Military records are often a great way to obtain information about your descendants that would not necessarily be available elsewhere. Finding the record for my own 3rd great grandfather James McEveney, gave me a wide array of information such as birth date, place of birth, and occupation. The records showed that Private James McEveney, soldier 2671, had served 20 years for Britain; 14 of those spent abroad. He was in Gibraltar for 1 year, The Cape of Good Hope for 3 years and was stationed in the East Indies for 9 years. His family joined him in the East Indies as some of their children were born there. The family originally came from Ireland, however James enlisted in Lanarkshire, Scotland.
These records also contain information relating to James’ appearance. They describe him as 5’ 6”, brown hair with grey eyes, and a fresh complexion, though his face bears the scars of ‘pitting’ as a result of small pox. He is a man of ‘good character’ and is in possession of ‘four good conduct badges”. It also states he is not in possession of a certificate of education and the ‘X’ in place of his signature, shows he is illiterate.
Private McEveney appeared seven times in the Regimental Defaulters Book, and he was tried twice. The records give details about the offences. On the 9th Aug 1852, (he had only served a coupe of months) he was sentenced to one months imprisonment for ‘advising Private Patrick Meath to destroy his drum.’ Subsequent ‘crimes’ were for drunkenness or insubordination and under these circumstances, he would have his pay docked. Overall, James was seen as an effective soldier within Her Majesty's Service.
James was discharged on 11 March 1873. He and his family lived in Salford, England, where he died in 1880.