Friday, 20 September 2013

In search of William Richardson

Yesterday my wife and I took a break from gardening (and the prospect of investigating the contents of the shed!) and took a trip to the National Archives, Kew. We spent several hours pouring through British Army records from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries trying to find information out about William Richardson (one of my wife's forebears) ... and for once we had some success.

William Richardson was born in 1772 in Chatham, Kent, and at the age of twelve he enlisted in the Royal Artillery at Woolwich as a drummer. I actually managed to find the list that was drawn up by the recruiting officer that showed that William signed up on 1st August 1785, and that he then joined Captain Reid's Company. This was a detachment of the 4th Battalion (which was then in the Americas and West Indies) and was used for recruit training and to provide drafts to be sent out to join the 4th Battalion. I further discovered that William was transferred to Captain Keith's Company of the 4th Battalion in June 1786, but remained in Woolwich until the Company returned to England later in the year.

Whilst I was doing this research my wife was looking at the end of William's career. She discovered that he was promoted to become the Sergeant Major of 1st Battalion, Royal Artillery in 1810, and that he remained in that position until he retired in 1824. He was awarded a pension, and the records relating to his pension state that he served in the West Indies for part of his service.

What we now have to do is to fill in the missing years of his service ... but that may have to wait for a few weeks, or possibly even months. Although the National Archives are in Kew in South West London, getting there from where we live (in South East London) takes nearly two hours. We have tried driving and going by public transport, but it makes no difference to how long it takes us to get there. So going to the National Archives is a whole-day event ... and we do not have many completely free days in our diaries until after Christmas.


  1. Do you have an address for where the family was living in the 1780s? If I can trace it I'll see what's there now.

  2. Nigel Drury,

    Thanks for your kind offer.

    At present we have the list of recruits, which shows the recruit's town of birth, but not his attestation papers, which would have shown his address. If we ever find the attestation papers, I will let you know.

    All the best,



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