Sunday, 26 April 2009

HMS Clio again

The day following my last post I discovered more fascinating details about the Clio's history, as well as two forgotten photographs of great-grandfather Edward James Bray, tucked away in an old Welsh Regiment wallet of my grandfather's (as unofficial family archivist, many documents and pictures have been entrusted to me in a haphazard fashion). The three buttons are from his captain's uniform jacket and bear the name of the ship. Both photographs must have been taken around the same period and, from the women's and girls' fashions in the picture of the garden party, it must have been near the beginning of the century, certainly before the 1914-18 War. Captain Bray stands to one side holding a cup of tea rather awkwardly, like a butler waiting on the party, which I at first mistook him for, rather than master of the officers gathered round the table with their wives and children. A short man, like my grandfather, and not particularly proposessing apart from the immaculate whiskers. I wonder if my great-grandmother is there? I know nothing of her at all and assume she died long before her husband.

Researching online, I found confirmation of the harsh conditions on board the Clio from Anglesey Quarter Sessions records of the convictions of two boys in 1885. William Henry Smith, "detainee on the training ship Clio", was ordered to be imprisoned at HMP Carnarvon for one month and "thereafter to be detained at a Reformatory for four years". His crime? Leaving mass before grace was sung. The other was Charles Underwood, aged 14 years, also a detainee on the Clio, who was found guilty of unspecified disobedience and imprisoned in the same gaol for 14 days' hard labour, then, like his shipmate, sent to a Reformatory for four years. I also found that there exists a PhD dissertation on 'The Clio', lodged at University College Bangor Library, plus other records at the Denbighshire and Anglesey Records Offices, The Welcome Trust and the National Archives, Kew. I plan to visit some of these archives in August if I can.

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