I recently found out some more information about my 2x Great Grandfather Daniel Lefever (abt 1838 – 1906). I found him in the 1851 and 1871 census’ at home in Bethnal Green but could not find him in the 1861 census. I eventually tracked him down as a sailor on-board HMS Queen berthed in Beyrout (sic) Syria. I knew that his wife Isabella McGowan was born in Ireland but could not find details of their marriage in England. I eventually traced the details of their marriage to Ireland in 1868 when Daniel was serving on-board HMS Trafalgar. I then started looking for more details about Daniel’s naval service. I tracked down a record of his service on the National Archives website.
The record was available as a digital download for £3.36. Great I thought, but what does it contain? There was no real clue see the search results, no indication of how many pages or further details so I decided to pay the money for the record by PayPal and promptly downloaded the PDF file. I opened it and to say I was disappointed is putting it mildly. It was 10 pages long. The first was the National archives cover, page 2 was his personal details, page 3 his service record which was blank, page 4 was a copy of page 2, page 5 his certificate of fitness to serve, page 6 blank, page 7 a copy of page 5, page 8 blank and finally pages 9 & 10 copies of page 3 a blank service record.
How someone can serve on the Royal Navy aboard at least three ships and not have any sort of service record I do not understand.
So for my £3.36 I got one page of useful information, his service number, his date of birth, his description, date of enlistment, period of service and his first ship. Not particularly good value for money in my opinion.
I emailed the National Archives to ask them to check the original record to ensure that I received everything I paid for and am still awaiting a response.
It would be nice if they could give some indication of what is in the document you are going to download or even thumbnails of the pages so that you can make an informed decision.