This week’s 52 Ancestors post is, as you might have guessed, on the theme of multiple. As opposed to last week’s solo post. But multiple what…? Multiple children? Multiple births (although twins seem to be a pretty rare circumstance in my family)? Multiple marriages (definitely less rare!)?
How about … multiple identities …?
Well, ok … two …
When I started researching my husband’s family tree, I did the sensible thing and spoke to his parents about their parents and grandparents. My father-in-law spoke of his mother, Doris May Arnold, and that her parents were Charles and Elizabeth. He also professed that there was something in his grandfather’s line that he didn’t know all of the details about. So with my researcher’s interests well and truly piqued, I set off to find what I could find …
Charles and Elizabeth were easy to find in the 1911 census living in Crouch End, Middlesex, along with their daughter, Doris. (Charles and Elizabeth would go on to have two other children, Ivy and Charles, who would both die young.) Charles is listed as a Fruiterer & Florist, which also fit in with family lore. Most surprising was that Charles stated he was born in Amesbury, Wiltshire. As they were a London-based family this was somewhat unexpected.
I located their marriage in 1907, having taken place in the Congregational Chapel in Kingston-upon-Thames at the end of January. Charles is listed as a Fruiterer Master, and his father as Thomas Frederick Arnold (deceased), Schoolmaster. However, I couldn’t find Charles in the 1901 census, nor earlier. I knew that Charles had served as Fire Watcher during WWII, but before that had been in the army, and had been involved in the Boer War – if so, then that would explain his absence from the 1901 census and possibly a service record might tell me more …
His WWI record was easily locatable – the address given in 1915 was the same as that on his marriage certificate: 16 Crouch End Hill. The front page also clearly states that he was discharged from the 16th Lancers in 1903. The next of kin details – his wife, Elizabeth – also matched, as did the details of the marriage and children. The record also told me that he was a member of the Reserve Squadron, 2nd King Edward’s Horses and was a cavalry regiment. However, he wasn’t to stay with the KEH, but was transferred to the 6th Battalion Royal Fusiliers and then to the 1st Battalion East Surrey Regiment. As part of the British Expeditionary Force, he saw action in both Italy and France, reaching the rank of Lance Corporal before being transferred back to England in April 1919 and then being demobilized a month later.
But so far, so Arnold …
Until I re-read the service record and noted that his service number had been changed. Having not found anything earlier using any variant of his name, I thought I’d try searching with his old number.
Et voila, as they say …
Would searching under the name of Charles William Badcock enable me to piece together more of his life? This is what I found out.
My husband’s great-grandfather, Charles William Badcock, was born in Amesbury, Wiltshire, on 1 September 1878. His parents were Thomas Frederick and Marian Helen (nee Lees) Badcock, both originally from London.
Thomas was a school teacher and had started his career as a pupil-teacher before teaching for several years in the National School located on Salisbury Street, Amesbury, before the family moved to Southfleet and then Roseville, near Gravesend in Kent. It was here that Thomas continued teaching botany (and beekeeping!) before he died in 1895, prompting Marian to remarry in 1900.
Charles first joined his local Kent Artillery and then in April 1898 he attested in London for the 21st Lancers, before officially joining them in Canterbury. Seven months later he was shipped off to Egypt to take his role in the Mahdist War in what is now Sudan (in fact, he was part of the same regiment as a young Winston Churchill). However, 10 months later he was transferred to the 16th Lancers and fought in India for three and a half months at the North-West Frontier after the First Anglo-Sikh War.
From India, Charles and the regiment travelled from Bombay to South Africa to fight as part of the ongoing Boer War effort. He saw action during the relief of Kimberley and then across the Cape Colony and the Orange Free State – even going so far as commanding the 16th troops at Middelburg for three days in April 1903. It was after this point that he requested to be discharged. He received his £18 payout and made his way back to civilian life in England.
At some point between him leaving the Army in 1903 and marrying in 1907 Badcock became Arnold. Why the name change and why Arnold…?
The latter was the easier part to answer. Moving back from Charles to Thomas, I found that Thomas’ parents were Thomas Badcock and Sarah Arnold, who had met whilst both being in the employ of Baronet Meux in Brighton and then married in All Saints, Paddington in January 1853. But why change his surname?
None of his siblings, nor their children, changed their surnames. His father, Thomas, had died when Charles was eighteen. His grandmother, Sarah, didn’t die until 1913, long after Charles had switched to Arnold.
Name changes in the UK are legally required to be recorded in the Gazette. But this has only been the case since 1914. Name changes before that time were recorded, and records of which are currently stored at The National Archives. Whilst the TNA is about to re-open, I am not about to give up my shielded status to travel to London to check this record collection out. So, for now, the exact date of the name change will have to remain a mystery.
It could have something to do with a legacy from that side of the family, but it seems odd that only one child – and not the firstborn grandchild by any means – would do it.
Or maybe he plain didn’t like the name Badcock …?
So thank you, Charles, for the unanswered question and the frustrated hours of research …!
Cover image: The Broadway, Crouch End, early 1900s