Frederick George Wooster

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Frederick George Wooster (1874 - 1906)   Tree
By Mike White

Whilst browsing through Wooster records at the National Archives in Kew, I came across a reference to Frederick George Wooster in the Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services Records [1]. His date of birth was given as 29th August 1874, born in Hampton, Middlesex and his previous occupation was farm boy. There was no record for this Frederick George Wooster on the Great Wooster Tree (GWT) or on the Mitchell Families Online databases, so I was intrigued to see if he was related to anyone in the GWT.

Naval Career

Frederick's service records indicate that he started his Period of Service in the Navy as a Boy 2nd Class in 1891 and in Mar 91 he received a gratuity of £6 for clothing and bedding. At the time of the 1891 Census, taken on 5th April, Frederick Geo Wooster, age 16, was recorded as a member of the crew of HMS St Vincent in Portsmouth [2]. However, a remark at the foot of his service record dated "8/4/91" states "May be retained in Navy (though over limit of age on FE, entered through fraudulent consent paper and mis-statements)". In 1853, boys could join the Navy from the age of 14yrs [3], but by 1905 Seamen Boys usually entered between 15 and 16½, for 12 years continuous service starting at the age of 18 [4]. It would appear that Frederick was determined to join the Navy even though he was over 16½, the age limit for First Entry. Frederick's start date for Period of Service is written as 26 Jun 91, although the handwriting could also be interpreted as 26 Jan 91 which is the more likely date, but his age on First Entry would then be 16yrs 5mths.

A search for the birth record of Frederick George Wooster (including variants) showed that there was no entry in the index for 29 August 1874 as recorded on his Navy service record. There was however, a birth record for a Frederick George Wooster on the 4th May 1874 in Hampton, Middlesex [23]. It would appear that Frederick gave a false date of birth on joining the Navy as he was over 16½ years and was therefore over the limit of age for First Entry into the Navy.

Why was Frederick so determined to join the Navy? In the 1890's the starting pay for the rank of "Boy" in the Navy was just over £9 per annum and could increase by another £1 as seniority was gained [5]. At the age of 18 an Ordinary Seaman's pay was £22-16s-3d per year but would advance to £28-17s-11d per year if he was promoted to Able Seaman. Staying on the land as an agricultural labourer, Frederick could expect to earn, at the age of 18, around 13s 10d per week (£34-10s-40d per annum) in 1892 [6]. However, during the Great Depression of British Agriculture in the late nineteenth century, the number of agricultural labourers was in severe decline due to American imports of cheap grain and flour [7]. Frederick grew up in the London Borough of Wandsworth [28] so he was not used to farm life. He may therefore have preferred the security and travel opportunities of the Navy to lower pay and the uncertainty of employment as an agricultural labourer, which he was not used to.

At the age of 18 on 29 Aug 1892 (still using the false date of birth), Frederick was engaged by the Navy for 12 years continuous service and he received a further £2-10s Clothing and Bedding Gratuity, presumably for his new uniform as an Ordinary Seaman. He had also grown ¾ inch! At First Entry he was described as 5ft 3in tall with light [brown?] hair, light blue eyes and a fair complexion, but at 18 his height was 5ft 3¾in. Apart from a small incident in 1894, when he was "Recovered from straggling and sent to Portsmouth", his annual reports suggest that he was doing quite well in the Navy with mostly Very Good (VG) and Good character assessments (although VG actually only means "no detected serious crimes"). Perhaps this was why he was chosen to serve on the cruiser HMS St George starting on 25th Oct 1894, the same day that the ship was commissioned as the flagship of the Commander in Chief on the Cape of Good Hope and West Africa Stations [8].

On the 27th August 1896 Ordinary Seaman Frederick George Wooster may have contributed to the victory of the 40-minute-long Anglo-Zanzibar War, when HMS St George, leading a British flotilla, was fired upon by the armed yacht HHS Glasgow of Zanzibar. The return fire sank Glasgow with a hole below the waterline [9]. The British ships also bombarded the Sultan's palace, destroying most of his artillery and causing the palace to collapse. After 40 minutes of bombardment the shelling finished and the Sultan's flag was pulled down ending the shortest war in history [10]. Frederick continued to impress his superiors and was promoted to Able Seaman, Training Unit, on 24th Oct 1896, whilst still serving on HMS St George.

