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Canadian soldier 1880s

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Canadian soldier 1880s

Postby l.fransham » Tue Jul 07, 2015 12:58 pm

Hi,
One of my husband's ancestors has caused us lots of confusion. For ages I couldn't find any evidence of William Frederick Cross after his marriage to Caroline Lloyd in 1885 in Croydon, Surrey. One day an image of him popped up as a hint on Ancestry and we discovered that he had left his wife and young family and gone to Canada. One of the photos was this one. I have found records for a William Cross in K Company, 2nd battalion of the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada and I am wondering if they fit the picture of this man in uniform?

The records show that William aged just 19 went to Canada to undertake 12 days annual drill in July 1886 and again Jul 1887. It would appear that he came back to England in between (as he fathered a second child) and is recorded arriving New York again in June 1888 bound for Canada. He is later recorded marrying Emma Marion Parker Smith in Feb 1890 having not divorced his first wife. I am wondering why would a man employed as railway signalman in England go and do 12 days annual drill thousands of miles away in Canada? Surely the cost of the journey would have been more than he could afford? Did the Canadian Army pay for English men to come over to serve in their army?

I would be very grateful if anyone can throw any light on the subject.
Many thanks.
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William Frederick Cross.jpg
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Re: Canadian soldier 1880s

Postby AdrianB38 » Tue Jul 07, 2015 8:56 pm

I have difficulty enough with British Army uniforms of the 1800s, so don't ask me about Canadian. However, I can at least Google and make some suggestions. If you Google Queen's Own Rifles of Canada then several things appear. Firstly, the 2nd Bn QOR (I'm abbreviating, obviously) was actually a Militia regiment, rather than part of the "Regular" Army. Militia were part time soldiers who went on training camp (like the Canadian soldier you found) and could be called up into uniform at times of trouble.

If I look at the images option for the Google search, I'm getting a sort of idea of what their uniform looked like. (Remember - I know nothing of Canadian units!)

Some samples are on
http://www.victorianwars.com/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=1529
http://www.cmhg.gc.ca/cmh/image-515-eng.asp?page_id=556
http://www.virtualreferencelibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDMDC-PICTURES-R-5293&R=DC-PICTURES-R-5293&searchPageType=vrl
http://www.virtualreferencelibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDMDC-PICTURES-R-4680&R=DC-PICTURES-R-4680&searchPageType=vrl

That last one is particularly important as it shows ordinary soldiers in 1885, according to the caption. I don't think there's much resemblance to your photo. I'm in two minds whether the diagonal cross-belt obvious in the front row of that last photo is an officers only thing or not. But the impression I'm getting (leap-of-faith warning here) is that the Rifles uniform is dark (dark green?) and I will bet that the buttons are black. Because that's what British Army Rifles units were, as they started out wearing the closest thing to camouflage that the British Army had. (Sharpe wasn't a red-coat, as I recollect, and wasn't he in the Rifles?) I don't think that the shade of grey in your photo matches dark green(?) and they certainly aren't dark buttons.

So - my belief, based on no direct knowledge of the 2nd Bn QOR, is that the soldier in the photo is not a 2nd Bn QOR guy.

You clearly may want to research this a bit deeper!!!!
Adrian
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Re: Canadian soldier 1880s

Postby AdrianB38 » Tue Jul 07, 2015 9:48 pm

Looking at the Ancestry trees, it's complicated enough, isn't it!?

Previous caveats still hold - but I do find it extraordinarily difficult to believe that the William Cross in the Militia would have crossed the Atlantic to do his annual militia training. As you rightly ask - where does he get the money from? People crossed the Atlantic when they got jobs - sometimes those jobs were temporary, so they came back at the end of a season. But a training session in the militia isn't a job. The militia might be obliged to supply a travel warrant to enable someone to reach the training location - but I seriously cannot imagine anyone signing off a warrant for travel from England to Canada! Budget constraints aren't new!

I also can't imagine anyone in the militia being allowed to live outside the district, never mind outside the country. How on earth would anyone get there if the militia was called up for action at short notice? Of course, it's possible that he went over there on work, joined the militia, came back to England and never told anyone. In which case, the militia wouldn't have his address so how would he know when and where to go for training?

There is also the fact that the William Cross of those trees does appear to be a soldier of some sort. But, as I said above, it really doesn't look like that QOR Battalion....

