My grandmother told me that her father said that he could use two surnames Penn and Tracey, but what did that mean? I got his birth certificate and it said Frank Edward Penn Tracey, with his parents listed as Charles Tracey and Alice Betsy Augusta Brown. I looked up the wedding certificate, and no luck under Tracey but under Penn there was a match for 1886. On 8th November 1886 at All Saints, Warwick he marries Alice Betsy Augusta Brown. It showed he was a soldier so I found his service record.

As a soldier he used the surname of Penn. Charles was a farm labourer in 1881. On 15th December 1881 he enlisted into the Prince Consort’s Own (Rifle Brigade). He enlisted in Cork, Ireland. The Rifle Brigade was also known as the Royal Green Jackets. When he enlists he uses the name of Charles Tracey.

When he enlisted he was 19 years old, had the height of 5ft 4 ½ inches, weight 120 lbs, chest measured 34 inches, complexion sallow, grey Eyes, brown hair, and was Church of England. For the rest of 1882 Charles was based in Cork, Ireland. In 1883 he was stationed Curragh, Ireland. By 1884 he is moved to Aldershot, Hampshire. He remains here until 1887 when he is discharged from the Army. He is discharged because he was physically unfit.

In his six years in the army he was off sick for a total of 6 months for palpitations, gonorrhea, boil, full of glands, and depression. He was discharged, 3 May 1887 in Woolwich, Kent, England. His Character on discharge was indifferent. He did receive two good conduct pays in his service.

In the census records from 1891, Charles uses the surname of Tracey. So from this something happened between 1886 and 1891. At first the old bailey records were not available but as when any new source came on line I checked and I found Charles had been sentenced to 18 months hard labour for feloniously marrying Alice Brown during the lifetime of his wife. In the local paper it said that his first wife (his real wife) Fanny had found out and had reported him to the authorities. What was interesting was that both wives may have known of each other, they both came from Leamington and were of a similar age.


Penn was his birth name but his step fathers surname was Tracey. However it would seem his mum had the same problem of marrying multiple times and not getting divorced from previous marriages, although she was not caught. Later in life he rejoined the army (not declaring he has served before) and using the surname of Tracey this time.

20150518_153151000_iOS 120150518_153151000_iOS

Charles Penn (Tracey) and his wife Alice Tracey nee Brown


Charles and Alice with their children

He stayed with Alice until she died (they had 6 children). He then remarried again for the third or second time?


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