Category Archives: Royal Navy

How googling is great for family history

Although I started my family history research years ago I’m amazed how often I find new results from a quick google of an evening. Sometimes I’ll look at my MacFamilyTree programme to spot any missing entries for marriages or deaths.

Sometimes I think I have all the facts  when there are actually glaring omissions I really should have established at the beginning of my research.

I have a son of a Baronet who was also a member of the Royal Navy in my tree who I can often find information about – Thomas Mansel (1783-1869). However I just realised I had never discovered the date of his marriage to Selina Fleming Leigh.

I turned to google this evening and after trawling through a couple of pages of results I found an entry for Thomas Mansel and Selina Leigh at St James, Birdham, Sussex on the 28th June 1827. I never knew they had a connection to Birdham so that was interesting to discover. The information came from a transcription of the Birdham St James Marriage Register (page 17, entry 49). There weren’t as many details as usually found on a marriage certificate but there was the following:

Thomas Mansel bachelor living in Birdham

Selena Flemming Leigh spinster living in Birdham

Conducted by William Miller

Type Licence

no details for name or occupation of either father

Witnesses William Lush and Catherine Elizabeth Mansel

Peninsula War Prisoner of War records

According to his entry in the British Naval Biographical Dictionary, 1849, Matthew Young

“On 20 Oct. 1807, while in charge of a prize Indiaman, … was captured by the enemy and taken to France, where he was detained a prisoner until May, 1814.”

This intriguing little nugget throws up some interesting questions.

Such as are there any records of PoWs from this time and was he entitled to a medal for his imprisonment?

His son, Alfred Young, was apparently born in 1811 in Verdun, France.


Local newspapers – The Cambrian

The Cambrian was the first English-language newspaper to be published in Wales, running from 1804 – 1930.  A couple of years ago I heard that it had been digitised and indexed which was great news for family historians with Welsh ancestors.

The following extracts relate to Admiral Thomas Mansel (1783-1869):
The Cambrian (Catalogue Index T30)
09 July 1814
With pleasure we state that … Thomas Mansel, Esq. son of the late Sir W. Mansel, Bart. of Iscoed, have been promoted to the rank of Master and Commander.

The Cambrian (Catalogue Index K62)
19 April 1834
Capt. Thos. MANSEL., R.N. – On Thursday, the 27th ult., the officers and crew of the Folkestone District, presented to our brave countryman, Capt. T. Mansel (son of the late Sir William Mansel, of Iscoed, Carmarthenshire), upon his retiring from the command of that district, with a salver, coffee-pot, sugar and milk ewer, of the most costly description, as a token of their high respect and sincere regard for his urbane, gentlemanly, and kind attention to his brother officers during the arduous service of the last three years in that district. On the coffee-pot was engraved the following inscription:- “To Captain Mansel,R.N., on promotion. Presented by the Officers of the Folkestone District, in testimony of their respect and esteem. 1834.” Inscription on the salver:- “To Captain Mansel, R.N., on retiring from the command of the Folkestone District. Presented by the respective Crews as a testimony of their grateful respect for his solicitude in promoting their interest and welfare. 1834.” – Capt. Mansel returned thanks in a feeling address, – The Devon Telegraph, from which the above notice is extracted, says – “We understand it is intended to give the gallant Captain a public dinner in the Town-hall at Folkstone, in which many of the neighbouring gentleman have expressed a wish to join.”

The Cambrian (Catalogue Index C20)
09 April 1869
Death of Admiral Mansel. – the death of Admiral Thomas Mansel took place on the 1st inst., at Fareham, in the 86th year of his age. The deceased admiral, who was the last surviving son of the late Sir William Mansel, of Iscoed, Bart., entered the navy in 1798, and as midshipman served in the Elephant, under Lord Nelson, at the battle of Copenhagen, in April, 1801. He afterwards proceeded to the West Indies, and took part in the operations against the French, at St Domingo, in 1803. As lieutenant of the Racoon he was wounded at the recapture of a merchant vessel off Cuba. He commanded the armed ship Trowbridge, and was present at the taking of the Isle of France in 1810. His last appointment was in April, 1831, to the coastguard, in which service he continued until he was promoted to captain in February 1834. His commissions bore date as follows: Lieutenant, 16th September, 1804; commander, 15th June, 1814; captain, 12th February,1834; retired rear-admiral, 21st October, 1856; vice-admiral,27th April, 1863; and admiral, 18th October, 1867.

