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    Default Charles John OFFEN or Arthur Henry CLARKE?

    An anomaly from the WW1 Service Records (WO 363):

    C J OFFEN deserted the RMLI in May 1894 and joined the Royal Artillery as Arthur Henry CLARKE. A confession to this effect was made, but unfortunately it is missing from the records.
    Is this man OFFEN (Charles John, b Q4 1874) or CLARKE, Arthur Henry?

    It is usually safe to assume that the first name given is the correct one ... but as CLARKE he married Eunice Annie Elizabeth OFFEN (1899, in Malta) and at least the last 2 of his 10 children are surnamed CLARKE. (The others were born in Malta & Edinburgh, so I cannot check them)

    Details (as CLARKE):
    Enlisted May 1894, declared age 19y, born Chelsea. Served as 3936 RGA until 1920.
    Father: THOMAS (Notting Hill).
    Children: Eunice Foy 1900; Amy C 1901; Una May 1903; Charles A G 1904; Hector 1906; Eva 1907; May 1909; Dorothy 1910; Kathleen 1912; Rose Mary 1915.

    Source: Anc****y, CLA, pages 108491 to 108509

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    ScotlandsPeople has 2 entries for Hector M CLARKE, both in 1906, one in St Giles RD and the other in Leith North RD (both are Edinburgh).

    There is an Amy Louisa Mart CLARKE registered in Leith South but in 1903.

    I only made a cursory check in SP. Can you specify which were born in Edinburgh? If so, I'll take a closer look.

    Peter

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    Hector - 22 July 1906 - Edinburgh (Leith).
    Eva - 8 November 1907 - Grain Island (I have no idea where that is).
    Kathleen & Rose Mary - Sep 1912 & June 1915 - Pembroke Dock (both registered as CLARKE)
    Others - Malta.

    Father's address c1894 - Thomas CLARKE, 23 Georges Street, Notting Hill, London W
    Family's address Feb 1920 - Pembroke Dock, S Wales

    I feel that the family name since 1899 is probably CLARKE - but did he change it from OFFEN? Or did he join the RMLI (underage?) using a friend's name? It just seems odd that he served as OFFEN, then married an OFFEN ...

    Jane

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    Isle of Grain, Kent. Birth of an Eva Clarke Dec 1/4 1907 Hoo reg district which includes Isle of Grain. Two entries, one without the e on Clark.

    Christina
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    Charles Offen was admitted to ST Stephen's Parochial school 5 April 1880, Father Thomas address - 3 Godmershaw T(best I can make of it) Howe Road
    The funny thing with this entry is that in the column for the father's name all the entries have just the first name and for the entry under that of Charles for a boy by the name of Frederick Doalks? the father's name is Offen.
    Further down the page is the admittance record for an Herbert Offen admitted 6 April 1880 Thomas father, same address.
    Because the lines onto the next page don't match up properly it may or may not be Herbert who attended a private school previously.
    Christina
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    I just lost some results when I lost the internet connection. It is possible that Charles John Offen's and Eunice's fathers were brothers. There is a Thomas and an Alfred Offen on the 1861 census with their father John a Footman. Thomas age 11, Alfred 7. Alfred is named as Eunice's father on her baptismal record.

    None of this explains which name he started out with. As you say fullscot it is usually the name they first join up with that is their birth name and then they change it for one reason or another - usually something nefarious like my dad's birth father who was dismissed from the army in 1909 (his own name) then joined up again in 1916 using his mother's maiden name, went AWOL and joined up again using a name none of us recognise.

    Christina
    Sometimes paranoia is just having all the facts.
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    All six of the children born in Malta were registered under the surname CLARKE. (British Nationals Armed Forces Births 1761 – 2005 on FMP)

    Arthur Henry CLARKE'S character reference on discharge:
    “Exemplary” and “ Capable, trustworthy, tactful, hardworking, good influence with his men, very straightforward, of even temperament”
    Doesn't suggest a shifty character, does it?

