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Naval Pensioner

Hi, can anyone help us solve a puzzle please?

My husband's 2xgreat grandfather was born in Hampshire in 1841. He married in 1863. In 1881 he is in Brighton with his wife and a family. He is listed as a Naval Pensioner - Letter Carrier. Three of his daughters were born in County Mayo, Ireland.

However we cannot find him or the family in 1871 and assume they were in Ireland, as the daughters were born 1868, 1870, and 1872.

Would anyone know why someone in the navy would be in Ireland and have their family with them at this time please?

Grateful for any help.

Many thanks.
(Apologies if this post is a duplicate, I am unable to find the first one)

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