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Army - Muster Rolls & Pay Lists Other Ranks & Officers before 1914 (Military)

Nature of Source

Record of enlistment date, movements and discharge date of all soldiers and officers and not just those discharged to pension. The Rolls were taken each month or quarter but the name of the regiment must be known as a starting point of research. The musters show a record of the presence of each soldier at a particular unit and record the reasons for a soldier's absence such as illness or serving time in prison.

Pay Lists also list the soldiers present at a unit together with their pay details and other allowances. The lists are arranged by regimental number or rank and then by the soldiers' surname. Using both recourses it is possible to follow the career of a soldier.

Knowing which regiment a man served in is of great benefit when researching a soldier's career at The National Archives (TNA). If the person's place of service is known, then the Monthly Returns held at TNA will help in identifying his regiment as the returns show the location of each regiment on a monthly basis. The returns are held in series WO 17 and WO 73 and cover the years from 1759 to 1865. Additionally, the monthly journals United Service Journal and the Naval and Military Magazine (some editions can be found at the Internet Archive or at Google Books) also publish similar information as well as a number of reference books. Alternatively, his will might mention his regiment or possibly the birth certificates of his children. If the person (whether a soldier or officer) married, died or had children at a station abroad, then the Chaplain's Returns (1796-1880) which record such events, provide the regiment's name. The registers are available online at findmypast.co.uk.

It is possible to find out what material survives for a particular unit by searching TNA Discovery catalogue with the unit's name.

Service records for all ranks who served after 1920 remain with the Ministry of Defence with each military service maintaining its own record office. The Veterans UK web site provides contact details of where to apply for service records for each of the services.

Where Found

The National Archives (WO 10, Artillery Muster Books and Pay Lists; WO 12, General Muster Books and Pay Lists; WO 16, Muster Books and Pay Lists 1877-1898; WO 54, Entry Books and Registers; WO 68, Records of Militia Regiments; WO 69, Royal Artillery Records of Service and Papers)
The National Archives (WO 128 & WO 129, Imperial Yeomanry South African War)
National Records of Scotland (Scottish Army muster rolls organised by regiment only. The National Records of Scotland was created on 1 April 2011 by the amalgamation of the National Archives of Scotland [NAS] and General Register Office for Scotland [GROS])
National Army Museum/Templer Study Centre (The museum houses a wealth of information on the history and traditions of the Army including officer Army Lists, regimental and campaign histories, soldier's effects records, military memoirs and diaries, regimental and other military periodicals and books and other archives relating to the pre-1914 Army. The museum also holds the enlistment and discharge books for the Buffs, the Middlesex Regiment, and the five Irish regiments disbanded in 1922. See the web site for details of their collections and a series of information sheets for researching army family history)

Period Covered

1713 - 1913

Genealogical Value

Names and ranks of soldiers and officers; Dates of enlistment, discharge or death and details of time spent in hospitals and punishments; Occasionally former occupation, place of birth and age on joining.

Further References

General  
Beckett, James Deuchar (ed). The Beckett Soldiers Index, A-C: Jade Publishing, 2003  
Beckett, James Deuchar (ed). The Beckett Soldiers Index, D-G Jade Publishing, 2009  
Beckett, James Deuchar (ed). The Beckett Soldiers Index, H-K: Jade Publishing, 2009
(Listing of soldiers from 1793 to about 1854 extracted from TNA series WO 120 and WO 116 and other sources such as marriage registers and medal awards. Arranged alphabetically by surname, forename and regiment including whether discharged at either Chelsea or Kilmainham Hospital. These published editions cover more ground than the Beckett Soldiers' Index available at The National Archives)
 

Bevan, Amanda. Tracing Your Ancestors in the National Archives: The National Archives, 2006

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Brereton, J.M. A Guide to the Regiments and Corps of the British Army: Bodley Head, 1985

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Blank, Dr. Stuart. Researching British Military History on the Internet: Alwyn Enterprises, 2007

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Cox. Reginald H. W. Military Badges of the British Empire 1914-18: Ernest Benn, 1982

