cover image

UK, Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioner Soldier Service Records

  • Conflict:   War of 1812
  • Records:   705,904   ·   2 added last month
  • Complete:
    100%

UK, Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioner Soldier Service Records

Overview Description

The Royal Hospital Chelsea was the administrative office for the British army and has been responsible for distributing pension payments to British soldiers since the 1680s. While some pensioners surrendered their pension to the hospital and lived within the premises (“in-pensioners”), many more lived outside the confines and received their pensions elsewhere (“out-pensioners”). By 1815, there were already 36,757 out-pensioners and they remained under military discipline to some extent; they formed a reserve pool to be called on in case of wartime emergency or domestic crisis. Documents after 1883 usually contain fuller particulars, such as next of kin and details of marriage and children. The attestation and discharge documents constitute the most detailed record of a soldier's service. These records usually give particulars of age, birthplace, service (including any decorations), information about physical description, previous occupation on enlistment and the reason given for discharge to pension. After 1883, most soldiers will appear in these records if they survived their service.

Search UK, Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioner Soldier Service Records

Source

Publication Title:
UK, Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioner Soldier Service Records
Content Source:
The National Archives of the UK logo The National Archives of the UK
Published on Fold3:
Last Update:
August 25, 2017
Description:
This collection comprises service documents of soldiers (but not officers) who either became in- or out-pensioners of the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Description

This collection contains records for British soldiers (not officers) who received a pension from the British army. Pensions were distributed by the Royal Hospital Chelsea, which was founded in 1682. Some pensioners (called “in-pensioners”) actually lived at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, but many more (called “out-pensioners”) simply received the pension money and lived elsewhere.

The documents in this collection regard pensions distributed by the Royal Hospital Chelsea between 1760 and 1920. They typically do not include records for soldiers who died in service or who were discharged early (and thus did not receive a pension). However, some earlier records in the collection may have information on men who were not approved for pensions or who bought themselves out of their regiment.

Some records contain more information than others, and pension documents after 1883 typically have more details regarding the soldier (e.g., information about next of kin and details of marriage and children) and his service. Common details that might be found in the pension records include age, birthplace, service details (including any decorations), physical description, previous occupation on enlistment, and the reason for discharge to pension.

Documents that are most commonly included are:

  • discharge forms, which were issued when a soldier left the regiment
  • attestation forms, which are the documents signed by the new recruit
  • the proceedings of a regimental board and record of service, which was a later variety of discharge form
  • a variety of supporting correspondence
  • questionnaires of past service, which an applicant for an in-pension completed if others documents had not survived
  • affidavits, which out-pensioners outside London made every quarter to state that they were not drawing on other public funds
  • Medical history

On Fold3, the records in this collection are organized in the same manner outlined by the National Archives of the UK, namely:

  • for the period 1760-1872 the documents are arranged alphabetically by name within regiment, including militia to 1854
  • from 1873-1882 the documents are arranged alphabetically under cavalry, artillery, infantry and corps
  • from 1883-1913 there are two alphabetical sequences for the entire army for discharge papers arranged by range of surname: 1883-1900 and 1900-1913

Since this is the case, you may find it faster to locate an individual by searching first, rather than browsing.