Plymouth Married Quarters: 1904-1906


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Good afternoon all.

Not sure if I am in the right place or not, but here goes.

I am doing some family research and find that my grandfather signed up in the RN on 1st August 1904, and then got himself married on 19th November 1904.

My grandparents were married at Devonport Registra office in Plymouth when he was shown (from his RN service records) that he was serving on HMS Defiance. My research has shown that Defiance at that time was a torpedo school.

He served until 1926 at which time he drew a pension for 12 years service. I have spoken to someone some time ago in Naval Records who told me that it was fairly common practice in the Navy during those years for a well qualified electrician (which he was) to drop in and out of service to go work somewhere else. I think he probably did this and joined with the Merchant Navy. The only photo I have of him is in a naval uniform with a cap badge which may or may not be RN - but could be White Star Line.

My grandmother went to Australia in 1906 and then again in 1908 by which time she was very heavily with child - my mother. Grandfather followed on another ship a few months later and my mother was born in December 1908.

What I am having trouble with is what sort of living arrangements would have been possible for them as a married couple at that time (1904-1906) when he was serving on Defiance, Doris and Vivid. Were 'married quarters' available at that time? Or what?

Any information which anyone out there can give or pointers to local records in the Plymouth are would be gratefully received.

Re: Welcome to Naval History

fangio - I suspect that married quarters were not available to other than the most senior RN personnel during your grandfather's time although they were available to the soldier. I do know that a marriage allowance was paid during much of the last century, initially to sailors but later on to naval officers as well, and this was intended to support the running of a family home away from the mess or barracks. However, no one was eligible until they reached the age of 25.

This excerpt from Hansard, recorded during a Navy Supplementary Estimate finance debate on in the House of Commons on 22 March 1938, may be of help (link):

Commander Sir Archibald Southby said:
....No sailor gets married quarters until he reaches the exalted rank of captain or flag rank, or unless he is employed as senior naval officer abroad... No sailor employed in the barracks at Portsmouth, Plymouth or anywhere else is given anything but quarters for himself...


Re: Welcome to Naval History

Naval Gazer (wish I had thougth of that name!)

Many thanks for your reply. It makes things a little clearer now - at least I can concentrate on the Plymouth area now for my next bit of research.

It seems that at some point in early 1906 my grandmother left the UK and landed in Australia then came back. Must have been the heat.

She then went back out there after becoming pregnant and arrived for a second and final time in July 1908, and he joined her in December that year. Just in time for the birth of my mother.

Unfortunately in 1912 grandmother died leaving my mother to be sent back to the UK at the age of four in the hands of a single lady. Grandfather was nowhere to be found by the legal authorities at that time. Judging from the information on the death certificate I assume that the man who did the legal legwork in getting my mother back here was not totally familiar with the family details - as he got some of them wrong.

The other problem I have is trying to find grandfather after the time he started to draw his pension in 1926.

He was injured in the Battle of Jutland in 1916 and this is on his service record, but try as I may I cannot get any response out of the naval records department to give me an address of where and when his last pension payments were made. If I could get that information then I would at least be able to know when he died.

Many thanks again for your help in this matter.

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