Chelsea Pensioners

The main series of Service Documents for the pensioners of the Royal Hospirtal Chelsea are in the TNA, under reference WO97.

WO97 contains the main series of service documents of soldiers (but not officers) who either became in- or out-pensioners of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. The attestation and discharge documents in this series constitute the most detailed record of a soldier's service. The early part of the series also occasionally contains records of men who bought themselves out of their regiment or who applied unsuccessfully for a pension.

The records usually give particulars of age, birthplace, service (including any decorations), information about physical description, previous occupation on enlistment and the reason given for discharge to pension. Documents after 1883 usually contain fuller particulars, such as next of kin and details of marriage and children.

The series generally does not contain the records of soldiers who died in service or who took an early discharge and never received a pension. These service records would not have survived because they were not required for pension purposes.

The types of document that have most commonly survived are :

  • discharge forms, which were issued when a soldier left the regiment;
  • attestation forms, which are the documents signed by the new recruit;
  • the proceedings of a regimental board and record of service, which was a later variety of discharge form;
  • a variety of supporting correspondence;
  • questionnaires of past service, which an applicant for an in-pension completed if others documents had not survived;
  • affidavits, which out-pensioners outside London made every quarter to state that they were not drawing on other public funds.

The TNA Catalogue contains the following Chelsea pensioners who gave their place of birth as Bubwith: 

TNA Reference Name Where Born Served In Aged Period
WO 97/7/108 John Newsome Bubwith Royal Horse Guards 41 1806-1828
WO 97/217/152 John Willson Bubwith 1st Foot Guards 28 1830-1837
WO 97/715/26 Robert Cook Bubwith 59th Foot Regiment 21 1849-1853
WO 97/2/147 William Buttle Spaldington 2nd Life Guards 50 1817-1849
WO 97/200/36 Joseph Pickering Spaldington 1st Foot Guards 25 1829-1836
WO 97/512/31 William Head Spaldington 33rd Foot Regiment 20 1811-1814


Digital images of selected files from this series are available through DocumentsOnline.