Many of us will find that we have a male ancestor who has served in the British Army at some point during their lives. A smaller percentage of our women forebears will also have served the country but before 1949 women are found primarily as nurses, or in the auxiliary corps, and not in the Army as they could be today.
I recently set out to look for one of my ancestors and where I began searching for him depended on whether he had been an officer or a regular soldier as the records of ‘Officers’ are generally quite separate from the sources for those soldiers of the ‘Other Ranks’.
A second consideration, to take into account, was his dates of service.
In a lesson that I am including in my Family History Researcher course I will be covering some of the key resources that a person may want to use in their research. Some of these records are available online, while for others you will have to visit the National Archives (TNA) in person at their address in Kew.
TNA have an ongoing project to make scanned copies of their documents available via their online catalogue and so it’s well worth checking whether the information that you are looking for has been digitised before making a special visit.
I read some time back that it is recommended by various military historians that once an individual’s regiment or corps has been identified a researcher’s initial approach should then be to the appropriate regimental or corps museum.
I found my ancestor served in the 17th foot Leicestershire Regiment joining in 1864 as an Ensign, or junior officer and so I paid a visit to Leicester.
You can find details of these regimental and corps museums on the Army Museums Ogilby Trust’s website at:
On another visit to The National Archives I took the opportunity to take a look at their copies of Hartâ€™s Army Lists, while there, and in the 1866 edition on the pages to the 17th Foot, The Leicestershire Regiment I found the entry for my great-great grandfather Ensign Edward A Massy Hay,Â 31 May 64.
For those who want to search the Army lists online then TheGenealogist has made this possible at their website having added a useful range from 1661 to 1940.
I have decided to reopen the membership to a second tranche of students now. So if you want to join my Family History Researcher course – aimed at beginners to intermediate researchers of English and Welsh family history – then click the image below.