The Military Service Pension Applications are one of the best ways of building a picture of the activities of someone who was active in the Revolutionary period, IF they or one of their dependents applied for a pension. To find out more about the history of this collection see our blog post on the Military Service Pensions Collection. An example of how one pension application can build the story of not just one individual, but an entire family who were active in the Revolutionary period can be found by looking at the Military Service Pension Application of Charles Bevan.
Charles Stewart Bevan applied for a Pension for his Pre-Truce service. In his application he stated that he joined the Irish Volunteers in December 1913, shortly after they were formed and served until 15th June 1922. He was active with the “C” Co. 1st Batt., Dublin Brigade from 23rd April to 29th April 1916 in North West Dublin under Captain Francis Fahy and was active in the occupation and defence of the Four Courts during that week. He was imprisoned in Richmond Barracks, Kilmainham, Mountjoy, Portland, Lewes, Parkhurst and Pentonville Prisons between 30th April 1916 and February 1918. Between April 1920 and March 1921 he was involved in an abortive attempt to rescue Kevin Barry and also removed Matt Brady from Richmond Hospital. Attached to his application was a personal statement from Matt Brady about this incident:
Charles Bevan’s Military Service Pension Application
“Towards the end of the month of October 1920 I was a patient in the Richmond Hospital Dublin. One day when I was standing with the aid of two crutches at a window I saw the Military and Police drive up in lorries and surround the building. A few minutes later a nurse came into the ward where I was and told me that the Hall Porter had sent her up to tell me that the Military were looking for me. I was taken from that ward by some of the hospital students and hidden in a linen press while the search went on in the hospital for me, and later when it was over was removed to the hospital telephone exchange. It was there that Charles Beven found me when he came to take me away. He had a cab and helped me to get into it. It was taken to his house in Geraldine St. and remained there for some time. Later I was moved to the house of John O’Reilly in the same street where I remained until I was sent to the Mater Hospital.”
According to Bevan, in a statement attached to his application, his home “No. 9 Geraldine Street, Dublin, was classified as a ‘safe house; for all purposes for the District, and was used as a ‘dump’ for arms and ammunition of ‘B’ Co., 2nd Battalion, Dublin Brigade, from about January 1921, till after the Truce. Our house was also in readiness as a First Aid Station on several occasions.” Bevan was active with the Irish Volunteers until June 15th 1922 when he ‘was summoned to attend a parade at Fowler Hall, Parnell Square. Capt. Sean Prendergast questioned me as to my attitude in the event of hostilities. Being unable and unwilling to take part in a Civil War, I resigned from the Company.”
Bevan’s Military Service Pension Application identified many of the men he served with and served under, who acted as references to his application: Captain Frank Fahy, Mark Wilson, D. J. Musgrave, Fionan Lynch, George Irvine, Ed Dolan, Sean Prendergast, Frank Carberry, Frank McNally, Sean Nathan, Sean Flood, Matt Brady, James O’Keeffe, Stephen J. Murphy, Thomas J. Clarke. Letters, including from Thomas Clarke, confirm Bevan’s activities and there is also a transcript of an interview with Bevan made on 15th January 1937.
Bevan’s Military Service Pension Application opens the door to further research of the man and his involvement in the Revolutionary Period. A search of the IRA Nominal Rolls for the C Company, 1st Battalion, Dublin Brigade found not just Charles Bevan, but also Joseph, Thomas and another unnamed Bevan, who all served in the Four Courts during the 1916 Rising. These four men were most likely related. A search of the Bureau of Military History Witness Statements did not find any reference to Charles, but did find a statement by a Seamus Bevan, who turned out to be the youngest brother of Charles. In his statement Seamus recounted seeing the new Irish flag flying about the GPO on Easter Week 1916. The BMH Witness Statement of Sean Prendergast referred to Joe Bevan as the father of three boys and two girls “all of whom were serving in the Republican forces – the girls in Cumann na mBan”. The three boys were Charles, Thomas and Seamus. According to Prendergast, Joe Bevan was a man of humorous character “at a time when the wearing of the Volunteer uniforms were banned Joe, for a wager, walked from his home in Geraldine St. to Hoban’s shop in Parnell St. and returned to his home in the uniform he had worn in Easter Week.”
IRA Nominal Rolls and BMH Witness Statements
The 1911 census for the Bevan family confirmed that Charles was the son of Joseph Bevan, a printer compositor and his wife Margaret. Charles had siblings; Thomas, Catherine, James [Seamus] and Mary and according to Sean Prendergast, all of the Bevan children were active during the Revolutionary period along with their father, Joseph. The family home on Geraldine Street was a safe house, arms dump and first aid station. the death of Joseph Bevan, who was recorded as deceased on the IRA Nominal Rolls, compiled in the 1930s, was found at www.irishgenealogy.ie. He died on 13th December 1919 of Pulmonary Tuberculosis at the Allan Ryan Hospital, a 51 year old married compositor residing at Geraldine Street. The Allan Ryan Hospital was a TB sanatorium set up in the isolation hospital out by the Pigeon House.
The Bevan Family
Using the Pension Applications to identify the company and battalion that your ancestor served with can lead to other sources that document the actions and Volunteers of that company and help to build a picture of your ancestor and his fellow Volunteers during the Revolutionary period.