United Kingdom, Chelsea Pensioners' Service Records - FamilySearch Historical Records

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United Kingdom

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United Kingdom, Chelsea Pensioners' Service Records, 1760-1913
This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
United Kingdom
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Location of United Kingdom
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Location of the United Kingdom in Europe
Record Description
Record Type Military Pension
Collection years 1760-1913
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
The National Archives

What is in This Collection?[edit | edit source]

This collection is an index to military records from the Royal Hospital Chelsea, covering the period 1760-1913. From 1692 until 1955, all army veteran pensions were administered and paid from the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Payments to retired officers, called half-pay, were not considered pensions, so the records in this collection primarily contain information on regular soldiers. Pensions were awarded for length of service, disability, or wounds to most individuals who legally left army service, although sometimes the widows or children of military men received the payments instead.

The records for the years 1760 through 1872 are arranged by regiment, then alphabetically by surname. After the Cardwell Army Reforms in 1873 until 1882, the records are grouped in local units, then organized by surname. From 1883 to 1914, these records are arranged in one alphabetical series.

The index of this collection refers to pension records for the British Army. In certain cases, the pension records may include other documents, such as marriage or birth certificates to prove familial relation, but these are relatively rare.

Timeline and Historical Context[edit | edit source]

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 War of 1812 in North America
  • 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

Image Visibility[edit | edit source]

Whenever possible FamilySearch makes images and indexes available for all users. However, rights to view these data are limited by contract and subject to change. Because of this there may be limitations on where and how images and indexes are available or who can see them. Please be aware some collections consist only of partial information indexed from the records and do not contain any images. For additional information about image restrictions see Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections.

What Can These Records Tell Me?[edit | edit source]

The following information may be found in these records:

  • Full name of pensioner
  • Reason for discharge
  • Name of Regiment
  • Age, occupation and marital status of pensioner
  • Parish, town and county in which born
  • Date and place where enlisted and by whom
  • Notes of any previous service
  • Details of service rendered
  • Length of service in years and days
  • Physical description, including disabilities as a result of service
  • Next of kin
  • Marriage or baptismal certificates if family members were to receive the payment

How do I Search This Collection?[edit | edit source]

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of the person you are looking for
  • The approximate date of service

Search the Index[edit | edit source]

Search by name on the Collection Details Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes in the Search Collection section with the information you know
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

How Do I Analyze the Results?[edit | edit source]

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?[edit | edit source]

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Add any new information to your records
  • If available, check the image for additional information
  • Analyze the entry to see if it provides additional clues to find other records of the person or their family
  • 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.
  • Use the estimated age given in the pensioner record to calculate an approximate year of birth, if that is yet undetermined
  • Find the individual in civil records. Particularly useful for research in nineteenth-century England are the England Census and the England Civil Registration records

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Try searching by surname only
  • Remember that spelling was generally not standardized until the early part of the 20th century
  • Check for variants of given names, surnames, and place names. Remember that it was not uncommon for an individual be listed under a nickname or an abbreviation of their name. See Abbreviations Found in Genealogy Records for some common examples of abbreviations
  • It is possible that the individual left the army for such reasons as to not qualify for a pension. Unfortunately, corresponding records for those who left the Army for reasons other than discharge have largely been destroyed

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the United Kingdom.

Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation:
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation can be viewed by clicking the drop-down arrow next to Document Information.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.