Thursday, 17 July 2008

Cruse of France

I have just discovered a fascinating website which gives statistics and maps on the frequency and distribution of surnames in France. There seem to be two main clusters of the surname Cruse in France: one in the Gironde d├ępartement and the other in Paris. The Gironde cluster is probably accounted for by the Cruse wine-making dynasty who owned the Chateau Pontet-Canet for over 100 years. Further information can be found in the Wikipedia article on the Cruse family.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Courtney Cruwys of the 37th Foot

I have been in touch in the past with Ryan Hill and Susan Wood, both of whom are descended from the Thorverton Cruwys tree. However, I had lost contact with them and have been unable to pass on some of the latest findings on this line, the most exciting of which was the discovery of Courtney Cruwys's service in the 37th Regiment of Foot (the Royal Hampshire Regiment) during the Napoleonic Wars. Fortunately I've now been able to locate Ryan through Genes Reunited and this week I was able to give him the good news about Courtney and provide an updated report on the Thorverton line.

Courtney Cruwys, the son of Courtney Cruwys and Elizabeth Prowse, was baptised on 11th December 1768 in Thorverton, Devon. He lived to a very great age, dying in 1862 when he was either 93 or 94 years old. The only clue about his army record was from the census entries where he was described as a "pensioner" in 1851 and 1861 and an "Army P" (presumably army pensioner) in 1841. However, trying to locate a soldier's record at the National Archives without the name of the Regiment is a virtually impossible task.

Luckily Barbara Chambers has worked tirelessly over the years indexing various army records from the Napoleonic War era and compiling them into a large database. While at the Bracknell Family History Fair in January I visited Barbara's stall and took the opportunity to have a search done in her indexes. Courtney at first proved to be elusive but she eventually located him by searching on his Christian name – his surname had been spelt Crowes! Barbara's Regimental Indexes revealed that Courtney joined the 37th Regiment of Foot (the Royal Hampshire Regiment) as a private on 11th February 1794. I've now managed to locate Courtney in the National Archives catalogue. His service record can be found in WO 97/1113/290. The index entry confirms that he was born in Thorverton, Devon, and he was known as "Courtney Crowes alias Courtney Cruise". He served not only in the 37th Foot Regiment but also in the 12th Royal Veteran Battalion and the 1st Royal Veteran Battalion. He was was discharged at the age of 52, and shortly afterwards married Sarah Weslake though we have not yet been able to locate the marriage. The Royal Hampshire Regiment do not appear to have been on active service in the Napoleonic Wars but were instead garrisoned in India, the Far East and the Caribbean, losing many of their men to sickness. We now need to get Courtney's discharge papers to find out more about his army career.

If anyone is researching Napoleonic War soldiers I can highly recommend Barbara Chambers' services. She no longer attends family history fairs but can be contacted through her website. Large numbers of men served in the army during this period and often there is no clue in the conventional records other than a marriage at a surprisingly late age.