Thursday, 3 June 2010

100,000 new Chelsea Pensioner records now on

Latest news from

We’ve just added 96,434 records and 437,825 images for the period 1855-1872 to our Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service Records collection on

This new batch of records brings the total amount of Chelsea Pensioners records and images on to 506,870 records and 3,196,935 images.

Here’s a reminder of the records you can find on the site and which are still to come:

Date range Approx no.
of records
Approx no.
of images
When available
WO97 1855-1872 96,434 437,825 Now
WO97 1873-1882 97,515 540,423 Now
WO97 1883-1900 312,921 2,218,687 Now
WO97 1760-1854 184,000 1.2 million By July 2010
WO97 1901-1913 303,000 2.1 million By August 2010
WO96 1806-1915 500,000 3.5 million By Sept 2011

The connection with ‘Chelsea Pensioners’ is that the pensions were administered through The Royal Hospital at Chelsea. The great majority of pensioned soldiers were out-pensioners and did not reside at the Hospital itself.

Many other military records provide information about officer-class soldiers; however, these records relate to other ranks. This makes it more likely that you will be able to find details about your ancestors.

Remember that these records are free to search, like all the records on Even if you don’t think that any of your ancestors could have been a Chelsea Pensioner, give searching the records a go - your ancestor may have only served in the army for a short time before they were pensioned out.

Why are the Chelsea Pensioners records so special?

The sheer amount of information these records provide sets them apart. It’s possible to build up a picture of your ancestor by reading these records - they are the next best thing to a photograph. The records contain detailed descriptions of a soldier’s physical appearance and any distinguishing features like tattoos or scars.

There are usually six or seven records per soldier. Most of the service records note all of the regiments in which a soldier served, with both start and end dates, ranks attained, and the total service rendered, in years and days, in each rank and regiment. Service in either the East or West Indies is noted separately.

The reason for the soldier’s discharge (illness, wounds or end of service) is given, as are remarks on general conduct while in the service and the soldier’s civilian occupation. The form is dated and signed by both the soldier and commanding officer. These records are among the most popular at The National Archives as family historians and genealogists have realised how valuable they are.

To give you an example of how valuable these records are to those researching Scottish soldiers, here are some figures of how many entries there are per regiment:

Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's) - 91st & 93rd Foot: 1990 entries

Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) - 42nd & 73rd Foot: 1498 entries

Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) - 26th Foot & 90th Light Infantry: 1016 entries

Gordon Highlanders - 75th & 92nd Foot: 1551 entries

Highland Light Infantry - 71st & 74th Foot: 1512 entries

King's Own Scottish Borderers - 25th Foot: 1137 entries

Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders - 79th Foot: 973 entries

Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment) - 1st Foot: 1214 entries

Royal Scots Fusiliers - 21st Foot: 1167 entries

Seaforth Highlanders (Ross-shire Buffs, The Duke of Albany's) - 72nd & 78th Foot: 1545 entries

And remember - there's more to come!

Now, if someone from findmypast is reading, I'd be happy to give a review of their website in return for a free subscription...:-)

No comments:

Post a Comment