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1890's Worcester military uniform?

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Re: 1890's Worcester military uniform?

Postby bramleyapple » Thu Mar 06, 2014 4:50 pm

Thanks AdrianB38.

I suspect you may be right, but it would be nice to prove you so. I had imagined that a volunteer corps might be locally named and therefore incorporated in the reply from Worcestershire Regiment. I agree that the add ons for his uniform seem totally over the top for a postman. The Sally Army route doesn't look too promising either. I think they may have had that rank and the stripes at one time, at least in part of America. However, in spite of the choose your own hat idea at that point, I think he would probably have had an S on his collar. I just need to review every option afresh

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Re: 1890's Worcester military uniform?

Postby bramleyapple » Fri Mar 07, 2014 9:42 am

Needles and haystacks were beginning to spring to mind, but now I have a breakthrough!

On the internet I found a collector of police helmets; I emailed him as a long shot. Ross kindly replied saying that the cap and collar details meant there was absolutely no doubt - this is a Worcester City Police Force uniform of the period in question! He thought the sitter would be full-time not part time and the number 6 was his personal number.

So I need to pursue police archives to see if I can get more detail. Also the photo was prominent in the family album, which suggested a close relative. It doesn't seem to fit with the man I thought it was and I wasn't aware of anyone in the police force, so I will have to dig further.

This is the first time I have posted on this forum, so many thanks to AdrianB38, g w aldous, Hammerjock and JaneyH for their advice and encouragement on the journey. I am now much further towards adding the details to a family photo that has baffled for some years.

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Re: 1890's Worcester military uniform?

Postby JaneyH » Fri Mar 07, 2014 11:25 am

Great news. I didn't do much, but it's been fascinating to see the twists and turns of this particular piece of research, and I'm glad you've managed to identify the uniform. Now to find out which of your ancestors it was!


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Re: 1890's Worcester military uniform?

Postby AdrianB38 » Fri Mar 07, 2014 11:55 am

Fantastic news!
:)
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Re: 1890's Worcester military uniform?

Postby FROGSMILE » Mon Mar 10, 2014 12:00 pm

He is a police officer, probably from one of the many, various sized constabularies that later formed the West Midlands Police. The crossed device on his cuff are quills and indicate that he is a trained 'writer' (aka clerk) and the three stripes with crown above show that he is a station sergeant. I would date the photo to the early 1880s. It is likely that he is from a very small force, perhaps a borough constabulary, of which there were several. This would explain the single digit on his collar, alongside his collar badge. It was common at that time, 1880s-1890s, for many institutions to wear a more military style of uniform than is seen today.

There are a number of features that make clear he is not a soldier, especially the absence of any form of shoulder strap, or epaulette. The crossed quills badge is also not military and, although some infantry units wore a number on their collar for a very short time in the late 1870s, they never did so with a badge and the 6th Foot (Royal Warwickshire Regt) was not one of the units to do so.

The Worcestershire Constabulary did have a shield as part of their constabulary badge and that might be what is seen on the collar of the subject's uniform. The constabulary's badge was also similar in shape before it adopted the 'universal star' type later worn on the 'bobbys' helmets that we all associate with police men.
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Re: 1890's Worcester military uniform?

Postby bramleyapple » Mon Mar 10, 2014 3:18 pm

Thanks FROGSMILE. I really appreciate you imparting your more detailed knowledge on this. My only certainty when I originally posted this problem was that the photo was taken in Worcester 1890-92 , as that photography studio was only at that address for that period. The photo was near the front of a family album, so was presumably a fairly close relative. It would presumably have taken a few years to reach his ranking, so your dating the photo/uniform to 1880's fits with this. Just to complete the photo analysis, I wonder if you have any view on what looks like a bugle in a ring just above the quills on his sleeve? Presumably, you would agree that he would have been full time and presumably there is no reason why he would not have entered this as his profession on a census.

Many thanks for everyone's efforts in clarifying the photograph. I am just left now with going back to the drawing board to try to discover which relative he could have been.

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Re: 1890's Worcester military uniform?

Postby AdrianB38 » Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:41 pm

FrogSmile - I'll add my thanks as well, for all that fascinating stuff. Not sure quite why I didn't think of police as an option, but I didn't - maybe the absence of the familiar helmet put me off.

Incidentally - the item just above the quills? I just see another, albeit smaller, crown.

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Re: 1890's Worcester military uniform?

Postby FROGSMILE » Tue Mar 11, 2014 11:25 am

bramleyapple wrote:Thanks FROGSMILE. I really appreciate you imparting your more detailed knowledge on this. My only certainty when I originally posted this problem was that the photo was taken in Worcester 1890-92 , as that photography studio was only at that address for that period. The photo was near the front of a family album, so was presumably a fairly close relative. It would presumably have taken a few years to reach his ranking, so your dating the photo/uniform to 1880's fits with this. Just to complete the photo analysis, I wonder if you have any view on what looks like a bugle in a ring just above the quills on his sleeve? Presumably, you would agree that he would have been full time and presumably there is no reason why he would not have entered this as his profession on a census.

Many thanks for everyone's efforts in clarifying the photograph. I am just left now with going back to the drawing board to try to discover which relative he could have been.

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I was glad to help. The small device above his quills is another Victorian style crown, which was actually the same St Edward's Crown as is worn by our current Queen, but it was restyled as an image in 1952. There are two possibilities, first that there was a lesser badge of quills without crown for a lower qualification, and second that the badge always incorporated the crown and was at one level only.

Many policemen were from the working class at that time and it was not until later that they elevated to the lower middle class. As such they were often poorly educated and seen as more like the foot soldiers of the army. Consequently a man who was literate and numerate stood out and could often receive swifter promotion.

The station sergeant needed to be highly literate, as it was his responsibility to record arrests and releases, compile charge sheets, and send reports and returns up the police chain of command. He would have been a full time policeman and listed as such on the census.

Incidentally the quill had a long history as a police badge and has been crossed with a magnifying glass as a symbol of the detective school at the police college.
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Re: 1890's Worcester military uniform?

Postby FROGSMILE » Tue Mar 11, 2014 11:28 am

AdrianB38 wrote:FrogSmile - I'll add my thanks as well, for all that fascinating stuff. Not sure quite why I didn't think of police as an option, but I didn't - maybe the absence of the familiar helmet put me off.

Incidentally - the item just above the quills? I just see another, albeit smaller, crown.

Adrian


I was glad to help Adrian. You are correct that the small device above the quills is another crown.
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Re: 1890's Worcester military uniform?

Postby jennidobson » Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:51 pm

Like other responders, I'm not a military expert - however, the conspicuous three stripes on the man's right sleeve suggest that he was a sergeant, and my husband (ex-National Serviceman) says that the crown set in the 'v' shows that he is either a staff sergeant or a warrant officer. These ranks would both be NCOs, so records of them may be scarcer but that level was the highest one could reach without being commissioned.

It could be worth contacting the archivists of local regiments to see whether you can find mention of him.
Good luck!
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