What can you tell me about this court mar­tial record?

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - QUESTIONS & ANSWERS -


I re­cently re­ceived a ‘hint’ through ances­try.co.uk and then down­loaded the rel­e­vant doc­u­ment. It’s an ex­tract from a book that ap­pears to sum­marise the UK Naval and Mil­i­tary Courts Mar­tial Reg­is­ters, 1806-1930, held at The Na­tional Ar­chives.

From what I de­duce, my rel­a­tive Charles Stock was ‘re­ceived’ on 3 July 1872. He was a pri­vate with the Ri­fle Bri­gade at Chatham and the trial ap­pears to have taken place on 27 May. The na­ture of the charge was “De­ser­tion MA kit. Reen­lists”. The sen­tence was 84 days, re­mit­ted to 42 days. There is also a word that is dit­toed from above which looks like ‘ Sloppes’.

I was won­der­ing if you could pro­vide some back­ground in­for­ma­tion about what is go­ing on here? I as­sume ‘MA’ is ‘Mutiny Act’ and that my rel­a­tive must have shown some re­morse, as his sen­tence was re­mit­ted and he reen­listed.

How se­ri­ous was this event, what was the na­ture of the trial and what was the ac­tual im­pact of the sen­tence? Would any min­utes sur­vive? An­thony Pike, via email


The doc­u­ment you’ve found comes from a reg­is­ter of the re­sults of Dis­trict Courts Mar­tial (DCM) held dur­ing 1872. DCMs re­quired seven of­fi­cers at home (five if over­seas) and dealt with mod­er­ately se­vere of­fences. More se­ri­ous of­fences went to a Gen­eral Court Mar­tial and lesser ones to Reg­i­men­tal Court Mar­tials. De­tails of the trial and sen­tence were sent up to the Judge Ad­vo­cate Gen­eral’s Of­fice for re­view (the ‘Re­ceived’ you found was the date of re­ceipt).

Charles was found guilty of de­ser­tion and “mak­ing away with kit” (tak­ing items of army prop­erty). He was sen­tenced to 84 days im­pris­on­ment re­duced to 42, pos­si­bly be­cause he gave him­self up. He also suf­fered stop­pages of pay.

The musters for 4th Bat­tal­ion, 95th Foot, (WO 12/10207) at Kew say he de­serted on 7 May and re­joined on the 24 May. Pre­sum­ably this was vol­un­tar­ily, as I could find no record of him be­ing de­tained. He spent from 30 May to 6 July in a mil­i­tary prison and re­turned to his bat­tal­ion on the 7 July but de­serted again on the 14 July. He was still ab­sent at the end of the year! Un­for­tu­nately, no min­utes or de­tails of Dis­trict Courts Mar­tial have sur­vived. Phil To­maselli

An­thony’s ancestor, Charles Stock, was court-mar­tialled in 1872

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