Author Topic: Help needed with identifying uniform  (Read 489 times)

Offline Terrier70

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Help needed with identifying uniform
« on: Monday 18 January 21 20:35 GMT (UK) »
Can anyone help please in identifying this uniform.  After researching the photographer,  W & A H Fry, East Street, Brighton, I believe the photo would have been taken between 1880-1900?  Iíve only ever had a photocopy of the original so itís not the best quality but am I right in thinking it would have been taken at the actual studio in Brighton  -  ie can I assume he had a connection with Brighton or the surrounding area at some point?
Also, can anyone hazard a guess as to how old he is?
Any help would be much appreciated.

Offline T1

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Re: Help needed with identifying uniform
« Reply #1 on: Friday 22 January 21 18:17 GMT (UK) »
This is a sergeant of a volunteer artillery unit (part of the Volunteer Force, forerunners of what used to be called the Territorial Army).

Features which indicate without doubt that he is a volunteer are the two "efficiency stars" worn on his lower sleeve.  These were awarded for every five years a volunteer was classed as "efficient".  Therefore this gentleman had been a volunteer for at least ten years.

From the top, the badges on his upper sleeve are (1) "Sergeant's proficiency star", which was also unique to the volunteer force, (2) Field gun, worn by sergeants in artillery units (3) his rank badge of three chevrons or 'stripes'.

The lace on his uniform is silver and therefore shows very bright in the photo.  Sergeants in the regular army artillery wore gold lace, which does tend to show a little darker in monochrome photos.

Like the regular Royal Artillery, his uniform will be dark blue with a scarlet collar.  The uniform fits the 1880 to 1900 timeframe perfectly.  I would place it around 1885 to 1890 based on his hair style and the lack of collar badges, but it could be a little later.

He probably belongs to the unit local to Brighton, which was the "1st Sussex Artillery Volunteer Corps", later the "1st Sussex Volunteer Artillery Corps".

T

Offline Terrier70

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Re: Help needed with identifying uniform
« Reply #2 on: Saturday 23 January 21 17:48 GMT (UK) »
Many thanks T1 for taking the time to reply to my uniform query, itís very much appreciated.

Iím clutching at straws here but is there any possibility a vetinary surgeon in the Royal Artillery wore this uniform?


Offline T1

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Re: Help needed with identifying uniform
« Reply #3 on: Tuesday 26 January 21 06:28 GMT (UK) »
Hello again,

Basically, no. A veterinary surgeon was an officer, and this gentleman is not an officer. 

As being a volunteer was an unpaid evening and weekend activity, you will almost certainly not find this man listed as a member of the military on the usual records such as census and BMD - these will show his civilian occupation.

You may be able to find the nominal rolls of the 1st Sussex AVC in local archives.  If they exist, you could then identify all the sergeants across 1880-1900.  For a volunteer artillery unit, this will not be a huge number of individuals.  However, all the members of a volunteer unit would be local - if you don't have any known relatives living in Brighton at that time, I wouldn't bother going through the effort of that, as we can't guarantee that the photo was actually taken in Brighton.  Based on uniform alone, he could be a member of any one of scores of volunteer artillery units around the country.

T

Offline Ruskie

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Re: Help needed with identifying uniform
« Reply #4 on: Tuesday 26 January 21 08:32 GMT (UK) »
Wild guess - age mid 30s - possibly a little older. :)

Offline Terrier70

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Re: Help needed with identifying uniform
« Reply #5 on: Saturday 30 January 21 18:46 GMT (UK) »
Many thanks T1 for the information provided in your last post.

I have been doing some more research this week and discovered from Electoral Registers that a family member, John William Athey, who was on my list of possibilities, did live in Brighton in the late 1880ís - 1890.  He was born in 1850, never married, so taking everything into consideration I think there's a good chance that it could be him in the photo.  Itís frustrating though that I canít find him anywhere on the 1881 census so not sure if he was in Brighton before 1887 which is where I found him living at 10 Brighton Place.

Iíll follow up on your suggestion that he may have belonged to the 1st Sussex AVC when local archive offices reopen. 

Once again, many thanks for your assistance, itís the first time Iíve used Rootschat and Iíve found it most helpful.

Offline T1

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Re: Help needed with identifying uniform
« Reply #6 on: Wednesday 03 February 21 07:01 GMT (UK) »
You are lucky he has a somewhat unusual name - if you find him you can be fairly confident it is your man.  If the enrolment registers of the 1st Sussex Artillery exist, I would expect them to be part of the county Lieutenancy records at https://www.thekeep.info - you could try contacting them for confirmation.

Lords Lieutenant were directly responsible for volunteers only until the 1870s, but the rolls of volunteers for the 1880s and 1890s often appear in archive records of the local 'Clerk to the Lieutenancy' as they were still somewhat involved in administration.

Offline Terrier70

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Re: Help needed with identifying uniform
« Reply #7 on: Friday 12 February 21 10:16 GMT (UK) »
Hi T1, since my last post I have finally found John Athey on the 1881 census and he was living in Brighton.  His name had been written down as John W Attrey!.  His occupation was that of Drapers Clerk and he was living at Hanningtons cottages, Kingís Rd together with a lot of other drapers assistants so I assume it was some kind of accommodation for staff working at Hanningtons department store .  Iíve discovered that the owner of Hanningtons store , Charles S Hannington, was a major in the 1st Sussex AVC, so perhaps thereís some connection there?

I also searched newspaper archives and have now found mention of a Corporal Athey and a Sergeant Athey in 1884 and 1887 in the Volunteer Service Gazette under the section headed the 1st Sussex AVC and also a Sergeant Athey in the July 4th 1885 Brighton Daily Gazette.  Unfortunately they only mention his surname but, like you say, itís a fairly uncommon name so Iím fairly confident this is my man.  I take it from this that he became a sergeant between 1884-85.  Perhaps the photograph was taken on his promotion?

I followed up on your suggestion of contacting The Keep and they do hold Volunteer enrolment returns so I have asked them to do a search for me of the relevant years to see if his name comes up.  It would be nice to prove itís definitely him and what year he enrolled.

Once again thanks very much, I couldnít have got this far without your help.

Offline T1

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Re: Help needed with identifying uniform
« Reply #8 on: Monday 15 February 21 13:08 GMT (UK) »
Thanks for the update - it's great when things come together like this!

When the volunteers were set up in the 1860s, a lot of units were set up around particularly workplaces, or particular trades and professions, so what you suggest about Hanningtons sounds very plausible.

T