William Samuel St John was my husband's great-grandfather. He was born in Stoke Damerel (sometimes spelled Deveral), Devonshire on 1 Feb 1854.
In 1870 he joined the Royal Navy. This information is from his service records.
His date of entry was 14 Jan 1870, for 10 years - as he was under 18 his father signed a consent form, declaring that William had his full consent, and that he had never had fits or been admitted to a reformatory.
His first ship was the Tamar.
14 Jan 1870 to 31 Dec 1870 Boy 2nd Class
1 Jan 1871 to 23 May 1871 Boy 1st Class
Commanded by Captain James Horsford Cockburn, receiving ship, Cape of Good Hope
24 May 1871 to 30 Jun 1871 Boy 1st Class Paid off
1 Jul 1871 to 15 Aug 1871 Boy 1st Class
Rattlesnake - flagship of Commodore John Edmund Commerell, Commander-in-chief, Cape of Good Hope and west coast of Africa
16 Aug 1871 to 5 Sep 1871 Boy 1st Class
6 Sep 1871 to 31 Jan 1872 Boy 1st Class
1 Feb 1872 to 26 Feb 1872 Boy 1st Class (18th birthday =1 Feb)
27 Feb 1872 to 26 Aug 1872 Ord 2C
27 Aug 1872 to 24 Nov 1872 Ordy
25 Nov 1872 to 31 Dec 1872 Ordy NS
1 Jan 1873 to 25 Mar 1874 Ord 1M Paid off
While serving on the Rattlesnake, William and the rest of his crew were awarded the Ashanti Medal for their part in the Ashanti Wars.
From 26 Mar 1874 to 31 Jul 1876 William was posted to the Naval Barracks. During this time he was promoted to Able Seaman.
In 1878 he transferred to the Sappho, which sailed for England.
In 1879 he paid £12 (about £500 today) to buy himself out.
The 1881 census shows him as a waiter in an inn in London.
In 1884 he married Harriet Ann Fanny Roberts in St Saviours, London.
Their daughter, Lilian St John, was my husband's grandmother. William died in 1893, in Dartford, Kent, aged only 38.