The Orphans &
The Duke of York’s Military School
Royal Military Asylum in Yorkshire via Ancestry.com
Stop Press! Fluke find of
Charles, poor little bugger…..
All I did was bung in
Gambles and thought ..... it! This was the result:
(Info on census card shows:
name, occupation (schoolboy), age and place of birth.)
Found him in an Asylum of
all places. Creepy name for a, me thinks, sort of Military Boarding School.
Teachers all military, all boys’ school, all aged between 9 and 14 and born all
over the world. 2nd Bn Essex Regiment was in Burma in 1897 and was sent to South Africa in December 1901. Census was 31st
Charles was sent to England somewhere between 1897 and 31st
and who knows his brother and mother too?
Wrong! It darn well is an Asylum located on
the grounds of Chelsea Hospital
Crumbs, it is not, it’s
more of an Orphanage: The Duke of York’s Royal Military Asylum for Children of
Soldiers, later called The Duke of
York’s Royal Military School !
The Royal Military
This institution is also
situated at Chelsea. The first stone of the building was laid by
his royal highness the Duke of YORK, on the 19th of June,
1801. It is
a handsome edifice, and admits 700 boys, and 300 girls, the children of soldiers who have died, or are toiling, in the service
of their country. The former are
educated according to the system of Dr. Bell, in reading, writing, and the
useful parts of arithmetic; and the latter in needlework, and the different
branches of household work.
HISTORY DURING THE SNOW ERA (1813-58) The Asylum was a boarding school for children who were orphans or in
need of the Army's charity. It was formed in 1803 with the name "The Royal
Military Asylum for Children of Soldiers of the Regular Army" and remained
at its location until 1895. Thereafter the name of the school was changed
to The Duke of York's Royal Military School and relocated to above the cliffs
of Dover between Folkestone and Dover At first, the institution was
intended both for boys and girls, and both were admitted freely; but it is long
since the Asylum has been reserved for boys only. As stated in the original
regulations, the institution was intended for, "1st", Orphans. 2nd,
those whose fathers have been killed on foreign service. 3rd. those who have
lost their mothers, and whose fathers are absent on duty abroad; and 4th, those
whose fathers are ordered on foreign service, or whose parents have other
children to maintain. These regulations have since been extended to admit the children of pensioners of long
service and good conduct. Children, according to the original regulations
were admitted at " the earliest age for nurture, and into the Asylum from
four years till twelve years, being discharged at fourteen years.
For a long time I was
wondering whether Thomas Gambles was killed in action and now I’m convinced
this is true: I found the poor little basterds Charles and Albert in the
ledgers of this Asylum, or as it was actually called after 1892: Duke of York’s
Military School, which took boys from the age of 9 to 14 or so and educated
them until they could (voluntary) join a regiment. Evidently this is what
happened. The mystery though is what happened to their Mum…..This is where I
found Gambles Charles F and Albert E, both Essex Regiment (Father’s Regiment)
All names entered into W0143/27 and
WO143/78 All Names
Here only Charles is
mentioned as transferred to Duke of York’s School.
to the Royal Military Asylum, Chelsea
Charles’ age was 12 on 31st
according to the census report and the Asylum took on kids from 9 to 15, so he
could have stayed there sometime from 1897 through 1903, which happens to be
the year (?) he joined up with the Essex Regiment according to the photo of the
Drummer Boy. So this is where Charles (and Albert?) stayed and was raised until
he joined Dad’s Regiment in about 1903 in Dublin! Albert is still a bit of a
mystery…..Age wise he must have been younger and he is not mentioned in the
Thomas Gambles must have
died or was disabled (?) somewhere between 1897 and 1903. His regiment was
stationed in Burma from 1897 to 12.1901 when it was
sent to South Africa. In 1902 it was stationed in Warley, England.
Conclusion: Looking at the dates Thomas must
have died in Burma.
Okay, there is always a
chance the boys were sent here for their education, but the fact that I can’t
find Thomas at all, no birth, marriage, death, resurrection, etc. does seem to
point to the more dramatic theory….Another possibility is that their Mum died
and Thomas sent them to England???
