Generally, when researching family history, the only documents one is likely to find, about an individual, are birth, marriage, and death certificates, from the Civil Registration records or baptismal, marriage, and burial entries in church registers. Not much, just enough to produce a family tree.
I was lucky with William because he joined the Royal Marines with the result that there was so much more to see and collect. Little of it, however, is of a personal nature; we know his height, the colour of his eyes, and a scar on his right knee at the time he joined the Royal Marines but, of course, it tells me nothing about the man regarding his temper, his likes, and dislikes but it does tell me some of the things in which he was involved and something about the life he lived from the age of seventeen and a half until his death at the age of sixty-five.
At the end of the story, I have produced various addenda that contain explanations and/or photocopies of the original documents. For instance, there is a strange but nice feeling when you look at an old form, such as his "Attestation", and this young man′s (he was 19 years of age) signature written over 175 years ago.
I have given as full an explanation of each document as I can, so that, hopefully, it will give a better understanding of what it is all about. I found, as I understood more, how much I began to appreciate what that little bit of the world, at that time, was like. For a few moments, I could imagine, and, in my mind′s eye even live in, a long gone time.
I was fascinated by the flagship, at the time of the Battle of Navarino, in 1827, the "H.M.S. Asia" so have included as full a description of its building and history as I can. This, again, took me into a world about which I had known nothing. I have a painting, hanging on my wall, of a ship-of-the-line, at anchor in the early morning and there seems to be a chill in the air and a slight mist but you know that when the sun comes up the day will be fine. As I delved deeper into the building of these ships-of-the-line, I found that, in my imagination, I could hear the sound of the water and the groaning and creaking of the ropes - but then I am a romantic!
At the very end of these pages, I give my story of the Battle of Navarino; at least, as I have understood it from the many sources I read over the years. This sea-battle was the last to be fought completely under sail as the next battle would include steam-powered ships with some degree of iron cladding – and with it the romance of the wooden ships would disappear.
Anyway, as they say, I digress. This is, after all, William&prime's story and not mine.
I still continue to search for more information, so, hopefully, I shall be able to up-date this history in the future. I hope so.