Wednesday, 3 July 2013

I have been to ... the National Archives, Kew

My wife is a genealogist, and is trying to trace here direct bloodline back as far as she can. This involves considerable research, and despite the impression given by certain TV programmes, it cannot all be done online.

Over the past few years her research has require numerous trips to the National Archives, which is located in Kew, West London. I usually drive her there, and then help her with her research.

Today's 'target' was William Richardson, who joined the Royal Artillery as a twelve-year-old fifer or drummer in July 1785 and who retired in 1824 as a sergeant major. My part of the research involved reading through some of the Royal Artillery pay records and muster rolls for the period between July and December 1785. This is no small task as the records were bound together in ledgers in a rather haphazard way almost two hundred years ago ... and from what I could see, they have not been looked at very often since then. Luckily the records were written on good quality linen paper, and despite some damage over the years (mainly due to the oxidisation of the ink that was used, the depredations of mice whilst the ledgers were stored, and general deterioration due to damp and heat) they are still in very reasonable condition.

My wife was able to find William Richardson's pension record, but I still have one more ledger to read through to see if I can find which company of which battalion he joined on enlistment. This will have to wait until our next visit.


  1. My dad was big into his family history for a while, I must someday take up his search when I have a chance to visit London again, since one side of his family was RIC, and the other served in the British army during the great war. We think....

  2. Arquinsiel,

    The National Archives has been undergoing reorganisation over the past few years, and a lot of their records are being digitised so that they can be accessed online. Certainly the Great War service records have been, as have the individual medal cards ... assuming that the originals still existed at the time of digitisation.

    Good luck with your search.

    All the best,



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