    TNA has a viewable* record for a Charles John OFFEN, service number 6245 of the RMLI. The transcript gives his dob as 12 Nov 1873. (ADM 159/11/6245).
    *3.45!

    Peter

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    Thank you for your input, Peter & Christina.

    It looks as though the 2 OFFEN cousins married, and the name changed to CLARKE.
    Imagine the difficulty that their CLARKE descendants will have if/when they research their ancestors - probably classed as
    "A Brick Wall". Maybe one day they'll read this and be able to crack it open!

    The Army obviously valued this man (& I assume they didn't tell the Marines that they'd got him) - he was not charged with desertion ... there's some clever wording that as the desertion was from the RMLI it didn't come under Army regulations.

    Jane

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    FMP has a record for a Charles John Offen, No. 6245, which includes a confession signed June 1910.

    I, too, was impressed with the reason why he wasn't charged with desertion.
    "dyfal donc a dyr y garreg"

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    Quote Originally Posted by fullscott View Post
    Imagine the difficulty that their CLARKE descendants will have if/when they research their ancestors - probably classed as
    "A Brick Wall". Maybe one day they'll read this and be able to crack it open!
    That spurred me on to try to solve this puzzle.

    Charles John OFFEN was born 12th November 1874 Pancras (Q4 1B 51) to Thomas OFFEN and Amy Jane E H GORDON.
    Thomas and Amy married at Marylebone 1874, Q3 1A 1074.
    In the 1881 Census Charles was at 3 Godmersham Terrace, Hammersmith, with his parents and two younger brothers. RG11 Piece 60 Folio 154 Page 64.
    In the 1891 Census he was away from home at Grove Vale, Camberwell, as a grocers assistant*. RG12 Piece 468 Folio 157 Page 6.

    In 1892 Charles enlisted in RMLI. His age was recorded as 18years 5 months which is one year older than his actual age. A clerical error, or did Charles overstate his age? His civilian occupation was recorded as house porter* (?)

    From April 1892 until December 1893 he was shore based, firstly at Walmer and then at Portsmouth. Charles's character was recorded as ranging from very good to fair and his ability good.

    On 4th December 1893 he joined HMS Resolution (1892) a newly commissioned battleship. After embarkation, his record of service was appalling. In the space of four months, from 6th January 1894 until he ran, he committed 6 offences, some resulting in a spell in the cells. Could it have been that he detested being at sea and decided to seek a way out by being dismissed the service?

    By the time the RMLI recorded his desertion on 24th May 1894, he had already re-enlisted in the Royal Artillery as Arthur Henry CLARKE. Presumably, he changed his name to avoid detection. His occupation on enlistment was grocer's assistant*!

    He served with some distinction for over 25 years, becoming a master gunner and attaining the rank of sergeant by 1904.

    On 11th June 1910 he confessed to enlisting in the RA, having deserted the RMLI. His master record of service in RMLI states
    Fraudulently enlisted R G Artillery as A H Clarke. Claimed King's pardon under A O 23rd June 1910.
    This relates to WO32/4515 Legal and Judicial: General (Code 67 (A)): Remission of sentences and pardon to deserters on the accession of King George V 1910
    https://www.british-genealogy.com/th...9-1902-Amnesty

    Arthur Henry CLARKE d. 1938 Pembroke (Q1 11A 1412) and was buried 31st March 1938 at St John, Pembroke Dock.

    Eunice Annie Elizabeth CLARKE d.1950 Pembroke (Q4 8C 373) and was buried 6th November 1950 at St John, Pembroke Dock.

    I could not find a record of Charles marriage to Eunice, other than that recorded in his RA documents as 23rd December 1899 in Malta.

    Having changed his name and avoided detection for some 16 years, I suppose he decided to stick with it for the sake of his wife and 10 children.

    Peter

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