HMS St George (launched 1892) and the Sultan's Palace after the bombardment


A magnificent 5m long model of the HMS St George, constructed in 1897, housed in Simon's Town Museum and an article in the press about its refurbishment in 1986

On 21st December 1897 whilst in Simon's Town, just outside Cape Town, South Africa, something went badly wrong; Frederick deserted. His character for the year up to that date, was described as VG, so what happened to make him desert? The remark on his service record simply states "Run 21.12.97 Simons Town (Monarch)". At that time HMS Monarch was a Guard Ship in Simon's Bay [11], but there is no other mention in his record of being on the Guard Ship. Had he committed a minor misdemeanour? He was recovered almost a year later on 5th Dec 1898 and was "sentenced to 90 ds (days) HL (hard labour) by Wrt (Warrant) of 1.12.98". Not surprisingly, Frederick's annual character report on 31.12.98 was described as "Indifferent". However, since then he appears to have kept out of trouble as his character reports for the next 6 years were mostly Very Good. After completing his punishment of 90 days hard labour in March 1899, Frederick remained in South Africa on board HMS Doris for just over a month before returning to Portsmouth, so fortunately for him he left before the start of the Second Boer War later that year.

Back in England, Frederick continued his training and achieved the Trained Man sub-rating on 15 Sep 1899. He then went on to train in gunnery at HMS Excellent, a shore based establishment in Portsmouth. He achieved the sub-rating of Passed Seaman Gunner (PSG) on 22 Jan 1900 and by 30 April 1900 he was a 1st Class Seaman Gunner. Later that year on the 21 Aug 1900 he joined the crew of HMS Prince George, a battleship serving with the Channel Fleet. At the time of the 1901 Census [12] he was recorded as a crew member of the Prince George and he continued to serve on this ship until 30 Jan 1903, making it his longest posting.

On the 1 Sep 1901 it appears that he was demoted to the sub-rating of Seaman Gunner and at the end of 1901 his annual character report had dropped to Good. Perhaps he had other things on his mind which distracted him from his duties, as he would have discovered around this time that he was going to be a father! On the 6th February 1902, his wife Emily Worcester [sic], formerly Hart, of 42 Clovelly Road, Southampton, gave birth to a baby boy named Frederick William Francis [13]. The following year his character was back up to Very Good and on the 10th July 1903 he was promoted to the sub-rating of 2nd Class Captain of Gun. Searches for the marriage record of Frederick George Wooster (including variants) to Emily Hart have so far been unsuccessful.

On the 16 August 1902 Frederick would probably have been on board HMS Prince George for the Coronation Fleet Review at Spithead, the final event to celebrate the coronation of King Edward VII a week earlier [14, 15]. This must have been an amazing experience for Frederick, with 20 battleships, 24 cruisers and 47 destroyers, as well as several foreign ships taking part. The event was watched by around 100,000 people from the shore, in pleasure steamers and in small boats. As a 2nd Class Captain of Gun, Frederick may also have been firing one of the guns during the fleet exercises watched by the King.

Frederick completed 12 years continuous service in the Navy on Monday 29th August 1904. On that day he left HMS Excellent and was travelling by train from Eastleigh, Southampton to Salisbury, presumably en route to Wimborne St Giles where his wife and son were living at the time of the 1911 Census [16]. At Dean Station (probably West Dean) three men boarded the train and entered his compartment and one of them, named William Rowe, produced a pack of cards and commenced playing. Frederick, probably feeling demob-happy, was induced to try and find "the lady" and he was foolish enough to bet 50s. He lost almost a month's pay when he discovered that he had fallen victim to the three card trick! On arriving at Salisbury Station, Rowe was arrested but the other two men escaped. At court the following day the Chief Constable said that the prisoner had several previous convictions, so surprisingly Rowe was let off with a small fine of 20s, but thankfully the 50s was returned to Frederick [17].

