Staff Sgt William THOMPSON, unit NK Meerut India 1853

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Staff Sgt William THOMPSON, unit NK Meerut India 1853

Postby Dorothy » 20 Nov 2012 23:26

Hello All,I have just joined this site.Would anyone know what regiments were in Meerut in 1853 and not there in 1857.
I am researching for a family member a William Thompson b.1823/24 in Scotland.He married Sarah Whittle 1849 in Bombay.He was in Meerut in 1853 when his son(William J.) was born.On bap.cert.father was a Staff sergeant.
I say he wasn't in Meerut 1857 because I understand that all the woman and children there at that time were killed in the mutiny.
Dorothy
P.S. Just got a wedd.cert.Says William was a Sergeant in the Artillery Band.
Where would I find information on that?
Dorothy
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Re: Regiments in Meerut India 1853

Postby Maureene » 21 Nov 2012 13:19

Hello Dorothy

There was no Royal Artillery in India in the years prior to the Indian Mutiny, see this link
http://www.archive.org/stream/englandsa ... 0/mode/1up

Accordingly if William Thompson was in the Artillery Band in 1849, it seems likely he would be in the Bombay Artillery, part of the Bombay Army

However, this does not tie in with a birth in Meerut in 1853, as Meerut is in the Bengal Presidency and soldiers generally did not move from one Presidency Army to another. Is there any information on the marriage and baptism records you may have missed, as it is usually possible to at least determine which Army the man was in. I’m not familiar with the term Staff sergeant, perhaps someone can advises what a Staff Sargent did, as this may help place him.

If he was in either or both Bombay Army and Bengal Army the recommended records are the Registers of European Soldiers 1793-1860. Those for Bombay are available on the FIBIS database, which however was not responding when I tried it (but should be later) The equivalent records for the Bengal Army are available on LDS microfilm. See the FIBIS Fibiwiki pages Bombay Army and Bengal Army.
http://wiki.fibis.org/index.php?title=Bombay_Army
http://wiki.fibis.org/index.php?title=Bengal_Army

The FIBIS Fibiwiki also has a page British Army, section Records
http://wiki.fibis.org/index.php?title=B ... my#Records.
The easiest records to access are the WO 97 records on Find My Past. However , even if he was in the British Army there may not be a WO 97 record.

Cheers
Maureen
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Re: Regiments in Meerut India 1853

Postby Dorothy » 23 Nov 2012 03:06

Hello Maureen thank you for your reply. I have looked at the sites you gave me but couldn't find any information.There was one comment(there is very little information recorded about the military bands in India)
I got just the wedding cert.(rank or profession=Sergeant in the Artillery Band)Residence=Bombay.
So yes it suggests that he was in the Bombay Artillery Band.
I haven' been able to find out what William Thompson was doing in Meerut 1854.The printout I got of the baptism was just a copy of the entries stating that William was a Staff Sergeant.
Should I get a cert.copy of the baptismal cert ?
Regards
Dorothy
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Re: Regiments in Meerut India 1853

Postby Maureene » 24 Nov 2012 03:10

Hello Dorothy

You seem to be saying he is not in the Registers of Bombay Army European Soldiers. This implies he was not in the Bombay Army, as these registers were progressively updated over a period of time. To date, all the band members I have come across, apart from a few bandmasters, have been part of the Army

I suspect therefore that the baptismal record for Meerut involves a different set of parents with the same name

I think you have to decide whether you are researching the man in the marriage record, who was not considered to be in the Army or the father in the baptismal record, who was.

If the former, Family Search has many index baptismal records for what appear to be children of the marriage in the Bombay area. I would obtain copies of at least some of these baptismal records to see if the occupation of Artillery Band is confirmed. Family Search also advised he was a widower at his marriage.

For more information about sources of records, see the FIBIS Fibiwiki Beginners' Guide, including the page Family Search Centres
http://wiki.fibis.org/index.php?title=B ... s%27_Guide
http://wiki.fibis.org/index.php?title=F ... ch_Centres

If you decide to research the father of the child born in Meerut, I would obtain a copy of the baptismal record which may possibly have additional information eg Regiment. (I don’t know the source of the print out you mentioned, it doesn’t appear to be FamilySearch) . If it doesn’t I would look in the Registers of Bengal Army European Soldiers to see if you can find a likely match. However, it is possible this soldier could be a British Army soldier. However, unless you can find out the Regiment from the baptisam certificate, you would not be able to research futher, as you seem to be saying he was not in the WO 97 records previously mentioned. These are the only British Army records I am aware of where it is not necessary to know the regiment.

