Posts Tagged ‘ Chelsea Pensioners Service Records ’
Our resident military expert Paul Nixon, pictured below, offers advice on how to solve your military family history mysteries.
From Grahame Reed:
‘I am trying to trace the military history of my great-great-grandfather but have only been partially successful.
His name is Charles Reed, born in 1808 and died on 27 October 1884 in Harpenden, St Albans, Hertfordshire.
Charles married his second wife Eliza Moorcroft on 10 July 1850 – the certificate shows his profession as ‘Colour Sgt 60th Rifles’. From the information given below in the 1851 census, Charles probably previously served in Ireland. The details of his first wife are not known.
The 1851 census shows Charles Reed, his wife Eliza, daughter Adelaide (born 1836 in Ireland), son Charles (born 1840 in Ireland) and daughter Caroline (born 1841 in Windsor, Berkshire) – these three children are by his first wife.
The birth certificates of his sons born to Eliza show the following:
- Arthur (born 21 April 51) shows Charles as a labourer – this is my great-grandfather.
- Walter (born 2 August 1852) shows Charles as an Army pensioner.
- Certificates for Edward (born 19 April 1856), Joseph (born 25 May 1861) and Frederick (born 26 March 1863) indicate that Charles was a Staff Sgt in the 2nd Royal Middlesex Rifles living at No 7 Militia Storehouse, Barnet, South Mimms.
Other census documents show Charles as a Chelsea out-pensioner in 1852.
We have been unable to trace any military or pension records or any details of his first wife or the record of Caroline’s birth at Windsor in 1841.
Your help would be appreciated in pointing out the path we should take to fill in the gaps detailed above.’
‘Thanks for your email.
Do bear in mind that there is a wealth of military information that has not been published online. In the absence of a pension record in the WO97 Chelsea Pensioners’ Service Records, you need to look at WO12 (general muster books and pay lists) and also WO25/266-688 (regimental description books 1756-1878). First of all, find Charles Reed in WO12 and then work backwards until you get to the description (on enlistment) in WO25.
If he was born in 1808 he could well have joined up around 1826, or even earlier if he enlisted as a boy. The description books give a physical description of the soldier and are generally arranged by initial letter of the soldier’s name in the various regimental volumes. You’ll get physical characteristics plus age, where born, former trade, former service etc.
A further offline source is WO23/26-65 which are the admission registers of Chelsea out-pensioners between 1820 and 1875. These are arranged by regiment, each volume containing a number of regiments. All of these WO (War Office) series can be requested at The National Archives in Kew, London. You can do that yourself or hire a researcher to do it for you.
Unfortunately, no personnel records survive for the Volunteer Force (the precursor to the Territorial Force) so you’ll be unlikely to find anything specific about his time in the 2nd Royal Middlesex Rifles, although you could of course gen up on this battalion and also the 60th Foot (King’s Royal Rifle Corps) to plot his likely career path. Good luck!’
If you’d like to send your question to our experts, please register or opt to receive newsletters in My Account. Unfortunately our experts only have time to answer a few queries each month. If yours wasn’t answered this time, you could be lucky next month!