So - I've no idea how strong the case is that the QOR guy is the guy from England, crossing the Atlantic for training. But I really, really, don't like the idea. The guy from England may well have crossed the Atlantic several times on work - I don't have a problem with that.
Adrian
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Re: Canadian soldier 1880s

Postby AdrianB38 » Tue Jul 07, 2015 10:11 pm

OK - I've found the "Canada, Nominal Rolls and Paylists for the Volunteer Militia, 1857-1922" for the Wm Cross in the QOR. The guy is signing for his allowance.

On one of the Ancestry trees, is WFC's 1885 marriage to Caroline Lloyd. This is a Surrey Parish Register so shows original signatures.

It's always dodgy trying to look at signatures - but I really don't think the two signatures match - the militia William has the lower case letters in "Cross" usually pretty much the same height. The marriage one seems to taper off.

This isn't proof - but it's another reason to think it's not the same guy.

Before you ask - do I know what regiment the guy in the photos might be? Not the faintest! And what worries me is that I can't see what the clues might be.....
Adrian
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Re: Canadian soldier 1880s

Postby l.fransham » Wed Jul 08, 2015 11:33 am

Thank you for all your efforts - it is appreciated. I must admit that the QOR uniforms on Google don't look anything like what William has on. I have another photo of William taken at the same time pictured with his new wife Emma presumably a wedding photo as she's in a white dress and hat which would make the photo taken c1890. I have never been able to actually find a marriage record for them but only documented in the 1900 US census as having married 20 Feb 1890. I wondered if the dress uniform which he was wearing would have differed greatly from the everyday uniform? I imagined the grey tunic in the photo to be red in reality - but who knows?

It is very possible that the William Cross in the nominal roles is not my William Cross as it is a very common name. I have just found the same William Cross in the July 1888 roles of the QOR but this time listed as a Corporal rather than a Private. It is very difficult to compare the signatures on the roles and the parish records especially on the PC.

The passenger list of June 1888 records the William Cross travelling to be a soldier bound for Canada. The 1901 Canadian census records my William Cross to be a soldier by profession in Toronto.

I know that my William Cross somehow ended up in Canada leaving a wife and very two small children at home in Croydon and I suppose what I am really looking for is the reason why he left as it seems so cruel. My own theory is that he was running away from an unhappy marriage to Caroline possibly forced on him as their first child was born before their marriage. But why would he choose to run away to Canada?

I think that you have probably come across my tree on Ancestry or those which have copied my research so that is why they all seem to have similar info.

Thank you again for your replies. Please let me know if you have any further thoughts they will be most welcome.

Linda
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Re: Canadian soldier 1880s

Postby AdrianB38 » Thu Jul 09, 2015 8:47 pm

l.fransham wrote: ... I know that my William Cross somehow ended up in Canada leaving a wife and very two small children at home in Croydon and I suppose what I am really looking for is the reason why he left as it seems so cruel. ...


It is by no means unusual to see a husband going out first, getting a job, getting some money, sorting out where to live, and only later on sending for the wife and family once settled and making a go of it. I have at least one instance of it in my lot that I remember.

Of course, in the usual way of things, in a number of cases, the intention to send for wife and family never got carried out. Either the husband failed in his attempts to build a life, or he met someone else - or even possibly, the wife, back home, met someone else.

It's unlikely that we ever get to know the real truth about why he left in the first place so we need just to bear in mind that there could have been an innocent explanation for his departure in the first place. Even if what happens later, seems less innocent!

As for the uniforms - I'd guess they were red and I don't think the daily uniform would have been much different, if at all. Possibly the white piping round the edge might not be on the daily uniform. But that's really just a guess.

It would be hugely useful, of course, to find his army papers - as you have been trying to do. One thing I've only just found out is that from 1867 on, the Canadian "Army" was actually referred to as the Militia. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Canadian_Army. Wikipedia states that "Eventually, a Permanent Active Militia was designated, being the regular army of Canada (regular in the sense that they were full-time professional soldiers) and the Non-Permanent Active Militia (or reserves, part-time soldiers with vocations in the civilian world who trained on evenings, weekends, and for short periods in the summer months)." This may help to understand stuff - or it may not!
Adrian
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Re: Canadian soldier 1880s

Postby l.fransham » Mon Jul 13, 2015 3:35 pm

Thanks again for your help. I do hope that William had had good intentions when he came to Canada. I will have to keep looking for more service records and immigration records. Ideally I would like to find the equivalent papers detailing enlistment like they have in the British army. Presumably they would have had details of a wife and family had he disclosed that information. It would also be helpful if I could track down an actual marriage certificate to William's second wife Emma as it may have more info on his occupation. I shall just have to keep looking and find more pieces to the puzzle!
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