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Tuesday 22 April 2014

John Hamilton Hall - Dangerously Assumed to be Unique

One of the dangers of family history research is assuming that the person you're seeking is the person you've found.

With common names, John Smith, Fred Brown, James Hogg, there must be thousands of individuals.
Adding a middle name reduces the number of possibilities and adding a rare middle name must reduce them still further.

When I chanced across John Hamilton Hall son of John Hall (deceased), admitted to Berwick-upon-Tweed Guild on 24th Oct 1840 with the occupation of Capt, East India Company, I thought this would be an easy person to find, an interesting person, and no competition from people with the same name.

How wrong I was.

Confusingly there are several men named John Hamilton Hall in the early to mid-19th century:
  • one of Dunglass; I think this one’s father was General Hamilton Hall, who lived at Mount Hall, County Antrim, Northern Ireland and died at Bombay (now Mumbai), India.
  • another, the son of a physician who was a Freeman of the Guild of Berwick-upon-Tweed,
  • another who was married in 1858 in Madras, India, to Victoria C Raulim who had a child in 1861,
  • another who was married on 15 December 1860 in Belgaum, Bombay, India to Annie Malcomson.
  • another was appointed to Middlesex Regiment (1st Battalion) 57th Foot: records for 57th (West Middlesex) Regiment of Foot and later, after 1881, when known as Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex Regiment). 
and there are many more in the USA and
another one in England in the First World War (World War I) was appointed Major, 16th Battalion Middlesex Regiment, later Temporary Lieutenant Colonel., then Lieutenant Colonel, then Temporary Brigadier General, then  Brigadier General.

The details below refer to the son of a physician who was a Freeman of the Guild (as I've been researching him for the Berwick 900 project).

His parents were John Hall (the physician) and Mary Dickson.
He was born, 22 Oct 1798; baptised, 8 Nov 1798 in Coldstream (Berwickshire, Scotland.)
The Guild records show the admittance of John Hamilton Hall (2nd son of John, deceased) on 24 October 1840. His occupation is shown as Capt, East India Company.
He married Ann Grieve in September 1841 at Easington, Co. Durham, about 80 miles south of Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Interestingly, Ann Grieve was the daughter of a Berwick-upon-Tweed Guild Freeman.

The 1851 Scotland census shows Capt. John H Hall and family living at 17 Regent St, Portobello (now Edinburgh).
I've transcribed the details:
Abbreviations: BEW - Berwickshire, NBL - Northumberland, INV - Inverness-shire.

In the London Gazette Issue 21658 published on the 6 February 1855. Page 12 of 40, his promotion 'To be MAJORS in the East Indies.' was listed as
Capt John Hamilton Hall, Bombay Infantry.

I've found him in various Portobello directories, but not before 1857.
Portobello Directory for 1857-8 lists Hall, J HEICS 10 John St
Portobello Directory for 1860-61 lists Hall, J H EIA 10 John St

The 1861 census shows:

Abbreviations: BEW - Berwickshire, NBL - Northumberland, MLN - Midlothian

Portobello Directory for 1861-62 lists Hall, J H major EIA 10 John St
Portobello Directory for 1862-63 lists Hall, J H major EIA 10 John St
Portobello Directory for 1864-65 lists Hall, J H major EIA 10 John St

A search on Families In British India Society (FIBIS) showed a transcription from Allen's Indian Mail - the 16 February 1865 edition about his death on 10 February 1865 at Portobello.

Portobello Directory for 1866-67 lists Hall, Mrs J H  10 John St

His family's gravestone is at the back of St Mark's Episcopal Church and churchyard, Portobello High Street.
It reads
'In memory of John Hamilton HALL Major of H.M Indian army who died 10th February 1865 aged 65 years and Ann GRIEVE his wife who died 6th April 1884 aged 78 years, also John Grieve HALL Major Royal Engineers, their elder son who died at Cawnpore India 12th January 1884 aged 41 years, also Ann Grieve HALL, their only daughter who died 10th January 1929 aged 83 years and
Burnett Grieve HALL, Colonel Royal Marine Artillery, their younger son who died in London 7th September 1928 aged 84 years. '
Picture of the gravestone.

The family tree is:

There are lots of questions that occur to me:
  1. What years was John Hamilton Hall in India ?
  2. In what campaigns and actions was he involved ? 
  3. Why was his army career so interrupted ?
  4. Is the John Hamilton Hall of Dunglass related ?
  5. Why did he wait until he was over 40 to be admitted as a Freeman of the Guild ?
  6. Did he meet Ann Grieve as a result of being admitted ?
  7. Did he die as a result of ill-health or wounds sustained in India ?

If you know the answers to these questions or if you're related to any of the people named, please leave a comment.

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