Series details for WO 143
Browse the catalogue from here
Royal Military Asylum for Children of Soldiers
of the Regular Army, later Duke of York's Royal Military School, and Royal Hibernian Military School: Records
background Provision of
education for soldiers and their children was provided at regimental schools,
which began to be established in the second half of the eighteenth century. A
Corps of Army Schoolmasters was formed in 1846. On 11 June 1920 this was replaced by
the Army Education Corps, which in 1946 became the Royal Army Education Corps.
the regimental schools there were two boarding schools for children of serving
or deceased officers. These were the Royal Hibernian Military School, Dublin, founded
in 1769 for children and orphans of soldiers on the Irish establishment; and
the Royal Military Asylum for Children of Soldiers of the Regular Army,
established at Chelsea in 1801
on the initiative of the Duke of York.
In 1892 the latter was renamed the Duke of York's Royal Military School, and in
1909 it moved to Dover. In 1922
the Royal Hibernian School moved to
Shorncliffe, and in 1924 it was merged with the Duke of York's School.
Military Asylum for Children of Soldiers of the Regular Army, 1801-1892
of York’s Royal Military School, 1892
the regimental schools there were two boarding schools for children of serving
or deceased officers.
There are other examples of boys 'Not Admitted' and shown as ' Provided for, a
standard fee was paid to the relative or foster person to care for the child
until old enough for admission to the RHMS or until such time that the child
reached the normal discharge age of 14.
Always wondered why this
photograph of Charles was made in Chelsea. He was 12 on 31st
and the photo was taken in +/- 1903 (as written in handwriting of our Dad) the
photo could have been taken in 1902, 1903 or 1904. This would make his age 13,
14 or 15. Taking into consideration what
Charles (?) scrawled on reverse photo: ‘Wishing you a happy New Year’ the end
of 1902, beginning of 1903 or the end of 1903 are logical possibilities date
wise. Studying his face on the photo I would guess he is not older then 13, 14
or 15. So the photo could have been taken either at the Royal military School
or when he had just joined the Essex Regiment, which was stationed at Warley
between 1902 and 1904.
Royal Military School? Drum badge intro. At least as early as 1874 [and 1849 for
drum-majors], and has appeared in several materials and sizes. The early
versions were cloth, fairly large, and rather gaudy and padded, a not-very-good
likeness of a drum, in various coloured wools. It was intended for red frocks
[not the smarter tunic, where the full drummer's lace and shoulder adornments
marked his role. Nevertheless, it was worn on red tunic in many regiments, but
not in the Guards]. Later [and here I avoid a date!] it appeared in brass,
smaller and detachable, and in khaki worsted with detail picked out in
different but dull colours. As to whether the colourful one made it on to
service dress, I do not know, but I suspect so. The brass one was in wear by
many in 1418. This is
what they looked like:
This is where school was:
Now for the fun part:
At the time this article
appeared, the British monarch was Queen Victoria, who had ascended to the
throne in 1837.
The Electrician (London),
May 26, 1899, page 144:
The Queen and the Electrophone.--Her Majesty heard the
electrophone for the first time on Wednesday, when she listened at Windsor
Castle to the boys from all the naval and military schools and the Duke of York's school singing
"God Save the Queen" at Her Majesty's Theatre, in London. Afterwards
the Queen and her guests had the opportunity of listening to the concert at St.
‘The great majority of boys
joined the army at the age of fourteen as band-boys or drummer-boys. From the
earliest Chelsea days there was always a military band, also
drums and bugles….band and drum practice was an integral part of the School curriculum.
His musical progress was so good that he was made a lance-corporal on attaining
the age of eighteen and at twenty two was promoted sergeant. At the early age
of twenty-six he was appointed Drum Major and Bandmaster….”
Excerpts from: Play Up
Dukies, Duke of York’s Royal Military School 1801-1986 by George Shorter, Drum
major: the male leader of a band (= a group of marching musicians) especially
in the army.
Bandmaster: someone who
conducts a military band.
If it is exceptional that
the above person was promoted to lance-corporal at eighteen it might be significant that Charles was a
lance corporal at twenty!