Updated 8 April 2010
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This page details how I started tracing my family tree and how its progressing. The various family trees are given in more detail on separate pages. Please visit the family links listed above.
On the left is a photo of the painting showing William Gash in his 17th Lancers uniform with a background assumed to be the Crimean Campaign.
My cousin Keith asked me to trace
our family history, starting with our Great Grandfather William Gash.
William had enlisted in the army and joined the 17th Lancers in 1854 - he received the Crimea medal with one clasp for Sevastopol and the Turkish Medal. He did not take part in the ill-fated Charge of the Light Brigade because he was ill - lucky man!* He was, according to family stories, Head Horseman at some stage in his army career. This I need to check with the official records. I have already contacted the curator of the Queen's Royal Lancers Museum, Captain J M Holtby and he sent me a picture of some scissors which had been donated and which William had used for trimming the horses manes and tails. Their web site is http://www.qrl.uk.com
*According to my brother Roy, he was engaged with his unit until the day before the charge, when he fell off his horse and broke his leg. He was sent to Scutari on the South West shore of the Black Sea where he was nursed by Florence Nightingale. Roy's statement was that "So by a fluke injury he missed out on the greatest military blunder in history! When he recovered he was sent back to The Crimea where he took part in the Seige of Sevastopol for which he was awarded the medal with the clasp for Sevastopol. After the fall of Sevastopol, the war ended and he purchased his papers and was honourably discharged."
2004 saw the 150th
Anniversary of the Crimean War and we were invited to attend one of the two
commemorative events. We decided to go to the one organised for Sunday, 31
October at the Royal Armouries Museum and we were asked to take along the
picture of William, seen above. The thumbnail picture on the right shows
my cousin Keith Hickling on his scooter with the 17th Lancer at the Royal
Christopher Gash, a distant cousin, now living in Sudbury, Suffolk, has very kindly sent me a copy of William's Discharge Certificate. I repeat its contents below:
E I88097 [W. O. Form 64.]
PARCHMENT CERTIFICATE I81621
The Soldier's Character to be inserted only when recommendatory; if the general conduct of a Soldier, whilst in the Service, has been seen as to give him no claim to have anything said in his favour, the space for character in the above Certificate is to be cut off close under the black line following the confirmation of his Discharge, thereby leaving no opportunity for any addition to be made after the Certificate is given to the Man.
When a Soldier is discharge on account of disgraceful conduct, that will appear in the body of the Certificate.
F. & T. 10,000 1-65
As the above Discharge Certificate reveals, William could NOT have taken part in the Charge of the Light Brigade as he did not enlist until 11 December 1854 which was after the Charge. However he did take part in the Seige of Sevastopol. So it looks as if the family stories of William being nursed by Florence Nightingale are just stories and not fact!
Findmypast have recently added Chelse Pensioners British Army Service Records 1760-1913. The Royal Hospital at Chelsea also administered the pensions of ex-soldiers who did not reside in the famous hospital. William Gash was one of these and there are 12 pages of information about his time in the 17th Lancers. And William did break his leg but this was in India, not in the Crimea.
My distant cousin, Christopher Gash had the foresight to speak with older relatives and was told that after the Crimea, William became an officer's servant and served in India at the time of the Indian Mutiny (1857-1858).
I was told by the 17th Lancer's Museum Curator, Capt Holtby that after Sevastopol, William had served in India, but he knew no further information, except that the Regiment were stationed in Dublin from May 1856 until October 1857 when they left for India. He also sent me copies of the scissors which had been donated to the museum - in their records these are described as "scissors for trimming the manes and tails of troop horses; possible used in The Crimea". They are stamped '17L 436' and measure 6.75" x 2.5"; and the notes associated with them state -
"Acquired in 1977 from a 76 year old man who said he had been given them in 1901 by 90 year old brother of their original owner, who had served in the Regiment during the Crimean War and had been called Gash. A William Gash, whose descendants are now coach operators in Newark, certainly enlisted into 17th Lancers in 1854 and served in the Crimea, but his regimental No was 1351 not 436."
This of course does not mean that William did not use these scissors - they were stamped accordingly and could have been passed on to William by someone who shared duties with him and had left the service.
Chris Gash has been collecting family information for many years talking as well as corresponding to older relatives. One very interesting letter contained information regarding William's father David Gash. David had enlisted at 15 years of age and had fought at Waterloo. He must have lied about his age and carried on this uncertainty about his age when answering the various Census enumerators questions - please visit the Gash Family page for this detail.