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Farmer, John, The Regimental Records of the British Army: Grant Richards, 1901 (Free download available at the Internet Archive)

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Fowler, Simon. A Guide to Military History on the Internet: Pen & Sword, 2007

Fowler, Simon. Tracing your Army Ancestors: Pen & Sword, 2006

Fowler, Simon. Tracing Your Army Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians: Pen & Sword Books, 2013

Gaylor, John. Military Badge Collecting: Pen & Sword Books, 2002
Grehan, John & Mace, Martin. British Battles of the Crimean Wars 1854-1856: Pen & Sword Books, 2014  

Kitzmiller, John. In Search of the Forlorn Hope: A Comprehensive Guide to Locating British Regiments and Their Records, 1640-WWI: Manuscript Publishing Foundation, 1988

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Murphy, Gerry. Where Did That Regiment Go? The Lineage of British Infantry and Cavalry Regiments at a Glance: The History Press, 2009

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Paterson, Sarah. Tracing Your Family History, Army: Imperial War Museum, 2006 Buy Now on Amazon

Pols, Robert. Dating Old Army Photographs: Family History Partnership, 2011

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Saks, David. Boerejode: Jews in the Boer Armed Forces 1899-1902: 2010  

Spencer, William. Family History in the Wars: The National Archives, 2007

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Spencer, William. Army Records: A Guide For Family Historians: The National Archives, 2008

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Storey, Neil. Military Photographs and How to Date Them: Countryside Books, 2009

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Swinnerton, Iain, An Introduction to the British Army: Its History, Traditions and Records: FFHS, 1996

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Swinson, Arthur. A Register of the Regiments and Corps of the British Army: The Archive Press, 1972

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The Great War: A Photographic Narrative: Imperial War Museum: Jonathan Cape, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon

Usher, George. Dictionary of British Military History: A&C Black Publishers, 2006

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Watts, Michael and Watts, Christopher. My Ancestor was in the British Army: Society of Genealogists, 2009

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Westlake, Ray. The Territorials 1908-1914: A Guide for Military and Family Historians: Pen & Sword Books, 2011
WWI  
Banks, Arthur. A Military Atlas of The First World War: Pen & Sword Books, 2013
Bridger, Geoff. The Great War Handbook: A Guide For Family Historians & Students Of The Conflict: Pen & Sword Books, 2013
Christopher, John & McCutcheon, Campbell. 1914 the First World War in Old Photographs: Over by Christmas: Amberley Publishing, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon
Doyle, Peter & Foster Chris. British Army Cap Badges of the First World War: Shire Publications, 2010 Buy Now on Amazon
Doyle, Peter. Great War British Tommy Manual: The British Soldier 1914-18 [All Models]-Haynes Owners' Workshop Manuals: Haynes, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon
Doyle, Peter & Foster Chris. Remembering Tommy: The British Soldier in the First World War: The History Press, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon
Doyle, Peter & Foster Chris. What Tommy Took to War, 1914-1918: Shire Publications, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon
Doyle, Peter. The First World War in 100 Objects: The History Press, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon
Forty, Simon. Mapping the First World War: Battlefields of the Great Conflict from Above: Anova Books, 2013 Buy Now on Amazon
Gregson, Keith. A Tommy in the Family: First World War Family History Tales and Research Tips: The History Press, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon
Holding, Norman, More Sources of WWI Army Ancestry: FFHS, 1998 Buy Now on Amazon
Holding, Norman & Swinnerton, Iain. WWI Army Ancestry: FFHS, 2004 Buy Now on Amazon
Holmes, Richard. Tommy: The British Soldier on the Western Front 1914-1918: Harper Perennial, 2005 Buy Now on Amazon
Holmes, Richard. Shots from the Front: The British Soldier 1914-18: HarperPress, 2010 Buy Now on Amazon
Holmes, Richard. The First World War in Photographs: Andre Deutsch, July 2014 Buy Now on Amazon
James, Brig. E. A. British Regiments 1914-18: Naval and Military Press, 2009 Buy Now on Amazon
Paterson, Sarah. Tracing Your Prisoner of War Ancestors: The First World War: Pen & Sword, 2012
Rawson, Andrew. The British Army 1914-1918: The History Press, 2014 Buy Now on Amazon
Spencer, William. First World War Army Service Records: The National Archives, 2008 Buy Now on Amazon
Swinnerton, Iain. Identifying Your World War One Soldier from Badges and Photographs: Federation of Family History Societies, 2001 Buy Now on Amazon


