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23068 Foreman of Works Quartermaster Sergeant
Royal Engineers


Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis
2003. All Rights Reserved.


Unless otherwise noted, the details supplied in this narrative were extracted from the soldier’s service papers, WO97/5161, obtained from the Public Record Office at Kew, Richmond, Surrey.


Edward Hoskison was born in the Parish of Patrington [1], near the Town of Hull [2] in the County of Yorkshire in February of 1867. He and his family were members of the Church of England. Hoskison's military records show that prior to his enlistment in the Army he lived with his mother, Ann Hoskison, at 7 Jarrett Street in Hull, Yorkshire [3]. His father is not mentioned as next of kin in his service papers; therefore, it may be assumed that he was deceased in 1888 when Hoskison enlisted.

As a young man, Hoskison worked as a Surveyor's Apprentice for Mr. W.H. Wellsted of Hull. He also appears to have had some skills as a draughtsman. The knowledge and skills he gained while working for Mr. Wellsted undoubtedly was considered an asset when he decided to enlist in the Corps of Royal Engineers.


By the standards of the late Victorian period, Edward Hoskison was a big man. The following is a description of him at the time he enlisted in the Army in 1888:


21 years and 6 months


5 feet 10 inches


182 pounds

Chest Measurement:

38 inches






Light brown

Distinctive Marks:

Vaccination mark on the left arm

The following is a description of Edward Hoskison at the time he was discharged from the Army in 1909:


42 years and 6 months


5 feet 10 inches

Chest Measurement (normal):

47 inches [4]

Chest Measurement (expanded):

50 inches






Light brown

Distinctive Marks:



Edward Hoskison was recruited for enlistment in the Royal Engineers on the 15th of August 1888 by a Sergeant Bushby of the East Yorkshire Regiment at the 15th Regimental District depot in Beverley, Yorkshire. At the time of his enlistment he was asked the routine questions normally put to a recruit. He indicated that he had been an Apprentice, that he was not married and that he had never been imprisoned by civil power. He further indicated that he had never served in the Regular Army, Royal Navy or Militia, he had never been previously discharged from Her Majesty's forces and that he had never been rejected as unfit for military service. In fact, prior to his enlistment, he had served in the 2nd East Yorkshire Artillery Volunteers with headquarters located at Hull [5].

Hoskison attested for service at Beverley on the same day as his enlistment. His was a Short Service enlistment for a period of 7 years with the Colours and 5 years in the Reserve [6]. Lieutenant Colonel J. McD. Allardice, the commander of the 15th Regimental District, certified his attestation. Hoskison's Certificate of Final Medical Examination was completed by J. Hoysted, the Brigade Surgeon at Beverley. He was found to be fit for service in the Army by "Special Authority" [7]. A Primary Military Examination was administered to Hoskison at Beverley by the Recruiting Officer of the 15th Regimental District. He was certified fit for service in the Royal Engineers, no doubt because of his prior training and skills as a Surveyor's Assistant and Draughtsman. Following these certifications, Lieutenant Colonel Allardice gave his final certification of Hoskison's enlistment as the Approving Field Officer.

Hoskison report to the School of Military Engineering at Brompton Barracks in Chatham, Kent on the 17th of August 1888. There he was assigned Regimental Number 23068 and the rank of Sapper. His skills as a draughtsman were evaluated upon his arrival at Chatham and were noted to be "Good." He then entered into a period of basic training to learn the skills required of an engineer soldier [8].


Upon completion of his basic training it appears that Sapper Hoskison remained at Chatham and completed a course of instruction as a Draughtsman. Although he was a "Good" Draughtsman when he enlisted, the Army wanted to provide him with additional training probably so that he could learn the elements of military drawing. His total time at Chatham appears to have been on the order of three and a half years. Following a period of leave, Hoskison left Chatham for the Curragh in Ireland. As with so many records of soldiers in the Royal Engineers during the Victorian period, his service papers do not show to which unit he was assigned at this time. It appears that he served at the Curragh for a period of two to two and half years before being posted to Aldershot. Again, his service papers are not specific with regard to his date of transfer or the unit to which he was posted.

While at Aldershot Hoskison was promoted to the rank of 2nd Corporal. It appears that Army life agreed with him, for on the 30th of July 1895 he extended his enlistment to complete 12 years with the Colours [9].

On the 5th of November 1895, Hoskison left England for his new posting to the 36th (Fortress) Company on the island of Bermuda. Since his marriage had not been recognized at this time, it is not known for certain whether his wife and daughter accompanied him to Bermuda.

His duties with the 36th (Fortress) Company involved work dealing with fortifications and electric lighting of the ports and harbours around the island. He apparently continued to enjoy army life for on the 30th of October 1899 he re-engaged to complete 21 years of service with the Colours. His re-engagement was approved by the Commander Royal Engineers (CRE) Bermuda [10].