After completing his 12 years of continuous service, Frederick joined the Portsmouth Royal Fleet Reserve (RFR) and found a job as a River Keeper on an estate [18]. Sadly he was not able to enjoy watching his son grow up as he died 2 years later on 20 September 1906 at the age of 31. The cause of death was recorded as "Heart Disease Syncope" (he lost consciousness and died) [18]. Frederick George Worcester [sic] was buried on the 24 September 1906 [19] in the St Giles Burial Ground, Wimborne, although he is recorded on the gravestone as Frederick Wooster [20]. His wife Emily had a long life and died in 1968 at the age of 93. She was buried with her husband in the Wimborne St Giles Burial Ground [21,22].

Frederick and Emily's Gravestone

Frederick's Link to the Great Wooster Tree

Frederick was born on 4 May 1874 at Watts Lane, Teddington and his parents were Frederick John Wooster, a Master Gardener, and Mary Ann Wooster, formerly Scott [23]. Interestingly, the mother's maiden name is incorrectly transcribed as SCOLL in the index of birth records [24]. A few weeks later, on the 28 June 1874, Frederick George Wooster was baptised in the parish of St Mary, Teddington [25].

Frederick George's parents, Frederick John Wooster and Mary Ann Scott were married in Wandsworth in 1867 [26] and at the time of the 1871 Census Frederick J Wooster, age 28, was a gardener living in Teddington with his wife Mary, age 24, and son Albert E Wooster age 6 months [27].

Ten years later, in the 1881 Census, Frederick G Wooster, age 6, was living in Nightingale Lane, Clapham, Wandsworth, together with his father, Frederick Wooster, a gardener age 38, his wife Sarah A Wooster, age 32, an unnamed brother age 0, and Sarah's mother, Sarah Wimshurst, a dressmaker age 56 [28]. Frederick Wooster and Sarah Winshurst [sic] were married in 1878 [29] so this was probably Frederick senior's second marriage. Sadly, his first wife, Mary Ann, died in 1877 [30]. A search of the new index of birth records identified the unnamed infant, Frederick George's younger brother, as Henry James Wooster [31].

According to the 1881 Census, Frederick Wooster senior was born in Marylebone around 1842-43. A search of the GRO Index of Births found that Frederick John Wooster was born in 1843 and his mother's maiden name was Brant [32]. A search of Wooster - Brant marriages revealed that his parents, Moses Wooster and Jane Brant were married in St Pancras in 1838 [33]. A search of parish marriage records found that Moses Wooster, a bachelor labourer, married Jane Brant , a spinster on the 13th December 1838 at St Pancras Parish Chapel [34]. Both were of full age and living in Harrow. Moses' father was Timothy Wooster, a Labourer, and Jane's father was James Brant, a coachmaker.

Left: St Pancras New Church soon after completion in 1820

A search for the baptism of Moses Wooster, around 1810 ± 10 years, finally produced a link to the Great Wooster Tree. There was only one result, Moses son of Timothy and Selina Wooster baptised on the 20 Aug 1809 in Wendover, Buckinghamshire [35] and this Moses Wooster is recorded on the Great Wooster Tree (Person ID: I00149).

Frederick George Wooster's connection to the Great Wooster Tree (now added)

Frederick John Wooster appears to have had 5 children, two with his first wife, Mary Ann, and three with his second wife, Sarah Ann. Frederick George's older brother, Albert Edward Wooster was born in 1870 [36] and baptised later that year on the 21 November [37].

In 1891 Census Frederick George's half-sister, Sarah Jane Wooster, age 15 was living with her mother and father in Westwell, West Ashford, Kent [38]. Sarah Jane Wimshurst Wooster was born out of wedlock (Frederick John and Sarah married in 1878) in Fulham in 1876 Jan-Mar [39] and was baptised 9 Jan 1876 at St Lukes Church, Shepherds Bush, Hammersmith [57]. Note that Frederick John's first wife, Mary Ann was thought to have died in 1877 [30] which was after the birth of Sarah Jane Wimshurst Wooster, so the death record for Mary Ann Wooster may not be correct, unless Frederick John was being unfaithful to his first wife.

Sarah Jane Wooster and Albert Edward Wooster have so far not been found in the 1881 Census. It is likely that they were staying with friends or relatives as their younger brother Henry James had only recently been born.

