The physical appearance of an ancestor can only be truly obtained from photography or a portrait.  The next best thing would be a written description.  These can be found within some army enlistment documents.

Take the example below.  This is from the enlistment documents for William Cooper, dated 5 February 1896, when he was examined to determine his fitness to join the Royal Artillery of the British Army.

He is declared “fit” by the army surgeon:

and is also measured and the following description is given:

  • Age: 19 years and 6 months;
  • Height: 5 feet 8 and a half inches;
  • Weight: 147 lbs;
  • Chest: Minimum 35 and a half inches;
  • Maximum expansion: 38 inches;
  • Complexion: Fresh;
  • Eyes: Blue;
  • Hair: Brown;
  • Religious denomination: Church of England; and
  • Distinctive marks: “Small mole left side of neck 1 inch below the collar bone”

So, why the picture of actor Kiefer Sutherland? Well, although a bit older than William Cooper, Kiefer has the same height, weight, eye and hair colour as our 1896 recruitee.

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