British Army Pensions

Discussion in 'World War 1' started by liverpool annie, Jan 2, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    When and how did they decide to give wounded soldiers a pension ? ....

    I read

    Annie :)
  2. themonsstar

    themonsstar New Member

    Here is the History of Army pensions

    All of this work can be found at the National Archives

    1. Introduction

    Charles II set up the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, in 1679, and the Royal Hospital, Chelsea in 1681. The two hospitals, in Ireland and England respectively, reflected the separate army establishments for the two countries, which did not become joined until the Act of Union in 1800. Even then, it was not until December 1822 that the payment of Kilmainham out-pensions was taken over by Chelsea Hospital, and in-pensioners remained in Kilmainham until 1929, when the last transferred to Chelsea.

    2. Entitlements to pension

    Soldiers who left the Army with a disabling injury, or as invalids or (for relatively few soldiers before the later 19th century) after completing an agreed term of service, were entitled to a pension from, or institutional care at, Chelsea or Kilmainham. A description of an ex-soldier as a 'pensioner' usually means he was in receipt of an out-pension from one of the military hospitals, not that he was an in-pensioner, actually resident in the hospital. The major series of records (and the first place to look for any soldier) resulting from the grant of a pension are the attestation and other discharge documents in WO 97 , covering 1756-1913: see British Army Soldiers' Discharge Papers (1760-1913), for more details. Regimental registers in WO 120 can include men not included in WO 97 . Soldiers on the Irish establishment had separate discharge records in WO 118 and WO 119 , until December 1822: after that they are included in WO 97 . Discharges under special conditions, 1830-1870, are in WO 25/3850 to WO 25/3877 , arranged by regiment.

    3. Out-pensions

    Out-pensions cover the vast majority of pensioners. Out-pension Admission Books are arranged by date of examination, and are not indexed: you need to know at least the approximate date of admission to pension.

    * Out-pension awards: Chelsea
    Pension admission books come in two series, each arranged by year of examination or claim, and provide, name, rank, age, total service, rate of pension, foreign service/stations, character report, place of birth, trade; later volumes give medal allocation.
    + for disability, 1715-1882, in WO 116 ,
    + for length of service, 1823-1913, in WO 117 .
    For 1830-1844, admission books are duplicated by registers in WO 23/1 to WO 23/16 , where in addition the intended place of residence is given: they have indexes from 1838-1844.

    Certificates of service for men discharged between 1787 and 1813, and awarded Chelsea out-pensions, are in WO 121/1 to WO 121/136 , arranged by date of admission to pension, and give cause of discharge, name, rank, regiment, details of service, age, place of birth and trade/occupation. Later volumes give physical descriptions.

    Certificates of service of soldiers awarded deferred pensions, 1838-1896, are in WO 131 , with a separate name index.

    * Out-pension awards: Kilmainham

    For men awarded out-pensions by the Board of Kilmainham Hospital, there are certificates of service, 1783-1822, in WO 119 . They are arranged by discharge number, found in admission books in WO 118 .

    * Ordnance pensions

    Artillery pensions were paid by the Ordnance Office until 1834 when Chelsea took over.
    Date range Description Catalogue reference
    1770-1808 vouchers for artillery pensions WO 18/1 to WO 18/147
    1804-1839 original warrants for payments WO 55/529
    1808-1834 pension minutes WO 47/2760 to WO 47/2851
    1816-1844 registers of Ordnance pensions WO 54/338 ,to WO 54/493
    1822-1855 pension minutes WO 55/540 to WO 55/572
    1833-1913 Royal Artillery pensions WO 116/125 to WO 116/185
    1834 registers of current Ordnance out-pensions WO 23/141 , WO 23/143 , WO 23/144 and WO 23/145

    * Foreign Regiments

    Registers of pensioners from the King's German Legion, 1801-1815, are in WO 23/135 . Reports of medical boards on invalids, recommendations for pensions and discharge documents for soldiers of foreign regiments, 1816-1817, are in WO 122 .

