eigthysixthfoot
A NCO and Officer, the privates are behind them.

I continue my search trying to find where my great (x4) grandfather comes from. Digging into the stories of the Thomas Greenwoods from Yorkshire in the early 19th century, I came across Thomas Greenwood of the 86th Foot in the British Army in 1838. He was 19 at the time, so born around 1819 and his record say he came from Easingwold.

There are some good records of the British Army on the internet, and I found the history of the 86th foot has been fully digitised, click on the picture on the left to go there. The 86th were essentially a Irish Regiment, named the Royal County Down. In 1838 they had just returned from 10 years  in the West Indies, where they suffered at the hands of rioting slaves and tropical diseases. They were barracked in Stockport, Cheshire. During 1837 and 1838 they were much employed during the Chartist  disturbances in Manchester at that time, when large public demonstrations were held against poor wages and working conditions in the cotton mills.

Thomas, at 19, would not of course have been in the West Indies for all that time, may be he had just joined the regiment on their return. Perhaps he was sent out to Barbados for their last regimental posting, soon returning to Stockport and Manchester.

Either way, he didn’t want to stay in the Army and deserted in August. The records don’t show if he was caught and punished, or spent the rest of life on the run. If caught he would have been flogged and spent time in military prison. Apparently around 1/5th of enlisted soldiers deserted during campaigns.

This Thomas is one of those enigma’s I frequently come across. There is no record of him being born in Easingwold, or any close parish. All of the Thomas Greenwoods born then come from the West Riding around Halifax, Todmorden and Huddersfield. If he survived and survived into 1851, he hasn’t declared his birthplace as Easingwold either.  So what happened to him is impossible to say. His legacy into the 21st century is his desertion.

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