British Military - What Do I Want to Know?
- 1 What regiment did my ancestor serve in?
- 2 Was my ancestor an officer?
- 3 Was my ancestor a soldier?
- 4 Can I find life events or family relationships in military records?
- 5 Did my ancestor receive a pension?
What regiment did my ancestor serve in?
Records that would help identify a Regiment:
Was my ancestor an officer?
If my ancestor was an Officer, these are the types of records to explore.
RECORDS FOR FINDING OFFICERS' REGIMENT NAME OR NUMBER
- Census records 1841-1911
- Civil Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths (for England & Wales from 1837; for Scotland from 1855; for Ireland from 1864 with Protestant marriages from 1845)
- Homes Sources: especially medals & awards, discharge papers, pension papers, journals, obituaries, old letters
- Army Lists: monthly, annual and the more recent quarterly or half-yearly lists - contain the name, rank, regiment, year of commission to any particular rank of officer. See W.O. 64, 65 & 66.
- Army Lists and Commission Registers: Charles Dalton compiled the commissions of officers from 1661 to 1714.
- Gentleman's Magazine & Index, 1731-1850: Lists many officers' commissions; indexes are at the back of each volume (FHL Book 942 B2gm index).
- Applications for Pensions for Widows and Children 1755-1908: (Foreign Regiments included); W.O. 42, pieces 1-51.
- Militia Attestation Returns: whole military (attachments), 1806-1915; W.O. 96, pieces #1-1522.
- Regimental Registers of births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials of soldiers and their families, 1761-1924: (FHL has birth indexes ohnly)
- Chaplain Returns of births, marriages, deaths and burials of soldiers and their families, 1796-1880: FRC, London (FHL has indexes and records)
- Services of Officers on Full Pay: 1828 W.O. 25, pieces #749-779; alphabetical (FHL Book 942 M2sp)
- Services of Officers on Full & Half Pay: 1829, W.O. 25, pieces #780-807; alphabetical
- Returns of Retired Officers' Services on Half Pay: 1847, W.O. 25, pieces #808-823; indexed (FHL Book 942 M23be)
- Registers, Various: Service Returns -- #1 Service Noncommissioned Officers: 1806 (June), W.O. 25, piece #871-1120; indexed.
- Registers, Various: Service Returns -- #3 Discharges (of Noncommissioned Officers): 1783-1810, W.O. 25, pieces #1121-1131; indexed.
- Muster Master Generals' Index of Casualties (officers'): 1797-1817; W.O. 25, pieces 1196-1358
- Regimental Registers of Pensioners: Royal Chelsea Hospital 1717-1857, W.O. 120.
MOST VALUABLE BRITISH ARMY RECORDS FOR OFFICERS
Several War Office (W.O.) class record exist for officers and their families which do not have indexes or are not alphabetically arranged and thus are not mentioned in the above section. This list provides quick identification of records which have an extensive coverage for much of the British Army as a whole but which lack an index or alphabetical arrangement. Listed below by title and W.O. class numbers, these are only a few of the more significant record collections within the War Office class records which can be consulted for research. These records provide information about army personnel and their families.
Be sure to do a Place-names search in the Catalog at www.familysearch.org for the country of settlement, as many compiled books exist pertaining to British military personnel, i.e. "New Zealand - Military". Unless otherwise indicated, the records listed below by title and W.O. number are located at The National Archives in England.
- Regimental Registers of births and baptisms, marriages and burials, 1760-1924
- Chaplains' Returns of births, marriages and burials:1796-1880
- Monthly Returns (Station Returns): W.O. 17, 1759-1865
- Royal Chelsea Hospital Pension Returns: W.O. 22, 1842-1883
- Royal Chelsea Hospital, Chelsea Registers, etc.: W.O. 23, 1702-1933
- Royal Chelsea Hospital, Chelsea Registers, etc.: W.O. 25, 1660-1878 (FHL has some)
- Establishments for Half-pay: W.O. 24, 1686-1829
- Ireland Commission & Succession Books: W.O. 35, 1775-1831
- Certificates of Births, Baptisms, Marriages, Deaths & Burials, Wills, & other personal papers: W.O. 42, 1755-1908 (FHL has some)
- Quarter Books: W.O. 54, 1594-1883
- Records of Officers' Service (whole military): W.O. 76, 1790s to 1800s (FHL has many)
- Royal Military College, Sandhurst: W.O. 99 (records at Sandhurst Military College, Berkshire)
- Campaign Medal Rolls: W.O. 100, 1793-1912
- Medals & Awards; Long Service & Good conduct: W.O. 102, 1831-1902
- Miscellanea Submission Papers: 1803-1914
- South African War Papers: Returns of Officers, NCO's & soldiers, W.O. 108, 1899-1902
- Royal Chelsea Hospital Admission Books - Outpensioners (for long service): W.O. 117, 1823-1913
- Royal Chelsea Hospital Admission Books - Outpensioners (Disability) Records: W.O. 116, 1715-1913
- Royal Hospital, Kilmainham Out-Pensions Records - Admission Books (& some Discharge Books): W.O. 118, 1704-1862
- Royal Hospital Kilmainham Discharge Documents of Pensioners - Out-Pensions Records: W.O. 119, 1783-1822
- Royal Hospital Chelsea Regimental Registers of Admissions - Out-Pensions (includes Militias): W.O. 120, 1715-1857
- Royal Chelsea Hospital Out-Pensions - Discharge Documents of Pensioners: W.O. 121, 1782-1813
- Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst - Register of Cadets: W.O. 151, 1806-1946
- Royal Hospital Chelsea - Prize Records: W.O. 164, 1720-1899
- Pay Master General Army Establishment Retired Pay & General Officers' Pay & Allowance: PMG 3, 1813-1920
- Pay Master General Army Establishment Retired Pay & General Officers' Pay & Allowance: PMG 4, 1737-1921
- Pay Master General - Commissariat Half Pay: PMG 5, 1834-1855
- Pay Master General - Army Establishment; Ordnance, Half Pay, Pensions, etc.: PMG 12, 1836-1875
- Pay Master General - Army Establishment; Miscellaneous Books: PMG 14, 1756-1772; 1797-1861
Was my ancestor a soldier?
If ancestor was a Soldier, these are the types of records to explore.Check the index to Army Lists
Can I find life events or family relationships in military records?
Information found depends on the record. The following records may identifty a:
Birth date and/or place:
- Muster Rolls
- Pension records
- Description books
Death date and/or place:
- Casualty Returns
Name of a spouse:
- Regimental Registers
- Chaplain Returns
Names of a parent(s):
- Regimental Registers
- Chaplain Returns
Names of child(ren):
Did my ancestor receive a pension?
Search the WO 97 records to determine if ancestor received a pension. Search the following: