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Ernest Lionel Carpenter (1847-1887)

Page history last edited by Jon 10 years, 3 months ago

Son of William Carpenter and Emily Carpenter (née Cox)


Early Years

Ernest Lionel Carpenter was born at precisely 7.30pm on 10th January 1847, the sixth child of William and Emily Carpenter. Afterwards, William recorded the details in the family record book that he had been keeping meticulously for many years. As required by law, the birth was registered at the Camden Town District Office a little over a fortnight later, on February 2nd 1847.


On 16th July 1848 Ernest was christened with his brother Frederick[1] at the Old Church of St Pancras in London, which was conveniently situated behind the family home in Cook’s Row. At the time of Ernest’s baptism there were two churches in St Pancras – St Pancras Old Church (formerly the parish church of St Pancras) and St Pancras New Church (which had become the parish church in 1822).  The Old Church was derelict and in ruins when Ernest was born in 1847 but the growth in the local population had brought about the need to restore and enlarge the Old Church[2]. The Old Church reopened in 1848 and baptisms resumed. In the family record book William Carpenter wrote:


‘Frederick and Ernest Lionel  were the first children christened at the Old Church after its enlargement, the christenings having been suspended at that church for a number of years. Their names were taken down on paper by Mr Drew, the minister, to be transferred to the books at the New Church.’[3]


The new register that William refers to is held by the London Metropolitan archives and this confirms William’s statement, as Frederick and Ernest Lionel Carpenter are shown as the first two entries[4].


Ernest spent his early childhood in 8 Cook’s Row[5] surrounded by the growing urban landscape of North London and with the sprawling churchyard of St Pancras Old Church (where 10,000 bodies were interred between 1843 and 1845 alone[6]) behind the family home. The Carpenters lived in the area during a period in London’s history marked by a chronic housing shortage and the dramatic changes in this area would have been readily apparent, with the slums of Agar Town[7] just a short walk away. Today, little remains of the area that the family would have known – most of this was swept away when St Pancras railway station was built in 1866[8] and Cook’s Row itself appears to have been demolished by the end of the 19th century[9].


At the age of four Ernest appears in the census for the first time, on the night of March 30th 1851[10]. The family lived at 8 Cook’s Terrace[11] at this time and Ernest is shown as a scholar. Ernest’s father knew the value of education from his own experience and it is possible that Ernest would have attended one of the many schools just a few minutes walk from the family home[12].


On 20th March 1853 the family moved to the 1st floor of 5 Dear’s Place, Somers Town, and after fours years at this address, moved on again to the 2nd floor at 12 Drummonds Crescent, Euston Square on 27th June 1857. William Carpenter stated that this home was entirely destroyed and from May 1860 the family were lodging at 2 Queen Street, Camden Town.


In the census taken on 7th April 1861[13], we get a further snapshot of the families of William and his brother James who were both recorded at 11 Grove Street in Camden Town. At this time Ernest was working as an errand boy and a further insight into Ernest’s working life is given by later naval records[14], where his trade prior to joining the navy is given as ‘Chemist’ (perhaps as an assistant or errand boy).


Just eight months after the 1861 census Ernest was to embark on a very different career.


Naval Career

Ernest chose not to follow his family into the printing trade and instead opted for a life on the seas.  It is likely that Ernest, as a young lad, would have been aware of the heroic tales coming back from the Crimean War of 1854-56 and the important role of the navy – a war that had huge popular support throughout Great Britain at the time. A more important development, and one that would become significant in Ernest’s naval career would be the brinkmanship that brought Great Britain to the edge of war with the United States at the end of 1861 and prompted calls in the press for action[15]. Against this backdrop, Ernest was accepted by the Royal Navy in December 1861.


William Carpenter describes the first stages of his son’s naval career in the Carpenter Family Record Book and you can only imagine that this was written with pride, since no other career path was entered into the family record book in this way:


Ernest Lionel Carpenter, accepted for the Royal Navy on 26th December 1861; entered on the “Fisgard” at Woolwich – 9 January 1862; left Woolwich on the “Rhadamanthus” for Devonport, 14th of February 1862, where he was placed on board the “Impregnable”.


The entry outlines the movements of Ernest from 26th December 1861 through to joining HMS Impregnable at Devonport in 1862. This is the last entry William wrote in the book and as we now know, Ernest’s father died on 20th May 1863.


The entry is backed up by information from Ernest’s continuous service record (number 20892A) which is now held in the National Archives[16].  The record tells us that when Ernest joined the navy as a Boy 2nd class he was just 4ft 8½ inches tall with a fair complexion, grey eyes and brown hair.  The description book for HMS Impregnable only a month later gives a description at slight variance – blue eyes, fresh complexion and adds that Ernest had a scar on the right leg.


According to the continuous service record Ernest Lionel Carpenter put his signature to the papers agreeing to ten years continuous service on 9th January 1862. Although Ernest joined and began service in 1862, his ten years service would not begin until 10th January 1865 when he reached the age of 18.  In  effect, he was signing up for 13 years.


In most cases the continuous service records provide a chronological record of the ships that an individual served on. Unusually, Ernest’s record does not appear to include such a list but this can still be reconstructed from the records that each captain was required to keep by the Admiralty.