Cheers
Maureen
Last edited by Maureene on 01 Dec 2012 09:19, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Regiments in Meerut India 1853

Postby Dorothy » 26 Nov 2012 02:05

Hello Maureen,Thank you for your answers.
I wasn't suggesting William Thompson was not in the registers,just that I couldn't find him.The marr.cert.says he was a sergeant in the Artillery Band.His residence Bombay ,so this William must be in the Bombay Army as you say.
I didn't know that troops didn't move between the presidencies.
I seriously thought these were one and the same person.
So now I will go back to the Archives and try to figure things out.
Thank you again
Dorothy
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Re: Staff Sgt William Thompson, unit NK Meerut India 1853

Postby Frogsmile » 30 Nov 2012 11:50

Dorothy wrote:Hello All,I have just joined this site.Would anyone know what regiments were in Meerut in 1853 and not there in 1857.
I am researching for a family member a William Thompson b.1823/24 in Scotland.He married Sarah Whittle 1849 in Bombay.He was in Meerut in 1853 when his son(William J.) was born.On bap.cert.father was a Staff sergeant.
I say he wasn't in Meerut 1857 because I understand that all the woman and children there at that time were killed in the mutiny.
Dorothy
P.S. Just got a wedd.cert.Says William was a Sergeant in the Artillery Band.
Where would I find information on that?


Hello Dorothy, I am sorry I did not see your post on this before.

Meerut was a relatively small station where only one British infantry battalion was based, but several Indian. I think a Brigade altogether at that time, plus some British and Indian Cavalry and Indian (Bengal) Artillery. The lone British battalion in 1854-55 was the 52nd (Oxfordshire) Light Infantry Regiment of Foot, although the county title meant little at that point in history and as many as 50% of the battalion were Irish.

The rank of Staff Serjeant (the spelling at that time) was a 'grouping' of the more senior and specialised sergeants, rather like we would think of warrant officers today (that were not introduced until 1881), so your man was in a position of seniority with considerable responsibilities and privileges. He would have had a group of servants to attend the needs of him and his wife. His uniform was trimmed with extra gold lace (braid) to signify his status amongst the other ranks (i.e. those below officer).

The 52nd had embarked for India in 1853 and in November were at sea, so it is quite possible that his wife was pregnant on the journey, which must have been very difficult (although not uncommon).

The 52nd Regiment were considered an elite and had been a unit of the Light Division during the earlier war with Napoleon, having received special training at Shorncliffe from Sir John Moore. The depot (i.e. rear party base) of the 52nd in 1853-55 was at Chatham, in Kent.

Meerut was the station where the infamous Indian mutiny began in 1857, by which time the 1st battalion 60th Rifles had relieved (taken over from) the 52nd, who moved first to Lucknow and then Sialkot (from the latter place they deployed to form the backbone of a movable column and subsequently joined the assault on Delhi). There is a well written article on the outbreak here: http://defencejournal.comdec99//1857.htm
and a brief account of the 52nd's movements here: http://www.lightbobs.com/1854-1863-52nd ... antry.html
A much more detailed contemporary account of the 52nd can be read here: http://archive.org/stream/unrecordedcha ... v/mode/2up
On 24th May the women and children of the regiment were sent to the relative safety of Lahore.http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-eng/u ... -ala.shtml

Finally, you should also bear in mind that the senior (i.e. 'staff') sergeants of the Bengal Artillery were also Europeans (largely British), so he could also have been a gunner, or if in their band a, musician.
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Re: Staff Sgt William Thompson, unit NK Meerut India 1853

Postby Dorothy » 01 Dec 2012 08:34

Hi FROGSMILE,Thank you for all that information.Another little bit of the puzzle.
I am going to follow Maureen's advice and research the Meerut William as I know that that was where the son was born.
So ,now I know he could have possibly been in the 52nd Foot Regiment I would like to find out as much as I can about it.Read all the links that you have given me FROGSMILE.It's great to know that the women and children were sent to safety.
Thank you,thank you
Dorothy
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Re: Staff Sgt William Thompson, unit NK Meerut India 1853

Postby Frogsmile » 01 Dec 2012 20:31

Dorothy wrote:Hi FROGSMILE,Thank you for all that information.Another little bit of the puzzle.
I am going to follow Maureen's advice and research the Meerut William as I know that that was where the son was born.
So ,now I know he could have possibly been in the 52nd Foot Regiment I would like to find out as much as I can about it.Read all the links that you have given me FROGSMILE.It's great to know that the women and children were sent to safety.
Thank you,thank you
Dorothy


I am glad to help Dorothy. If your marriage certificate states clearly that he was in the artillery band, then it is unlikely that he had anything to do with the 52nd Regiment.
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Re: Staff Sgt William THOMPSON, unit NK Meerut India 1853

