READER QUERIES SOLVED
QI am having trouble finding out what happened to Frank Bates, the brother of my great grandmother, Jane Easton.
Frank was born in 1859 in Kent. On the 1861 census he was living with his parents, Aaron and Mary Bates, in Bexhill, Sussex.
Mary died about 1869 and on the 1871 census, Frank was living with his father and sisters in Little Common, Sussex. I can’t find Frank after this. BR Easton
AFrank Bates was baptised on 21 August 1859 at Birchington Church in Kent. The abode of his parents, Aaron and Mary Bates, was given as Acol, Westgate. On the 1861 and 1871 censuses Frank was said to have been born on the Isle of Thanet and in Westgate, Kent, respectively. These places are within a few miles of each other.
Aaron was a coastguard in the Royal Navy. Frank was baptised as Frank Stanton Stennings Bates and at first I looked for him after 1871 under different variations of the names, but without finding any trace of a marriage or death.
Since his father was in the Royal Navy, I checked the Royal Navy Ratings Service Records 1853-1928 at The National Archives. They are held in series ADM 188 and available online at discovery.nationalarchives.co.uk (some records are on ancestry.co.uk and findmypast. co.uk). I found a record for a Frank Bates born in Minster, Kent, on 29 June 1859.
Minster is next to Acol, and close to both Westgate and Birchington. If you order the birth certificate, you will see if he is your Frank Bates.
Frank enlisted as a Boy, 2nd Class straight from school on 3 July 1874 and signed on for ten years’ continuous service on his 18th birthday. On that day he joined HMS Volage, the senior officer’s ship in South American waters, and remained aboard until 26 October 1878.
Here the record ends except under the column “If discharged. Whither and for what cause”. It says “Rua Santos”. This sounds more Portuguese than Spanish, which suggests Brazil. Whether this means he died and was buried ashore I do not know, and I’d suggest you consult an expert on Royal Navy records to shed more light on this. Stephen Thomas
An extract from Frank’s Royal Navy service record