The first hint that my musical abilities may have come from my maternal line was when I found a 1920 passenger list for my great-grandfather, William George Webb, and his occupation was listed as a “musician.” I was very surprised to see this. I knew that prior to this time William had served with and retired from the Black Watch Regiment, but I didn’t know that he may have had musical talents.
And then, as I have mentioned in a previous blog article, I was able to make contact this past year with family that had the journals and diaries for the Webb family. The contact mentioned that family records stated that William had attended the Royal Military School of Music. This contact also sent me a picture from a regimental magazine, showing William sitting in full uniform with his regimental band, holding a clarinet. I was stunned.
So, naturally, I had to locate the Royal Military School of Music. I “googled” the words and came up with a site and made an inquiry. I received an e-mail from a retired archivist who offered to help for a certain amount of money. I “bit the bullet” and decided to do it. I went to my local bank, got the international draft in English pounds and sent it off with my letter giving details about my great-grandfather.
Not long afterwards, I received this:
“Dear Margo – I am delighted to be able to confirm that William did indeed train here. What is shown is that W.G. Webb (only initials) army number 2254 was serving with the 2nd Royal Highland Regiment (The Black Watch) when he arrived here to commence the ‘Pupil Course’ of instruction on 12th January 1885. He is listed as being a ‘Boy Soldier’, which ties in with the birth date you supplied of 1873 (therefore 13 years of age on arrival). His instrument was the clarinet, and the above course included . . . public performances on the out-door bandstand. He successfully completed the course on 9 November 1886 with the grading of ‘Satisfactory’ and . . . returned to his band . . .”
Wow! Yes, I knew about his regimental service but was so surprised to see that William had begun it at such a young age. And now I have his army number and can pursue other records for more details of his service. It just goes to show you that you never know where you will find the little details that will help to understand your ancestors better. I wish you the same success!