Showing posts with label Devonport. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Devonport. Show all posts

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

David Jones Naval Pensioner

The stern gallery of HMS Implacable, formerly the Duguay-Trouin, on display at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. Geni, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

My great-grandfather, David Jones, made much of the fact that he was a Naval Pensioner, especially when filling out official forms, and it seems certain that it was 'useful' in obtaining him the position of Sexton at the Christ Church, Church of Ireland, Rushbrooke, Cobh (Queenstown, as it was then), Ireland. 

My late cousin Margery in Ireland (David's brother Nicholas' granddaughter) had told me that David had "lost a hand in battle". You gotta love a family story. As I keep saying, there's always a grain of truth in them, but usually some self-serving embellishment. We searched high and low for a naval battle in the right era and came up with nothing. "In battle" sounds more heroic, clearly.

It also proved handy (pun intended) in attracting him two wives, it seems!

Margery recounted that her older sister had remembered visiting the family in Rushbrooke and seeing David's 'Sunday Best' gloved hand hanging up in the kitchen (such a creepy image) and continued that, apparently, he had a fork attachment for everyday - from which we may deduce that it was his left hand he lost - that attached to a metal pin that was inserted at his wrist. 

Because David had always claimed to come from Wales, I almost missed his naval record. In fact, I'd dismissed it twice, because, although many other details were close enough, the boy was born in Lincolnshire, which didn't seem relevant at all. Then I found his father's posting to Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire and David's birth there and the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place.

At the time David was enlisted in the Royal Navy as a Boy Second Class, on 7 July 1865, he would have been just shy of his 15th birthday. His father, Thomas Jones, and mother, Mary, co-signed the papers. David was described as being 4ft 8½in tall, with a sallow complexion, dark brown hair and hazel eyes. Once he was 18, his period of engagement was intended to last ten years, obviously intending to follow in the footsteps of his father's naval career. 

David Jones' Naval Record

The rest of David's naval record fits onto one line. At 14 he was assigned to HMS Implacable, which had become the Royal Navy's first training ship at Devonport in 1855. But instead of continuing his service as planned, David was discharged on 17 Oct 1866, when he will have been just 16. The last item on the line, under the Cause of Discharge, is the abbreviation for Invalided.

There not being more detail, nor medical records we can access, we have to surmise the rest of story. That he lost a hand is not in question. Clearly, he was still in training, so there was no 'battle'. But I think that taking into consideration that this was 1866 - general anesthesia was still very much in experimental infancy - and my feeling is that the only place that such a procedure as inserting a metal pin into his wrist was likely to take place was in a military hospital and at that time there was the the former Royal Naval Hospital, Stonehouse.

And the fact that they did this and sent him off with a pension at 16, suggests this was certainly not as the result of a boy larking about. We need to do more research, but there were guns likely to have been used in training at that time, known to cause accidents and that looks like the most likely occurrence.

The former Royal Naval Hospital now called Millfields, Stonehouse, Plymouth