Hoskison's tour of duty on Bermuda lasted until about late November of 1899 when he was ordered home. He arrived in England on the 7th of December 1899 and although many companies of the Royal Engineers were preparing to go to South Africa, Hoskison was not assigned to one of these units, thereby missing his opportunity to see active service during the Boer War of 1899-1902 [11]. Instead he was posted to the office of the CRE Liverpool, the headquarters of which was at 14 Elliott Street in the town of Liverpool. However, Hoskison did not remain in Liverpool. He was posted to a District Office located at Preston in Lancashire, an office that came under the control of the CRE Liverpool. He remained at Preston until the 1st of July 1904 when he departed England for the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. His marriage had been recognized by this time and it is very likely that his wife and children accompanied him on this posting.

The Royal Engineers on the island of Mauritius in 1904 consisted of the office of the CRE Mauritius (Brevet Colonel F.H. Horniblow, R.E.) with headquarters at Vacoas [12] and the 43rd (Fortress) Company, Royal Engineers. The 43rd (Fortress) Company performed duties on Mauritius much like those performed by the 36th (Fortress) Company on Bermuda. As a member of the Supernumerary Staff of the Royal Engineers it is most likely that Hoskison was serving in the office of the CRE during his time on Mauritius, rather than with the company. He remained there until the 26th of November 1907 when he and his family arrived back in England.

Hoskison's next assignment was in the officer of the CRE Dover District located at Archcliffe Fort in Kent. He was now serving with the Establishment for Engineer Services[13] and was again working for Colonel F.H. Horniblow, R.E. who must have left Mauritius to return to England at about the same time as Hoskison. Hoskison served in this assignment until the summer of 1909 when he applied for discharge upon the termination of his second period of limited engagement.


a. Promotions: Edward Hoskison received the following promotions during his time in service:

Date of Promotion or Appointment

Rank or Position

15 August 1888

Appointed Sapper on enlistment.

3 March 1893

Appointed Lance Corporal.

1 June 1895

Promoted 2nd Corporal.

1 July 1898

Promoted Corporal.

28 December 1900

Promoted Foreman of Works Staff Sergeant.

28 March 1907

Promoted Foreman of Works Quartermaster Sergeant

b. Conduct: Edward Hoskison received the following Good Conduct Badges during his time in service [14]:

Date of Award

Good Conduct Badge

15 August 1890

Authorized Good Conduct Pay at 1d per day.

15 August 1894

Authorized Good Conduct Pay at 2d per day.

On the 15th of August 1906 Foreman of Works Staff Sergeant Edward Hoskison completed 18 years of service with the Colours and became eligible for the award of the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. This medal subsequently was awarded to him in accordance with Army Orders dated April 1907 [15]. The Long Service and Good Conduct Medal (EVIIR) is the only medal that Hoskison earned during his 21 years of service in the Army.

At the time of his discharge in 1909, Hoskison's conduct was rated as "Exemplary" by his commanding officer with a notation on his discharge papers indicating that he had committed no offenses during his 21-year period of service. This would indicate that his name never appeared in the Regimental Defaulters Book and that he had never been court-martialed.


a. Education: Edward Hoskison earned the following Certificates of Education during his time in service [16]:


Certificate of Education

5 December 1889

Awarded a 3rd Class Certificate of Education

16 October 1893

Awarded a 2nd Class Certificate of Education

28 March 1907

Awarded a 1st Class Certificate of Education

b. Qualifications: Edward Hoskison earned the following qualifications during his time in service:



17 August 1888

Qualified as a "Good" Draughtsman immediately following his enlistment.

25 November 1890

Completed the course of instruction as a Draughtsman with a qualification of "Superior."


Qualified as a Military Foreman of Works.

28 December 1900

Appointed to the Supernumerary Staff [17].

1 April 1904

Awarded Service Pay Class I at 7d per day [18].

14 August 1909

Qualified as a "Very Superior" Draughtsman upon discharge.


The following medical information was taken from Edward Hoskison's service records during his time in the Army. His Medical History Sheet was not found in his records under WO97/5161. The missing Medical History Sheet might have provided information regarding a physical condition, if any, that required Hoskison to be enlisted by "Special Authority."


Date of


Period of Hospitalization
or Treatment

Chatham, Kent [19]

3 Feb 1892

Sprained ankle

Not stated in service record.

Curragh, Ireland

10 Aug 1892

Sprained left knee

Not stated in service record.


Edward Hoskison married Esther Burke, a spinster, at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Aldershot, Hampshire on the 25th of November 1894, without leave [20]. They were married by Father E.A. Riordan with Herbert and Catherine Nice acting as witnesses at the wedding. It was not until the 15th of June 1904 that their marriage was recognized by the Army. On that date Hoskison was placed on the married rolls and his wife Esther was taken on the strength of his unit.