Every ship in the Royal Navy maintained a series of description books, which provided a description of each sailor on their entry to the ship, and muster or victualling lists, which provide a record of the service of each sailor on board in order to determine his wages. Both types of list show the ship that the sailor arrived from and the ship that they were subsequently transferred to. By working from the first ships that Ernest served on and following his movements from ship to ship in sequence, it is possible to reconstruct his entire career. The table below provides a summary of Ernest’s service, drawn from these records.


Entered  Location
HMS Fisgard 9th January 1862 Woolwich
HMS Rhadamanthus 14th February 1862 Woolwich
HMS Impregnable 17th February 1862 Devonport
HMS Racoon 18th March 1863   Devonport
HMS Terror 15th April 1863 Bermuda
HMS Nile 4th May 1863 Bermuda
HMS Fisgard / Black Eagle 24th April 1864 Woolwich
HMS Niger 1st February 1865 Woolwich
HMS Fisgard 10th December 1868 Woolwich
Run 3rd February 1869 Woolwich


HMS Fisgard & Rhadamanthus

Ernest initially entered HMS Fisgard at Woolwich on 9th January 1862 and spent 37 days on board the ship (the flagship of the port of Woolwich) before being transferred by the thirty year old wooden paddle sloop HMS Rhadamanthus for the short journey to Devonport to join the training ship HMS Impregnable.


The victualling list for HMS Fisgard[17] shows Ernest Carpenter as entry 36 in List 15a (headed ‘Disposable Boys’) and records his transfer to HMS Rhadamanthus on 14th February 1862 for passage to Devonport. The record also notes payments of 13s 7d for making clothing and £3 17s 1½d for clothing &c issued. 


HMS Impregnable

The Rhadamathus arrived in the harbour at Devonport in the afternoon of Monday 17th February 1862. According to the Ship’s Log for the training ship, HMS Impregnable[18], 50 Boys were received from the ship which we know would have included Ernest Lionel Carpenter.


Ernest’s entry (no 44) is recorded in the ship’s description book[19] which gives a picture of Ernest at the time of his arrival (with small differences in his height, complexion and eye colour compared to those recorded on his Continuous Service certificate as well as the first mention of a scar on his right leg). The entry records his conduct as ‘very good’ and reveals that he had been vaccinated for smallpox and lists his previous trade as chemist.


The period of training on the Impregnable was to last just over a year and the entries from the Ship’s Log provide some illustration of day to day life.  The routine elements of life on board included general rifle drill school, seamanship, drill, washing and scrubbing their hammocks, blank firing, washing and mustering clothes, cleaning the ship, general boat exercise and the articles of war. Occasionally, amidst the routine the log records accidents on board, punishments and boys that had to be sent to hospital.  The log also indicates that the boys had to pass quarterly examinations at school.


Amongst the more unusual events of the period in which Ernest was on board were the visit of Admirals Sir Frederick Guy, Houston Stewart and Sir Thomas Paisley on 20th April 1862 and a visit by Prince Albert of Prussia on 15th August 1862[20].  At the very end of the year the boys spent 24th December 1862 cleaning the ship in preparation for divine service on Christmas Day, presumably Ernest’s first Christmas away from his family.


On 18th March 1863, Ernest was transferred to the corvette HMS Racoon (‘for disposal’) according to the description book[21]. The Ship’s Log[22]  for the morning of Thursday 19th March 1863 records this transfer with an entry that reads ‘Discharged 50 2nd class Boys and 10 1st class Boys to “Racoon”’


HMS Racoon

HMS Racoon, a wood built screw corvette barely six years old[23], set sail from Spithead on 17th March 1863 and was anchored off Plymouth Sound by the following day. The victualling lists for HMS Racoon[24] show that the ship was at sea on 20th March 1863 when the crew were first mustered with Ernest Lionel Carpenter aboard.


Ernest appears in List 15 (headed ‘Supernumeraries for victuals only at Full Allowance’) in the ship’s description book for the period[25] which states that he came from HMS Impregnable for passage to the West Indies. The journey took just under a month (including a stop at Funchal between 27th and 29th March 1863) with the ship arriving in Bermuda on 14th April 1863 where she moored off the dockyard[26]. Ernest was transferred to HMS Terror for disposal in Bermuda on 15th April 1863.


HMS Terror 

HMS Terror was an iron built floating battery in use as a base ship in Bermuda at the time that Ernest arrived in April 1863. In his journal for 1863 the medical officer at the time explained that the ships complement was split between the Terror and two gunboats, one of which was in use for some part of 1863 in surveying the harbour.


At the time of Ernest’s arrival on board, the victualling list states that the ships complement of HMS Terror (as recorded on 16th April 1863) was 60, including 14 boys. Ernest’s entry (no 469) in the description book[27] continued to show that his conduct had been recorded as very good on his certificate and also reveals that he had grown a little – as he was 4ft 11inches when he joined the ship, at the age of 16.


The records in the description book and victualling list[28] show that Ernest spent just 19 days on the Terror before he was discharged to HMS Nile on May 4th 1863.  Ernest’s departure is recorded as ’to the “Nile” for disposal’ in List 14 of the victualling list. In retrospect, his move to HMS Nile was fortuitous, for between the middle of September and end of December 1863 the Terror suffered severely from an epidemic of what the Americans described as Dengue Breakbone Fever[29]


HMS Nile 

At the time Ernest Lionel Carpenter was transferred to HMS Nile in May 1863 she was the flagship of the North America and West Indies squadron (a position she had held since 1860).  In her position as the flagship she carried Admiral Milne, the Commander in Chief of the Royal Navy in the Americas at this time. The Nile was a well armed vessel, with 92 guns, and travelled between the naval bases in the area – spending most of her time at Bermuda or Halifax when not at sea.


The victualling list[30] for HMS Nile states that Ernest’s date of entry was May 10th 1863 (when the ship was in Bermuda) and goes on to gives an indication of the sheer scale of the ship – stating that the ships complement at 21st June 1863 consisted of 24 Boys 2nd Class and 44 Boys 1st Class out of a total crew of 814.


Although it is not possible to get a full picture of the events that the Nile was involved in we do know that the North American squadron at this time was involved in blockade running, searching neutral ships and trying to protect Great Britain’s interest as the American civil war raged. The most intriguing of the voyages made by the Nile took place in September 1863, when she sailed uninvited into New York harbour. At the time the press speculated[31] that it was part of a plan by the British and French to force a peace between the North and the South whilst other unproven rumours[32] suggested that the visit was a cover for high level negotiations between the British and the Union. A more detailed account of HMS Nile’s voyages whilst Ernest was on board can be found in the article HMS Nile.


On 13th February 1864 Ernest Lionel became a Boy 1st Class, as noted in the victualling list.  It is hard to know how routine this change would have been, but the regulations laid out in Admiralty Circular No 121 (dated 14th June 1858) state that ‘If a boy should be more than ordinarily active and well conducted, he may, at the discretion of the Captain, be promoted to the first class at the age of 16, provided he shall have been at least one year at sea.’


HMS Fisgard

Following the return of HMS Nile to Devonport, Ernest was transferred to HMS Fisgard at Woolwich. The date of his entry is recorded as April 24th 1864 and all the men listed as joining the Fisgard on the same page as Ernest in the victualling[33] list for this date had been transferred from the Nile (Paid off). 


The entry shows Ernest as a Boy 1st Class, records additional payments of 12s 6d for clothing and shows that he was on leave from April 24th until June 18th 1864. In June 1864 the boys that arrived together from the Nile found themselves dispersed – one lad appears to have purchased his freedom, others joined HMS Wolverine and the rest remained on HMS Fisgard (but were transferred to another list). Ernest remained on the Fisgard and his details were transferred to another list (Entry 70 on List 13) on June 27th 1864. 


On June 28th 1864 Ernest appears on List 13[34], which was sub-divided into four tenders’ crews for the Black Eagle, Vivid, Bann and Shamrock. Ernest was assigned to the crew of the tender Black Eagle and remained there until 31st January 1865[35].


HMS Black Eagle

The Black Eagle was an admiralty steam yacht based at Woolwich. The ship was originally named HMS Firebrand and had been built in 1831 as a wooden gunvessel with paddle propulsion, but had been converted to steam power by the time that she was renamed the ‘Black Eagle’ in 1843. 


It appears that the Black Eagle had a relatively small crew, with the Ships Log[36] for 1st January 1863-19th September 1864 recording the ships’ company as 5 officers, 5 petty officers, 24 seamen and 2 boys (1st and 2nd class)  - just 36 in total (in comparison to 850 on the Nile). The men were recorded in the victualling lists of the Fisgard (the flag ship of the port) and were sent to the Fisgard to receive their monthly allowance and for drill.


On Friday 24th June 1864, whilst at her moorings in Woolwich, HMS Black Eagle received orders to prepare for sea. One sailor and 2 Boys 1st Class were discharged to the Fisgard and in return the Black Eagle received 2 Boys 1st Class and 7 supernumeraries from the Fisgard. In spite of the slight variance in date with the victualling list from HMS Fisgard, it is clear that one of the two boys entering the ship on the 24th was Ernest[37].


Ernest’s time on board the Black Eagle took him to Norway on a cruise around the coast between June and September 1864. The Black Eagle accompanied HMS Racoon on the cruise, the ship on which Prince Alfred (1844-1900), the second son of Queen Victoria, was starting his naval career. At a number of occasions during the voyage Prince Alfred embarked on the Black Eagle to travel into harbour in style, to tour the Norwegian Fjords and travel from the northernmost town in Europe (Hammerfest) to the North Cape. A more detailed account of the Black Eagle’s voyages whilst Ernest was on board is covered in an article on HMS Black Eagle.


After the Black Eagle returned from Norway she remained in Woolwich for the remainder of the time that Ernest spent on board. The pattern of life on board seems to have been fairly routine – the crew spent most of their time working in the dockyards, making repairs or going to HMS Fisgard for drill. The only exception to this routine began with the arrival of HMS Niger in late November 1864, with the crew employed in cleaning the ship and a working party sent aboard the Niger ‘to assist in navigating her while on trial’.


A number of the crew were granted leave on 23rd December 1864[38] and it is possible that Ernest was able to spend his first Christmas at home with his family since 1861. If so, it would have been the last Christmas he could have been able to spend with the family until 1868.   


