Category Archives: 63rd Regiment of Foot

My Research Publications

The following is a list of publications arising from my Family History Research: Summary of the evidence for the origins of my Flack family (Click through) How often do family historian get asked by family members “Where did we come from originally?” Up until the development of scientific means using DNA technologies, most people were unlikely to be able to go further back than the end of the middle ages when surnames came into general use in Western Europe. For the few with English or French aristocratic families, the trails could extend back another 500 years or so. In this paper, I try to bring together the circumstantial evidence and my own Y-DNA evidence to propose that my Flack family probably has its origins in Ayrshire, Scotland. The one “wild card” that needs to be acknowledged is that there were several areas in Ireland that were settled by “servitors” – veterans who had served in the British Army and who were granted land as a pension. There are few records of such grants and little evidence of where these men and their families might have come from. It needs to be acknowledged that there are at least two other theories about the origin(s) of the surname “Flack”. There is strong evidence that people with that name have been living in Bury St Edmunds area in Suffolk, England since at least the 15th century. (see Flack Genealogy) It is also true that the surname “Flack” is known in modern Germany and in the Netherlands. It is therefore possible that my Flack forebear was a “servitor” from Suffolk in England or a former soldier from Germany or Netherland (both areas known to have supplied soldiers for the British Army at various times) and that therefore the Ayrshire connection may not hold. The 63rd Regiment of Foot (West Suffolk) In Australia 1829 – 1833 (click through) This history of the 63rd Regiment of Foot in Australia was written in order to fill what, at the time that the research was undertaken, was a dearth of information about the activities British Army Regiments in Australia in the early 19th century. One of the unexpected outcomes of the research was information about members of the Regiment who took their discharge in Australia and settled. Although the Regimental Headquarters was in Hobart, the Regiment’s No. 2 Company was deployed to help establish the Swan River Settlement in what is today the City of Perth, Western Australia. Brief resumes of the lives of some of the members of the Regiment and their contributions to Australian history are included in the annex. My great, great grandfather, Pte William Flack was not among those who settled and he left with the Regiment for India in 1833. 1903 Diary of a Ship’s Doctor – (click through) This publication is primarily a transcription of the Dr Frederick Henry Douglas (“Harry”) Flack’s 1903 diary of his journey in Blue Funnel Line cargo ship “SS Dardanus” to Japan via the Suez Canal. The diary is transcribed as accurately as possible although there are some handwritten words that are illegible in the original diary. There are also a few lines of Pitman Shorthand in the diary and these have been translated where possible. To give the reader an insight into some of the ships sighted and places visited, I have added illustrations to the original text. The value of the diary rests not just in the personal story, but also in the references to the Royal Navy in the Far East in the lead up to the Russo-Japanese War. The diary also provides insight into the prevailing attitudes towards the peoples and cultures encountered on the journey.

Serving with the 63rd Regiment of Foot (West Suffolks) in Australia

As a 56 year resident of Australia and a recipient of traditional view of Australian history, the findings from my research in the 1980s into the service of Private William Flack of the 63rd Regiment of Foot in Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania) in the 1830s provided many surprises.

Australian history, quite naturally, is written from the point of view of the convicts and settlers and there was very little written about the role of the British Army in the first 100 years of our history. What my research did was to remind me that in many ways the Australian colonies were governed by the military. The Governors were military men (and many still are although now in ceremonial roles only) and the public services were often managed by the officers of the Regiment.

The Australian Dictionary of Biography lists the following members of the 63rd Regiment who played important roles in colonial Australia. Many others settled here and did not leave with the Regiment for India in 1834.

I have now completed the Second Edition of “The 63rd Regiment of Foot (West Suffolk) in Australia 1829-1833) which is available to down-load (here).

Your comments and suggestions are welcome

Episode 1. In search of Capt William “Billy” Flack’s family in Cavan, Ireland

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For more than 15 years I have been searching for the rest of Billy Flack’s family in Ireland at the time he signed on in the British Army, aged 21, in April 1831.

1. The documentary evidence for the date and place of birth of my Great Great Grandfather, William (Charles) Flack, is restricted to his British Army records which show that upon enlistment on market day in the town of Bailieborough in 1831, he was recorded by the recruiting Sergeant from the 63rd Regiment of Foot (The 63rd Regiment of Foot (manuscript)) as having been born 1 April 1810 in the Parish of Killan, Bailieborough, Cavan. (It should be noted that William Flack, “Labourer” signed on with “X” (his mark) and therefore there must be some doubt about accuracy of his birth details and whether the details recorded were simply an estimate based on his stated age and birth day, combined with the place of his enlistment).
2. The Death Certificate of William Flack, b.1810, shows that on the date of his death, 5 February 1892, he was recorded as 82 years of age, suggesting that his date of birth may have been 1809.

WCF Death Cert
3. Since civil registration of births, deaths and marriages did not commence in Ireland until 1845, there is no single source where confirmation of his date of birth or the names of his parents and possible siblings can be located.
4. Upon the death of William Flack’s (b.1810) mother, Elizabeth Flack, died 26 May 1863 Habergham Eaves, Lancashire, England aged 73 years, she was recorded as the widow of a William Flack, Soldier on her death certificate (William Flack b. 1810, her son, was the informant.)
5. I also have a copy of the William Flack b.1810 son’s, Baptismal certificate (William Henry Douglas Flack b.26 January 1852 at Limerick) in the Presbyterian Church Limerick.
6. In a letter from Lucy Flack b.1885 (granddaughter of William Flack b.1810) to the author dated 26 January 1980 she stated “there are no Catholics in the family”)
7. In the absence of corroborating evidence for the birth of William Flack b.1810, there are three possible lines of enquiry

(LOE) for further investigation as follows:

LOE1 Locate a military record of William Flack, the father of William Flack b. 1810 and the husband of Elizabeth Flack, William Flack’s mother;

LOE2 Locate evidence of a (Presbyterian?) Flack family(s) living in Killan, Bailieborough, Cavan between 1770 and 1832 to which William Flack b.1810 may have belonged, then using any leads generated, search contemporary records to identify family connections;

LOE3 Locate (Presbyterian?) Flack families in neighboring communities from which William Flack may have traveled to enlist in 1832, then using any leads generated, search contemporary records to identify family connections;

8. In the following pages, a summary of the results obtained from each of these lines of enquiry are reported.

Questions to be answered
Who were William Flack, the soldier, and Elizabeth Flack, Presbyterian (?) parents of William Flack, probably born 1 April 1810 or 1809 at Killan, Balieborough, Cavan, Ireland and their family?