Friday 16 January 2015

Ancestry's latest army release helps ID soldier's family

Patrick's four siblings received an equal share
Ancestry has added the British Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929, to its military collection. To be honest, I didn't expect much from this database, but curiosity got the better of me. And lo and behold, it has delivered some vital details that has helped me identify one of the few Santrys who died in World War One.

Towards the end of last year, I contributed two quilt squares to the WW1 Centenary Quilt project (see blogpost). As none of my immediate family was killed in that war, I chose instead to commemmorate two Santrys, David and Patrick, who died in 1916 and 1918 respectively. I had already identified David's family from Bandon; research suggests we are related some generations back (early 1800s) but the paper trail runs out before I can make the link.

Patrick, however, was proving difficult to identify (there are more Patrick Santrys in County Cork than you might imagine!) and mainstream Army records held no date or place of birth for him.
The new record set, which comes from the National Army Museum and comprises 872,395 entries, doesn't provide details of birth, either. Instead, it details the sums owed to soldiers who died in service in 1901–29.

But it's the inclusion of next of kin that makes these records particularly valuable to family historians; with this information researchers can often take a family back another generation or distinguish between soldiers with the same name. Early records in this set also list a soldier’s trade before enlistment. Payments went first to widows, or, if the soldier wasn’t married, to a parent (often a mother) or siblings.

In Patrick's case, four siblings are noted – three brothers and a sister (her married name is recorded, too, which will prove useful for later research). They received an equal share of the money due and 'war gratuity', which totalled £56 (around £2,184 in today's money, according to the Bank of England).

Unable to resist, I've spent this morning working through my Santry One-Name Study spreadsheets and identified the family. Patrick, Cornelius, Timothy, John and Annie were the children of farmer Timothy Santry and Catherine Connolly of Lislee, near Courtmacsherry, in Co Cork. Born in 1884, Patrick was the third of the boys and the only one who did not head for Boston.

I've been in touch with his older brother John's great grandson for several years. I shall have to contact him this weekend to tell him about Patrick.