The complete archive of Chelsea Pensioner Records is now available on Find My Past.
If you think that your army ancestor was not one of those red-coated Chelsea Pensioners, then think again. Do not be misled by the title. This archive is a comprehensive record of over 1.5 million soldiers who served in the British Army between 1760 and 1913. It is called the Chelsea Pensioner Records as it was administered by The Royal Hospital at Chelsea and the vast majority of pensioners were out-pensioners and never resided at the hospital.
The records come from the WO97 records held in the National Archives. The records not only provide details of name, regiment, rank, and reason for their discharge, they also provide a great deal of background information such as their disciplinary record and physical description.
The records provide information on soldiers who fought in many of the 18th and 19th century conflicts: the Napoleonic Wars, Crimean War, and the Boer Wars, as well as many of the colonial conflicts.
The National Archives have produced a podcast on the subject: Royal Hospital Chelsea: Soldiers’ service documents
Image: Chelsea Hospital, Chelsea London. Photo by greenacre8 on Flickr. CC-BY