British Commissary General Muster Books and Pay Lists: the WO 12 Series

April 25, 2011  - by 
British Commissary General Muster Books and Pay Lists: the WO 12 Series

My recent trip to the National Archives at Kew, London, England, proved to be an interesting learning experience in using military muster books and pay lists to track an individual over a period of time. This information allowed me to track his movements in order to establish a location for his marriage and the subsequent births of his children.

The General Muster Books and Pay List records (reference series WO 12) begin in 1732 and end in 1878. They cover guards, infantry, cavalry, and household troops. According to the National Archives, the records also include special groups, such as colonial troops, various foreign legions, special regiments, and other depots.

The records show an individual’s enlistment dates, his movements, and discharge dates. Additionally, if the information you seek is after 1868, there is a “Roll of the Married Establishment” that lists husbands and wives.

Recording all this information must have been a daunting task, as the books are very large and heavy. There are 13,307 volumes of these records located at the National Archives. To view them, you have to use the special document room. Because photocopying these very large volumes would be extremely difficult, you can use a camera (without flash). In the records, the areas listed under “First Muster,” “Second Muster,” etc., are the physical locations of the individuals listed. This information aids researchers in following the physical movements of their ancestors.

If you are unable to visit the National Archives, they provide a document service that allows you to order copies for £0.40 per page. These records can provide enough information to locate your ancestral family, the place they were married, and the birth place of any children. It’s worth looking into if you know your ancestor was part of a regiment during this time period.

For more information, see the National Archives web page on the WO 12 series.

Also, see the British Military Records: Muster Rolls article in the FamilySearch Research Wiki.

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  1. Are these records microfilmed by FamilySearch or would one have to use the National Archives document order service? If they are not microfilmed, are there plans to do so in the future? Thank you,

  2. I am looking for my family. Trying to find out my history. My fathers name is Carl Ringberg. His mother is Pauline Anderson. He was born in Fort Dodge Iowa. If anyone can help me I would be ever so greatful Thank you Amie.

    1. Amie,

      I am not sure if this would be the same family, but there is a Carl Ringberg in my family tree whose mother’s name at one time was Pauline Anderson. The family is from Iowa. This Carl would have had to been born around the mid 1950s or later and had a couple of siblings, Edna and Mindy. If this sounds like a fit, please let me know. Thanks.

    2. Amie,

      I just did a bit of further research in my notes and do know that the family lived in the Fort Dodge area. Also, Carl was adopted out at some point according to what I have been told. He may or may not have died around 1993 in the Branson, MO area- that seems unclear.

    3. Amie,

      After reviewing my notes, I believe this could be the same family. Please contact me for more information.


    4. Yes, I believe you are in our family. Pauline Anderson was born Pauline Glick. She was a cousin to my husband. Pauline’s mom was Dolly Johnston who married John Glick. Pauline married Carl Jack Ringberg. Pauline had three children; Mindy -unknown whereabouts, Carl Ringberg, Jr.- believe to have been adopted out, and Edna who was killed by a hit and run driver in Fort Dodge in October, 1973. Pauline had a brother George Glick who lived in Knoxville, Iowa.
      Pauline and George are now deceased. Pauline died in 2009 and is buried in Lenox, Iowa. After her divorce from Carl Ringberg, she married Kermit Anderson. I do have her obituary but there are errors in the facts that whoever wrote it up had wrong info. Oh, yes, Dolly Glick remarried later to Rollie McNeese. I have met Dolly, Pauline, Kermit, and Rollie. The children were not talked about much. I guess they did not have the means to care for them. Please contact me.

  3. This article is informative and will be of great help in pointing people along thr right direction as there are many people in my part of the United Kingdom who are of English descent.

  4. Were looking for the death of Deputy Assisstant Commissary General Joseph Trueman born 5th June 1777 and married 4th September 1802 to Mary Crane. We are also looking for Marys subsequent marriage to Major Edward Molesworth born 7th July 1775, died 14th June 1842. Any help will be greatly appreciated, thanx. 22 June 2011