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COURTENAY, John MacArthur


John Macarthur Courtenay (Courtnay) was born into a military family on 10th July 1871, in Sheerness, Kent to John and Ann Caroline. His father was a Battery Sergeant Major at the time of John’s Baptism. He had one older sister, Mary Elizabeth Macarthur Courtnay, born in Agra, India.

He was baptised at Holy Trinity, Sheerness, Kent, on 8th October 1871. This is also recorded in the Royal Artillery Regimental registry of Baptisms along with his sisters earlier baptism.

John lost his mother in 1879 when he was aged 7. His father’s whereabouts are unknown, but it is likely he is posted with the Army.


The 1881 census shows him, aged 9, staying with his uncle in Poplar, East London along with his older sister Mary (shown birthplace as East India).

1881 Census

Military Life

John Macarthur Courtenay joined the Royal Artillery Corps in Woolwich on 10th March 1886. He was 14yrs and 8m old and enlisted with the rank of ‘BOY’. His regiment number is 53852.

His records state he had dark brown hair and blue eyes. standing at 5′ 25/8“.

He was transferred to the North Irish division in June 1887, being appointed ‘Trumpeter’ on 31 Sept 1887. In October 1889 he was mustered as ‘gunner’ and then transferred to Eastern Division. During their reorganisation as East Division he was appointed ‘acting Bomber command’ in December 1891.

Postings, Home – Malta – Gibraltar – Home

His father John Courtenay, of Strand Union, Edmonton, is listed as his next of Kin.

His records show that John appeared before a medical board twice before being discharged; first in Gibraltar on 11th July 1892 where he was diagnosed with Epilepsy and recommended for discharge, and again when he returned home in Dover on 12th August 1892, Epilepsy was confirmed. John was having frequent fits in hospital and during the journey home.

A further record from the Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioner Admissions and discharges made the following comment; “

EPILEPSY – States it originated in 1888 while serving in Malta, & produced by exposure to sun – due to service at Malta – permanent. Totally unfit to earn. ?___ no record – as he never reported sick at Malta.”

Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioner Admissions and discharges

Discharged ‘medically unfit for further service’ on 27th August 1892 after service 6yrs and 172days. Upon discharge, John listed his intended residence as 7 Castor Street, West India Dock Road, Poplar, E.

POST Military

On the 1901 census, aged 29, he is listed as a boarder, Single, staying at (the since demolished) Gonsalva Road, in Battersea, and his occupation is an Insurance Agent.

1901 Census

There are no viable records of marriage so it looks like John remained single throughout his life.

We know that John’s father was dead before 1899 as his sister’s marriage certificate lists this detail.

John was admitted to Long Grove asylum on private admission on 27th January 1910.

His death was recorded the next day, 28th Jan 1910, he was 38yrs old.

Private Patient admitted 27 Jan 1910 – Discharged 28 Jan 1920 DEAD (Indicator last column)

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