Date of birth of John Capper
There are various sources for an estimation of his birth date. From each document a theoretical range of dates can be derived.
A) His age is stated as 20 years on 1st Dec.1847 in the record of enlistment in his army paybook:
As no number of months is filled in this could either be zero months, or any number of months up to 11! If 20 years is accurate this means birth between Dec.1826 and Nov.1827, but family tradition says he understated his age to join the army.
B) Death on 1st January 1897 aged 68 years - see Death Certificate and tombstone.
This gives a birth range of Jan.- Dec.1828.
C) John appears in the England and Wales Censuses for 1851, 1871, 1881 and 1891. (In 1861 he was in India.) In these censuses his age at last birthday is given respectively as 23, 41, 51 and 62. As the censuses were carried out almost exactly at 10-year intervals, (30.3.1851, 2.4.1871, 3.4.1881 and 5.4.1891), there is quite a bit of variation. Each of these gives a date range of a year.
D) Chelsea Pensioner Certificate dated 25th May 1870 gives age as 42 so birth date between 26th May 1827 and 25th May 1828:
E) The Pension Certificate of Identity states age as 58 9/12 and was valid from
March Quarter 1887:.
Assuming the form dates between Jan - March 1887, i.e. was filled in soon after completion of the previous quarter, this gives a probable birth date between April and June 1828.
The following shows the theoretical ranges and makes the whole thing look a little more scientific:
Based on the last two documents, which are the most precise ones, the probable range for the birthdate would be April - May 1828.
a) There is a risk that this had become his ‘official age’ after a false statement of age to enlist in the army.
b) It makes him 2 years older than his wife Ann, which fits the ages and years on their tombstones - both died on the 1st Jan which makes calculations easier. (There is some conflict with the censuses of ‘71 and ‘81 where both are recorded as only 1 year apart in ‘age at last birthdate’. This gets into further detail which is not interesting here.)