When I started doing the family tree research, many years ago, one of the tasks I set myself was to find the people who arrived in India from England / Britain / elsewhere. And then, having found them, see if I could trace them and their own ancestors back further.

The problem, of course, is that we’re talking about the 18th and 19th centuries. Record keeping was mostly accurate but there was no way to check every detail that people gave, there being no electronic, central register of far too much personal data – like we have now.

Which brings me to my problem: my great-great-grandfather, Richard Boy.

Or Richard Boye, according to his burial certificate. He died on 24 December 1868 at the age of 47. That would put his date of birth at around 1819.

Richard Boy married Susannah Pearl (widow, aged 16(!)) on 2 December 1846 at the age of 27, which would put his date of birth to around 1819 – so the same person, as far as I can tell, with the addition of an ‘e’ at the end of his name later in life.

Being in the army, his discharge certificate and record of service are also available; wherein we learn that he was attested for the 4th Regiment of Foot at Bristol on 22 March 1841, at the age of 21 and 11/12 years. Which would put his date of birth sometime between mid-March and mid-April 1819, in Castle Combe, Wiltshire.

First problem: in the 1841 census, Richard Boy was in Chatham (makes sense, they have docks for troop ships and suchlike) and his age was given as…25. That would put his year of birth as 1816.

And, of course, I can’t find a Richard Boy or Boye in Castle Combe in 1816 or 1819. But I did find one in 1815. Except he was called Richard Booy (transcription only – no certificate scanned in here).

I’d be prepared to make a leap of faith and say that these three people are all the same person because Richard Booy’s parents were John and Lucy. Richard Boy/Boye had nine children, two of who were called John and Lucy. Names tended to be passed down through families much more then than they are now.

The Booy family stayed in and around Castle Combe – many are buried in the local church, St Andrew’s. John’s parents were Richard and Rebekah. But misspellings abound in Wiltshire; Rebekah might also be Rebecca, Lucy Booy (nee Cains) might have been born Lucy Kaines.

So even if my Richard Boys are the same, a few more leaps of faith might be required.