Author Topic: HARRIS, William Gilbert, Ireland 1840  (Read 4472 times)

Offline ponsrow

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HARRIS, William Gilbert, Ireland 1840
« on: Friday 09 September 11 17:04 BST (UK) »
Hi,
I am looking for help tracing the military career of an ancestor, William Gilbert HARRIS, b. approx 1818, London, England, next found Fermoy, Ireland in 11 Nov, 1840, on his marriage certificate to Anne Lucinda VARIEN. He states his occupation as "of the Co. of Sappers VB. Mine", religion Church of Ireland (which is Anglican, is it not?) I understand that a sapper is a type of engineer, but can anyone help decipher what the rest of the occupation entry means please? Also, is it possible to determine what regiment he would have been with, based on the date and place above? He remained in Fermoy at least until 1842, when his daughter Catherine Jane HARRIS was born.

He next appears in Lancashire, England in approx 1848 (birth of another daughter, Charlotte Eleanor HARRIS).

For his second marriage as a widower, to Esther Tattersale (nee BRAND) London, England, 4 Mar 1849, he lists his occupation as "soldier". By 25 Nov 1849, he is in Adelaide, South Australia for the birth of Elizabeth Ann HARRIS -  born at Government Farm, Adelaide, SA. I have been unable to find when he arrived in South Australia with his family and am wondering if he went over as part of a regiment.

In 1857, he lists his occupation as "sapper and miner" on another child's birth certificate in Adelaide.
By 1863, his occupation has changed to gentleman and then by approx 1866 he is a civil servant and a surveyor for the South Australian government.

Any help on this would be much appreciated. This is my first military ancestor, in 15 years of family history research, so am completely at a loss.  ;D

Prue

Offline neil1821

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Re: HARRIS, William Gilbert, Ireland 1840
« Reply #1 on: Friday 09 September 11 17:15 BST (UK) »
Quote
"of the Co. of Sappers VB. Mine",

Corps of Sappers & Miners presumably, allowances made for bad handwriting and abbreviations.  ;)
A forerunner of the Royal Engineers.

Quote
In 1857, he lists his occupation as "sapper and miner" on another child's birth certificate in Adelaide.

That's interesting, as they were absorbed into the new look Royal Engineers in 1856. Old names died hard I suppose.
Name interests: Boulton, Murrell, Lock, Croxton, Skinner, Blewett, Tonkin, Trathen.
Military History & Medals

Offline KGarrad

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Re: HARRIS, William Gilbert, Ireland 1840
« Reply #2 on: Friday 09 September 11 17:22 BST (UK) »
But they are still called Sappers today!

Proudly so.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Engineers
Garrad (Suffolk, Essex, Somerset), Crocker (Somerset), Vanstone (Devon, Jersey), Sims (Wiltshire), Bridger (Kent)


Offline neil1821

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Re: HARRIS, William Gilbert, Ireland 1840
« Reply #3 on: Friday 09 September 11 17:36 BST (UK) »
But they are still called Sappers today!
Proudly so.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Engineers

Indeed
- as an informal name for the Royal Engineers as a whole
- as a rank equivalent to private
Not the official name of the Corps since 1856 though.  :)
Name interests: Boulton, Murrell, Lock, Croxton, Skinner, Blewett, Tonkin, Trathen.
Military History & Medals

Offline km1971

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Re: HARRIS, William Gilbert, Ireland 1840
« Reply #4 on: Friday 09 September 11 19:22 BST (UK) »
Hi Prue

He may have received some surveying experience while in the Sappers and Miners/Royal Engineers as they started the Ordnance Survey.

http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/docs/ebooks/a-history-of-the-ordnance-survey/index.html - if you dowload as a PDF the index has a number of references under Royal Sappers and Miners and Royal Engineers.

A sap was a trench dug towards the enemy and comes from the old practice of mining under a castle's walls. Before gunpowder they would remove the earth from under the foundations and replace it with pit-props. They then built a large fire which destroyed the props and the walls came crashing down. So Sappers did the digging and carrying under the direction of the officers.

Ken

Offline ponsrow

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Re: HARRIS, William Gilbert, Ireland 1840
« Reply #5 on: Sunday 11 September 11 16:51 BST (UK) »
Thank you all for your replies and help.

He may have received some surveying experience while in the Sappers and Miners/Royal Engineers as they started the Ordnance Survey.

Ken,
This sounds quite plausible, given his later employment as a surveyor with the South Australian government in the 1860s. He could well have gotten his start with the Irish Ordnance Survey.

I looked at the History of the Ordnance Survey, especially the section on the Irish Ordnance and note that only a smallish number of soldiers were required for the Irish Ordnance Survey, undertaken from 1840 - 1847 (I think). Would they have been "co-opted" from the main Corp of Sappers and Miners? Would there have been any other reason for the Corp of Sappers and Miners/Royal Engineers to be in Ireland during the 1840s? How would I find this out, please?

Also, the occupation of soldier, as per his marriage certificate of 4 Mar 1849 and the connection with the Government Farm in Adelaide in Nov, 1849 leads me to think that he went to South Australia as a soldier and possibly as a surveyor with the Corp of Sappers and Miners. Would this have been possible?

Thanks again and any help much appreciated.

Prue

Offline km1971

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Re: HARRIS, William Gilbert, Ireland 1840
« Reply #6 on: Sunday 11 September 11 18:22 BST (UK) »
Hi Prue

Ireland was part of the UK in this period. I know that in 1861 there were two RE officers and 71 other ranks in the Curragh with some of them in Cork. The RE also oversaw the building of fortifications.

The RE provided the officers who did the actual surveying. The Sappers & Miners did the carrying, and holding of the marker posts. If a man showed an interest I am sure the officers would involve them in some of the interesting work. RE officers did not buy their commissions and were selected and promoted on merit.

The surveying companies also employed local men to help out as required.

Ken


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Re: HARRIS, William Gilbert, Ireland 1840
« Reply #7 on: Monday 12 September 11 14:42 BST (UK) »
Hi Ken,
Thank you for your reply.
Prue

Offline pahar

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Re: HARRIS, William Gilbert, Ireland 1840
« Reply #8 on: Monday 06 April 15 02:07 BST (UK) »
Hi
I am the great grant daughter of William Gilbert Harris. I have a lot of information about him and his family from when he was in England and Ireland and especially when he was in South Australia. Do you want any more information about him? Regards
Pam Morgan(nee Harris)