Searching online for ancestors named Henry, I came across an exhibit in the Greenwich Maritime Museum, London. I have visited this museum, but did not notice this exhibit. The museum has many famous exhibits including the uniform jacket Admiral Lord Nelson was wearing when he died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. This battle was important because it robbed Napoleon of a navy and ensured he could not invade the British Isles.
Henry was serving on board HMS Sirius, which was stationed at Fernando Po, a large island off the West African coast that was under Spanish control. In 1869, a Spanish ship, reported to have fought at Trafalgar, was being used as a prison hulk at the island. Henry and three other young officers rowed across to it and they cut off the figurehead, taking it with them as a prize to The Cape in South Africa. One of the officers kept it until he died in 1945, when it found its way to the museum.
I was previously aware of this Henry, the lieutenant in the Royal Navy, but have not been able to fit him into any of the family trees on which I have so far written, so he remains a work in progress. [UPDATE DEC 2019: Henry’s father was Leonard Backler – see the blog page Hampshire Backlers – Leonard Country – via Haverhill.]
I have come across records of a divorce, in which Lieutenant Henry Backler – Royal Navy, was sited as the ‘other’ party. This took place in the High Court of Justice in the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division (Divorce) on 6th March 1879. The petitioner was William John Owen of 52 Edbrooke Road, St. Peter’s Park, Paddington, London. He alleged that his wife, maiden name Blanche Poole Sherry, whom he had married on 12th December 1874, committed adultery on various dates commencing 15th February 1879 up to 1st March 1879 at 93 Upper Kennington Lane, London.
I have found records showing Henry Backler was a Freemason, whilst stationed in Malta in 1885. He was a member of the Lodge of St. John and St. Paul and is shown as a navigating lieutenant, born 13th June 1846 and appointed as lieutenant on 11th March 1862.
I am sure that further research will yield his family connections and maybe other colourful activities.