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It's 1876 and I'm joining the army............

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Can anyone help me?


It's 1876 and I'm 19 years old and I'm joining the army. Would I be asked where I was born or where I'm from?


The reason I ask is that I'm trying to research a soldier, who appears have said he was from Spitalfields, Middlesex, but this has been spelt as Spittlefields, which would suggest that the recruiter didn't know how to spell it. Further to this I was born in 1857, but there's no one of my name on the 1861 census from Spitalfields, there are however two possibilities one in Bethnal Green and one in Shoreditch? Over the next couple of censuses, the year of birth for the only matching name changes to 1858 in(Whitechapel), missing in 1881 when I'm in the army, but returning in 1891 when I've been discharged.


Is this me who knows?


My question is thus, why would my service papers say Spitalfields? When I wasn't born there and don't appear to have lived there ever according to the 1871 census, I MIGHT be the 1858 Whitechapel option if my year of birth was incorrectly documented?


I've also joined the 57th West Middlesex Regiment, which would suggest that I'm joining my local Regiment?



Has anyone got any thoughts?



Edited by bigjarofwasps
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I have two thoughts, BJOW. The first is that his birth certificate might cast some light on the problem. The second is that a lot can happen in the five years from 1871 to his joining up in 1876. Might he have been apprenticed to a craftsman working in Spitalfields and then, when he was 19, decided to break his apprenticeship and join the army?

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BjoW.  Hello.  With regard to the spelling of Spitalfields , this is not important - most people spelt phoenetically.

Yes  -  they would have required age, DofB and home address.   Look at early enlistments and they include these details.


When I was in the Police I served in Bethnal Green -  Shoreditch, with it's magnificent Nicholas Hawksmoor church , adjoined 

the area , as did Shoreditch and Whitechapel.   They would each have been a Parish  -  but still the same area.  People tended

to live in areas they had been in for years - and I would expect the similar names are members of his family.  The recruiter wouldn't

worry about fine detail as it would all come under his responsibility.


In 1860 the 57th served in India and in that year went to fight the Maori Wars in New Zealand.  Returned home in 1867.  In 1874

it went to Ceylon  until 1879 when it was sent to fight the Zulus in Sth. Africa.  Returned home in 1879 and in 1892 was sent  Malta

and then to India. It was still there in 1898.


Hopefully of some help ?    I think I am always amazed at the distances the Army was sent  -  and the frequency.    Mervyn


ps.  I you've seen the series "REV"  -  the church he is in is Spitalfields.   This area was also famous for being one of London's largest fruit and Veg. markets.  It has been moved now.   I had a good arrest on the steps of the Church  -  some lout with a knife.

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Many thanks guys for all your replies. I've managed to discover a lot of information about this guy, once I've completed it, I'll post my findings on the forum as it does make interesting reading....


One thing I would like to throw out to you in the interim is can anyone shine any light on the 57th involvement in the Battle of Gingindlovu? They were certainly present, but they don't appear in any of the accounts that I've been able to find?

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