The San Josef in Spanish service
I have posted previously about my grandfather and his service in the Royal Navy from 1919 to 1945 some time ago - you can read about this here. Staying with the naval theme I was quite surprised to find out that a previous generation of my family also served at sea - during the Napoleonic Wars in fact.
A cousin of mine has been working on the family tree on my father’s side and it appears that Thomas Crook (baptised 1782 from the village of Berry Pomeroy in Devon) served aboard H.M.S. San Josef - a 114 gun Spanish first rate captured at the battle of St Vincent and later the flagship of Sir Thomas Duckworth. I do not have any details of the extent of his service and given that in all probability he was a farm labourer I cannot help but wonder if he was ‘pressed’ into service. I would certainly like to find out more about him.
So it seems like my family on my father’s side originated in the West Country but headed east during the course of the 19th century - presumably to find work. Thomas’s son George (b. 1834) married in Erith, Kent in 1861 and after a brief sojourn in Prittlewell, Essex (according the 1881 census) were, by 1890 running the The Plough - a public house in Chelmsford. One of his sons, Lewis, moved to Walthamstow where my grandfather, Alfred, was born in 1901.
There are a number of coincidences in all this. For a short while I lived in Belvedere which is just up the road from Erith and I currently live quite close to Prittlewell and am not that far away from the Plough in Chelmsford. Small world isn’t it?