#52Ancestors #42: Thomas Halliday 1st of the 2nd Royal Manx Fencibles

Last week I wrote about Thomas Halliday 3rd, commercial traveller and soap agent. I’d planned to write this week about his father, Thomas Halliday 2nd, but when I had a look at his information I realised it was a virtually identical story.  So let’s skip a generation to Thomas Halliday 1st, my 4GGrandfather.

With Thomas Halliday 1st we’re standing at the edge of easily-accessed facts, with the mists of time lapping round him.

I came across this Thomas when trying to find information about his son’s date of birth.  An additional challenge seems to be that at this point in time the names Halliday and Holliday start to be used interchangeably.  I have two sources for Thomas’ marriage, one spelt each way and I’m confident I’ve found the right man.

Lt Col Charles Small's seal, from FindMyPast

Lt Col Charles Small’s seal, from FindMyPast

Thomas was born in Chester-Le-Street, Durham county, in England in 1778, in the reign of George III and grew up working as a labourer [information obtained via FindMyPast].  This was a time of wars and rebellions, and in 1795 Thomas enlisted in His Majesty’s 2nd Regiment of Royal Manx Fencibles [based on the Isle of Man] and ended up fighting in Ireland.  Royal Manx Fencibles?  Great title but meant nothing to me.  So these two websites

tell me it was a regiment based in Ireland between 1795 and 1802 under the immediate command of Lt Col Charles Small, with the regiment in the the overall command of Colonel Lord Henry Murray [nephew of the Duke of Atholl].  Their uniforms included blue facings and fur-crested round hats. [From Osprey’s Google book Armies of the Irish Rebellion 1798]

Thomas “served well and faithfully in the abovenamed Regiment for two years” before being discharged with “his pay arrears of pay, clothing and all other just demands whatsover, from the time of his enlisting into said Regiment till the day of his discharge”.

Two years?  Surely that’s quite a short time to serve?  Unfortunately yes.  The surgeon’s letter (John Nelson Scott was an officer and surgeon) explained more fully that Thomas had needed to have his right leg amputated after suffering from scrofula (TB) of the leg and ankle which gave him extreme pain.

The mark of Thomas Halliday 1st

The mark of Thomas Halliday 1st

After returning home from Lifford, Thomas married Hannah Smith in 1810.  I think they may have had 3 children together: Thomas 2nd, Sarah Mary, and possibly Francis, all in Chester-le-Street.  From the limited records available I believe his wife died in 1838, and in the 1841 census Thomas was found in the workhouse.  A Thomas Halliday died in Gateshead in 1843.

52 ancestors logoNow his son did pretty well for himself: in 1841 Thomas the 2nd was a clerk in nearby Gateshead and ended up very comfortably off with a well-educated Methodist family.  It’s a pretty big leap for the son of an illiterate one-legged labourer, but perhaps that’s exactly what drove him.  Maybe Thomas 1st was in need of comfort and hope, and Methodism provided that, and the opportunity for him to make a better life for his family.  But even if further evidence comes to light, possibly from a non-conformist source, and he turns out not to be my ancestor, I thought I would share the experiences of this Thomas Halliday 1st anyway, to acknowledge all he went through.

© Text copyright Lynne Black 15 October 2014
First published: https://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/thomas-halliday-1st/

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