skip to content

Army - Pensions (Medical & Service) Admission Books, Other Ranks before 1914 (Military)

Nature of Source

Medical pension records relating to soldiers injured or invalided on service and awarded an out-pension following the establishment of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin and the Royal Hospital Chelsea. They cover the years from 1715 to 1913.

Service pension records relating to pensions awarded to soldiers for length of service from the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin and the Royal Hospital Chelsea. They cover the years from 1823 to 1920.

The records also cover the admission of a soldier to the Royal Hospital in Chelsea.

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 or at www.familyrelatives.com. The Army Regimental Registers also provide the name of the regiment. For further help in identifying regiments, consult John Kitzmiller's 'In Search of the Forlorn Hope: A Comprehensive Guide to Locating British Regiments and Their Records'. The Forces War Records & Military Genealogy website holds information on over 4000 units, bases and ships of the British Armed Forces offering a search facility for a specific units including regiments, ships, airfields.

The records are not indexed so the approximate date of pension award is needed, usually available from WO 97 (Soldier's Documents). Royal Hospital Chelsea in-pensioner baptisms, marriages and burials can be found at TNA in series RG 4/4387.

Please note that soldiers were given regimental numbers which would change if they were transferred to another regiment and so may appear more than once in different army records. Information about regimental numbers and the dates on which these were issued to soldiers joining the British Army between 1881 and 1918 can be found at Army Service Numbers 1881-1918 Index. For the history and affiliations of every battalion of every British infantry regiment see www.1914-1918.net/regiments.htm. Present day army numbers remain with the soldier throughout their careers.

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.

Also see:
Army - Casualty Lists, Other Ranks before 1914
Army - Applications for Pensions for Widows and Children - Officers before 1914 (Military)
Army - Pensions Returns & Regimental Register of Pensioners, Other Ranks before 1914 (Military)
Army - Soldiers' Documents (Service Records) from Pension Claims ('Unburnt Collection'), Other Ranks, WWI (Military)
War Memorials, Graves & Rolls of Honour (Military, including WWI) Including Scotland

Where Found

Medical Pensions
The National Archives (WO 116, Chelsea Hospital out-pensions admission books; WO 118, Kilmainham Hospital pension admission books; WO 23, Chelsea Hospital in-pensioner admission books, registers and papers; WO 118, Kilmainham Hospital In-pensioner admission books)
A selection of records within WO 116 are available to download free of charge as part of the Digital Microfilm project.

Service Pensions
The National Archives (WO 117, Chelsea Hospital length of service pensions admission books; WO 119, Kilmainham Hospital pensioner's discharge documents.pensioners' discharge documents 1783-1822, extracted from WO 119.
Included in the records are men discharged to pension from English, Scottish and Welsh units, as well as Irish regiments, even though the pensions were administered from the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham near Dublin)
A name index for WO 119 covering the years 1783-1822 is available at the TNA Discovery catalogue. First click on ‘Advanced search’ and then type in the name being searched. Then under ‘Search within’ select ‘Enter a reference’ and type WO 119.

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

1715 - 1920

Genealogical Value

Medical Pension
Name, rank, age, birthplace, of soldier. His length of service, physical description and reason for discharge.

Service Pension
Soldier's regiment, rank, name, age, years of service, rate of pension, details of foreign service, character report, cause of disability, birthplace, occupation and physical description. From 1874, intended address, good conduct badges and date of discharge. From 1903 the date of enlistment is recorded, and from 1905 the medals awarded to the soldiers are given.

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon
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

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

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon
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

Buy Now on Amazon

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

Buy Now on Amazon
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 Guides

Websites

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.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.armylists.org.uk (Guide to Army Lists and published lists available on CD)
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)
WWI
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/pathways/firstworldwar/index.htm (TNA online WWI exhibition)
www.1914-1918.net (The Long, Long Trail, including a section on 'Researching a soldier')
www.1914-1918.net/regiments.htm (The British infantry regiments of 1914-1918: History and affiliations of every battalion of every British infantry regiment)
http://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.co.uk (Army Service Numbers 1881-1918 Index: Information about regimental numbers and the dates on which these were issued to soldiers joining the British Army between 1881 and 1918)
www.military-researcher.com (Guide to WW1 research including causes of discharge)
www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit/gwa (The Great War Archive: WWI digital photographs, audio, film, documents, and stories submitted by the general public. The initiative was run by Oxford University between the 3rd March and the 30th June 2008. Users can now share First World War objects on the The Great War Archive Flickr Group)
www.europeana.eu/portal/en/collections/world-war-I (Europeana 1914-1918. Explore the untold stories and official histories of World War I in items from across Europe including postcards, letters, diaries, images and other memorabilia)
www.pals.org.uk/research.htm (Guide to researching service records)
http://ww1-lost-photos.livejournal.com (Blog covering the WWI photographs of the unknown soldiers)

Online Databases

www.ancestry.co.uk (UK, Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioner Admissions and Discharges, 1715-1925 This collection is made up of registers of the award of out-pensions of the Royal Hospital Chelsea to soldiers discharged from the British Army who had served for at least 12 years extracted from TNA series WO 116. This collection contains an index to records transcribed from the registers. To view images of the registers on Fold3.com, you will need an Ancestry All Access subscription)
www.forces-war-records.co.uk (Military Genealogy Forces War Records: Military records of over two million British Armed Forces personnel cross matched with over 4000 Regiments including Rolls of Honour, Crimean and Boer War Databases, Medal Rolls and Casualties Lists. The site also has a facility to access information on specific units or bases including regiments, ships, airfields)
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 23 which has records on pensions payable by the commissioners of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea)
www.findmypast.co.uk (Register of the Second Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902. The records contain over 258,800 names, including a completely revised casualty list of 59,000 casualty records)
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.ancestry.co.uk (Casualties of the Boer War, 1899-1902: The database lists the names, regiments, dates, locations and nature of casualty of all officers and men of the South African Field Force from the outbreak of war. The data is also available at www.military-genealogy.com)
www.militaryarchive.co.uk (The Military Archive: The site incorporates three extensive sets of resources: 'Murphy's Register' which has an index of records and photographs of individuals who served in British and Allied Forces from 1880's through to 1935, with a particular emphasis on the Great War: 'The Rolls' which can identify and confirm details from official records with regards to medals awarded: ‘The Library’ is a large, searchable online collection of divisional and regimental histories, and rolls of honour)
www.glosters.org.uk/soldiersearch (Transcribed summary service details of officers and men who served with the 28th North Gloucestershire Regiment during the 19th Century or the Gloucestershire Regiment in WWI. Database courtesy of Mr. J. Devereux)
www.casus-belli.co.uk (The Register of the Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902: Database that lists men and women who served in the British Imperial Forces during the Anglo-Boer War. The register includes soldiers, sailors, nurses and civilians as well as a casualty roll. The data is compiled for sources such as Official Casualty Rolls, A Gazetteer of the Second Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902, Medal Rolls, Anglo-Boer War Memorials Project and Winifred Scott's Anglo-Boer War Index. The Register will state whether the person listed has an entry in series WO 97 held at The National Archives. For a full list of sources see the website)

CD Roms

Surrey History Trust (Surrey Recruitment Register, 1908-1933. details of about 85,000 men who signed up for service in Surrey between 1908 and 1933, including volunteers and conscripts in World War I)
www.officialhistoryofthegreatwar.co.uk (Official History of The Great War: A complete record of the war on the Western Front, 1914-1918)