On 31st January 1865[39], after seven months on the Black Eagle, Ernest was discharged to another list (Entry 3683 on List 15) for disposal. The Ship’s Log[40] corroborates this and the entry for the afternoon of 31st January 1865 states simply ‘Discharged one AB + two Boys 1st Class to Fisgard’. Nine days later the records of HMS Fisgard show that he was discharged from List 15 to HMS Niger[41].


HMS Niger 

HMS Niger was built as a screw propelled steam sloop and launched at Woolwich in November 1846. The ship was approximately 194 feet in length and had 8 guns. In its early years the ship saw service in Africa, China and Australia as well as taking part in the first bombardment of Sebastopol during the Crimean War. In 1862 the ship was converted to a corvette with a maximum complement of 180 crew, although actual numbers during Ernest’s period of service varied from 150 to the high 170s. Out of this number, the ship generally held around 26 boys, including Ernest.


In the time that Ernest served on HMS Niger, the ship was a witness to a great many historic events including the Fenian attacks on Canada, the Jamaican insurrection of 1865 and the landing of the first transatlantic cable in Newfoundland (connecting the United States and the United Kingdom by telegraph). A more detailed account of HMS Niger’s voyages in the time that Ernest was on board can be found in an article on HMS Niger.


Ernest was transferred to HMS Niger from HMS Fisgard as a Boy 1st Class on 1st February 1865 and then went on to serve on HMS Niger until 9th December 1868. In this time he was recorded initially as a Boy First Class (until 1st May 1865), as an ordinary seaman[42] (from 2nd May 1865 until 30th November 1865) and finally as an able seaman (from 1st December 1865 until 9th December 1868).  In each case his conduct was shown as very good.


Ernest’s service record is laid out in his entry in the Description Book (HMS Niger, 1st February 1865-9th December 1868)[43] whilst the Muster Open List (HMS Niger, 1st February 1865-9th December 1868)[44] adds to this with a faintly written note[45] of a period spent off the ship:



28 Sept ff Hercules

14 Nov – Ret


The entry is not explained further in the muster list but a look at the Ship’s Log for the period helps to explain the pattern of events, which should be viewed in the context of the growing threat of a Fenian invasion of Canada from North America.


The entry for Thursday 27th September 1866 shows HMS Niger at Quebec, Canada and states that at 8am: ‘Discharged for passage by Rail[46], Party for Gunboats, consisting of 2 Lieutenants, 1 Asst Surgeon, 1 Sub Lieutenant, 2 Midshipmen, 2 Engineers (Asst), 45 Petty Officers & Men, 12 Mariners, 7 Stokers & 16 Boys’. The log does not state where the gunboats were based at this time but references in later Admiralty digests talk of gunboats based in the lakes which were available for use to search ships off the coast of Canada[47].  


On the morning of Tuesday 13th November 1866, whilst HMS Niger was at Montreal, the log[48] shows the return of the men with a note that reads simply ‘Arrived Gunboat “Hercules”’ and then in the afternoon a second note reads ‘”Hercules” crew turned over’ before finally the Hercules is shown to have left just before sunset. The ships log also includes entries for two other gunboats that the Niger had supplied crews for – the Royal and the Acadia.


In the description book for HMS Niger covering this period the picture given of Ernest remains much the same, although by this point he had grown to a height of 5ft 5inches. It is easy to forget that by the time the ship had returned home to Woolwich Ernest was still only 21 and yet had seen more of the world in his time than most people would in a lifetime.


HMS Fisgard

On the return of HMS Niger to Woolwich Ernest was paid off and discharged to HMS Fisgard on 9th December 1868[49]. Ernest appears as an Able Seaman on the victualling list for HMS Fisgard on 10th December 1868. 


In the final entry from the victualling list[50] of HMS Fisgard for January-March 1869 we can see that Ernest had been granted leave  along with all the other men who had been transferred to the Fisgard from the Niger and would have been due back on ship on the 26th January 1869.


The column labelled D, DD or R (Discharged, Discharged Dead or Run) is entered as R and dated 3rd February 1869, indicating that Ernest had deserted at Woolwich (by not returning from leave).  The record of leave shows a cross against the muster for 4th February 1869.


There is no record of the desertion in the corresponding Ship’s Log (and it appears that such details were not recorded on the whole).

Ernest’s desertion is noted on his continuous service record with a final entry that reads R Fisgard 3 February 1869.  Ernest would have been 22 years by this point and had served 7 years out of the 13 that he had signed up for.


