Sunday, 31 October 2010

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

One of the reasons why I have not yet been able to play-test my new rules – MEMOIR OF BATTLE – is because my wife and I spent most of yesterday at the National Archives, Kew.

We have been going there for over five years – on and off – to undertake a variety of research, most of it genealogical.

Yesterday's visit was mostly concerned with tracking the military service of three individuals during the later half of the eighteenth century. I was looking for a John Haugh and an Alexander Currie/Curry, both members of the 1st Battalion, 1st Regiment of Foot (Marquis of Lorne's/Duke of Argyle's Regiment), and my wife was tracing Maurice/Morris Bayne, a Drummer in the Royal Artillery.

After an exhaustive search of the Regimental Muster Rolls, I discovered that my two soldiers served with their Regiment in Gibraltar until the end of 1776, when the Regiment returned home to Britain. In September 1777, John Haugh deserted whilst stationed in Chatham, and Alexander Currie/Curry followed his example in November 1780 after being imprisoned for over a year beforehand. Unfortunately the Muster Rolls do not record why he was imprisoned, just that he was.

My wife’s search revealed that Maurice/Morris Bayne served in Woolwich – the home base of the Royal Artillery – until he was sent to Port Royal, Jamaica, where he died of Yellow Fever within three months of his arrival.

Part of my research included reading the Establishment Book for the Gibraltar Garrison 1756-57. This laid down the official strength of the eight Infantry Regiments stationed there. It also gave details of the daily rates of pay for each of the ranks, and although this is of little interest to me, I thought that those of my readers who are interested in the military history of the eighteenth century would find it of use:

At the end of the day I had a couple of minutes to undertake some research of my own … and I used the National Archives online catalogue (PROCAT) to search for ‘war game’. The last time I did this search was some years ago, and other than references to the BBC television programme of that name that cause so much controversy during the 1960s, I found the British Army’s 1956 TACTICAL WAR GAME, which is now available from John Curry as part of his HISTORY OF WARGAMING project. This time there were far more references, and the next time I visit the National Archives I hope to spend some time looking at some of them.


  1. Bob,

    A nice find. I work at a state archives here in the US and occasionally come across interesting bits and pieces, including a copy of the monthly report of the US Regiment of Marines from September 1847, the month in which they helped storm the castle of Chapultapec - hence the opening line in the Marine Corps hymn - "From the halls of Montezuma ... ." I was in awe as I held it even though I'm an Army man and not a Marine.

    Might you provide a list of those eight regiments?


  2. ColCampbell50,

    There is so much in the UK's National, local, and regimental archives that has yet to see the light of day. The Gibraltar Establishment book that I was reading did not appear to have been taken out for many, many years.

    Interestingly, only one of the regiments in Gibraltar was actually named in the Establishment book: The Royal Regiment of Fuziliers (that is the spelling in the book).

    I happen to know – from other sources – that the 1st Foot (The Royal Scots), and the 53rd and 54th Foot were also in Gibraltar at around that time, but have no further details.

    All the best,