500,000 Chelsea Pensioner records now available at findmypast.co.uk
The following is from FindMyPast.
500,000 Chelsea Pensioners' Service Records Go Online for the First Time atfindmypast.co.uk * Chelsea Pensioners' British Army Service Records 1873-1900 now available to search online * In-depth and colourful insight into the lives of ordinary ranking soldiers * Records include servicemen born in the UK and throughout the world, including India and Jamaica Leading family history websitefindmypast.co.ukhas published online for the first time nearly half a million service records of men who were pensioned out of the British Army between 1873 and 1900 and who received a pension administered through the Royal Hospital at Chelsea.Findmypast.co.ukhas been working in association with The National Archives of the United Kingdom for nearly two years to scan, transcribe and publish online these records. Known as "WO 97" at The National Archives, the first tranche of these most frequently viewed records are now available to search online atwww.findmypast.co.ukfor the first time ever. Once complete, the entire collection will comprise over six million full colour images of the service records of soldiers in the British Army in receipt of a pension administered by The Royal Hospital Chelsea, and who were discharged between the dates 1760 and 1913. Many of the soldiers listed will have served in some of Britain's most significant wars, including the Battle of Waterloo (1815), the Crimean (1853 - 1856) and both Boer Wars (1899 - 1902). Each individual soldier's record consists of a bundle of a minimum of four pages, full of fascinating personal details, and could even be up to 20 pages long. The details that can be found in these records are invaluable to family and military historians, providing a rich and colourful story of our ancestors' lives, with a level of detail that is hard to find in any other historical records. Among the information included in these documents are the soldier's date and place of birth, name and address of next of kin, height, hair and eye colour, distinguising features such as tattoos, rank and regiment, occupation before joining the army, medical history and countries where, and dates when, the soldier served. The records not only relate to servicemen born in the UK, but also throughout the world, with many soldiers born in India and even the Caribbean. These records are also invaluable to Irish, Scottish and Commonwealth researchers, as many men joined the British Army from these countries throughout the centuries. The records list only those soldiers who either completed their full service in the army or who were wounded and pensioned out of the army. The records do not include those killed in action or army deserters or officers. The connection with 'Chelsea Pensioners' is that the pensions were administered through The Royal Hospital at Chelsea. The great majority of pensioned soldiers were out-pensioners and did not reside at the Hospital itself. The first half a million records from the Chelsea Pensioners' British Army Service Records collection are now online, comprising nearly 3 million images covering the period from 1873 - 1900 and can be searched athttp://www.findmypast.co.uk/chelsea-pensioners-service-records-collection-search-start.action. The remaining records will be rolled out online over the next 18 months. Debra Chatfield offindmypast.co.uksaid: "The Chelsea Pensioners' British Army Service Records are a rich resource for family historians. For each soldier you'll find a minimum of four pages of information, including a physical description and even details of other family members, such as their dates of baptism and marriage. These fascinating records enable you to find out so much about your soldier ancestors, including what they looked like, long before the invention of photography."
The term 'pensioner' refers to an ex-soldier to whom a pension was paid, and not just to a resident pensioner at Chelsea Hospital.
WO 97 is the classification of the Chelsea Pensioners at The National Archives - WO stands for War Office and 97 indicates the shelf location of the records.
Following the transcription, scanning and indexing of over two million images, the company launched the first website to allow the public easy and fast access to the complete indexes, which until then had only been available on microfiche film in specialist archives and libraries. The launch was instrumental in creating the widespread and growing interest in genealogy seen in the UK today.
Findmypast.co.uk has subsequently digitised many more family history records and now offers access to over 750 million records dating as far back as 1538. This allows family historians and novice genealogists to search for their ancestors among comprehensive collections of military records, census, migration, occupation directories, and current electoral roll data, as well as the original comprehensive birth, marriage and death records.
In November 2006 findmypast.co.uk launched the ancestorsonboard.com microsite in association with The National Archives to publish outbound passenger lists for long-distance voyages departing all British ports between 1890 and 1960.
As well as providing access to historical records, findmypast.co.uk is also developing a range of online tools to help people discover and share their family history more easily, beginning with the launch of Family Tree Explorer in July 2007.
In April 2007, findmypast.co.uk's then parent company Title Research Group received the prestigious Queen's Award for Enterprise: Innovation 2007 in recognition of their achievement.
Findmypast.co.uk was acquired in December 2007 by brightsolid, the company who were awarded The National Archives' contract to publish online the 1911 census, which it launched in January 2009.