Author Topic: Military records - understanding a newspaper snippet  (Read 4043 times)

Offline martianuk

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Military records - understanding a newspaper snippet
« on: Thursday 31 March 05 15:19 BST (UK) »
What does this mean:
74th Foot - John Gordon, Gent, to be Ensign, by purchase, vice Van Toll, who retires. The Times, May 24th 1848

I'm stumped about Military records.
What did you do to be classed a Gent?
'By purchase': you could buy a rank? Did people not have to train?
'Vice Van Toll': what does vice mean in relation to this entry?

I know that the 74th foot means the 74th Highlanders, but that's about it. I looked them up under a general web search, but does anyone have any info on their lists for around 1844/8 or so? Living overseas, I can only be a web historian!

Thank you in advance for any help - it's truly appreciated.
Williams, Margot, Beebe, Van Toll, Hunt, James, Pengelly, Haskett, Triggs

Offline mickgall

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Re: Military records - understanding a newspaper snippet
« Reply #1 on: Thursday 31 March 05 17:25 BST (UK) »
Hi Martian1
You are correct in saying that to Purchase means to buy a rank. It goes back to the English Civil War and the period of rule by Cromwell's Commonwealth and the restoration of Charles II. Officers in the Parliamentarian army were professionals and were paid for their service, rather like mercenaries. This led to a harsh military dictatorship in the country which the people came to detest.
In 1683 the first standing army was formed and the Nation and Parliament were determined that the army should never again be in the hands of men who could bring about another military dictatorship.So the purchase system was introduced-men could only become officers if they could pay a substantial sum for their commission.There were several reasons for this, the men  would be of a certain class,with a stake in the country and not likely to be military adventurers, if they were dismissed/ cashiered they forfeited the money they had paid so it guaranteed good behaviour. Also they had every thing to lose and nothing to gain from military revolution . 
To be classed as a Gent meant a man was from the right sort of social background.
I think (but not sure) that Vice van Toll means that the commision was bought from an Officer called Toll (van Toll). You applied to a regiment and when a commission became vacant for whatever reason, you could apply for it.

Try this link for the 74th

http://regiments.org/regiments/uk/inf/074-787.htm

This is a link from the National Archives at Kew for The Army List
http://www.catalogue.nationalarchives.gov.uk/RdLeaflet.asp?sLeafletID=23

Hope this helps
Mick
Census Information is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

GALL-Norfolk,Cardiff,LondonTHOMAS-London,Herts,
PRIOR-N.Ireland,WOODS-N.Ieland,
DAWKES-Warks,DAVIS-Warkes'Wales,
JENNINGS-Surrey,Warks,London,SHELDRAKE-Essex,London,
BRITTON-Berks,BLAKELEY-Dewsbury W.Yorks

Offline martianuk

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Re: Military records - understanding a newspaper snippet
« Reply #2 on: Friday 01 April 05 04:13 BST (UK) »
That is fascinating. Thank you for such an in depth and eloquent reply - with links too. I'm so impressed Mick!

Thanks,
Kirsty
Williams, Margot, Beebe, Van Toll, Hunt, James, Pengelly, Haskett, Triggs


Offline Nick Carver

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Re: Military records - understanding a newspaper snippet
« Reply #3 on: Friday 01 April 05 09:47 BST (UK) »
The term vice Van Toll simply means in place of Van Toll, who in this case had retired. The use of Latin tags was prevalent in this period as it was an indicator of learning. Early pretentiousness.
E Yorks - Carver, Steels, Cross, Maltby, Whiting, Moor, Laybourn
W Yorks - Wilkinson, Kershaw, Rawnsley, Shaw
Norfolk - Carver, Dowson
Cheshire - Berry, Cooper
Lincs - Berry
London/Ireland/Scotland/Lincs - Sullivan
Northumberland/Durham - Nicholson, Cuthbert, Turner, Robertson
Berks - May
Beds - Brownell