The following news release was received from Elizabeth Zwerin:
Records detail the height, weight, color of hair and eyes, and distinguishing features for soldiers
LOS ANGELES (Dec. 7, 2012) – Findmypast.com, an international leader in online family history, today added 20,000 British soldiers’ records from the Royal Hospital Kilmainham from 1771 to 1822, along with several thousand other significant military documents, to its already extensive collection of historical records.
The records show details of soldiers, including their height, weight, color of hair and eyes and any distinguishing features such as a tattoo or scar, as well as where they served and their regiment.
The task of cataloguing just the records from Kilmainham took a team of 14 people from the Friends of The National Archives volunteer group more than three years and includes the records of 19,109 soldiers. The Royal Hospital Kilmainham, the building that now houses the Irish Museum of Modern Art, was established in 1681 to house sick and veteran troops from the British Army.
Among the Kilmainham pensioners’ documents is Private Hugh Burke from Wicklow, Ireland, who was known as a “green redcoat” or Irish soldier serving in the British military. Burke was pensioned from the army on June 26, 1816 after four years’ service. According to the record, he was deemed unfit for further service after “a gunshot wound to the left shoulder received in action near New Orleans in America on the 8th of January 1815.”
The Battle of New Orleans is famous because it was the last major battle between the British and American forces in the War of 1812 and was fought after a peace treaty had already been signed. The Treaty of Ghent, which signaled the end of the war, came into effect at the start of February 1815 but due to slow communications the news did not reach New Orleans until two weeks later. Unfortunately for Private Hugh Burke, this left him with “a mark on each side of his left shoulder” – entry and exit wounds from the bullet.
“These records are invaluable for anyone researching Irish or British ancestry and looking for vivid details about their ancestors,” said D. Joshua Taylor, head genealogist for findmypast.com. “This significant addition to our world collection provides a glimpse into the lives and careers of these soldiers, some of whom were born in the U.S. or fought within U.S. borders.”
William Spencer, military expert at the National Archives added: “Many soldiers born in Ireland served in the British Army from the 18th-20th centuries yet the careers of these brave men have been hidden amongst some fragile and complex records. The digitization of the Kilmainham papers in WO 119, will at last provide access to the brave men of Ireland.”
The Royal Hospital Kilmainham pension records are part of a larger collection of military discharge documents today released by findmypast including:
- Royal Hospital, Kilmainham: pensioners’ discharge documents 1771-1822 (known as WO 119 at the National Archives)
- Royal Hospital, Chelsea: pensioners’ discharge documents 1760-1887 (WO 121)
- Royal Hospital, Chelsea: pensioners’ discharge documents, foreign regiments 1816-1817 (WO 122)
- War Office: Imperial Yeomanry, soldiers’ documents, South African War 1899-1902 (WO 128)
- Royal Hospital, Chelsea: documents of soldiers awarded deferred pensions 1838-1896 (WO 131)
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