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British Army - Widow Pensions

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British Army - Widow Pensions

Postby tessacate » Mon Apr 01, 2019 5:35 am

Hi there

I hope someone can help answer my question please re British Army widow pensions in the first half of the 1800s.

When former enlisted personnel (ie NOT officers) died, did their Army pension pass on to their widow or did the pension die with the retired solder?

I have tried without success to find this information online.

Many thanks in advance for any advice or suggestions on where to look.

Tessacate
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Re: British Army - Widow Pensions

Postby AdrianB38 » Mon Apr 01, 2019 6:45 am

I don't know the answer, I'm afraid. My impression is that any pension died with the deceased soldier. Certainly there was no such thing as a widow's pension if the soldier died in service until virtually the end of the 1800s. Also some of the registers on FindMyPast show pensions ceasing when soldiers die whereas half of them ought to mention the death of a widow if they did carry on. But maybe I simply haven't seen enough.

I would suggest that the Victorian Wars Forum is probably best placed to answer your question. There's plenty of stuff about pensions in there already so search on widow's pensions first, though I suspect that you may find no information, rather than an explicit statement that they didn't exist.

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Re: British Army - Widow Pensions

Postby AdrianB38 » Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:25 am

Found something in the Victorian Wars Forum -

See URL http://www.victorianwars.com/viewt%20opic.php?f=27&t=11317&p=58489&hilit=widow%27s+pension#p58492 - there's only 3 posts in the thread and the middle points us to the answers (thanks to Maureen E). Have a look at the linked document but Maureen's summary is:

For rank and file soldiers, “on the strength” widow pensions applied from 1901, and "off the strength” widows pensions applied from the beginning of the First World War.


And the explanation of "on the strength" is in that linked document but
Wives of those soldiers who then received permission to marry were considered to be ‘on the strength’ of the regiment. This term was in use from mid-century onwards. It served to emphasise the special position of these wives as part of the ‘regimental family’ and the exclusion of wives not recognised as such. The Army allowed approximately 4–6% of soldiers to marry. This number was considered enough to supply sufficient women to undertake tasks within the regiment, such as washing, sewing and mending.

My emphasis.

The wives of soldiers who married without permission were known as ‘off the strength’. It is not known how many off-the-strength wives there were, because officially they did not exist and were therefore not eligible for any sort of welfare benefits or housing and were not recognised as army widows if their husbands died.

Again, my emphasis. The importance of the distinction between the two is not something I'd really understood before and perhaps goes some way to explaining queries we've seen in this forum of soldiers marrying the same wife for a second time - presumably to get official permission and consequential financial benefits (if they were lucky).
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Re: British Army - Widow Pensions

Postby AdrianB38 » Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:28 am

Thank you Tessacate - good question!
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Re: British Army - Widow Pensions

Postby tessacate » Tue Apr 02, 2019 12:35 am

Hi Adrian

Many thanks for your help and thorough reply. It is very helpful and much appreciated.

Regards
Tessacate
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