Postby Dorothy » 02 Dec 2012 00:57

Well, as Maureen pointed out the William in Meerut and the William in Bombay were probably two different people,as people didn't move between the presidencies.So now I'm concentrating on the William who was in Meerut.(It was the one in Bombay that was connected to an artillery band).Do you know how to see the muster lists or whatever that might show further details for William?
Dorothy
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Re: Staff Sgt William THOMPSON, unit NK Meerut India 1853

Postby Frogsmile » 02 Dec 2012 01:56

Dorothy wrote:Well, as Maureen pointed out the William in Meerut and the William in Bombay were probably two different people,as people didn't move between the presidencies.So now I'm concentrating on the William who was in Meerut.(It was the one in Bombay that was connected to an artillery band).Do you know how to see the muster lists or whatever that might show further details for William?
Dorothy


If it is the William in Meerut then it seems very likely he was a man of the 52nd and whose movements would likely have been as outlined above.

You can try these three sources and search in the 52nd Regiment of Foot. Some of them charge a fee:

1. http://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/rec ... tAodFRoA_Q

2. http://www.ancestry.co.uk/learn/militar ... sch=Search

3. http://www.findmypast.co.uk/content/sea ... s_fee=0.99
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Re: Staff Sgt William THOMPSON, unit NK Meerut India 1853

Postby Frogsmile » 05 Dec 2012 12:40

Dorothy, there is one further possibility based upon your query regarding a British regiment that was in Meerut in 1853, but not in 1857.

There was (as I mentioned above) also a regiment of British Line Cavalry based there, the only one in the Bengal Presidency at that time. Each of the other Presidencies also had a British Line Cavalry regiment allocated, thus making 3 based in India in total.

In 1853 the Bengal Presidency allocated British cavalry regiment, based at Meerut, was the 14th (The King's) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons. In 1857 that regiment had moved to Kirkee (present day Khadki).
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Re: Staff Sgt William THOMPSON, unit NK Meerut India 1853

Postby Dorothy » 08 Dec 2012 07:02

Thank you FROGSMILE for that further information.
So it looks like he was in the 14th Light Dragoons or the 52 Regiment of Foot
Would they both have Staff Sergeants?
Dorothy
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Re: Staff Sgt William THOMPSON, unit NK Meerut India 1853

Postby Frogsmile » 08 Dec 2012 11:50

Dorothy wrote:Thank you FROGSMILE for that further information.
So it looks like he was in the 14th Light Dragoons or the 52 Regiment of Foot
Would they both have Staff Sergeants?
Dorothy

Yes, they both had Staff Serjeants (the spelling most commonly used at that time), who were the senior level sergeants and invariably in specialised 'appointments' such as Orderly Room Serjeant, Farrier (Serjeant) Major, Roughrider Serjeant as just a few examples (the latter two cavalry only).
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Re: Staff Sgt William THOMPSON, unit NK Meerut India 1853

Postby Liz » 09 Dec 2012 10:29

Roughrider serjeant? Haven't come across that one before.
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Re: Staff Sgt William THOMPSON, unit NK Meerut India 1853

Postby Frogsmile » 10 Dec 2012 02:21

Liz wrote:Roughrider serjeant? Haven't come across that one before.


Hello Liz,

It was apparently the title used within cavalry regiments. I am unsure what the appointment was called in the QRs of the time, but he was in effect the sergeant instructor of equitation and the deputy to the riding master.

In the dictionary a 'roughrider' is described thus: (n) One who breaks horses; especially (Mil.), a noncommissioned officer in the British cavalry, whose duty is to assist the riding master.

Within the regiment he assisted the riding master with the running of the unit 'riding school'. His badge later became the spur, which was positioned above his chevrons. I do not have my research material to hand but the badge was one of the earlier ones to be introduced, perhaps in the 1860s, but I will need to check.

The period between the end of the Indian Mutiny and 1881 was the time when the number of Staff Serjeant appointments increased exponentially and became somewhat unwieldy (poor financial remuneration being a particular bugbear) so that it was decided to re-order the system and introduce the warrant officer rank grouping, so as to make clear the most senior appointments, and properly reward them.

The result of this re-ordering was that the Staff Serjeants, who had hitherto been divided into four classes (1st to 4th), became fractured. All of the 1st class and some of the 2nd class became warrant officers. The 3rd Class and the 'rump' of the 2nd Class remained as 'Staff Sergeants' and utilised that title as their rank and the 4th class lost their status completely and became plain sergeants again, albeit with a specialist appointment that carried extra pay. As always with structural reorganisation there were winners and losers.
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