David was according to older relatives, injured at Waterloo and had to have a leg amputated. In a letter received by Chris from an Aunt - she wrote "He had a wooden leg and used to strike out with it at the children if they annoyed him".
I now need to discover how to research David's part in the Battle of Waterloo.
I used to receive copies of mails and queries posted on the Yorksgen website and received a posting regarding Yorkshire surnames involvement in the Crimean War. I contacted the contributor, Mark Andrew, who is a Crimean War Researcher. He very kindly sent me the following information:
Gash, Pte William, (1351), 17th L (p275)
Enl 12-11-54 In Chichester at age 24 [54D-4-7], Bk Cells 03-19 to 03-22-55 [55D-1-5].[55D-3-5]. To Svc Trps 07-20-55 [55D-3-5]. Joined Regt 08-15-55 fr Brighton Dep [55-3-5]. AA Charge. At St George's Hosp [sick] 3rd Mstr [55-3-5]. Medal  w/S  Clasp
This is an extract from a new book "In Search of the Light Brigade" by fellow Crimean War Research Society member - Lawrence Crider. I have found the Crimean War Research Society website on the Internet - this is their URL if anyone would like to access their site please follow this link -
My thanks to Lawrence Crider - he very kindly emailed me and explained the numbers and initials. -
Gash, Pte William, (1351), 17th L (p275) - The (p275) refers to the fact that William is mentioned on that page in Lummis and Wynn's "Honour the Light Brigade" - there are however no additional facts in that book.
William's regimental number was 1351. Lawrence explains that each soldier was issued a different regimental number, usually shortly after enlistment. This avoids confusing people with the same name, and so is critical in military research.
Enl 12-11-54 In Chichester at age 24 - William enrolled December 11th 1854 at Chichester, aged 24;
Bk Cells 03-19 to 03-22-55 - this means William had a period in the Barrack's Cells 19 March to 22 March 1855;
To Svc Trps 07-20-55 - To the Service Troops means that is the date he left the Depot - 20 July 1855 enroute to the Crimea; the Service Troops were the main body of troops serving in the Crimea; the other troops appear on the Depot musters, as serving in a support position, usually back in England;
Joined Regt 08-15-55 fr Brighton Dep - He joined the Regiment on 15 August 1855 from Brighton Dep - means he left for the Ukraine from Brighton Depot and arrived in the Crimea on August 15;
AA Charge - means he joined after the Charge of the Light Brigade;
At St George's Hosp (sick) 3rd Mstr - means he was in hospital ill during the third muster.
Medal (505) s/S (513) Clasp - He received the Crimean Medal with clasp for the Seige of Sevastopol. The items in parentheses pertaining to the Medal and Sebastopol Clasp are the pages on the Medal Rolls where these awards can be corroborated.
Additionally Lawrence states that the material in brackets after most entries is where that material may be found in the muster rolls (located in the National Archives at Kew).
The first number is the year (ie 54=1854); if it is followed by a 'D' the service was at the Depot; no letter following the year indicates Crimean Service.
The second number in the bracket is the quarter of the year (ie 1=Jan to Mar; 2=Apr to Jun, etc).
The third figure in the brackets indicates the form on which his name appears (Form 1 was officers; Form 2 Senior NCO's and specialized ranks; Form 3 Sergeants, etc. Form 5 was the list of privates, usually listed alphabetically, but with some errors (ergo you need to look through the entire form).
I had already visited the National Archives at Kew on 23 April 2005, we were only there for the day, but I thought I'd take the opportunity to become acquainted with the procedure at the Archives. My husband, Barry and I booked on the tour via the internet and we were given a time of 2 pm. This enabled me to try to find William's record.
I was directed to the index WO97 but the 17th Lancer's regiment were not included in the catalogue. I went for advice to the information desk and was advised to go to order the documents from an adjacent room and book a search table. I was informed by the reception clerk who placed my order that it could take up to 1 hour for the documents to arrive. I decided as these were original documents I ought to register my digital camera. This was an easy process, but meant that my search table ought to be changed to a table near the window, as flash photography was not allowed and pictures had to be taken in available light.
I then changed my search table and by this time my document file had arrived. Quite quickly really, 20 minutes as opposed to the hour predicted. The file was a large cardboard box file and I took it to my designated table. These were very old papers, some were crumbling, but most were in very good condition. I searched through the 'G' for Gash papers, but was so disappointed - nothing was there for William!