    * Out-pension awards: colonial pensions
    Admission books for pensions payable in the colonies, 1817-1875, are in WO 23/147 .
    Lists, registers and admission books of black and Cape Corps pensioners, 1837-1879 are in WO 23/153 and an admission book of 'native' and colonial pensioners, 1880-1903 is in WO 23/160 .
    Registers of Indian army pensions, 1849-1868, are in WO 23/17 .
    A list of out-pensioners discharged between 1821 and 1829 who had served in tropical climates is in WO 23/25 .

    * Out-pensions: payment records in the UK and the colonies, 1842-1862/1880s

    Before 1842 pensions were paid by officials locally (tax collectors in England, Scotland and Wales, and Post Masters elsewhere), and no records seem to survive. In 1842 pensions staff officers were appointed, who made monthly returns to the War Office, recording who had moved in to, or out of, the district, whose pensions had ceased, and who had died. If you know the place where an ex-soldier died (e.g. from a death certificate) or was living (e.g. from a census return), it may be well worthwhile using these registers. They are also useful for soldiers who retired in the colonies, and for colonial troops. The registers, in WO 22 , are arranged by payment district or country, and give the pensioner's name, regiment, rate of pension, date of admission to pension, rank and the district to which or from which he had moved. The returns for UK payments cease in 1862, but returns relating to pensions overseas and in the colonies extend into the 1880s.

    4. In-pensioners

    To be eligible for admission as an in-pensioner, a man had to be a life pensioner of the Army (i.e. in receipt of a service or disability pension), aged 55 or more (unless in receipt of a disability pension) and free from the liability of supporting a wife or children.
    Pension Date range Description Catalogue reference
    Chelsea 1702-1789 muster rolls WO 23/124 to WO 23/131
    1795-1813 list of in-pensioners WO 23/134
    1824-1917 admission books and rolls WO 23/162
    1837-1872 alphabetical register WO 23/146
    1858-1933 index of in-pensioners WO 23/173
    1864-1865 muster rolls WO 23/132
    1799-1892 sample of pensioners' certificates WO 900/9 to WO 900/38

    Kilmainham 1704-1922 admission books WO 118
    1798-1817 sample of pensioners' certificates WO 900/39 , WO 900/40 , WO 900/41 and WO 900/42

    5. Records of Soldier's Effects, the National Army Museum

    While The National Archives holds the Soldier's Effects Ledgers for 1862-1880/1881 in WO 25/3475-3501 the National Army Museum holds a set of Soldier's Effects Ledgers for April 1901-March 1960. These ledgers were created as a list of the monies owed to a soldier who died in service. They do not list any of his personal items that may have been returned to the next of kin. The information they typically contain is: full name, regimental number, date of death and sometimes the place, next of kin and monies paid to the next of kin. The records from 1901-1914 also detail the date of enlistment and trade of enlistment.

    As these records are not held in the main collections of the National Army Museum but in off-site storage, there is a fee, currently of £10, charged for the provision of a transcript of an individual's entry. Please contact The National Army Museum, Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 4HT.

    6. The National Archives' Library Bibliography

    The following recommended publications are available in the The National Archives' Library ( Where indicated a publication is also available to buy at The National Archives' Bookshop (

    * Return of the names of the officers in the Army: who receive pensions for the loss of limbs, or for wounds... [Napoleonic War] (Heathfield, 1997).

    * A Bevan, Tracing Your Ancestors in the The National Archives (7th edn, Kew, 2006) - Available to buy.

    * Simon Fowler and William Spencer, Army Records for Family Historians (2nd edn, PRO Readers' Guide, II, 1998).

    * N K Crowder, British Army pensioners abroad 1772-1899 (Baltimore, 1995)
  3. themonsstar

    themonsstar New Member

    First World War: Disability and Dependants' Pension.

    1. Introduction

    This research guide is mostly about Army pensions, as the greatest number of casualties was borne by the Army. However, the sections on record series PIN 26 and PIN 82 cover pensions for the other services, merchant navy and nurses, as well as the army. Pensions were granted for service in World War I, and widows were able to claim even if their husbands had died many years after 1918.

