United Kingdom, Chelsea Pensioners' Service Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.

Royal Hospital Chelsea, the North Front


Image Visibility

Whenever possible, FamilySearch makes images available for all users. However, ultimate rights to view images on our website are granted by the record custodians. The title collection is available to the Family History Library, FamilySearch Centers, and to members of the supporting organization, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The images can be viewed at a FamilySearch Center near you.

Record Description

This collection includes Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service Records 1760-1913. These records contain information on soldiers (but not officers) pensioned out of the British Army. The original documents are available to view at the TNA (series reference WO 97). The original images are available from findmypast.co.uk. Digital images of selected files from this series are available at TNA DocumentsOnline.

Army pension records start in 1690. Pensions were awarded for length of service, disability, or wounds to most individuals who legally left army service. Sometimes the widows or children of military men received the payments. Payments to retired officers, called half-pay, were not considered pensions. Many different types of pension records covering different time periods still exist.

Naval pension records begin as early as 1617 and give the name of pensioner, reason for discharge, and sometimes next of kin, birthplace, age, and physical description.

Widow’s or children’s pension records often include marriage or baptismal certificates in support of the claim for assistance.

These records of army service are available only for those soldiers who were discharged to pension. Corresponding records for those who left the Army for reasons other than discharge were destroyed. These records vary over time and even between soldiers. They usually include attestation and discharge documents. They often contain the reason for discharge and details on age, birthplace, and trade or occupation on enlistment. They are arranged by regiment, then alphabetically by surname for the years 1760 through 1872. The records for 1873 to 1882 are alphabetically arranged by corps (cavalry, foot soldiers, artillery, guards, and so forth). From 1883 to 1914, these records are arranged in one alphabetical series.

Timeline and Historical Context

Here are some of the major conflicts that are covered by the same period as the Chelsea Pensioners' British Army Service Records


  • 1775 – American War of Independence
  • 1793-1802 – British involvement in French Revolution
  • 1795 – British capture of Ceylon
  • 1798 – Irish Rebellion
  • 1803-1815 – Napoleonic Wars, including the Battle of Waterloo in 1815
  • 1854-1856 – The Crimean War
  • 1857-1859 – Indian Mutiny
  • 1880-1881 – The First Anglo-Boer War (also known as the "Transvaal War")
  • 1899-1902 – The Second Anglo-Boer War

Record Content

Pension records usually contain the following information:

  • Full name of pensioner
  • Parish, town and county in which born
  • Age, occupation and marital status of pensioner
  • Date and place where enlisted and by whom
  • Name of Regiment
  • Notes of any previous service
  • Details of service rendered
  • Length of service in years and days
  • Physical disabilities as a result of service
  • Reason for discharge

How to Use the Record

To begin your search, it would be helpful if you knew the following information:

  • Name of soldier
  • Approximate year of birth and place of birth

Search the Collection

To search by index:
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the wiki article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

Using the Information

When you have located your ancestor’s index record, select one of the links in the image box which will take you to the original record at findmypast.co.uk.

The images are available free of charge at Family Search Centers and by members of the supporting organization, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They are also available by subscription from findmypast.co.uk.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.
  • Use the estimated age to calculate a birth date.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • Titles may be clues to property ownership, occupations, rank, or status within the community.
  • Be aware that, as with any index, transcription errors may occur.
  • Check for variant spellings of the names.
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Known Issues with This Collection

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See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Related Websites

Related Wiki Articles

How You Can Contribute

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.

Citations for This Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection citation:

"United Kingdom, Chelsea Pensioners' Service Records, 1760-1913." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2015. Citing The National Archives, Kew, Surrey.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for United Kingdom, Chelsea Pensioners' Service Records, 1760-1913.

Image Citation:

The citation for an image is available on each image in this collection by clicking Show Citation at the bottom left of the image screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for United Kingdom, Chelsea Pensioners' Service Records, 1760-1913.


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  • This page was last modified on 26 August 2015, at 19:06.
  • This page has been accessed 24,039 times.