Henry James Wooster joined the Royal Regiment of Artillery, Royal Horse Artillery on 5 September 1900 and according to his service record he had a fresh complexion with brown hair, brown eyes, a scar over his left eye brow and at 5ft 10½ins tall, he was much taller than his half-brother Frederick George. His next of kin are listed as, Father: Frederick, Mother: Sarah, Brothers and Sister: Albert in the Railway Pioneer (Staffs & Africa), Frederick in Royal Navy and Jeanie (dressmaker, Brighton) [40]. Frederick John and Sarah Ann Wooster also had a daughter, Eliza Wooster, born 1878 [41], but sadly she died shortly after birth [42].

At the time of the 1901 Census, Frederick George's father, Frederick John Wooster, was a gardener living as a boarder in Folkestone [43] whilst his wife Sara [sic] stayed at home in Ashford with her mother-in-law [44]. By 1911, Frederick John Wooster and his wife Sarah Ann had moved to Folkestone [45].

Frederick John Wooster died at the age of 85 in Folkestone on 26 March 1926 and was buried there on the 31st March [46, 47]. In his will he left one shilling to each of his sons, Henry Wooster and Albert Wooster, as they were presumably already financially secure [48]. He also gave some money to friends and others who had looked after him and to the Victoria Hospital, Folkestone, but most of his estate, which was valued at £351-6s-6d, was given to his daughter-in-law, Emily Wooster, which would have helped her considerably as she remained a widow until she died at the age of 93 [22].

In the 1939 Register, Frederick George's son Frederick William Francis Wooster was a General Manager in the Motor Engine business living in Wembley with his wife Winifred M Wooster (date of birth 06 May 1903) [49]. They were married in 1927 in Salisbury [50]. A search of the Index of Births revealed that they had a son, Frederick J Wooster in 1930 [51]. There is a record for the death of 2nd Lt Frederick John Wooster who was killed in Kenya on 2 April 1956 [52] and there is a memorial plaque in the parish church of Wimborne St Giles which suggests that he was the grandson of Emily Wooster as she continued to live in this village after the death of her husband, Frederick George Wooster.

Frederick Francis Wooster died on 17 April 1994 at the age of 92 [53, 54]. In his will dated 6 September 1990 he bequeathed £2000 to his cousin Jean Paine and £2000 to lady from Oakmount, 2 Narrow Lane, Poulner, which is a Care Home in Ringwood. The remainder of his estate was bequeathed to Wimborne St Giles Parochial Church Council for the maintenance and repair of St Giles Church, Wimborne St Giles. He also requested that his body be buried in the same grave as his first wife Winifred May in the Cemetery at All Hallows, Wimborne St Giles. Winifred M Wooster died at the age of 62 in 1965 [55] and is buried in All Hallows Old Cemetery, Wimborne St Giles, Dorset, although her name is indexed on the Find A Grave website as Winifred Mary Wooster [56]. Frederick Francis Wooster married his second wife Freda Mary Wooster in Newton Abbot, Devon on 31 July 1971 [58]. The marriage certificate reveals that Freda was not related to Frederick and that her maiden name was Reeves. It would seem that she had previously changed her name to Wooster by Deed Poll and her previous marriage had been dissolved. Freda Mary Wooster died in 1981 and is buried in All Hallows Old Cemetery, Wimborne St Giles [59].


Wooster Gravestones at Wimborne St Giles. Frederick George Wooster and Emily Hart, Frederick Francis Wooster and Winifred May Hayden, Freda Mary Reeves (Frederick Francis's second wife)

Unfortunately, there do not appear to be any surviving descendants of Frederick George Wooster, the Sailor, but he and his family will be remembered in the Great Wooster Tree.

1. Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services, 1891. The National Archives. Reference ADM 188/232/158549.
2. UK Census, 1891, RG 12/865/118/35.
3. Regulations for Entry for Boys and Men into the Navy - Pay - Leave - Gratuities - Pensions and the Pay of Warrant Officers, Circular No. 130, Admiralty, 3 Oct 1853, (accessed 7 Nov 2017).
4. A note on the Royal Navy in 1905 (based substantially on Appendix I on The Pyecroft Stories in the ORG, and edited for this Guide by Commander Alastair Wilson, R.N.) , Alastair Wilson and P W Brock, July 22nd 2009; (accessed 8 Nov 2017).
5. Antoine Vanner; The Dawlish Chronicles, The Value of Money - Pay in the Royal Navy in the 1890s; (accessed 8 Nov 2017).
6. Wages Through History: Agricultural labourers' wages - 1850-1914; (accessed 8 Nov 2017).
7. Great Depression of British Agriculture, Wikipedia; (accessed 8 Nov 2017).
8. Royal Museums Greenwich, HMS St George; (accessed 8 Nov 2017).
9. HMS St George (1892), Wikipedia; (accessed 8 Nov 2017).
10. Historic UK: The shortest war in history; (accessed 8 Nov 2017).
11. Naval Database, Monarch; (accessed 8 Nov 2017).
12. UK Census, 1901, RG13/5330/80/21.
13. General Register Office, Certified Copy of an Entry of Birth for Frederick Worcester; 1902, Jan-Mar, 2C, 38.
14. Coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, Wikipedia; (accessed 10 Nov 2017).
15. HMS Prince George (1895), Wikipedia; (accessed 10 Nov 2017).
16. UK Census 1911, RG14; Piece: 12243; Schedule Number: 12.
17. Wimborne St Giles: Cardsharpers on the Railway, Western Gazette, Friday 2 September 1904; (accessed 10 Nov 2017).
18. General Register Office, Certified Copy of an Entry of Death for Frederick George Worcester; 1906, Jul-Sep, 05A, 134.
19. England, Select Dorset Church of England Parish Registers, 1538-1999 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014, burial of Frederick Wooster 24 September 1906, (accessed 14 Nov 2017).
20. Dorset Monumental Inscriptions, Somerset & Dorset FHS, Frederick Wooster, husband of Emily Wooster, St Giles Burial Ground, Wimborne, Grave Ref: 76 (accessed 14 Nov 2017).
21. Dorset Monumental Inscriptions, Somerset & Dorset FHS, Emily Wooster, wife of Frederick Wooster, St Giles Burial Ground, Wimborne, Grave Ref: 76 (accessed 15 Nov 2017).
22. General Register Office, Index of Deaths, Emily Wooster, 1968 Apr-Jun, Christchurch, 6B, 288, (accessed 14 Nov 2017).
23. General Register Office, Certified Copy of an Entry of Birth for Frederick George Wooster; 1874, Apr-Jun, 02A, 306.
24. General Register Office, Index of Births, Frederick George Wooster, 1874 Apr-Jun, Kingston, 2A, 306, (accessed 13 Nov 2017).
25. London Metropolitan Archives, Teddington St Mary, Register of Baptisms, Frederick George Wooster, 28 Jun 1874, dro/125, Item 006; (accessed 15 Nov 2017).
26. General register Office, Index of Marriages, Frederick John Wooster and Mary Ann Scott, 1867 Jul-Sep, Wandsworth, 1d, 720, (accessed 13 Nov 2017).
27. UK Census 1871, RG10/866/37/12.
28. UK Census 1881, RG 11/637/70/35.
29. General Register Office, Index of Marriages, Frederick Wooster and Sarah Winshurst , 1878 Apr-Jun, Kingston 2a, 436, (accessed 13 Nov 2017).
30. General Register Office, Index of Deaths, Mary Ann Wooster, 1877 Oct-Dec, Whitechapel, 1C, 260, (accessed 13 Nov 2017).
31. General Register Office, Index of Births, Henry James Wooster, 1881 Apr-Jun, Wandsworth, 1D, 560, (accessed 13 Nov 2017).
32. General Register Office, Index of Births, Frederick John Wooster, 1843 Jul-Sep, Marylebone, 01, 165, (accessed 14 Nov 2017).
33. General register Office, Index of Marriages, Moses Wooster and Jane Brant, 1838 Oct-Dec, St Pancras, 1, 286, (accessed 14 Nov 2017).