The decision to desert had its consequences, to begin with ‘he would lose all rights to pay, prize money and medals, and to any possessions he left on board ship’[51] The Naval Discipline Act 1860 defined desertion as unauthorized absence from a ship for more than 21 days and court martial records in the National Archives provide a good illustration of the sentences handed down. The Admiralty digest for 1869[52] records a number of deserters tried by court martial, including:-


Thomas King, Boy 1st Class, 20th December 1869 (HMS Cracker)

Charged with desertion

Sentenced to receive 24 cuts with a birch and 6 months hard labour


Jos Hoey , Able Seaman, 4th December 1869 (HMS Monarch)

Charges 1st Absent without leave, 2nd Striking a Policeman, 3rd Leaving the ship when a prisoner at large. Sentenced to 6 months imprisonment


William Ballman, Gunner, 7th September 1869 (R.M. Malacca)

Charged with desertion

Sentenced to imprisonment for 9 months with hard labour


Peter White, Boy 1st Class, 28th May 1869 (HMS Ringdove)

Charged with desertion

Sentenced to imprisonment for 2 years


The range of sentences illustrated in these cases are typical of those delivered in the year that Ernest deserted. It was clearly not a decision to be taken lightly.  A search of the Admiralty digests for 1869-1875[53] reveals no entry for Ernest and it is possible to interpret this negative as an indication that he was not caught.


Nevertheless, as a deserter, Ernest’s name and a copy of his details from the ships description book would have been sent to the Admiralty and his description then circulated to the police. It could not have made life easy for Ernest in England.


Rewards were offered for the capture of deserters. It is not clear where the details would have been published at the time of Ernest’s desertion, possibly in local newspapers, but certainly after 1875 lists of deserters from HM ships, together with rewards for their capture, were published in the Police Gazette.  These lists would have included the descriptions supplied to the Admiralty.



After Ernest Lionel Carpenter deserted in 1869 the trail of evidence runs cold for a number of years and there is no indication of whether he was apprehended, where he was during this time or when he finally emigrated. It is possible that he returned to see his family after many years away and then took the decision not to return to continue his service.


Even if he managed to avoid re-capture the thought must certainly have been at the back of his mind. Maybe Ernest left the country to escape this climate of fear and return to a country he was already a little familiar with – and indeed, maybe he had already met his future wife. It is impossible to do anything more than speculate as there is simply no evidence to illuminate this period in his life.


It is not unreasonable to assume that with his experience at sea Ernest could have worked his passage to the United States rather than simply being a passenger. Although, it is possible that a record of this may exist in the surviving records of merchant vessels (now distributed amongst a number of archives including the National Archives, National Maritime Museum, County Archives and the Memorial University of Newfoundland) it is questionable how willing Ernest would have been to use his real name in the circumstances.


As with so much of the detail for this period in Ernest’s life we do not know when (or indeed where) Ernest arrived in the United States. Initial checks of the 1870 US census and 1871 UK census have not provided any evidence of Ernest (although this should have the same warning that even if Ernest was still in the UK at this time he may not have wished to give his name away to a census enumerator).  It is possible that sources in the United States may provide more answers in the future on the date of arrival, the port of entry and any naturalization.


The first record of Ernest Lionel Carpenter in the United States comes from the Missouri State Census[54] of 1876[55].  So far, there is no indication of how Ernest ended up in Missouri, which is around one thousand miles from any coastline. It is possible that in future research we may be able to trace the missing seven years between his desertion and re-appearance in Missouri but for the time being this remains one of the many unanswered questions about Ernest’s life.


Family Life

Ernest Lionel Carpenter first known appearance in the records of the United States comes in the 1876 Missouri State Census. The entry[56]  records an E. Carpenter living within the area of Township 47N, Range 7W (in which Fulton, Missouri is located) amongst many other men. There is no indication of the work Ernest was doing at the time[57].


It is hard to interpret the page for the 1876 census entry which includes Ernest as this is presented as a long list of names grouped into batches of four which appear to include a number of family groups and may possibly indicate separate dwellings. For the sake of argument we can look at the batch of four names in which Ernest appears and make the assumption that he was living with these men, presumably whilst working on the land or with either coal or clay. The other men in the group were William Shealey and John Newton (two white males between 21-45 years old, who are each shown with 2 horses) and H. M. Hall (a colored male aged of more than 45 years).


Two years later, in October 1878, Ernest Lionel Carpenter married Ella Virginia Fricke. Ella (who seems to have been known by the shortened form of Virginia, as Jennie or Jenny) was the daughter of John D Fricke[58] from Hanover[59]. John Fricke is listed in the 1870 Federal census as a Saloon keeper in Fulton[60].


The marriage of Ernest L. Carpenter to Ella Virginia Fricke took place on 22nd October 1878 in Lafayette County[61] (the marriage itself was filed and recorded in the Callaway County marriage registers on 25th October 1878[62]).


Ernest and Ella lived in the township of Fulton, Callaway County in Missouri (according to the Federal census of June 1880[63]). The entry tells us that the family was living in their own dwelling house when the enumerator visited[64]. At the time of the census Ernest Lionel Carpenter (31) was working as a coal miner and there were a number of mines in the local area that he could have been working at.  The occupation recorded for Jennie (20) was ‘keeps house’.


The couple’s first child (a daughter), Goldie Carpenter, was born on 6th August 1879[65] and was 10 months old when the census enumerator visited. 


The couple’s second child was Eustace C. Carpenter and he was born on 10th August 1881[66].


On 27th October 1883, Ernest and Ella’s third child (another daughter), Jessie Ernestine Carpenter, was born. 


Almost exactly two years later, on 23rd October 1885, their fourth child was born, Ernest Alfred Carpenter. A small notice was published in the October 30th 1885 edition of the Callaway Weekly Gazette stating ‘Born to the wife of Earnest Carpenter, a 9 pound boy’. As births were registered in Missouri between 1883 and 1888 certificates exist for both children and these usefully tell us that the family were still living in Fulton and that Ernest was still working as a coal miner.


