Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Obsessed with Andrew Forsyth!

An ancestor - drat!  Can't get the dude out of my head.  The back-story -- I want to KNOW what the frigging back story is.  WHY did he marry a woman almost 15 years older than he was, when he was 21, in 1816, somewhere in Belgium, after the end of the Napoleonic Wars? Susan was 36 at the time of their marriage. That's a big difference, even today.  Older men marrying younger women, yes, still the norm, but younger men marrying older women - except for Ashton Kutchner and Demi Moore - not common at all!

What was Susan's story?  Why would she marry a man who was young enough to be her son? Was she a widow?  Was she a camp follower who tricked a much younger man into marriage?  Did she nurse him through a wound and out of a sense of obligation he married her?  Was she a wife or spinster sister of a friend or a fallen comrade whom he promised to look after on a dying oath? 

After further examining accessible records at ancestry.com this evening, I was able to discern from the birth record of Andrew's and Susan's first-born child, born in Montreal and baptised at the Anglican Garrison Church in the autumn of 1818, that he was a "Col- something --"  I know I wrote about this before.  Tonight I looked closely at that hand-written birth/baptismal record and saw that Col-something--- was attached to the 37th Regiment, which further research tells me was the North Hampshire (England) Regiment of Foot Soldiers. 

The "Col- something--" looks like the letters L o y 't.  What could that possibly be?  What is a Col-Loy't? [Added on April 8, 2011: Andrew was actually a "color sargeant" - he bore the colors - flag - of the regiment.  This task was often assigned to young boys! Later, in the United States, Andrew enlisted his two sons, Andrew, Jr. and Jerome, in the United States Calvary when Andrew, Jr. was about 13 and Jerome was about 10!]

Ancestry.com's records include U.S. Army enlistment rolls dating back a lot ways.  As far as I can tell, "my" Andrew Forsyth first enlisted with the U.S. Army on May 27, 1830 in New York (city) when he was 34 years old.  He was 5'7" tall, blue eyes, brown hair, light complexion.  He was born in Longford County, Ireland in 1795. 

Andrew the Soldier subsequently re-enlisted with the U.S. Army on the following dates:
  • Age 39, May 21, 1835, at Fort Howard
  • Age 43, October 9, 1838, at Fort Howard
  • Age 48, August 9, 1843, at Detroit
I know that his first-born son, Andrew, was born in Montreal in September, 1818.  I didn't write down the exact date in my notes but I saved the record to the family tree at Ancestry. com.  Too tired to dig it out and look again tonight.  Andrew the son was born in September, 1818 and baptized the next month by an Anglican Chaplain for the Regiment. 

I found two U.S. Military Pension records for Andrew the Soldier.  He received a pension of $8.00 a month for his military service.  I do not know if he received a pension for his service in the British Military.  On the first pension record I found, it appears that his pension started on July 5, 1847, and his rank was listed as something like "Quar M--- Loyt."

On the second pension record I found, his pension continued until his death on June 2, 1861, and his pension was "pd in full 4 qr 1861" which I take to mean that his family/beneficiaries received the balance of his pension payments for the year, as Susan, his wife, had died in 1860 according to other family histories I have found (but no official death record).  In that pension record, Andrew the Soldier's rank was listed as something like "Qr Mrs Sargi."

Quarter Master Sargeant? 

I've no idea.  I know less than nothing about military ranks in either the British Army or the U.S. Army of the periods involved (1795-1861). 

I found some information about the 37th Regiment North Hampshire Foot Soldiers.  It appears they left from Pouliac, France (not certain that Pouliac was/is located in France) sometime in 1814 for Canada.  But Andrew the Soldier could NOT have been with them then, since he married Susan Augarnel in Belgium in 1816.  The next time I find Andrew is in September, 1818 in Montreal where he is listed with the 37th Regiment as "Col-Loy't???"  So - what happened?  If Andrew the Soldier was part of the 37th Regiment, why did he not ship out with his Regiment from Pouliac in 1814?  Was he wounded and left behind?  Or was he initially attached to another Regiment and then transferred to the 37th after his marriage?

Another mystery - who gave Andrew permission to marry while he was in the British Army?  I haven't done a lot of research on this, but I did find information that stated that a soldier needed permission from the head of his command in order to marry, and that was not very often given back in the day!  Out of several hundred men, perhaps to 5 or 6 a year.  What does this mean in Andrew's case?  Was he a favored soldier for some reason, to earn such coveted permission to marry? 

Another mystery - after the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars, Great Britain started decommissioning their armed forces and entered into a Great Recession on the home turf, which led to all sorts of problems and even popular uprisings of starving, unemployed former soldiers.  No doubt in hopes of forestalling more unemployable soldiers returning home to Ireland and England from Canada as the Regiments there were disbanded, the Canadian authorities offered the troops and officers free land in western Quebec and in Ontario, with certain conditions.  Did Andrew the Soldier take the government up on its offer, try it out, and decided it wasn't for him?

I do not know.  There is a gap between the birth of Andrew the Soldier's and Susan's son's birth in Montreal in 1818 and Andrew Soldier's enlistment in the U.S. Army in 1830 in New York.

Help!  And way past my bed-time.  Enough for tonight!

1 comment:

Falbert said...

'Col' is often used as an abbreviation for 'Colonel'.

'Loyt' may be an abbreviation for 'Lieutenant' of that time period.

"Quartermaster" is a position - one of the people involved in keeping track of and aquiring the supplies that a military organization needs. Today, they tend to be closer to a store manager, distributing uniforms and other goods supplied by the purchasing beaurocracy and keeping inventory records. Back when, they would actually go out and purchase food, uniforms, ammunition, and most other supplies from local sources, as well as arrange for their transport by independent haulers - the militaries of the time did not have much of their own transport; they would usually hire carters. Quartermaster was a position of considerable responsibility at the time that Jerome apparently held the position.

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