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Thomas Spearing

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Thomas Spearing

Postby ClareBear » Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:00 pm

Today I received a pdf of the death certificate of my 5 x great grandmother. All is fine and confirms some of what I knew however I have learnt something that I need some help with.

The certificate shows that Rachel Spearing died on the 5th Feb 1855 in South Petherton, Somerset, and that she was the widow of Thomas Spearing. What I have learnt is that under the name Thomas Spearing it says 'Private of 40 Regiments'. This I was not expecting.

Thomas Spearing was born in 1779 to Samuel and Elizabeth Spearing, born and baptised in Crewkerne, Somerset. He married Rachel Stoodley on the 3rd April 1797 in Crewkerne and they had at least 3 daughters, the last daughter Hannah is my 4 x grt grandmother. On the baptism entry for Hannah it states that Thomas was a Flax Dresser. What happened to Thomas after her birth in 1802 is a mystery, and as yet I have yet to find a death for him. Some trees on Ancestry suggest he died in either 1806 or 1839 but none have any evidence or records to support this.

I would love to know more about his army record and where/when he died, any help on this would be much appreciated.

Thank in advance of any assistance.
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Re: Thomas Spearing

Postby AdrianB38 » Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:17 pm


Well, the good news is that's not an absurd regiment - the 40th Regiment of Foot was apparently the 40th (the 2nd Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot from August 1782.

The problem is that easily identifiable records only survive from that era if the chap got a pension and while people serving outside the French Revolutionary / Napoleonic Wars would actually often get one, simply because you were effectively in for life (or 20-odd years), veterans of the Napoleonic etc era were often made redundant - except I don't think they got any redundancy money - in which case their detailed papers were scrapped.

There are papers such as Muster Books and Pay Lists (that's one document) that list everyone in a regiment each quarter - but there's virtually no identifiable genealogical data so you've no idea whether one Thos Speering is your Thomas Spearing (and yes, I did deliberately misspell his name).

So you could look through Muster Books and Pay Lists (at Kew) for the 40th Regiment of Foot for something like that name but (a) there's 4 per year - for how long? and (b) how do you know it's him if you find one?

There are other Registers such as Casualty Registers that record people going off-strength through being discharged or killed or... These may not exist for every year and every regiment but they can sometimes, if the clerks do their job properly, record where someone was born or were going to live. No guarantees though. The chap I was chasing in this era didn't have a place written down for him.

Really, unless you can narrow down the timescale a bit, you need a season ticket to Kew.... And a detailed book about researching Army soldiers. Try and if you want my personal recommendation from the books on there - try William Spencer, Army Records: A Guide for Family Historians. The bookshop guy at Kew said that he's a good author, even if (said very tongue in cheek), he'd served in the Navy! ;)
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Re: Thomas Spearing

Postby ciderdrinker » Fri Dec 08, 2017 12:17 pm

I think the 1839 death is the one in Stroud in Dec Qtr age 68.
This is obviously 8 years out on his age and I would think it's not him.
It looks like to me that Thomas signed up in 1802 and probably died soon after,certainly before the start of civil registration in 1837.
There is a possible son Thomas born 1810 who states his birthplace as Crewkerne but for whom there is no baptism.

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Re: Thomas Spearing

Postby ClareBear » Mon Jan 08, 2018 6:19 pm

Just wanted to say thanks for the responses to my appeal for help with Thomas Spearing. I will follow up on the TNA Archives just to see if any records have survived for him.
However while searching for Thomas I stumbled across his brother William, who also enlisted and did serve at Waterloo. His Kilmainham Hospital records survive and reveal quite a bit about him.
So an unexpected but great result!
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Re: Thomas Spearing

Postby BSpearing » Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:44 pm


I came across your post regarding Thomas Spearing & Rachel Stoodley. I am interested in your findings of William Spearing. I believe William Spearing may be 3x great grandfather in my Spearing family tree.

Any info would be helpful to determine/confirm.

Thanks so much!

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Joined: Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:36 pm

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