Who Do You Think You Are?
What can you tell me about this court martial record?
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