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QMy great grandfather William Wisdom was born in Preston, Lancashire, in 1848. William married my great grandmother, Elizabeth Ann Jane Southworth, in 1874. The 1911 census shows him living in Burnley, a “musician and labourer”. Findmypast also gives his membership of the Bank Hall Reed Band.
On 19 April 1871, the Hampshire Telegraph reported that William Wisdom and Bernard McCormack, bandsmen of the 7th Fusiliers, were charged with assaulting a police officer in Portsmouth. The 1871 census for Anglesea Barracks, Portsea, Portsmouth, shows a William Wisdom, born in about 1850 in Lancashire and a Bernard McCormack born about 1845 in Manchester. Service records on Ancestry show two William Wisdoms, one with the 1st Battalion Rifle Brigade, regimental number 4297, and the other under 7th Field Company Royal Engineers, number 8199. Could either of these be my great grandfather? Janice Scott, by email
ANeither of the military records found belongs to your great grandfather. Born in 1848, he would be too young to be in the 1st Battalion Field Brigade (regimental number 4297). This William Wisdom enlisted during the Crimean War in 1854. The second record you mention refers to the later Boer War (1899-1902) but details on his 1901 attestation papers reveal the Sapper in the Royal Engineers (8199) to be William Wisdom, aged 20, a carpenter who lived in Pimlico, London.
However, there is another record online that may be of interest. On findmypast.co.uk, an entry in the military section under the 1871 A newspaper report from the Hampshire Telegraph of 19 April 1871 detailing William Wisdom’s assault on a policeman Worldwide British Army Index shows a William Wisdom (service number 1507) who was a private in the 1st Battalion 7th (Royal Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot. He was at the regiment’s headquarters in Portsmouth from 1 April 1871 to 30 June 1871. William’s discharge date of 16 February 1874 (from his Chelsea Pensioner’s discharge document also on Findmypast) would fit his marriage to Elizabeth Ann on 11 July of that year.
The 7th Foot was an infantry regiment of the British Army. With limited information available about this period of its history it would be worth contacting the Royal Fusiliers Archive at the Tower of London ( hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/stories/ RoyalFusiliersArchive), which holds relevant material relating to the regiment before 1881.
Although there’s no mention of William’s bad character at the time of his discharge, the above details would tie in with those found in the newspaper article. William, as you know, was living in the Anglesea Barracks, Portsea, at the time of the census on Sunday 2 April 1871. Bandsmen William Wisdom and Bernard McCormack were sentenced on 17 April 1871. Records held at the Portsmouth City Record Office may reveal more details. Judith Moore