Switch to full style

Moderator Control Panel

Having trouble tracking down a wartime ancestor? Share your queries – and help fellow researchers – here
Post a reply

Brothers Died in the Same Battle - Peninsular War

Tue Nov 15, 2016 1:27 am


I'm attempting to identify 2 brothers who died in the same battle during the Peninsular War and I have very little to go on. This snippet of info has come from a newspaper article about another family death.

So, I'm trying to put a plan together knowing that details from this era (1807-1814) for other ranks is pretty scant. I'm seeking members' help with ideas as to how to proceed. I have looked at the guides from TNA, they suggest looking at records of payments made to next of kin for dead soldiers. However I don not know their wives names' (or even if they were married) and these records aren't digitised and I can't get to Kew.

The family was not wealthy and so I am assuming the brothers were simple soldiers rather than officers.

2x brothers died
Surname was BALDWIN
Forenames unknown (another brother at home, not a soldier, was John)
Father was believed to be John
Family originates from Yorkshire (sometimes Bradford, sometimes York itself)
Death was 1807-1814 (Peninsular War dates)
Regiment unknown (presumed brothers were in same regiment, but maybe not, just the same battle is mentioned)

I know I'm asking at lot from not a lot of info.. any pointers, ideas or thoughts would be very much appreciated.

Thank you

Re: Brothers Died in the Same Battle - Peninsular War

Wed Nov 16, 2016 8:52 am

Does the article mention which battle it was? Or which year? Those details might help to pinpoint which regiments were involved and where they were.

Re: Brothers Died in the Same Battle - Peninsular War

Wed Nov 16, 2016 1:10 pm

Frankly, the chances of solving this without going to Kew are somewhat close to zero. Not quite zero because a lucky strike on a newspaper article might give you what you need - but you may have already had your lucky strike finding out about them!

Data about soldiers of this period is not sparse - every soldier of this period (errors and omissions excepted) will be recorded in the Muster Book & Pay List of his regiment / unit. The problem is recognising that the John Smith in a particular regiment is your John Smith, because the MBs have very little genealogical data other than the name.

Ancestry did scan the Muster Books for the era around Waterloo and load them up in UK, British Army Muster Books and Pay Lists, 1812-1817. Warning - when I researched them, it looked like the initial and final Books for a unit were indexed but not the middle books. The next point is that the dates fall short of the complete period that you need. But without some info from elsewhere, you could be looking at them and not realise it. (NB - this doesn't cover the whole Army, either - I think it's infantry and cavalry but maybe not artillery???)

Slightly more useful are Ancestry's Canada, British Regimental Registers of Service, 1756-1900. These are misleadingly named. They contain various WO25 registers such as description books and might contain genealogical data such as place of joining, birthplace, etc. They are books for the British Army and the scope is wider than Canada because a unit is in that collection if it served in Canada at any(?) point in its history. Thus you can see some registers for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Battalions of the First Regiment of Foot (later the Royal Scots) even though only 1 (or 2?) of those battalions served in Canada in the War of 1812. And I saw one of my relatives in there even though he deserted after a couple of weeks and never went out of England, never mind across the Atlantic.

FindMyPast have an interesting collection: British Army Schoolchildren and Schoolmasters 1803-1932 - this includes the admission rolls for (usually) orphaned children of Army soldiers. While it was my way in, it doesn't look like it has any Baldwins in your era.

That is it as far as my memory of on-line stuff goes. Even if you get down to Kew, your way in would need a lot of work. Essentially, I think you'd be looking for the different casualty registers - casualty here means someone struck off the strength of a unit, rather than simply wounded. Working your way through all the Peninsular units could be soul-destroying but I think that there are cross-Army indexes compiled by the Army themselves. On the other hand, I got confused looking at the unit-level books - it wasn't easy to work out which unit was being referred to, nor which detail book I was supposed to look in. Fortunately, the Muster Books had made it pretty clear where my chap had died, so I went straight there rather use the Casualty indexes. Though even there, there was a problem in that he wasn't in the casualty book for his unit, but in that for the depot / hospital where he died.

OK - that's my best brain dump. Personally, I think that you would be better served by trying to locate the family in parish registers, etc., and take it from there. Good luck.

Re: Brothers Died in the Same Battle - Peninsular War

Thu Nov 17, 2016 12:22 am

brunes08 - unfortunately there is no mention of year, battle or regiment in the article. Thanks for your interest and note though.

AdrianB38 - Thank you so much for taking the time to respond in such a thorough manner. I will certainly work through the methods and records you describe to at least try and get my head into the right space for this project. You are right in thinking that more info from parish registers would be of great assistance, unfortunately this is tricky with many John, son of John, son of John scenarios!

If I can at least get a plan together and tackle what I can from afar, when I next return to the UK a trip to Kew may be of benefit if I have a structured plan to follow.

Thank you very much to both of you for taking the time to reply.

Best regards

Re: Brothers Died in the Same Battle - Peninsular War

Thu Nov 17, 2016 12:57 am

If you really want to get into this, try some of the books on Army records - William Spencer's book, "Army Records", is one of my favourites.

Sent from my MotoG3 using WDYTYA Forum mobile app
Post a reply