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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

Directory Listings





Parish Records




War Memorials




This ship is not the HMS Invincible which sank during the Battle of Jutland 31 May 1916 and which also carried many Devon-born men in her crew. For further information see The Bombardment of Alexandria and Casualties of the sinking of HMS Fisgard II.



The Continuous Service Contract for Royal Navy recruits introduced in the mid 1850s was aimed at men of 21 and over. However, many recruiting officers realised that younger lads were quite mature enough to know what they were doing when they signed on - some even believed that, with special training facilities, they could take on boys of 16 and 17 - not on Continuous Service Contracts, but as Boy Entrants who could make the progression to this contract after a couple of years.

It is very common to discover that, consequently, many  younger recruits gave an incorrect year of birth when signing on and it is also quite clear that  they were encouraged to do so because of the shortage of older entrants. It is only now, when we can freely access and compare the GRO birth entries, that these discrepancies show up. Men who did this had to remember to adjust their age throughout their Naval career as the pension they received related to the final number of years served.


For a number of reasons. there are people who are missing from all Census Returns. It may be that their details are elsewhere or that they were missed out by chance or even that their Returns were lost.

The Western Morning News

8 April 1901.

"A Census Enumerator in Oldham had some difficulty in collecting his papers in the early part of last week and on Thursday afternoon reported to the Registrar that he had not been able to complete his Returns.


He did not go  home that night and on Saturday, his body was found in a mill reservoir at Milnrow, some four miles from Oldham. In his pockets were a large number of census papers with which he had weighted down his body."


There is a similar account describing the death of Charles Turner who drowned himself in a river at Winchester at about the same time. He removed his clothes, leaving them neatly folded on the river bank and went into the water clutching a large bag containing the papers he had been dealing with.


Returns were made for sailors who were stationed overseas and these were retained by the Admiralty. Back home, their wives correctly described themselves as heads of households and, as there was  no reference to the husband, this can be a difficulty for researchers looking for someone who is away serving a 22-year contract. These men would have returned home from time to time, but they would also have been absent from home for long periods, and the old joke that a sailor had a wife in every port, may have had some truth behind it.


Names and, where possible, details of Devon-born crew members are arranged alphabetically in two files - see below:


A - L

M - Z



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