    The Office of the Paymaster General was responsible for all service pay and pensions, until the establishment of the Ministry of Pensions in 1916, when responsibility was divided. For more information, see the The National Archives Current Guide, Part 1, 417/1/2. The Paymaster General's records (PMG) normally relate to officers only.

    The Ministry of Pensions administered various war pension and allowance schemes in the United Kingdom and Overseas. Useful administrative records in this series include PIN 15/277 , PIN 15/278 , PIN 15/279 , service and disability pension for those with over 14 years of service, 1917-1927; and PIN 15/570-589 , entitlement to pension, 1916-1930.

    2. Pensions to Dependants of Deceased Officers

    Deceased officers: pensions paid to relatives dates 1916 Apr -1920 Mar PMG 44/1-7 Name and address of the claimant, rank and name of officer, date of birth and date of payment. Some volumes indexed

    Missing officers: pensions to relatives dates 1915 Mar- 1920 Mar PMG 47/1-3 Name and address of relative receiving pension, relationship to missing officer and name and rank of officer, dates of payment.

    Officers' children: allowances dates1916-1920 PMG 46/1-4 Child/children's name; name, rank and regiment of father; record of payments and who collected the money.

    Officers' widows' pensions dates1917 Sept- 1919 July PMG 45/1-6 Name and address of widow, officer's name, rank and date of birth, date of payments.

    Officers' widows and dependants: special grants and supplementary allowances dates 1916-1920 PMG 43/2 Name and address of claimant, rank and name of officer, date of birth, and payment: indexed.

    All services, all ranks dates 1920-1989 PIN 26.

    3. Pensions to Disabled or Invalid Officers and Men

    Officers: half pay up to 1921 PMG 4.

    Disabled officers and men PMG 9 , PMG 42 Registers of payments of pension.

    Invalid officers: temporary retired pay and gratuities 1917 Apr -1919 Feb PMG 42/1 , PMG 42/2 Rank, name, address, date of warrant, amount paid.

    All services, all ranks 1920-1989 PIN 26.

    4. Chelsea Pensioners

    For files on some Chelsea In-Pensioners, now deceased, see WO 324 .

    5. Pension Case Files: PIN 26

    This series contains 22,756 personal files on people awarded (or refused) pensions, from all services. Although large, this represents only 2% of the pensions awarded.

    The list is arranged by type of pensioner, and then by name, so that it may be worth checking on the off-chance.

    Because no service details are given in the list it can be difficult to tell if you have the right person. The only way to identify a person exactly is to check the document.

    Searches can also be done by medical complaint. Unfortunately, it is not at all clear what all the various categories mean, so you may have to check in more than one sequence. The whole series is open, even if documents in it are not yet 30 years old.

    Earlier documents than 1920 exist in the files. The files can contain fascinating material, some medical, some social, and can cover many years, with claims being raised a good four decades or more after the end of the war.

    PIN 26 Type of pensioner

    1-203 All services, all ranks. Not in alphabetical order.

    204-16374 [Army: other ranks], disability.

    16375-16683 [Army: other ranks], disability (with some out of alphabetical order at the end).

    16684-17178 Navy, disability.

    17179-19523 Widows (by name of husband) (See also PIN 82 ).

    19524-19720 Alternative widows pensions (by name of husband).See also PIN 82.

    19721-19820 Mercantile Marine, death and disability.

    19821-19853 Dependants (by own name).

    19854-19923 Men (DM series).

    19924-19954 Officers (DO series).

    19955-19984 Alternative disabled pensions.

    19985-20286, 22744 Nurses, disability.

    20287-21065 Overseas, death and disability.

    21066-22756 Officers, death and disability.

    6. Widows' and Dependants' Pension Case Files: PIN 82

    There is an 8% sample of widows' and dependants' pensions, for all services, in PIN 82 . It is arranged in alphabetical order of servicemen's name, with his regiment or ship, and cause of death.

    7. Bibliography
    William Spencer, Family History in the Wars (Kew, 2007) - Available to buy at the NA

Share This Page