

I am researching a soldier, Albert Ernest PEARCE no 3612 of the 1st Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment, who served in that battalion from 1893 to 1905. He served wherever the battalion was posted to & was in India when his twelve years with the colours ended.

My question is that in this first period of service he enlisted as & served as Samuel PEARCE, reaching the rank of Serjeant. I have seen his attestation papers online showing this forename, as they are attached to his World War One Papers.

As he was certainly Albert Ernest PEARCE was it usual to serve under a different forename, if perhaps if there were other Albert Pearces in the battalion ? The only clue I have is that in April 1893 he gave his age as 18yrs & 7 months, when all other civil records show he was born in late 1875 meaning he was actually only 17 years & 7 months.

This 1893 attestation form also says that he was serving in the 3rd Battalion Royal Fusiliers Militia at enlistment, under which name I don't know. He lived in London, and attested in London.

He does not seem to have a brother called Samuel.

He re-enlisted in 1914 under his correct name Albert Ernest & became a Company Serjeant Major in The Bedfordshire Regiment before dying of war wounds in 1916 one month after discharge from the army. He has only recently been comemerated by The Commonwealth War Graves Commission and will have a headstone in due course.
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Re: Enlisted under a different forename

Postby Frogsmile » 09 Feb 2017 23:28

It was quite common at that time for some young men to enlist undèr an assumed name, usually in order to escape something. Common reasons were escaping from indentured apprenticeship, an unwanted pregnancy, falling out with an overbearing father, and petty crime.
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Re: Enlisted under a different forename

Postby canary66 » 10 Feb 2017 23:10

Thank you for this, I had not thought about escaping an apprenticeship as a possibility.

For whatever reason this name change was made by Albert, then he also claimed to be 1 year older than he was, so for sure trying to hide something if only his real age.
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Re: Enlisted under a different forename

Postby Frogsmile » 11 Feb 2017 00:27

canary66 wrote:Thank you for this, I had not thought about escaping an apprenticeship as a possibility.

For whatever reason this name change was made by Albert, then he also claimed to be 1 year older than he was, so for sure trying to hide something if only his real age.


By changing his age, as well as his name it made it much more difficult, if not impossible, to track him down via his date of birth.
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