Do you have military ancestors? Discover if your ancestor attended the Royal Hibernian Military School (RHMS) in Dublin between 1847 and 1932 or was on staff there. Uncover your ancestor’s admissions record and learn key biographical information including the admission date, birth year, occupation, and enlistment details.
There are over 9,000 transcripts in this record set, which is comprised of two collections: admissions registers 1847-1932 and a staff list for 1864. You can search by first name(s), last name, year, and regiment. Please note that some of those fields are not always populated. Therefore, if your search is returning zero results, try searching by name only.
While the amount of available information varies, most admissions transcripts will include the following:
Royal Hibernian Military School admissions 1847-1932 - Includes information about students outside of normal admission details, such as whether they went on to enlist, what trade they were taught, and the name of their fathers’ regiments. There are also names of various pupils captured from the 1911 Irish census.
Royal Hibernian Military School Staff List 1864
Wages (£ S D)
Note that there are occasional transcription errors, particularly surrounding dates. To ensure that you can find your ancestor within these records, try searching a range of dates. In transcribing these records, the original idiosyncratic spellings have been retained from the original.
Did you know?
By searching in our Ireland Census 1901 and 1911 record sets by the location “Phoenix Park,” you can discover more pupils who were enrolled at RHMS. You can uncover age, birth place, religion, and literacy level, as well as family members by exploring these census records. Both can be found in the Useful Links & Resources section.
In 1765, following the Seven Years War, the philanthropic Hibernian Society opened the Hibernian Asylum, and in April 1769, the society petitioned and was granted a charter from King George III to open an establishment in the aid of orphans and children of soldiers. The Royal Hibernian Military School (RHMS), originally called the Hibernian Society of the Orphans and Children of Soldiers, located in Phoenix Park, Dublin, opened its doors in 1769 with 90 boys and 50 girls in attendance.
RHMS students fell into four different categories:
Both parents living (father possibly on foreign service) -- A contributing factor to the destitution of military families centered on those called away on assignments overseas. Only six families would be selected, by drawing lots, to accompany a battalion sent abroad. Those left behind were without support and easily fell into a state of destitution, which would lead them to call on the aid of RHMS.
By 1816, their numbers had soared to 600 students, due in large part to the casualties sustained during the Napoleonic Wars, and by 1922 the campus had expanded from three acres to thirty-three. The school remained coeducational up until 1853 when the female students left for enrollment in their own establishment, the Drummond School, located in the village of Chapelizod.
In the mid-nineteenth century, children as young as 12 could enlist in the Army but generally enlistment began at the age of fourteen for those who so desired it. The percentage of those who enlisted straight from school fluctuated over the years. Between 1800 and 1850 around seven percent enlisted. That number increased dramatically to fifty percent between 1850 and 1897.
Talks about moving the school to Northern Ireland began in 1921. However, the cost was prohibitive and so the school was moved to Shorncliffe, Kent, in 1922. Their original premises were then taken over by the newly founded Republic of Ireland. Having decided not to take on any new students, RHMS merged with the Duke of York’s Royal Military School in 1924.
Many of the school’s records, which were stored in London, were destroyed during the London blitz in 1940. Surviving admissions registers are now in The National Archives and have been transcribed by Peter Goble.
Between 1832 and 1918, there were over three hundred boys rejected for admission. There were several reasons a child could be rejected, which were often included by the applicant’s name in the register. Some reasons for rejection include being mentally deficient, medically unfit, or failing to meet the required level of education. Note that some were registered for admission but failed to actually appear. There are records available for rejected applicants between 1840 and 1918. These applicants are often referred to as the “lost boys” of RHMS. The fate of these lost boys is unknown. The excessive poverty throughout the British Isles in the nineteenth century was pervasive and rejection from RHMS would have been a burden for any of the child’s surviving family.
Within these records is one Robert Henry Bloomer, 1911-1994, who was an army volunteer, joining The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) in 1930. At the age of seven, Bloomer lost his father to pneumonia while he was serving in India. His mother, left to care for two young sons by herself, applied for admission to RHMS for Bloomer. He was accepted in 1921 and entered the school in August of that year.
In his autobiographical account A Soldier’s Orphan’s Story, Bloomer recounts life at RHMS as somewhat lonely but there was, at least, very little bullying. When it merged with the Duke of York’s Military School, Bloomer transferred over with a date of admission listed as 5 September 1924. Bloomer recalls the farewell to Phoenix Park on their way to Shorncliffe to become part of the Duke of York’s school: “We left the Park in army lorries escorted by armoured cars along the quays to the docks. Along the way and especially at the docks we received a tumultuous farewell. After a long sea and train journey we arrived at Cherston Hold Station, just west of Folkeston Station. We marched to our new home at Somerset Barracks, Shorncliffe, to the music of the band of the Northamptonshire Regt.”
Bloomer went on to serve in the Second World War, where he moved around quite a bit with his regiment. In the summer of 1940, he was stationed in Sutterton, Lincolnshire to guard the coast from invasion. Then in 1942 he was posted to Palestine to the Office Cadet Training Unit, where he ran into an old school friend, Jack Bulman, who helped him complete the training there. Shortly thereafter Bloomer was made a full Lieutenant. He spent the remainder of the war in Palestime at the Middle East Training Center where he took over for Bill Kille, another old school friend.
In 1953, after 23 years of service in the Army, Bloomer resigned his commission to devote his time to his young family.
These records were sourced from Peter Goble.