Ernest’s eventful life came to an end at the age of 40. The only information we had on his death before we started our search came from the Carpenter Family Record Book which stated that he was ‘accidentally killed’[67] on 19th September 1887. 

Ernest’s death was reported in the Fulton Telegraph[68] and the Callaway Weekly Gazette.   In the October 21st 1887 edition of the Callaway Weekly  Gazette  a short notice was  published which read: ‘Died E. L. Carpenter, who was hurt by a dynamite explosion on Sept 19th after sever suffering on Oct. 13, age 40 years, 8 months and 23 days. He left a widow and 4 small children.’


At present we have no information on where Ernest Lionel Carpenter was buried. Barbara Huddleston at the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society checked local sources and found no entry in their cemetery index of 1933 and suggested that with four small children it would seem doubtful that Ella would have had the funds to purchase a tombstone. There is no entry for Ernest Carpenter in the probate index held by the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society. 


After Ernest’s death the records show that Mrs. Jennie Carpenter married Samuel Green on July 15th 1890[69]. Barbara Huddleston suggested that with four small children she would have needed a husband to help her take care of them. The marriage appears to have resulted in a further two children[70] – May (June 1891[71]) and Eddie (December 1892[72]) – but by the time of the 1900 census there is no trace of Samuel Green[73]. Ella Virginia reverted to using the surname of Carpenter and eventually died in 1936.


For further information on the family after 1887 see the entries for Ella Virginia Carpenter and her children.