34. London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Church of England Parish Registers, 1754-1931; Reference Number: p90/pan1/072, Marriage of Moses Wooster and Jane Brant, 13 Dec 1838, St Pancras, (accessed 14 Nov 2017).
35. England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014; Baptism of Moses Wooster, 20 Aug 1809, Wendover, (accessed 14 Nov 2017).
36. General Register Office, Index of Births, Albert Edward Wooster, 1843 Jul-Sep, Marylebone, 01, 165, (accessed 14 Nov 2017).
37. London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Board of Guardian Records, 1834-1906/Church of England Parish Registers, 1754-1906; Reference Number: dro/125/006, Baptism of Albert Edward Wooster, 27 Nov 1870, (accessed 14 Nov 2017).
38. UK Census 1891 RG12/698/121/8.
39. General Register Office, Index of Births, Sarah Jane Wimshurst Wooster, 1876 Jan-Mar, Fulham, 1A, 213, (accessed 14 Nov 2017).
40. Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service Records 1760-1913, WO 97, Box 6298, Rec No 104, (accessed 14 Nov 2017).
41. General Register Office, Index of Births, Eliza Wooster, 1878 Jul-Sep, Kingston on Thames, 2A, 331, (accessed 14 Nov 2017).
42. General Register Office, Index of Deaths, Eliza Wooster, 1878 Jul-Sep, Kingston on Thames, 2A, 103, (accessed 14 Nov 2017).
43. UK Census 1901, Folkestone, RG13, 847/98/18.
44. UK Census 1901, Ashford, RG3/782/62/23.
45. UK Census 1911, Folkestone, RG14/4638/376.
46. General Register Office, Index of Deaths, Frederick J Wooster, 1926 Jan-Mar, Elham, 2A 1495, (accessed 15 Nov 2017).
47. Shepway District Council; Folkstone, Kent, England; Shepway Burial Registers; Frederick John Wooster, age 85, gardener, d.26 Mar 1926, bur.31 Mar 1926, Section A, Grave 1629, Internment No.510, (accessed 15 Nov 2017).
48. Will of Frederick John Wooster, died 26 March 1926, probate 4 June 1926, Find A Will
49. 1939 Register, Frederick F Wooster, born 06 Feb 1902, 82 Valley Drive, Wembley, Middlesex, RG101/0957H/024/17 Letter Code: BWFL, (accessed 8 Feb 2017).
50. General Register Officer, Index of Marriage Records, Frederick W F Wooster and Winifred M Hayden, 1927 Jan-Mar, Salisbury, 5a, 273, (accessed 15 Nov 2017).
51. General Register Office, Index of Births, Frederick J Wooster, 1930 Oct-Dec, Hendon, 3a, 616, (accessed 15 Nov 2017).
52. Dorset Monumental Inscriptions Transcriptions, Somerset and Dorset Family History Society, 2nd Lt Frederick John Wooster, died 02 Apr 1956, REME Killed in Kenya, Wall Plaque St Giles Church, Wimborne, (accessed 13 Aug 2017).
53. General Register Office, Index of Deaths, Frederick Francis Wooster, b 6 Feb 1902, 1994 Apr-Jun, 18,4981,217, (accessed 15 Nov 2017).
54. Will of Frederick Francis Wooster, d.17 April 1994, probate 2 Jun 1994, Find A Will
55. General Register Office, Index of Deaths, Winifred M Wooster, age 62, 1965 Apr-Jun, Christchurch, 6B, 247 (accessed 15 Nov 2017).
56. Find a Grave, Winifred Mary Wooster, unknown - 1965, All Hallows Old Cemetery, Wimborne St Giles, Dorset, (accessed 15 Nov 2015).
57. London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Board of Guardian Records, 1834-1906/Church of England Parish Registers, 1754-1906; Reference Number: P80/LUK/A/01/001, Baptism of Sarah Jane Wimshurst Wooster, 9 Jan 1876, (accessed 17 Nov 2017).
58. General Register Office, Certified Copy of an Entry of Marriage of Frederick F Wooster and Freda M Wooster, Newton Abbott, 7a, 1616.
59. UK and Ireland, Find A Grave Index, 1300s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012, Freda Mary Wooster died 1981, (accessed 17 Nov 2017).


  Page last updated

  28 March 2020