It’s true. You never stop learning. No matter what you are learning about. Putting together an article about Ralph John Claude Pillifent (or Ralph John Clarem Pillipot as he was baptised in 1867!), I noted a reference to his younger brother, Joseph Richard Pillifent who had served in the Navy ‘from 1889 to 1919’. Amazed at his long service, I wondered exactly where I had located this information…..? Checking out The National Archives Discovery catalogue, there was just one reference to Joseph Pillifent:
Admiralty: Royal Navy Registers of Seamen’s Services. Registers. Name Pillifent, Joseph Richard. Official Number: 151025. Place of Birth: Saint Peters Port Guernsey. Date of Birth: 30 November 1873
Having left a few pounds in my Paypal account when I was reimbursed a week or so ago, I used £3.30 to download his service record, in PDF. Talk about putting two and two together and making twenty!
Joseph died on 29 August 1890 aged 16 years after suffering from intestinal obstruction. What I had not spotted when I first looked at the record – probably many years, nay decades ago – was that there is someone else’s record on the bottom of Joseph’s service history and it is Charles Henry Punter (Official Number: 151030) who served until the end of World War 1.
Delving deeper into the story of Joseph Richard Pillifent, he was being trained on H.M.S. “Ganges” (pictured below) which was moored in Mylor, Cornwall from 1866 until 1899. During this period, approximately 14,000 boys were trained but unfortunately, some of the boys remained in Mylor forever and are recorded on a memorial in the church.
Fifty-three boys died whilst training for a career in the Royal Navy on board H.M.S. “Ganges” along with sixteen members of the ships’ company. The majority of them died because of illness; this was the age when measles and influenza could be fatal. Eight of the boys died because of accidents, either killed on board or drowned – a fact which is entered alongside their names on the memorial. Phil Rodda, Online Parish Clerk (OPC) for Mylor has transcribed the memorial and made it available online.
No wonder I had not managed to find any record of Joseph Richard Pillifent after his appearance in the 1881 census in Guernsey, a scholar aged 9…..