  1. Frederick Carpenter (1844-1849). The family record states 'This Boy was accidentally killed, by being jammed between a cartwheel and gate post, at the bottom of College Street, Camden Town, on the 17th April 1849. Inquest held on the 20th, verdict "Death from Fracture of the skull". Buried, April 24, at the Old Ground, St Pancras'
  2. A Guide to St Pancras Old Church, c. 2003.
  3. Entry from Carpenter Family Record Book.
  4. Entry from the Register of Baptisms for St Pancras Old Church.
  5. An illustration of 8 Cook's Row showing the house as it appeared in the 1820s can be found in panel 14 of the Kentish Town Panorama, which is thought to have been drawn from memory by James Frederick King around 1848-55. Cooks Row appears on a map dating from about 1800 and the construction of the row of houses was attributed in thepanel to Captain Cook of Hampstead, but another source states that the ground was leased by a Somers Town butcher called Cook and this is thought to be the most likely origin for the name.
  6. Kentish Town Panorama: Commentary by John Richardson, p18. London Topographical Society, 1986.
  7. Agar Town was named after the estate belonging to prominent lawyer, Counsellor Agar. Following his death in 1838 his son let out the estate on 21 year leases, resulting in the creation of London's worst slum. One source described it as 'a miserable district of mud and hovels' whilst a description in Household Words (1851, W. Thomas) gave a vivid description of a district with unmade roads ('a complete bog of mud and filth with deep cart-ruts'), dust heaps and no sewers.
  8. The construction of the railway lines and station at St Pancras swept away the slums, surrounding residential areas in Somers Town and Camden Town and a significant part of the churchyard. Around 4000 houses were demolished to make way for the railway. Agar Town: The Life & Death of a Victorian Slum, Steven Denford (Camden History Society, 1995).
  9. Cook's Row is visible in the 1871 Ordnance Survey Map of the area but appears to have been replaced by a single building in the 1894 Ordnance Survey Map (Old St Pancras 1871-94: London Large Scale Map 7.23, Alan Godfrey Maps).
  10. HO 107/1497 392.
  11. The records left by William Carpenter describe the family residences from 1842-1853 as both Cook's Row and Cook's Terrace Houses in the same list and presumably refer to the same row of houses.
  12. Ernest's signature appears on his entry certificate (in a space allocated for a Boy's signature or mark) and demonstrates that he could write well, which we may be one indication of an education.
  13. RG 9/94 33-07. It is unclear whether both families were living at this address, or whether the family was visiting on the night of the census, however we know that the family address was still given in official documents as 2 Queen Street as late as May 1863.
  14. ADM 38/8349 - Bound volume, Description Book of HMS Impregnable for 1st January 1862-31st December 1866
  15. A good summary of the situation can be found in Crimea, Trevor Royle (Abacus, 2000) p499-500.
  16. ADM 139/609 - Bound volume, CS records covering 20801A-20900A.
  17. ADM 38/6197 - Bound volume, Victualling List of HMS Fisgard for 1st January 1862-31st March 1862. Ernest's entry appears in List 15a: Disposable Boys on pages 177-178.
  18. ADM 53/8716 - Ship's Log, HMS Impregnable (1st January 1862-18th January 1864)
  19. ADM 38/8349 - Bound volume, Description Book of HMS Impregnable for 1st January 1862-31st December 1866.
  20. ADM 53/8716 - Ship's Log, HMS Impregnable (1st January 1862-18th January 1864) - the entry recording the visit is written in pencil in between the lines of the entry for 15th August 1862 and reads 'Prince Albert of Prussia visited the ship and inspected the boys'.
  21. ADM 38/8349 - Bound volume, Description Book of HMS Impregnable for 1st January 1862-31st December 1866.
  22. ADM 53/8716 - Ship's Log, HMS Impregnable (1st January 1862-18th January 1864)
  23. Ships of the Royal Navy, Volume 1 by J.J. Colledge
  24. ADM 38/6927 - Bound volume, Victualling Lists of HMS Racoon for 29th January 1863-31st March 1863 and 1st April 1863-30th June 1863.
  25. ADM 38/8811 - Bound volume, Description Book of HMS Racoon. Ernest appears as entry 44 in List 15: Supernumeraries for victuals only at full allowance.
  26. ADM 53/8634 - Ship's Log, HMS Racoon (30th January 1863-6th February 1864).
  27. ADM 38/9164 - Bound volume, Description Book of the Steamship HMS Terror for 1st January 1860 to 31st December 1864.
  28. ADM 38/7240 - Bound volume, Victualling List of HMS Terror for 1st April 1863-30th June 1863. At the time of Ernest's transfer from HMS Terror to the Nile both ships were in Bermuda (every muster taken on HMS Terror between 16th April 1863 and 27th June 1863 were recorded as having taken place at Bermuda). This victualling list also includes the sum of £5 11s ½d for Ernest in the column for desertion & straggling, written in red ink. The significance of this is not clear as almost every sailor on this page and the following pages has an entry in this column and it would seem unlikely that the charges actually relate to desertion or straggling.
  29. ADM 101/225 - HMS Terror, Medical Journal. The medical journal for this year was preserved by the Admiralty and can be seen in the National Archives, covering the time that Ernest served on the ship and the months after he had gone. The journal records a wide variety of complaints for the patients listed including scabies, palpitations, fever and syphilis besides the dengue fever that was to overtake the ship between September and December 1863.
  30. ADM 38/6731
  31. The Times, Civil War in America, Thursday October 13th 1863 - page 8, column A.
  32. The suggestion is mentioned on the HMS Conway website at http://www.hmsconway.org/history_third.html
  33. ADM 38/6202 - Victualling List, HMS Fisgard - 1st April to 30th June 1864
  34. ADM 38/6203 - Victualling List, HMS Fisgard - 1st July 1864 to 30th September 1864
  35. ADM 38/6203 - Victualling List, HMS Fisgard - 1st October 1864 to 31st December 1864 and ADM 38/6204 - Victualling List, HMS Fisgard - 1st January 1865.
  36. ADM 53/8674 - Ship's Log, HMS Black Eagle - 1st January 1863-19th September 1864
  37. There is no entry in the log for any men transferring on June 28th 1864 - the date given in the victualling list of Fisgard - and since we know that the Black Eagle only had two boys on board as part of the company we can be sure that one of these is Ernest Carpenter.
  38. According to an entry in the Ship's Log (ADM 53/8675).
  39. ADM 38/6203 - Victualling List, HMS Fisgard - 1st October 1864 to 31st December 1864 and ADM 38/6204 - Victualling List, HMS Fisgard - 1st January 1865-
  40. ADM 53/8675 - Ship's Log, HMS Black Eagle (20th September 1864-18th July 1866). Following the transfer of Ernest back to HMS Fisgard the ship's log records that in their place, two more Boys 1st Class were transferred from the Fisgard to the Black Eagle.
  41. ADM 38/6204 - Victualling List, HMS Fisgard - 1st January 1865-
  42. The handwriting for this entry is hard to read but it looks as though the entry reads 'Ordy' which we have assumed is short for Ordinary Seaman and would make sense in the context of Ernest's career progression. An Ordinary Seaman was the lowest normal grade of seaman, with the possibility of promotion to the rank of Able Seaman.
  43. ADM 38/8612
  44. ADM 38/8612
  45. This is not the only note. Underneath the entry for Ernest a note in red reads 'CS 10 Jany 65 10 yrs 20892A 1. Badge 2. May 68'
