Written by Mary Ann Astington Kirkham, from the George Wm. and Mary Ann Kirkham Journal.
During her lifetime Mary Ann Astington Kirkham gave us information about her ancestry, which for a long time we were not able to verify from official records. Just recently, however, contact was made with official archives in England to provide us with the following information about the father of Mary Ann Astington, (and Eliza Astington, sister of Mary Ann.)
Richard Astington was a private in Captain Thoyt’s Company of the North Yorkshire Militia as of March 12, 1803. Between the years 1803 until 1813 he moved about the country with the militia. First the regiment moved from Richmond, Yorkshire, to Sunderland, to Epswich, to Foxall Heath Camp, to Gosport until the end of the year 1805. The unit moved to Deal in 1808, to Chaltham in 1810, to Brighton in 1811, to Colchester in 1813, to Glasgow, Scotland, July 8, 1813, where he was appointed drummer in Captain Hamer’s Company.
The regiment went to Belfast, Ireland 17 September 1813, then to Aughnacloy and later Armagh and elsewhere to arrive at Liverpool, England on the 12th of June 1815. The unit returned to Richmond, Yorkshire on September 1, 1816.
On the 11th January 1816 the North York Militia was “disembodied” but drummer Astington remained on the staff.
On April 25, 1819, drummer Astington was promoted to corporal. He attended various military training schools until 17 August 1831. He died at Richmond, Yorkshire, 4th November 1834, of which the official entry is found on the roll of this militia.
“From this record the following facts emerge:
The births of certainly two of the children, Richard and Elizabeth took place at the place he was serving at. Catherine’s birthplace has not been identified. Frances, Sarah, Thomas, James, Mary and Eliza were all born at Richmond at a period during which he was living in that town.
His death at Richmond on 4/11/1834 has been confirmed and it is certain that he was buried there.He was not present at Wateloo: he was in Ireland in June 1815. No militia regiment fought at Waterloo—it was a Home Defense Force.
He was stated to have been in the band. He was certainly a drummer. Regimental bands at that time (when they existed) were paid for by the officers and the War Office took no official note of them so that nothing about a band appears in War Office records. There is however, a bill in 1814 for carriage of “ornaments for the band,” so there is evidence that the North Yorks Militia did in fact have a band.
The drummers and fifers were recognized and paid by the War Office, but drums and fifes were not called a band, which was an extra organization, though doubtless drummers played in the band.
“He was stated to have been a ‘sharpshooter,’ in fact this regiment had two companies armed with rifles, (or partly so armed) and Richard Astington served in one of them as drummer in 1814. This might well explain his claim to have been a ‘sharpshooter.’ The term was not officially used in England at that time.
“An infantry battalion was organized in two wings at that time, roughly half the companies in each—called Right and Left Wings.”
End of official report from London, 30 August, 1857.
This information on the Astington family was obtained from the Will of the Prerogative and Exchequer Courts of York, England, from the Bishop’s transcripts of York; the 1851 census of London, England, and by correspondence with the Vicar at Gillingham, England, and, of course, family records as given to us by Mary Ann Astington Kirkham.
The above information is found in the SMUIN BOOK pp. 27-28.