The Cambrian (Catalogue Index C10)
09 April 1869
On the 1st inst., At Fareham, Admiral Thomas Mansel, the last surviving son of the late Sir William Mansel, Iscoed, Bart., in the 86th year of his age.

Pension request for Commander Matthew Young

Years ago I ordered a record from TNA regarding Commander Matthew Young. Whilst looking through it properly it helped me fill in some names on my family tree.

The record is from ADM 45/34 Navy Board, and Admiralty, Accountant General’s Department: Officers’ and Civilians’ Effects Papers and I think relates to an application for a widow’s pension. The details are as follows:

Claim received at the Admiralty: 24 September 1855

Amount reported due, and for what: Half Pay. Will dated 2 June 1854.

Officers, Pensioners’ and Civilians’ Register: Numbers 9/477 Letter Y

Name of the Deceased: Commander Matthew Young

Name and Address of the Claimant: Mrs Charlotte Young – Executress, Dunmore East, Killea, Co. Waterford

6A for a Will – 3 October 1855

8-                      9 October 1855

8B                     Audit Office 19 October 1855


Claim Admitted {illegible signature}

Certificate Examined 19 Oct 1855


I presume the application was approved but perhaps I need to look for another record which grants the pension. Interestingly the wife’s name is Mrs Charlotte Young suggesting Commander Matthew Young remarried after his first wife died in 1836.


Portsmouth Dockyard employees

My great-grandfather worked at Portsmouth Dockyard around 1911 according to the 1911 census. I thought it would be interesting to see if I could find out more information about his occupation.

The Portsmouth Royal Dockyard Historical Trust hold the original Dockyard Registers of Employment (Rate Books) which contain details of all employees who worked in the Dockyard itself, or in one of the other Admiralty Establishments in the Portsmouth area, during the period from the mid-19th century until the mid-20th century.

You can request a search of these records on your behalf. Here are the details I submitted:

  • Surname of Dockyard Employee that you are researching
  • First name of Employee Mansel
  • Relationship to Enquirer Great-grand father
  • Approximate year of birth 1854/1855
  • Occupation or Trade Dockyard Labourer, Naval Store
  • Approximate date or dates in Dockyard 1911 (from census
  • record)


Unfortunately they didn’t have a record of his service. The index is still in progress, so he may appear at some time. Currently there are about 120,000 names in this index so it is definitely worth an email.


Royal Navy record of George Benger

Service record for George Benger – ADM/188/23 Admiralty: Royal Navy Registers of Seamen’s Services

Names in full – George Benger

Date of Birth 7 May 1838

Place of Birth St Thomas, Portsmouth

Personal Description:

  • Height 5’11”
  • Hair Dark Brown
  • Eyes Grey
  • Complexion Fair
  • Wounds, Scars, or Marks – None
  • Trade – Musician

1) Ships served in – Duke of Wellington

Ships’ Books List 2 No. 3

Rating Bandsmen

Good Conduct Badges worn 3

Period of Service 1 Jan 1873 to 13 Oct 1873

Character V Good


2) Ships served in – Active

Ships’ Books List 5 No. 224

Rating Bandsmen

Good Conduct Badges worn 3

Period of Service 14 Oct 1873 to 14 Oct 1874

Character V Good


If Discharged. Whither and for what cause –

CS Martin. pass to England – Invalided

To do – find out more about Good Conduct badges and records and see if I can find a record of his injury.