Posts Tagged ‘ medical report ’
We’ve done some digging around in the Chelsea Pensioner British Army Service Records and have found some fascinating characters. As well as providing rich historical detail about our military ancestors, the records reveal some controversial information about some of the soldiers. Read on to find out about three Chelsea Pensioner ‘bad boys’.
John Kray – great great uncle of the Kray twins
John Kray, whose mother was Elizabeth Kray, the great great grandmother of the notorious East End Kray twins, was born in Bethnal Green, London. He was a riveter by trade and on 13 August 1870 at the age of 17 years and 11 months, he joined the 65th Regiment of Foot.
Here is John’s attestation paper:
John deserted on 9 February 1879, rejoined 20 August 1879 and was placed in confinement. The District Court Martial tried him and convicted him of desertion. John was sentenced to imprisonment, hard labour and stoppages (of pay) for a month.
We can also build up a picture of what John looked like from the Chelsea Pensioner records. His physical description on attestation was: 5’6″ (he had gained half an inch by the time of discharge), 35-36 inch chest, ‘fair’ complexion, hazel eyes, dark brown hair. John also had a scar on his left buttock:
John Kirk – Victoria Cross winner and drunken scallywag
Another colourful character we found in the Chelsea Pensioner records is John Kirk. On 27 January 1846, John joined the British Army at the age of 18 years.
In June 1857, at 29 years old, John rescued a captain and a family of civilians from rebels during the Indian Mutiny. John was awarded the Victoria Cross for this heroic deed.
John didn’t gain any good conduct badges during his Army service, however, and was imprisoned numerous times for his improper behaviour. John was a notorious drunk who was tried and punished 12 times. The reasons for his punishments included ‘being drunk and making an improper reply’, being ‘drunk on the line of march’, being ‘drunk on evening parade’ and also for ‘habitual drunkenness’. John was also punished for going AWOL and for breaking out of barrack cells.
By 8 April 1864, at 34 years old, John was discharged from the army with chronic syphilitic rheumatism having been classified as ‘being totally unfit for further service’. Here you can see his medical report:
Matthias Quinton – the insubordinate
Matthias Quinton was born in Limehouse, London and joined the Royal Artillery on 28 October 1889 aged 18 years and seven months. He saw service at home and in Gibraltar and was discharged after three years because of medical unfitness.
This particular Chelsea Pensioner has no less than 154 pages in his record. Among these are details of a trial by Court Martial which resulted in 42 days’ imprisonment because Matthias used ‘insubordinate language to a superior officer’. His record states that ‘when brought before Major W H Smart RA, his commanding officer, and when asked what he had to say in his defence, he replied “Sweet FA” in a highly disrespectful manner’.
Here are Matthias’ court martial sheets:
These are just three examples of the valuable detail to be found in the vast Chelsea Pensioners records collection. The total number of records currently stands at 1,041,092.
Search our Chelsea Pensioners records to find out what stories they tell about your ancestors.
Check out The National Archives’ podcast about the Chelsea Pensioners records collection featuring military records specialist William Spencer.