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Legitimacy of children on Army Service record

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Legitimacy of children on Army Service record

Postby LaurenThomasSullivan » Mon Jun 15, 2015 7:27 am

My g-g-grandmother Gladys Palmer aka Gladys Spragg gave birth to my g-grandfather, Harold Edward Palmer aka Harold Edward Spragg in 1909 and didn't give the father's details on the birth certificate. She was unmarried.

I have just found that Gladys married in October 1915 to a man named Herbert Foley. I have now found Herbert's British Army Service Record 1914-1920 which lists his marriage to my g-g-grandmother and son, Harold Edward 6-1-1909. It says 'Verified by [unclear - possibly SSFA]'. There are the officers initials and a date stamp of 22-1-1916.

I was wondering what the likelihood is that this record is accurate as a record of parentage? Is it common to list step children on these records? (To add to the confusion, Harold was informally adopted by Gladys' adopted brother - she too was adopted - so Harold did not live with her at the time of marriage). The 'verified' notation has also raised my hopes, but I cannot see what verification there could be as Herbert is not on Harold's birth certificate?

Harold's father has always been a family mystery, even to Harold, and I am trying to not get my hopes up that the puzzle has been solved.

Many thanks to anyone who can advise.
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Legitimacy of children on Army Service record

Postby brunes08 » Mon Jun 15, 2015 7:36 am

I do not know about service protocols in this instance so cannot add anything. However, if it was my family, I would have a look at the Herbert's life to see if he had been married before and therefore not in a position to marry Gladys. Whereas, if he had been a widower, it would show on the marriage certificate but if he was divorced it would be unlikely. In any case, the registrar would only record what he was told in good faith. Perhaps have a look at the 1901 and 1911 census returns for Herbert, if you have not done so. This might give a clue as to whether there was any possibility that Herbert was in fact the father.
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Re: Legitimacy of children on Army Service record

Postby LaurenThomasSullivan » Mon Jun 15, 2015 8:23 am

Thank you Brunes. I have found Herbert in 1901 when he was still living at home in Aston near Birmingham and again in 1904 when he enlisted in the navy. I haven't yet found him in 1911 when he was still enlisted. However, Gladys lived in Hull, so meeting a sailor would not be unlikely!
I think my next step must be to look into Herbert's earlier life and to see Herbert and Gladys' marriage certificate. Thanks again for replying - very good advice, thank you.
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Re: Legitimacy of children on Army Service record

Postby MoVidger » Mon Jun 15, 2015 11:07 am

Regarding step-children appearing on a British Army Service Record, the children of my friend's great-grandmother do appear on her 2nd husband's WW1 service record. He listed them with his surname, though. Which was odd, considering that each of the children kept their natural father's surname all through their adult life.
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Re: Legitimacy of children on Army Service record

Postby AdrianB38 » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:09 pm

My guess would be that the only reason the Army had for listing children would be to understand dependents. If that were so then a stepchild would be just as likely to appear as an ordinary child (whatever the opposite of stepchild is!) The Army would have no interest in knowing who fathered who.

So I really doubt that his presence there means anything for his parentage. But that's a personal opinion - I don't have access to any instructions for form completion.

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Re: Legitimacy of children on Army Service record

Postby LaurenThomasSullivan » Tue Jun 16, 2015 9:04 pm

Thanks MoVidger and AdrianB for replying. It's interesting MoVidger to hear that step children were included on at least one record. I suppose that the army's responsibility was just to 'dependants' and that they probably didn't care too much as to whether they were biological, adopted or step children.
The 'verified' notation raised my hopes a little and I am still going to research Herbert Foley's background to see if I can definitely rule him out as father - he did spend some time in the USA, I discovered today, so if he was thousands of miles away then I will know for sure that he's not the father. But my instincts, like yours AdrianB, are probably turning towards it not being him.
So I will check and look into it, but I suspect the secret died with Gladys.
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Re: Legitimacy of children on Army Service record

Postby lindyb1954 » Thu Jun 18, 2015 9:09 am

I have just had a look at the service record and the initials are not that of the officer but SSFA the for runner of SSAFA the Soliders, Sailors and Airmens Families Association, it changed from SSFA to SSAFA in 1918. They are the welfare branch of the forces. The history of the organisation which is still running today is http://www.ssafa.org.uk
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