By this time it was almost 2 pm, so I packed the papers back into the box and returned them to the designated desk and met Barry for the tour.
This tour is well worth it - the person who showed us round was from the Archive Press Office and she was excellent. We were shown round the research rooms first and the procedures described, then we were taken into the archives themselves and shown where the documents are stored. Huge maps, all sorts of storage in drawers, linen bags - all stored at the correct temperature to preserve them. We were shown how the files are delivered to the research rooms and informed that the system in use had been the one in use at one of the vast Car Plants - one of the methods reminded me of the way money was paid at Doncaster Co-op via the pneumatic tubes.
Finally we were shown how documents are preserved and repaired; we were then led into the Boardroom where a series of folders were spread out on the Boardroom table. We were looking at Second World War papers, one folder with details of a French spy, his capture and interrogation; papers about Arnhem with a note from Himmler inside, plus many others!. As Barry is very interested in the Second World War, it was hard to drag him away.
There was still one hour left before I had to leave, I went back to see what information was available from the Muster Rolls. I knew I wouldn't have time to follow anything up, but I could prepare for my next visit.
I have since found further information from the Archives website which states that Soldiers' documents for those who were discharged by purchase have not survived for the pre-1883 period. This is why William's papers were not present in the file I searched. As he was described on the 1901 Census as an Army Pensioner, I had assumed he was in receipt of a pension*. I should still be able to find some information in the muster rolls, so the search goes on.
Another snippet of information found in one of the Family History Magazine was that when looking through files in boxes, search thoroughly and not just within the initial letter of the surname as it has been found that previous searchers don't always file back in alphabetical order.
Further information has been sent to my by Roy Mills who edits the website - "Lives of the Light Brigade - The E.J. Boys Archive". The home page provides a link to a list of names which aims to show all the men of the five regiments of the Light Cavalry brigade known to have embarked for active service in the Crimean War between 1854 and 1856.
http://www.chargeofthelightbrigade.com/17L/index.html is the link for the 17th Lancers content, this is split into three sections:
To Crimea 1854; In the Crimea; After Crimea: To India and Africa
Roy Mills very kindly sent me the following information about my Great Grandfather, William Gash:
1351 William GASH
Enlisted at Chichester on 11 December 1854
Age 24, Height 5ft 6in; Trade none shown
Embarked for the Crimea on the 18 June and joining the regiment on 15 July.
Embarked for India from Cork aboard the s.s. "Great Britain" on 8 October 1857
Discharged "by purchase", from Colchester on 3 August 1865. Payment of £10.
Served 10 years 235 days.
Conduct "good" and in possession of two G.C. badges
Entitled to the Crimean medal with clasp for Sebastopol and the Turkish medal.
Can find no trace on the Mutiny medal roll.
The musters for July-September of 1858 show him as being "On Field Service" from September of this period.
His great grandson, a Mr. D. Braithwaite, living in British Columbia, Canada, came to England in 1975 and during his stay visited Belvoir Castle, the Regimental Museum. He provided a photograph of an oil painting, said to be of William Gash, now in the possession of the family. Whether this is a true likeness or merely a stereotyped picture with the name added to give it authenticity is not known. No other information about the life of Gash after his discharge is known by the family. (See copy of this photograph in the 17th Lancer file.)
Awarded a Special Campaign Pension, (no date shown) but likely around 1893 when these payments were first instigated.
The information then goes on to describe William's entry in the 1881 census; notes his marriage to Mary; and his 1901 Census entry. This information can be found on the Gash and Hickling family pages.
I have found a website with the History of s.s. "Great Britain", built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the ship, in which William Gash sailed from Ireland to India in 1857 - the ship has been restored and can be visited in Bristol.
http://www.chargeofthelightbrigade.com/17L/3_17LafterCrimea.html gives details of the 17th Lancers role after the Crimea. This page contains some further information about their deployment in India.