Edward and Esther Hoskison had two children while he was serving in the Army. Their daughter Esther Ann was born at Frimley, Surrey on the 30th of August 1895. Frimley is located approximately five miles north of Aldershot, Hampshire. Their son Thomas was born at Fulwood near Preston in Lancashire on the 18th of June 1903.


Foreman of Works Quartermaster Sergeant Edward Hoskison was discharged from the Army at Brighton, Sussex on the 14th of August 1909 on the termination of his second period of limited engagement. His total service was reckoned as shown in the tables below:


Period of Service

Beverley, Yorkshire

15-16 August 1888

Chatham, Kent

17 August 1888 - November 1890

Curragh, Ireland

November 1890 - November 1894

Aldershot, Hampshire

November 1894 - 4 November 1895


5 November 1895 - 6 December 1899

Preston, Lancashire

7 December 1899 - 30 June 1904


1 July 1904 - 25 November 1907

Dover, Kent

26 November 1907 - 14 August 1909



Period of Service

Home Service

13 years and 186 days

Service Abroad

7 years and 179 days

Total Service

21 years exactly

Hoskison's trade at the time of his discharge was listed as "Draughtsman." His commanding officer noted that he was a "very superior" draughtsman and that he had performed duties as a Foreman of Works for 8 years. He was considered by Colonel Horniblow to be a "thoroughly honest, reliable and straightforward man."

At the time of his discharge, Edward Hoskison indicated that his intended place of residence upon leaving the Army would be 50 Buller Road in Brighton, Sussex.


No information has been uncovered to date regarding the post service life of Edward Hoskison.



1. BAKER BROWN, W. The History of the Corps of Royal Engineers. Volume IV. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1952.

2. FARWELL, B. Mr. Kipling’s Army: All the Queen’s Men. W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1981.

3. GRIERSON, J.M. Scarlet Into Khaki: The British Army on the Eve of the Boer War. Greenhill Books, London, 1988.

4. SKELLEY, A.R. The Victorian Army at Home: The Recruitment and Terms and Conditions of the British Regular, 1859-1899. McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, 1977.

Computer Software

1881 British Census and National Index. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, 1999.


1. Short Service Attestation Papers (Army Form B. 265) consisting of the following pages and sections:

a. Questions to be put to the Recruit before Enlistment.

b. Oath of Attestation.

c. Certificate of Magistrate or Attesting Officer.

d. Description on Enlistment.

e. Certificate of Primary Medical Examination.

f. Certificate of Final Medical Examination.

g. Certificate of Primary Military Examination.

h. Certificate of Approving Field Officer.

i. Statement of Services Military History Sheet.

2. Proceeding on Discharge (Army Form B. 268).


Monthly Army List, September 1885.


[1] Patrington is located approximately 14 miles southeast of the present town of Kingston upon Hull.

[2] When Hoskison was born, the present day town of Kingston upon Hull was known simply as Hull.

[3] A review of the 1881 British Census did not produce any information about Ann Hull or any other members of Edward Hoskison's immediate family.

[4] By the time he was discharged in 1909 his chest size had increased by about 10 inches. Although his weight is not shown at the time of discharge, he certainly must have been well over 200 pounds.

[5] Monthly Army List, September 1885, p. 219.

[6] See Period of Enlistment for the Corps of Royal Engineers.

[7] There is no indication in his service papers describing this "Special Authority" or why it was required. It appears that Hoskison may have had some medical condition that ordinarily would have made him unfit for service. It appears, however, that his civil trade as a Surveyor's Assistant and as a Draughtsman may have been sufficient for his condition to be waived.

[8] See Engineer Recruit Training.

[9] See Extensions of Service of the Regular Army.

[10] See Re-Engagement in the Regular Army.

[11] His not being assigned to active service in South Africa may have been due to the requirement for his trade and experience or it may have had something to due with the physical limitations that required he be granted "Special Authority" to be considered fit for military service.

[12] Vacoas is a town in western Mauritius, located about 10 miles south of the city of Port Louis.

[13] See Establishment for Engineer Services.

[14] See Good Conduct Pay.

[15] This medal is in the author's collection.

[16] See Certificates of Education.

[17] See Supernumerary Staff.

[18] Service Pay in addition, to their regular pay, was granted to men in the Royal Engineers who demonstrated proficiency in their military trades. Service Pay was awarded in seven classes, with Class I being the highest.

[19] Hoskison sprained his ankle while on furlough. It appears that this accident may have occurred after leaving the School of Military Engineering at Chatham and prior to reporting to his new company at the Curragh in Ireland.

[20] See Marriage of Soldiers During the Victorian Period.