UK, Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioner Soldier Service Records
Records: 1,040,075 · Complete: 100%
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.