This is a post that I meant to write a couple of weeks ago, but then got sidetracked by reporting on seminars.
One of the reasons I was interested in my visit to the Greenwich Hospital, was that I had discovered a Madder had died there. I came across him when findmypast published deaths at sea. John Madder had died in Greenwich in 1802. The entry gave a list of ships he had sailed on so I added him to my list of things to do the next time I went to TNA.
This was a few days after my trip to Greenwich and as I reviewed my list I realised I was set to look for two other Madders. All of them were involved in some way in the French revolutionary/Napoleonic Wars. There was another sailor, William Madder and a soldier Samuel. I have written about both these men before, so I will start with John.
The entry for his death was 25th March 1802 and it gave a list of the ships he had served on: Trusty as a Landsman, then Tremendous, Druid and Star as an able seaman. The Star must have been the last ship so I started with her and pre-ordered the Royal Navy ships musters for the period 1797 to 1801 (ADM 36/146108, 9, 10). Starting from the end I came across a John Madden who joined the ship (aged 25) on 4th July 1801 and was paid off at Deptford on 19th Dec 1801. Was this the man I was looking for? Was the name on the muster a misspelling or the death entry? The muster stated that he was born in Dublin – not entirely impossible, and his previous ship was the Tremendous – what had happened to the Druid?
I decided to carry on looking – luckily the Star was a sixth-rate and only had a crew of 121. I got back to July 1797 without finding a John Madder, so I should have turned my attention to the Druid, but for some reason I looked at the Trusty from 1799 to 1801. Why? – I had misread my notes. Unsurprisingly I didn’t find anything so ordered the musters for the Tremendous.
I quickly found Jno Madden had joined this ship on 21st March 1798 and his previous ship was the Trusty. He was discharged in 3rd July 1801. I was back on track. Then three pages further on I found another Jno Madden, joined on April 25th 1798, from Trusty and discharged 3rd July 1801. There was a number (2) written next to his name and when I flicked back to the other Jno Madden there was a number (1). Two people of the same name moving from one ship to another? A month apart? It was starting to get confusing! In another muster I found more details: the first John now listed as Maddin was aged 28 and born in Dublin. The second, spelt Madden (but still number 2) was 22 and also born in Dublin. I also noticed he had moved to the Star on 3 July 1801. The ages given in the muster books are that at joining the ship, so this was the man I had first found.
Back to the Trusty (ADM 36/11841) – this time for the right period. I found both John Maddens, from 1st May 1796 until 20th March and 24th April 1798, respectively, when they went to the Tremendous. They had come from “previous books” so had been on the Trusty before this date. I didn’t have time to look – my head was spinning and I had another service to research.
I have written about Samuel Madder before, this time I was trying to find out more about his Army career and his death in 1810. This time I decided to try the Scots Guards Depot Description Books (WO 67/1,2,3) – these are alphabetical lists and cover various dates between 1768 and 1825. I found several mentions of him. WO 67/3, right at the top of a page I found his description when he enlisted.
Apart from the date of Enlistment 24th Nov 1800 and age (18), it gave his height (5ft 6in) and details of complexion (fresh), hair (brown) and eyes (hazel). Best of all it gave his place of birth, Brisley in Norfolk – he was the person I thought he was and I could fit him into my tree. On the right hand sheet it gave his occupation as labourer.
In WO 67/2 I found his date of death, January 6th 1810. Then in WO 67/1 the description was repeated – he had grown half an inch by the age of 24 and his complexion was now dark. It even gave the name of the place he was recruited, Tatterford in Norfolk. An interesting addition to these pages is the word “Waterloo” written in red under some names. Presumably these were the soldiers who fought at and were later awarded the Waterloo Medal.
On the right hand page it gave more information about his death:
I’d got his date of death. Of course, it was only later when I got home that I realised I already had this information – it was the date of the return, not the actual date. But at least I had his date and place of birth so I could fit him into the family tree.
Or could I? These documents gave Samuel’s date of birth as 21 Mar 1779. According to the Brisley parish records I had searched, Samuel Madder was baptised on 24 Dec 1775. I’ve heard of people lying about their age to join the army – but saying you are younger than you are? Another problem to solve!
By now I had no time to research my third Napoleonic Madder, William who had been a prisoner of war – see Captain William. So was my trip to The National Archives a success?
I had spent most of the day researching the naval career of someone of no interest to me (He was a Madden not a Madder) but discovered what a Widows Man was.
According to Wikipedia “A widow’s man was a fictitious seaman kept on the books of Royal Navy ships during the 18th and early 19th centuries in order to make payment to the families of dead crew members. This financial arrangements helped widows from being left destitute following the death of their seafaring husbands.”
I had confirmed that Samuel was a member of a particular Madder family – but his date of birth was wrong.
I had made no progress on my POW.
Apart from printing off a couple of PCC wills for a friend who was not on the trip, finding a marriage in a parish register on a film from the LDS library which is “squatting” in the TNA at the moment and spending too much money in the book shop – that was it.
Another frustrating visit to Kew – but there’s always another day and another trip to the TNA.