In a previous blog post I’d discovered that my Great-great Grandfather Mark Wood was in the Coldstream Guards at the time of his marriage in 1877. It was a bit of a surprise to find this as none of his family members had any military connections as far as I can see.
A check on Ancestry’s Fold site revealed Mark as a deserter in 1878 and I knew that he was back in Staffordshire by the 1881 census so I wasn’t expecting a glittering military career and I wasn’t disappointed!
I sent off for his service record via an archive search request on the Coldstream Guards’ website which came quite quickly and I discovered that he’d originally signed up for the 38th Regiment of Foot at Tamworth in May 1873 at the age of eighteen years & six months. Mark had served with them until the 31st December 1873 when he transferred to the Coldstream Guards.
Mark is listed as a Private until 22nd March 1875 when he is imprisoned for a month following an assault. I have been unable to find any other details on this incident, but he was imprisoned by a ‘civil power’ which may suggest that it happened outside the military.
On 3rd July 1875 he is confined and is tried the following day and imprisoned until 1st August for being out of barracks. Mark seems to keep out of trouble after this for a while; he marries Mary Jane Woolford in February 1877.
Then in October 1877 he is again confined and tried, this time for being insubordinate and is imprisoned until 20th February 1878, a longer sentence than before. Mark then deserts the regiment on 27th February 1878 and is not recaptured until January 1879 almost a full year later. His punishment for this is imprisonment until 2nd July and the forfeiture of any service awards, pay and pension.
At the end of October 1879, Mark is imprisoned for fraudulent enlistment until 30th April 1880 but doesn’t serve out his full time as he is discharged with ignominy from the regiment on 27th December 1879.
In the 1881 census, Mark is found lodging with his brother, George and his wife Martha. Mary Jane is with her father in Basingstoke; her mother died in early 1881 so it’s possible that she was supporting her father.
By 1891 Mary Jane is in Linton, Derbyshire, with their five children, but Mark is lodging in Grassmoor, Derbyshire. With him are his brother Thomas and another man from the same area. All are employed as miners so it could be that they had travelled further afield looking for work.
The family are together in 1901, in Linton, with six of their children, but sadly, not for long as Mark died in July 1901 and is buried in the local churchyard.
Quite an eventful life!