Why did George Samuel Allery die so young?

I imagine that my great grandfather Samuel John, asked this question in 1896 on hearing of his son’s death. Perhaps he was with him at his bedside in St Bartholomew’s Hospital, in London. George Samuel was just 19 years old when he died of peritonitis on the 11th October. An inflammation of this magnitude would have been very painful for George to bear, and certainly his family could do nothing for him as he lay in his hospital bed. Nurses and doctors attending him would have done all they could to make him comfortable, and to bring the grave news to his family.

Barts is the oldest hospital in Britain still providing medical services which occupies the site it was originally built on. In 1872, Barts contained 676 beds. About 6,000 in-patients were admitted every year.

St Bartholomew’s Hospital, looking east to Farringdon.

Mary Ann (Samuel John’s first wife) gave birth to George Samuel, her third son, on 2nd June 1877 in Holloway; a district within Islington, Greater London. When I compared his birth place, Andover Road, Islington, with that of his siblings, it was different. Questions arose for me. Did my great grandmother need to be attended by physicians at this birth, rather than have a home birth; as was probable for his siblings? I knew that she was not strong – she had died soon after the birth of her last child, a girl, in 1881. George lost his mother when he was only 4 years old. He had two brothers and three sisters in this family. When his father remarried there were six more sons and therefore George had six half-brothers too.

Note: the story of the Allery Brothers featured in a previous blog post called Landed from earlier this year; one of my posts to fit the #52Weeks52Ancestors project. Now I must return to that post and add some information about George Samuel, who had been forgotten, and not included in that post.

Continuing to be curious about the death of George Samuel, I looked into his military records for any clues. There were several pages in Attestation document of No. 4873 George Saml Allery, from the Middlesex Regiment. He was just 18 years old at the time of entry to the 57th (West Middlesex) Regiment of Foot, and was employed as a Printer’s Labourer. I wondered if he worked for his eldest brother Henry John, whose profession was a Bookbinder.

Attestation papers from military records in FindMyPast.

As I opened the pages online I discovered an interesting report regarding George Samuel as having absconded from duties in June 1896. Now I was most intrigued and I began to work my way backwards in the pages relating to George Samuel, and to read the statements to which he was required to answer in this document. I picked up these facts:

  • joined the West Yorkshire regiment at the age of 18 in 1895
  • stationed at Hounslow Barracks where he undertook training
  • on leave at Home for 11 days between 4th and 15th November 1895
  • father’s address listed as 9 New Court, Farringdon Street, London
  • physical appearance: 5 feet 4 inches tall, fair complexion, brown hair, grey eyes, 122 pounds, several marks and moles on parts of his body, including 4 childhood vaccinations
  • asbconded on 17th February 1896
  • rejoined and transferred to the Middlesex Regiment Authority War Office on 16th June 1896
  • revaccinated on 26th June 1896
  • all former service forfeited on trial being dispensed with
  • discharged at his own request on 18th July 1896

I wonder why he absconded. Was he experiencing poor health then? I wondered at the second vaccination. What was that for? Why was his former service forfeited? Why did he choose discharge in July? Given that the death certificate stated that he died on 11th October 1896 from peritonitis after 5 days; was he already ill? His occupation was listed as Tailor at the address of 9 New Court, Farringdon Street. Did he join the tailoring industry and work for his father Samuel John during July to October? I looked up that address and could see that it was in the commercial part of Farringdon Street, and that would explain his employment as a tailor with his father.

Details of his death are shown on this official copy of his death certificate.

Death Certificate from Allery One Name Study

St Bartholomew’s Hospital is seen on this map from Google Maps.


For my Ancestral Trail:

Points of interest

Points of interest in Farringdon include St Bartholomew the Great Church, Postmans Park, Central Criminal Court, Dr Johnsons House, Temple Bar Gate, Fleet Street, Museum of London and Smithfields Market.

In Memorium:

George Samuel’s burial details are in these General Register Private Graves records. He is buried at Plot Square 371 Number 84063.

General Registers

The City of London Cemetery, Little Ilford, ESS, ENG  
Courtesy of John Brown at Pinterest

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