Soldiers' records catalogued to help trace family tree
The Friends of the National Archives have completed the cataloguing of more than 20,000 soldiers' records held at the Kilmainham Hospital in Dublin from 1783-1822. The files can now be found in The National Archives Catalogue and could provide the key for many people trying to discover their family history.
Kilmainham Hospital administered some pensions until 1822, when Chelsea Hospital took on the administration of out-pensioners from both establishments. The task of cataloguing the pensioners' discharge documents (certificates of service) in series WO 119 took a team of 14 volunteers just over three years. These records are now in the process of being digitised by findmypast.co.uk, in association with The National Archives and in partnership with FamilySearch. The equivalent records from Chelsea Hospital (series WO 97) have already been digitised by findmypast.co.uk and have been catalogued, up to 1854, by the Friends.
Debra Chatfield, Marketing Manager at findmypast.co.uk, said: 'British Army service records are a wonderful family history resource, providing a level of detail that is hard to find elsewhere. Not only do these records tell us where and when our military ancestors served, but also where they were born, how tall they were, any injuries they obtained, along with comments about their conduct.'
The completion of the project by The Friends of The National Archives will make these records more accessible for family historians, ahead of the records being made available to search and view online later this year.
Sergeant John Shaw, born in Inverness, enlisted in the 42nd Foot at Edinburgh in 1793 at the age of 20. He was discharged at Dublin in 1819 as unfit for service because of an injury to his left leg when recruiting. He was the sergeant of the party who carried the late Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore from the area when wounded at the Battle of Corunna in 1808 and was also present at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. (Found in WO 119/57/173).
Sergeant John Watson, born in Banffshire, served in the 30th Regiment of Foot. A testimonial from Major Alexander Hamilton reads: 'I hereby certify I have known the Bearer, Sergt John Watson ... for about 15 years and had been an Eye Witness of his Gallant conduct in the Field at Tauton, in storming the Convention Redoubt in the Island of Corsica, in two Naval Engagements when doing duty as Marine on Board His Majesty's Ship Terrible, in also a Principle in Quelling a Very Serious Mutiny on Board of the above Ship as also the whole campaign in Egypt.' (Found in WO 119/10/222).
Patrick Lawlor, born in Rathkeale, served in Kerry Militia. He was discharged in 1808 at Ballinasloe because of 'an injury in the Hip and a contraction in his Leg, when Centinel on the Night of 11th February 1807 at the Quay of Galway in consequence of the Centry Box having been upset by the storm and falling on him' ... 'under which he remained until next relief, when he was almost deprived of life'. (Found in WO 119/10/226).