THE FOLLOWING WAS WRITTEN BY EILEEN MARIE ARNSBY
On August 14, 1850 he was attested at Westminster for the 94th Regiment of Foot in which he served in Gibraltar and Peshawar, India (now Pakistan). In August 1860 he was promoted to Hospital Sergeant and re-enlisted for a second term of 11 years. He then on Sept. 1, 1867 volunteered for the First Battalion, 3rd Regt. of Foot "The Buffs", until his date of discharge, August 22, 1871, having completed two terms of service, for which he received a Good Conduct and Long Service medal and a "very good" character.
He gave, as his intended place of residence, Whitchurch, Hampshire. This information was too late for the census of April 1871 and in April 1881 there were no Arnsbys listed but a family of the name of Yarlett, which was the maiden name of Henry's wife.
And there we might have lost him forevermore had it not been for the earlier labours of Louise Arnsby who, in the 1960's had been in contact with cousins in England, gleaning what information they had of the older generation. These letters I had inherited when due to illness and her marriage Louise was no longer able to complete her research.
So as I was filing away the bulking certificate of discharge of Sgt. Henry Alfred my eye caught three lines of figures and writing across the test on the back page which could be taken for scribbles of War Office regulation numbers. Careful scrutiny revealed the inscription "H.B.M. (Her Britannic Majesty) Consul, Oporto" 21/10/84 and a line "Awarded 4 years pension as commutation", (more figures) then, to H.B.M. Consul, Oporto 27/1/85.
Obviously, the War Office was awarding Henry extra pension. But why fourteen years after discharge? The answer may give some indication of Henry's character. On page 2, where he signs that he has received "all just demands" there is another almost indecipherable note in the margin, "except a claim against the Indian Government for difference of pay between Sgt. and Hospital Sgt. from 17 October 1870 to date of final discharge which he is leaving in the hands of the Officer Commanding Depot 1/b, 3 Bt. for settlement".
So 14 years later Henry's patience and determination paid off - but by then he was no longer in England.
Then I recalled a letter of 1968 from Major Cornelius Arnsby, Grandson of Edmund (1832-77) and son of Edmund (1867-1939) our "cousin Con" written to Louise, in which there was a mention of Portugal, as quoted:
"You will be interested that on a visit to my stepson in Hannover, Germany he produced a fine bottle of Douro Port in the name of Arnsby wine merchants of Portugal. I will write to the firm in the near future and hope to hear something of interest that I can pass on to you."
I immediately wrote to Con but received no reply. He would have been 88 so may have been deceased by then.
The next step was to contact the Portuguese Consulate in Toronto to obtain a list of wine merchants, for which errand I called on Jerry Arnsby, living in Toronto. Jerry obtained a long list which he photocopied for me and we set to work both sending letters to various firms. They all replied most courteously and helpfully and most were familiar with the Arnsby name in connection with the wine trade.
But the most useful information came from two merchants initially contacted by Jerry. The very large and British established firm of Cockburn Smithes & Co. sent a photocopy of a 1948 publication edited by the Association of Port Wine Exporters, of the history of the independent firm of Wiese & Krohn containing a photo of Edmund Henry Arnsby, who, with his brother Frederick, was connected with the firm.
Moreover, another of Jerry's correspondents, The Instituto do Vinho do Porto, on their own initiative, made contact with a retired Englishman who had spent many years in the trade. This Mr. John Dalaforce went to "the English Church" of St. James in Oporto searched for and sent on to us all the records he could find of christenings, marriages and deaths in the Arnsby family.
We do not know the exact date that Henry and Jemima brought their family to Portugal but estimating recorded birth from age and registered deaths we know that one son, Frederick Charles, was born in England in 1870 (Henry was not discharged from the army until 1871- discharged to pension on August 3, 1871 and that a second son, Horace was baptized in Oporto in Nov. 1873; which places their arrival 1872-73.
Henry's duties as Hospital Sergeant must have trained him in pharmacy as his register of death states he was Dispenser in the British Hospital.
A third son, Edmund Henry (Named after the 2 month son who died in 1852) was born in Oporto in 1876. Another Arnsby entry was of a young woman, Frances Emma, 27, who died in 1896 with no parental reference and who may have been a daughter born in England in 1869.
The following deaths and burials are entered in the registry of the British Church of St. James, Oporto:
- Henry Alfred Arnsby 1887 age 59
- Jemima, his wife, 1913, age 87
- Horace Arnsby, 1925, age 52
- Edmund Henry, 1933, age 57
- Frederick Charles, 1955, age 85
There is also an entry of Sidney Arnsby, described as "of Rio de Janeiro, living in Oporto:, buried February 26, 1914, age 54. There may be a connection with the family but no documentation has yet been sought.
Sgt. 94th Regiment-Hospital Dispenser