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

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


What is in This Collection?

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.

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:

1760-1913

  • 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

Whenever possible, FamilySearch makes images available for all users. However, rights to view images on our website are granted by the record custodians.

These images can be viewed online by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at a Family History Center near you, or the Family History Library. These images are also viewable to users who have contributed to the FamilySearch Indexing effort. Learn how to be a part of FamilySearch indexing here.

For additional information about image restrictions, please see the Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections page.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

The following lists indicate potential information given in each type of record. It must be remembered that every record may not provide all of the listed information, as these records can vary over time and even between soldiers.

Pension records may include:

  • 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

Collection Content

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.

How do I Search This Collection?

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

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

How Do I Analyze the Results?

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?

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • 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. Make sure to fully transcribe and cite the index entry record for future reference. See below for assistance in citing this collection. Save or print a copy of both images if possible
  • Use the information which has been discovered to find more. For instance, use the estimated age given in the pensioner record to calculate an approximate year of birth, if that is yet undetermined
  • Use the information which has been discovered to 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?

  • When looking for a person with a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which individual is correct. Use other information, such as place of birth, age, or occupation, to determine which candidate is the correct person. If listed, a personal title may be a clue to property ownership or occupation, either of which might be noted in other records
  • 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
  • Vary the search terms. For example, search by either the given name or surname to return broader list of possible candidates which can then be examined for matches
  • Look at the actual image of the record to verify the information found in the online description, if possible
  • 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

Record Finder

Consult the England Record Finder and Wales Record Finder to find other records

Citing This Collection

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
"United Kingdom, Chelsea Pensioners' Service Records, 1760-1913." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 14 June 2016. From "Chelsea Pensioners' Service Records 1760-1913." Database with images. findmypast. http://www.findmypast.com : n.d. Citing WO 97. The National Archives, Kew, Surrey.
Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

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