(1837 - 1887)
Thomas joined his father in the business on leaving school, around the time that the firm of G Birch in Grays Inn Road had been purchased in 1857. Birch had trained as a scalemaker, but had moved into gas fitting as well, and the firm's letter book of the period records many gas light installations. Thomas married Mary Ann James, the daughter of a tobacconist in Grays Inn Road on 10th September 1863 in St Pancras, but within two weeks he had disappeared from the family and was not heard of until the 1870s when he wrote to his mother.
It appears from anecdotal evidence that he had a row with his father, but it seems strange that he abandoned his new wife so casually.
He changed his name to James Goodwin, presumably to avoid being traced, and sailed to the USA, leaving Liverpool on the RMS Europa on 24th September, arriving in Boston on 3rd October.
He enrolled in the Union army on 7th November 1863 in Pemberton, New Jersey and was mustered into service two days later at Trenton, New Jersey, as a private in 'K' company of the 34th Regiment New Jersey Infantry Volunteers. He was promoted to sergeant a year later, then commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in Fort Spanish, Alabama on 1st April 1865.
At the end of the Civil War he was discharged in Selma, Alabama on 30th April 1866, but had already been seriously affected by the living conditions. The regimental records show that of the 170 who died in the period of the conflict, only 3 men were killed or mortally wounded, whereas 167 died through disease.
We believe that after discharge Thomas moved to New York, and took a job as a seaman, living in a boarding house where he was counted in the 1870 census.
However on 10th December 1872, at the age of only 35, he was admitted to the Southern Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Hampton, Virginia with an ‘Affliction of the lungs'. His occupation was given as Gas Fitter, single, and his next of kin named as his father Thomas Herbert at 319 Grays Inn Road. He left the Home on 16th July 1879, only to be readmitted on 10th January 1880, and extended on 30th March 1880 by the Board ‘to work 2 months without pay'.
In 1881 he was transferred from the pleasant temperate climate of Virginia to the North West Branch in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, arriving on 16th December, when he had ‘Dysentery and Rheumatism'.
After 18 months he was transferred to the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Montgomery, Ohio, where he took out American Nationalisation papers in 1884.
After his father's death in 1876, he had been left a small legacy and had been in contact with his mother Sarah again. His last letter to her (transcript here) was written on 15th October 1887, when he was a month from his 'Jubilee birthday', however he died only 9 days later. He is buried in the Dayton National Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.