29 December 2011

In and Out of the News

My obsession with the British Newspaper Archive continues, particularly as I've found one bloke, my 3xgreat uncle, who was mentioned a number of times.

Frederick Staden, for t'was he, was born in Sundridge, in Kent, in 1815, the eighth and youngest child of Thomas and Sarah (nee Dodd), and was christened on Christmas Eve that year.  He joined the Army and in the 1841 census he's at the Infantry Barracks in Walmer, an acting serjeant.  

Note:  the spelling of "serjeant" shall, from hereon in, be interchangeable with "sergeant" ....

To continue: Between 1841 and 1851 he married Margaret and the pair of them are to be found in barracks in Winchester in the next census.  Then he's posted to Gibraltar and it's a moot point whether wife Margaret went with him; I suspect not, because he marries again whilst on the rock, this time to Martha Milner, the daughter of another sergeant, and then his life gets ever so slightly complicated.....

Back home in Berkshire, Frederick joined the Royal Berks Militia and, in 1860, is awarded "an emblem of honour" for his service.  The 1861 census shows him and Martha living in Reading.  

Later that year, an inkling of disharmony appears and he takes out an advert in the Reading Mercury to tell the locals that he will not be held responsible for his wife's debts.  A few more mentions of him in the Militia, by now a Drill Instructor, and then trouble.

Charged in 1865 with assaulting a young lady, the paper now goes into salacious detail about how he "behaved in an indecent manner" towards her.  Except that he didn't.  It was very quickly proved that Frederick wasn't even in town on the date given!  Verdict: Not Guilty.  Cue loud applause from the assembled throng.

Honour restored, he doesn't appear in the newspaper again for five years.  This time, a series of reports from different newspapers, all giving the same detail about the divorce between Frederick and Martha.  She comes out as quite a "character", being described as having "dirty, drunken habits" and eventually running away to Southsea (as you do) to be with her co-respondent.  Case proved.  Decree Nisi.

As far as I can tell, Frederick goes on to live a quiet life from then on.  By 1881 he was a publican/beer seller in South Stoke, Oxfordshire.  When he died there, at the "Eight Bells", in 1884, the newspaper reported that he had been in the Royal Berks Militia for 21 years.

Somehow, I feel there's more to be found about Martha, but I'll leave that for another day.

Happy New Year.

More soon.

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