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Pay Due From War Office 1837

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Pay Due From War Office 1837

Postby K8B » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:33 am

I have a copy of a will for Thomas Latham of Mucclestone, dated 1827 (not 1837 as in title) which says “probate not extracted the will being proved in Drs Commons on Acct of pay being due from the war office”. I would like to know how I can find out more information about his war office pay and what that would have been for.



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Re: Pay Due From War Office 1837

Postby AdrianB38 » Sat Apr 06, 2019 6:47 am

There are several reference guides on the UK's National Archives website concerning research into British Army soldiers and their officers. However, this chap sounds like he died in service and the War Office did not keep detailed papers for soldiers who died in service in that era, only if they survived and were in receipt of a pension.

If he was an officer, then you should be able to trace basic details of his promotions and units in the London Gazette and in Army Lists. The Gazette contents can be challenging to search. The Army Lists can be tricky to locate on Archive.org, easier to locate on the National Library of Scotland website but hard work to read. I'm not sure but you may find that the FIBIS website for families in British India has lots of advice on researching the British Army including links to the online Army Lists.

Then again, who knows, he might even have been a civilian employee of the War Office in which case I've no idea.

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Re: Pay Due From War Office 1837

Postby K8B » Sat Apr 06, 2019 8:38 pm

Thank you for replying Adrian. I will look at some of the sources you have suggested.


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Re: Pay Due From War Office 1837

Postby ianbee » Sat Apr 06, 2019 9:11 pm

Death notice gives a bit more info (see attachment)

Will can be seen on findmypast (Staffordshire, Dioceses Of Lichfield And Coventry Wills And Probate)
PCC on ancestry, and bits of that on TNA's image viewer
Will of Thomas Latham, Gentleman of Pipe Gate Gravenhunger, Shropshire
https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov. ... /r/D192197
Attachments
Chester Chronicle 18 May 1827.JPG
Chester Chronicle 18 May 1827.JPG (22 KiB) Viewed 1175 times
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Re: Pay Due From War Office 1837

Postby K8B » Sat Apr 06, 2019 10:19 pm

Thank you so much. I have his will but hadn’t seen the death notice.


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Re: Pay Due From War Office 1837

Postby AdrianB38 » Sun Apr 07, 2019 11:43 am

Well, the Death Notice is interesting, because it gives us something to hang our investigations on - so thanks to Ian. However, I'm not getting very far...

Some background first - he's described as "Adjutant of the West Shropshire Local Militia"
I only had a hazy idea of what an adjutant did - but https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adjutant#UK_and_other_Commonwealth_countries suggests that he was a considerably important person, with officer rank: "As the colonel's personal staff officer, he was once in charge of all the organisation, administration and discipline for a battalion or regiment". Organisation and admin might sound boring but without that, the unit stops pretty quickly.

"Local Militia": - The Local Militia and the Militia were 2 different things. The Militia was a group of part-time soldiers meant to supplement the Regular Army in times of crisis - i.e. if "we" thought the French were going to invade ;) . Militia soldiers were civilians in day-to-day life unless called-out when they were put into uniform and went off to do garrison duty etc. This happened extensively during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The Local Militia was a separate group - part-timers like the Militia but raised during the Napoleonic Wars because of fears that the Militia wasn't big enough. Now I believed that the Local Militia was disbanded after the Napoleonic Wars so quite why he's described thus is not clear. Maybe he was once the Adjutant of the WSLM and it's just mentioned for historical reasons?

"during the period of 15 years, he was in 12 engagements..." - I'm not sure whether that 15y is meant to refer to his time as an adjutant in the WSLM or his time in the Regular Army in (at least?) the 2nd Battalion of the 23rd (I think) Foot (later the Royal Welch Fusiliers). Given the length of time that the Local Militia was in existence, it makes more sense if it refers to his time in the Regular Army.

I'm inclined to think that he was an officer in the WSLM, because of the Adjutant role. I am not sure this means that he would be an officer in the Regular Army (i.e. the 23rd Foot).