My Brother, David Roy Braithwaite, visited the Regimental Museum at Belvoir Castle in Rutland in 1975, and he subsequently wrote to the museum about our Great Grandfather and the image on the left is a scan of the reply to his letter, giving a little more information about William's possible destination when he was transferred to India. He returned to England on the "Agamemnon" from Bombay on 21 January 1865. * The letter states that William was not amongst the soldiers receiving a pension, however he did receive a pension as shown in the information supplied by Roy Mills - he was awarded a special campaign pension. The letter on the left was signed by "James Boys" - I think this is the same person commemorated here for his research of the 17th Lancers http://www.chargeofthelightbrigade.com/index3.html
Image 2: HMS Agamemnon, according to Wikipedia, was a Royal Navy battleship ordered by the Admiralty in 1849 in response to the perceived threat from France. She was the first British battleship to be designed and built from the keel up with installed steam power, although, due to the inefficiency of steam engines of the period, it was expected that she would spend much of her time travelling under sail power. She therefore carried a full square rig on three masts, in common with large sailing warships of the period.
William was christened in Boston, Lincolnshire on 29 October 1830. He married Mary Tomlinson on 22 May 1866 in Kirton in Holland, Lincolnshire. At that time they both lived in Kirton; Mary in Kirton Holme and William in Kirton End.
They subsequently moved around that area of Lincolnshire their children being baptised in different places, according to the 1881 Census. Kirton, Tattershall, Swineshead, Dog Dyke, Bardney and Thornton Le Fen were all listed as birthplaces on this Census. He was an agricultural labourer at the time of his marriage and work probably meant he had to move around following the available work.
I first found the family on the Church of the Latter Day Saints Family Search site http://www.familysearch.org and this revealed that they were living in Sibsey Road, Thornton le Fen in 1881. I then tried to find details of his marriage to Mary and eventually found a William Gash who married Mary Tomlinson. All the details seemed to be right, so I sent for their marriage certificate. This gave further information and proof that this was almost certainly the correct one.
Following this success, I then sent for Mary Gash's birth certificate. Mary Gash was my Grandmother and was born in Tattersall. This was much easier as I already had the small version of her birth certificate.
Barry and I spent a day in Lincolnshire in early February 2004, visiting the various places where members of the family were christened. We would have liked to go to the local history library in Lincoln, but unfortunately they all close on Wednesday which was the day we visited! Starting at Kirton, we found the huge church which was the church where William and Mary were married. (See the Gash Family page for these photographs as well as their marriage certificate, census records and subsequent life together; Gash photographs, including William and Mary's wedding photograph, can also be seen on Photo Gallery One).
Touring the churchyard was a disappointment as the gravestones had been moved - some were laid on the footpath and were barely readable and others were placed along a perimeter wall. Most of these were also difficult to read due to weathering and the prolific growth of ivy! We do intend to go back and check the records at Lincoln.
The 1891 census is now on the Internet at http://freecen.rootsweb.com and I have found the family again, this time living in the Parish of Wombwell at 121 Hemmingfield, Barnsley in Yorkshire, but some members, including my Grandma are missing. There had also been some additions! More children - Amy, Esther and Fred.
Other members of the Gash family were living at different addresses - please visit the above mentioned Gash Family page for more information. I also found Grandad - Willie Hickling, living in Chapel Walk, Upper Haugh with his Mother and brother, Henry. Their details are on the Hickling Family page.
Talking to my cousin Eileen, I discovered that William and Mary's daughter Lucy had married Charlie Simms; and on accessing the 1891 census I found them living close by in Hemmingfield, near Wombwell, Barnsley; on the list however, her husband was named as Arthur Simms; they had a daughter Gertrude, aged 4 whom I remember quite clearly as Auntie Gertie. I then looked them up on the 1901 census and found them living at 23 Princess Street, West Melton; Auntie Gertie was 14; new additions to the family were Lucy E Simms and Mary E Simms. Mary E was Aunt Emma who I also remember really well.
My nephew David has sent me some wonderful pictures which were sent over to Canada by Aunt Emma Simms and are reproduced on many of the pages associated with the Gash, Hickling, and our Canadian family pages.
To further my research, I have become a member of three local history groups, the Rotherham Family History Society, Rawmarsh & Parkgate Local History Group and the Doncaster and District Family History Society. The Rotherham FHS has its own web page and can be viewed at http://www.rotherhamfhs.co.uk/ as has the Doncaster Society - http://www.doncasterfhs.co.uk - the Doncaster & District FHS have a superb research room in the same building as Doncaster Archives, information regarding the facilities can be found by following the link to their website.
If anyone wants to get in touch with me regarding anything on this site please please contact me at -
hilary.jcksn "followed by" @googlemail.com and if anyone objects to anything being included on any page, or if you spot any errors/assumptions made, please also let me know.
Updated 8 April 2010