TNA research Guide: British Army: Muster Rolls and Pay Lists, c1730-1898

Websites

www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/looking-for-person/britisharmysoldierupto1913.htm (Looking for records of a British army soldier up to 1913)
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/looking-for-subject/default.htm
(TNA Guide: Looking for a subject, Military history)
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/looking-for-person/default.htm (TNA Guide: Looking for a person, Army)
www.jennyself.com/Family_History_web_stuff/hayes/James_Hayes_37th_foot.htm (Extract from Pay and Muster Rolls of 37th Foot)
www.ukmfh.org.uk (UK Military Family History Online: Links to web sites with online data and information to aid in military family history research)
www.parishchest.com (Online store selling military records from a variety of suppliers)
www.veterans-uk.info/index.html (Veterans UK)
www.armymuseums.org.uk/ancestor.htm (Ancestor Research & Military Genealogy)
http://archive.iwm.org.uk/server/show/nav.3240 (Imperial War Museum, Your History, Family History: Army: Information sheets include Tracing Army Ancestry, Army Service Records, Tracing Army Units and List of Abbreviations)
www.globalgenealogy.com/globalgazette/gazfd/gazfd44.htm (British Military Records: The Army by Fawne Stratford-Devai)
www.militaryarchiveresearch.com (Military Archive Research, by Dr Stuart C Blank)
www.genuki.org.uk/big/MilitaryRecords.html (GENUKI Military guide with useful links)
www.genuki.org.uk/big/BritMilRecs.html (British Military Records by Jay Hall)
www.armymuseums.org.uk (Guide and links to military museums in the UK)
www.nas.gov.uk/guides/military.asp (National Archives of Scotland Research Guide: Military Records)

Online Databases

www.britishmedals.us/kevin/impyeomanryl.html (The Men of the Imperial Yeomanry in the Boer War of 1899 to 1902)
www.findmypast.co.uk (British Army Service Records 1760-1920: The collection includes a myriad of Army forms including attestation papers, medical forms, discharge documents, pension claims, and proceedings of regimental boards from 11 different series of records from The National Archives. The dataset includes records from series WO 128 Imperial Yeomanry, soldiers' documents, South African War 1899-1902)
www.findmypast.co.uk (1861 & 1871 Worldwide Army Index: Details of soldiers extracted from TNA paylists series WO 10 Royal Artillery, WO 11 Royal Engineers and WO 12 Cavalry, Guards, Infantry and other units)
www.findmypast.co.uk (Paddington Rifles 1860-1912: Records compiled from muster rolls held in TNA series WO 70)
www.findmypast.co.uk (Register of the Second Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902 including Official Casualty Rolls, Medal Rolls and the Anglo-Boer War Memorials Project)
www.findmypast.co.uk (Napoleonic War Records 1775-1817: Databases include the Army of Reserve 1803 consisting of records of Other Ranks who were part of the 1803 England and Wales Army of Reserve; Regimental indexes 1806 consisting of indexes of regimental records of Napoleonic era Other Ranks from 1806; Foot Guards attestation papers 1775-1817 consisting of records of Other Ranks' attestations to the 1st Foot Guard between 1775 and 1817)
www.findmypast.co.uk (London Volunteer Soldiers, 1859-1955. Service records of part-time soldiers, usually from London, who served with a number of volunteer military units with the British Army)
www.glasgowlife.org.uk/libraries/the-mitchell-library/archives/collections/online-resources-for-archives (Mitchell Library Online Resources for Historians: Boer War Burgesses. The database details the admission of volunteers for the South African War 1900-1904, as Burgesses and Guild Brethren of Glasgow)

CD Roms

S & N Genealogy Supplies (The Transvaal War Album - The British Forces in South Africa 1899-1900)