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=_uYNAAAAQAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s is an 1820 List of Militia officers. That contains no reference to the West Shropshire Local Militia, only the ordinary Militia, backing up my belief that it had been disbanded beforehand. Nor can I find a Thomas Latham who might be your chap.

There is an 1821 List of the Regular Army on https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=dgUcAQAAIAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s The index contains no Thomas Latham. I looked at this because I wondered if he were still a Regular Army officer on half-pay - no current assignment so sitting at home on half-pay. p.537 lists the half-pay officers of the 23rd - again, nothing.

https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/010308144 is a front to various Army Lists - the 1813 Army List (of Army Officers) shows no Thomas Latham in the Index towards the back. And 1811 also doesn't have him.

So quite where he is, I have no idea. It might be that he never was an officer in the Regular Army, in which case he won't appear in Army Lists - I don't even know he was an officer in the Local Militia and in any case I can't find a Local Militia officer list.

And getting back to the original question - I'm not sure why the War Office owed him money, either, as I thought that the Local Militia were a county responsibility. That's another reason why I was looking at Half-pay officers - if he was a former Regular Army officer with no assignment, he'd be on half-pay or he'd have retired - note that former officers did not have pensions. But nothing is suggesting why the War Office would be paying him! Hmmm
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Re: Pay Due From War Office 1837

Postby KathrynB » Mon Apr 22, 2019 9:39 pm

Adrian, thank you very much for posting such a detailed reply. I recently found a letter in the Shropshire Archives catalogue referring to Thomas. It is from Sir Corbet Corbet to Lord Berwick of the Shropshire Militia, dated 1803. In it, Corbet recommends Thomas to Lord Berwick as a possible subaltern for his regiment. He states that Thomas, "when of age is entitled to a very pretty fortune but who from some disgust which he took with his relations ... ran off and enlisted himself in the regulars". Apparently his relations intended to purchase his discharge but asked Corbet to apply to Lord Berwick on their behalf for an ensigncy in Berwick's regiment.
Lord Berwick replies and declines to appoint Thomas.
Thomas then, must have been in the regular army until at least 1803, possibly longer. He was born in about 1778 and I don't know at what age he would have been able to join the army - maybe 18? Do you know what the usual minimum length of service would have been?
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Re: Pay Due From War Office 1837

Postby AdrianB38 » Mon Apr 22, 2019 10:29 pm

How interesting, Kathryn. Don't you just love names like "Sir Corbet Corbet"?!

OK - that text suggests to me (but doesn't prove) that he wasn't an officer in the regulars, but an "enlisted man". An ensign is the lowest rank of commissioned officer, equivalent to 2nd Lieutenant today. If someone were already a commissioned officer in the regulars, it doesn't seem quite likely that someone else would be trying to get them a position as a commissioned officer in the militia. It's a step down - albeit a safer one. So that's why my gut reaction is that he was just an ordinary soldier in the regulars.

Not at all sure about the minimum age at that time - if I recall correctly it was 17 at the time of WW1 although one couldn't be sent abroad until 18.

As for how long - well, theoretically you were in it for life. Not remotely true of course, because long service pensions could be paid to enlisted men after 21y - or earlier if you were discharged under ill health grounds. But officers didn't get pensions so they had to wait until some point at which they could sell their commission. Of course, after the Napoleonic Wars, lots of soldiers below the rank of officer were discharged as the Army shrank. Not sure if there was any gratuity involved... Army officers had to stagger by on half-pay, which might work if you had another source of income, until they were in a position to sell their commission.

So tentatively, I'd wonder if he were an enlisted man in the regulars (23rd Foot), then went to be an officer in the West Shropshire Local Militia before it was disbanded. But none of that seems to help me understand why he might be owed money by the War Office.

It might make sense for you to join the Napoleonic Wars Forum to see if they can suggest his career path. The Shropshire Archives letter, the Death Notice and the will comment should definitely be mentioned. They should be able to have a much better chance at describing a possible career path than me...

Good luck
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Re: Pay Due From War Office 1837

Postby KathrynB » Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:02 pm

Thank you so much Adrian, for your very useful comments. You've been very helpful. I will try the other forum you've suggested in case anyone can add anything further. Thank you again for all your help, it's much appreciated.
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