  46. ADM 53/ 9236 - Ships Log - HMS Niger. The Log entries are sometimes hard to interpret, particularly where one note stops and another begins. It looks as though the reference to the passage by rail refers to the Gunboat party but it is possible that it relates to a preceding entry.
  47. ADM 12/829. Digest 12.
  48. ADM 53/9236 - Ships Log - HMS Niger
  49. ADM 38/8612 Muster Open List - HMS Niger - 1st February 1865-9th December 18
  50. ADM 38/6212 - Bound volume, Victualling List of HMS Fisgard for 1st January 1869-31st March 1869.
  51. 'Tracing your naval ancestors' by Bruno Pappalardo (PRO readers' guide 24, 2002).
  52. ADM 12/829 - Court martial lists are recorded in Digest Number 28
  53. Admiralty Digests cover a number of volumes for each year. The volumes containing digest number 28 (court martials) which I checked in this search were: ADM 12/829 (1869), ADM 12/848 (1870), ADM 12/870 (1871), ADM 12/892 (1872), ADM 12/915 (1873), ADM 12/938 (1874) and ADM 12/960 (1875).
  54. In the United States at this time there were two types of census, the federal census (taken every ten years on a national scale) and the state census. The Missouri state censuses were taken every four years but unfortunately records survive for just a few counties and years - only the 1876 census for Callaway County remains in the time frame that is of interest to us.
  55. Barbara Huddleston at the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society kindly researched this on behalf of the family and identified Ernest in the Missouri State Census of 1876.
  56. Missouri State Census 1876, Callaway County. The entry for E. Carpenter appears on Reel C12504, Volume 2, page 56 which is for township 47N, Range 7W, in which Fulton, Missouri is located.
  57. Barbara Huddleston at the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society suggested coal or clay as likely possibilities with both around Fulton.
  58. Barbara Huddleston identified John D. Fricke as Ella Virginia's father using the 1876 Missouri State Census.
  59. Barbara Huddleston says that the space in the census form is for birth place, meaning state or country, and she assumes they mean Hanover in Germany. A glance at records of ships passengers shows a number of Frickes emigrating to the United States from Hanover, Germany, although none of the records found so far show John D. Fricke.
  60. Barbara Huddleston notes that John's first wife was from MO but she is not listed in the household in the 1870 federal census, and all the children are listed as being born in MO. Ella Virginia is 10 years old in 1870 (on her death certificate her date of birth is given as 3rd September 1859). John D. Fricke married for a second time, marrying Virginia S. Beagles on 28th November 1872. John D. Fricke died on March 6th 1898 in Jefferson City, Cole County, MO just across the MO River from Callaway. A short obituary for John was published in the Fulton paper, "The Missouri Telegraph" on 11th March 1898. John's second wife was living in St. Louis MO at the time of the 1900 census. John D and Jennie S. Fricke lost an infant son Henry J. on Feb 27, 1872 to pneumonia. John's older daughter Mary J. married James Dareeaux on 11th July 1871. James was listed as a barkeeper living in the household of John D in 1870. According to the 1900 census, John's second wife was the same age as his daughter Mary J.
  61. The marriage was listed in the Callaway County Index to Marriages Volume A, 1855-1915 which indexes the marriages contained in the Callaway County registers but the entry itself states that they were married in Lafayette County. The Carpenter family record book also contains a short entry for the marriage which gave the name as Jenny Frecke and gives the date of 21st October 1878 for the marriage.
  62. Callaway County Marriage Registers, Microfilm Reel C1165 (Volume D, Page 41).
  63. The 1880 census began on 1st June 1880 and the enumeration was to be completed within thirty days. In this instance, the enumerator has recorded that the enumeration took place between the 5th to 7th June 1880. Ernest's entry appears on page 11 of Supervisor's District 3, Enumeration District 31: Fulton in the County of Callaway.
  64. The 1880 census recorded dwelling houses and families numerically in the order of visitation,rather than by address as we might expect from the 1881 census in the UK. In the census records Ernest and his family are shown as the 75th dwelling house and the 86th family. The next dwelling house visited by the census enumerator appears to hold two families, including another coal miner (originally from Wales). The range of occupations shown on this page of the census enumeration for dwelling houses 71-80 is quite varied and includes a carpenter, mill worker, horse trainer, coal miners, school teachers and preachers.
  65. The 1880 census states the month as August within a column which requires the enumerator to state the month of birth if a child is born within the census year. The California Death Index shows that the full date of birth was the 6th August 1879.
  66. The 1900 census showed that the second child was called Eustace and that he was born in August 1881 (the United States Census 1900 recorded the month and year of birth for each individual). Eustace's draft registration card (every male living between the ages of 18 and 45 was required to register following the US declaration of war on Germany on 6 April 1917) gave us the full birth date of 10th August 1881. The only remaining mystery is Eustace's middle name which begins with a C - no record we have seen gives this middle name in full.
  67. Some records were kept for Callaway County births and deaths between 1883 and 1888 but a search of the online indices shows very few entries by 1887 and no entry for Ernest Lionel Carpenter. It was not mandatory to report deaths and the legislation of 1883 was eventually repealed in 1893 following widespread non-compliance. Statewide registration of births and deaths would not resume until August 1910. The Archives' staff at the Missouri State Archives searched the Callaway coroner inquests from September 1887 through May 1888 but did not find an inquest report for Ernest.
  68. We have not yet been able to check the details of this obituary.
  69. The 1890 census would have been a useful source to look at to see where the family were living around this time and to find out more about Samuel Green, but unfortunately the 1890 census was mostly destroyed.
  70. Ella certainly had two more children (the 1900 census states that she had 6 children of whom 6 were still living), but the question of the father is harder to answer with any certainty. It seems likely that the father is Samuel Green but we have no documentary evidence that states this. The census shows us the month and year of their birth which clearly makes it impossible for Ernest to be the father. However, on Eddie's death certificate his father is named as Ulysses Carpenter not Samuel Green.
  71. May appears variously as May or Mae F. Carpenter. The United States Census 1900 records the month and year of birth.
  72. Eddie appears variously as Eddie or Kenneth E. Carpenter. The United States Census 1900 records the month and year of birth.
  73. It is not clear whether Samuel left or died. Jennie is shown as a widow after this date, but this could refer back to Ernest Lionel Carpenter so it is difficult to state with any certainty that Samuel died. At the current time no record of death or obituary has been found.

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