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Sgt. James Hamilton

April 20, 2012

Part 1:

This is my partner’s Great-Great-Grandfather and all I originally knew about him was that his name was James Hamilton and he was allegedly disowned by his family for marrying a Catholic.

He was quite easy to trace on the 1901 census in Cardiff, and the back through to the 1871 census and his marriage to Ellen Collins in Llandaff Cathedral in 1864.  On the 1871 census James has the occupation of ‘Chelsea Pensioner’ so I looked at the military records and was very lucky…I found his full pension record so I was really excited about that- the details are the thing really.  Height, eye colour and all that.  Also the hints like he had good conduct but had been mentioned 22 times in the regimental book.

Working backwards from the dates of his army record which are quite precise, he was born in the parish of Seapatrick, County Down, Northern Ireland between Nov 1829 and Jan 1830.  His father was named Samuel and was a hansom cab-driver.  James joined the Royal Artillery in 1847 when he was 17 years and 9 months and underage to qualify for the service pension and joined up in Lisburn, County Antrim.  He didn’t leave the army until Tuesday 26th April 1870, a total of 22 years, 159 days and was a decorated serviceman who had Lucknow and Sebastapol clasps for service in India and Crimea.  By the time he retired he was a Serjeant.

I don’t know the dates that he was in Crimea, but the war was 1853-56 (and James served 1 year 2 months) and quite soon after that he went out to India (2 years 11 months) probably 1857-59.  An obituary in the Western Mail on Monday 27th Dec 1909 says that he was then a drill serjeant at Maindy Barracks in Cardiff.
He died on Dec 23rd 1909 in Cardiff and left no will.   I couldn’t find an obituary in the South Wales Echo but there was one in the South Wales Daily News (below) He was interred in Cathays cemetary Letter R, No. 2839 but there is no headstone.

The family lived at Clive St and then Bryon St but looking through the maps this was actually the same place as the road changed names sometime between 1881 and 1891. There are no old houses on that street now but I imagine they were similar small terraced houses like the rest of the area.  One family researcher has James and Ellen’s first child being born three months before their marriage and dying in early infancy but I haven’t verified this yet.  Certainly the first two children who survived were Martha and Ellen who married brothers Abraham and Stephen Eedy.

More about this family to follow…


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