General => The Common Room => Topic started by: Bee on Friday 11 June 21 23:32 BST (UK)

Title: James Pickersgill/Johnson
Post by: Bee on Friday 11 June 21 23:32 BST (UK)
Apologies that this is a bit long winded but would like to know what eventually happened to him.

James White Pickersgill was born 5th December 1829 in Hull and baptised 3rd March 1831 at Holy Trinity in Hull, the second of seven children born to John Pickersgill & Mary (nee White).
The 1841 census shows him living with his parents and 5 siblings at Trundle Street, Hull
Aged 17 years 6 months he enlisted in the 69th Regiment of Foot under the name of James Johnson, at Halifax on the 26thJune 1846. This Regiment was stationed on Malta from 1847 to 1851. He was discharged on Malta on the 13th May 1850 as ‘having been found unfit for further service’ His discharge paper states his character as “indifferent” and during his time on Malta he was  tried by District court martial on 3rd May 1847 for desertion and in January 1849 by Regimental court martial ‘for making away with accessories’. Despite this he was discharged with a pension of 6d a day.
The 1851 census shows him living with his parents and 6 siblings at 5 Botanic Terrace, Hull, his occupation is a sloop man, the same as his father.
He enlisted in the 88th Regiment of Foot in 1853 for the duration of the campaign in the Crimea (October 1853 to March 1856) after which the regiment returned to Ireland. In the latter part of 1856 and early 1857 he gained coverage in most of the newspapers in the UK as shown in the following newspaper article.

At the Petty Sessions, Limerick, the mayor presiding, the man who gave his
name as James Johnson, a private in the 88th Regiment, now in the military
prison, was brought up, he having made a declaration that he had murdered
a man named James Pickersgill, in Hull, on 15th October last. 
Mr McLeod, S.I., now produced the correspondence between the Inspector-General
of Constabulary and the official authorities of Hull, who clearly ascertained
that the James Johnson of the 88th Regiment, now in jail at Limerick, and the
James Pickersgill, said to have been murdered at Hull, were one and the same
 person.  This was proved by the evidence of William Gee, who is married
to the prisoner's sister, and knew him well for the last twelve years.  He stated that
the prisoner, whose real name is James Pickersgill, enlisted in the 69th Regiment
under the name of James Johnson, and was discharged at Malta on a pension of
6d a day.  He re-enlisted in the 88th, under the same name, at the breaking
out of the war, and served throughout the entire campaign in the Crimea.  The
impression on the minds of all the authorities now is, that the prisoner invented
this ridiculous story of having murdered himself, with the object of escaping the
strict discipline and labours enforced in the military prison, and of having himself
transferred to a comfortable prison in Hull, and brought to a trial on which he knew he could never be convicted.  The bench ordered him to be given up again to his regiment, to be dealt with by the military authorities.

The sister mentioned is my gt gt grandmother Sarah Ann Pickersgill who married William Cooper Gee in 1854.
I would like to find out how he was dealt with by the military authorities.

A few months after his trial July 1857 his regiment, in response to the Indian Mutiny, embarked  for Calcutta.  Did he go to India?

Did he still call himself Johnson or did he revert to Pickersgill?

Any help or thoughts would be much appreciated.

Title: Re: James Pickersgill/Johnson
Post by: Rena on Saturday 12 June 21 01:32 BST (UK)
Unfortunately I haven't studied the military but I know the modern day army prison is in Colchester, Essex.  However, I found reference to the military prison was "Fort Clarence".

"A History of Corporal Punishment in the British Armed Forces (London, ... asserted Major Edwardes, governor of Fort Clarence military prison"

This Crime and Punishment document concerning the period you are interested in also mentions the "debacle" of the Crimean War., which might give the information you want,.

P.S. I'm from Hull and in my infant school class was a Trevor Pickerskill and his mum was a lovely dinner lady.

I was also friendly with a Dinsdale girl at my senior school.
Title: Re: James Pickersgill/Johnson
Post by: philipsearching on Saturday 12 June 21 12:54 BST (UK)
The 88th Regiment of Foot ended up as the Connaught Rangers which was disbanded in 1922.  I don't know how much of the regimental records survive or where they are lodged, but you might find guidance from the Connaught Rangers Association - even if nothing further turns up I am sure they would be fascinated.

Title: Re: James Pickersgill/Johnson
Post by: Bee on Saturday 12 June 21 21:56 BST (UK)
Thank you both for your replies.

Rena, that link certainly makes interesting reading. I'm also from Hull, my Pickersgills originally came from West Yorkshire and the Dinsdales from Lincolnshire.

Philip. I will follow up on the Connaught Rangers link, it'll be a history lesson even if I can't find anything about my person of interest.

Thanks again