Lomax's History of the Services of the 41st (the Welch) Regiment
Now the 1st Battalion the Welch Regiment
Containing some information relating to the 41st Regiment (or invalids).
Chapter 1. 1719-1787.
His Majesty the King, by letters patent under the Great Seal dated 22nd December, 1681, announced his intention to erect a hospital for the relief of such land soldiers as were or might be lame or infirm in the service of the Crown, and endow it with a suitable revenue.
This scheme resulted in the building of Chelsea Hospital, to which Institution the 41st Regiment of Foot is indebted for its creation. The old soldiers borne on the books of the hospital were divided into two classes, the in‑pensioners and the out‑pensioners. In the year 1718 the number of the latter was four thousand nine hundred and twenty-six; in 1719 it was reduced to two thousand eight hundred and ninety‑four. This reduction was caused by the raising of Colonel Edmund Fielding's regiment of Invalids¹ (the 41st) and of twenty-five independent companies of invalids.²
¹ As the independent companies of invalids may possibly lead to some confusion, it has been thought advisable to distinguish the 41st, or Regiment of Invalids, by a capital I.
² Papers illustrative of the origin and early history of the Royal Hospital at Chelsea, London, 1872.
The Invalids consisted of soldiers partly disabled by their wounds, and veterans who ‑ from old age and length of service ‑ were rendered incapable of the duties of an active campaign, but were still judged fit for garrison duty.¹ The duties of invalids, as a body, were primarily to garrison certain important towns; but individual invalids were not exempt from more active, and frequently more unpleasant, service. Should a regiment embarking for abroad find itself very much reduced in numbers, either owing to desertion or sickness, it was by no means uncommon to take the pick of the nearest invalid unit, and thus bring the regiment up to its proper strength. Occasionally whole drafts were made up from Colonel Fielding's regiment or the in-dependent companies, and embarked as portions of companies or regiments destined to serve on a foreign station.
Possibly the most extraordinary use ever made of invalids was their inclusion in the force which sailed under Anson in 1740. No fewer than two hundred and fifty‑nine embarked under this great sailor, and not one ever saw his native land again.² But ordinarily the life of the invalids was one of ease and comfort. This applies more especially to the 41st Regiment, which seems to have been quartered in or near Portsmouth during the whole of its early existence. Their work as garrison soldiers needs but little explanation. Guarding prisoners of war or drafts about to embark for foreign service, sharing the garrison duty, receiving and guarding treasure, occasionally sending detachments to restore order in disturbed towns ≠ these were their chief responsibilities. Their existence seems to have been a very quiet one, but probably well suited to the deserving class of soldiers of which the regiment was composed. A great many of the men were married, and the officers were generally so aged as to be unfit for the most trivial exertion.
The military character of the regiment of Invalids was therefore uninteresting, and their history, in consequence, is somewhat dull and monotonous.
¹ Grose's Military Antiquities.
² The invalids who sailed with Anson were in no way connected with the 41st Regiment commanded by Colonel Fielding.
The following letter is the first evidence of the raising of Colonel Edmund Fielding's regiment of Invalids (the 41st).
"Whitehall, 13th March, 1719
His Majesty having been pleased to form a regiment of Invalids of ye out pensioners of Chelsea Hospital under the command of Colonel Edmund Fielding, to consist of ten companys; of two åsergeants, two corporalls, the drummer, and fifty effective private men in each, besides commission officers; as also ten Independent companys, each consisting of ye above‑mentioned numbers; I am commanded to acquaint your Lordship it is H.M.'s pleasure that you do cause the summ of five thousand pounds to be issued upon acct. to the said regiment and Independent companys.
I am, my Lord,
Your Lordship's most obedient and humble servant,
The money to be issued into the hands of Mr. Eyre. The Rt. Honble. Earl Lincoln."
Letters to the Ordnance followed, asking that the regiment and companies should be supplied with arms. Subsistence was allowed from 11th March, which is the date of the creation of the regiment.
A letter from Mr. Secretary Treby to the governor of Chelsea Hospital, dated Whitehall, 17th March, 1719, says that " as His Majesty has thought it necessary to raise the regiment of Invalids.¹ to do duty at Portsmouth . . . . I send you this, by His Majesty's command, to acquaint you that from the out‑pensioners of Chelsea Hospital you are forthwith to select such a number of the best and ablest men to do duty as will compleat the regiment; and, as His Majesty desires they should be formed with all possible expedition, I am to desire you will please to give the necessary orders for making the draughts accordingly.²
The formation of the regiment appears to have progressed very...
¹ War Office Cornmon Letter Book
...rapidly, for on 21st March the governor of Portsmouth was warned that three companies were on their way to that garrison. On arrival they relieved the foot guards. It is almost certain that they received no clothing, as a letter, dated 2nd May, from Mr. Secretary Treby to the Earl of Lincoln, mentions that "His Majesty has the subject of the clothing of the regiment of Invalids under consideration." This defect was remedied soon afterwards, and on 23rd June the regiment had progressed sufficiently to send two companies to Plymouth, the remaining eight being quartered at Portsmouth. On 16th August, Colonel Fielding received orders to "permit such a number of men to be draughted from the regiment of Invalids as shall be wanting to compleat the four regiments, coming from Ireland."²
In consequence, each of these regiments received about thirty men from Colonel Fielding's Invalids. The loss in numbers was soon made up, as on 13th August there were two hundred and six out-pensioners waiting at Chelsea for an officer to march them down to join the regiment of Invalids at Portsmouth. The strength of the regiment was also increased by the transfer of the sick men of the four regiments already referred to. This was only a temporary measure, and their incorporation into the regiment of Invalids was only until the return of their proper corps.
On 13th September, an order was issued to the officer commanding the independent companies of invalids at Carlisle, Hull, Tinmouth, Jersey, and Guernsey, to send five private men to Colonel Fielding's regiment, and shortly afterwards Colonel Fielding received intimation that the independent company of foot going abroad under the command of General Nicholson would be formed out of the garrisons of Portsmouth and Plymouth. Lieutenant Lambert, Ensign Merryman, two sergeants, two corporals, one drummer, and fifty private men of the regiment of Invalids consequently embarked on board a ship...
¹ Barrel's, Hawley's, Grove's, and Howard's regiments
² War Office Common Letter Book
...destined to carry General Nicholson's company to Carolina, for the defence of that colony.
About this time orders were received that each company of Colonel Fielding's regiment should consist of forty‑five men.
In the summer of 1721 the regiment was reviewed at Portsmouth by Lieutenant‑General Macartney.
The regiment was reviewed during the summer by Lieutenant-General Wills.
The regiment was again reviewed by Lieutenant‑General Wills, when it was thirty‑one men under establishment.
On 14th December, the governor of Portsmouth received a letter from Mr. Secretary Pelham, of which the following is an extract: - His Majesty having thought it necessary for the good of his service to order a draught to be made out of the eight companys of Colonel Fieldingπs regiment of Invalids, of as many of the ablest men as shall be thought sufficient to compleat the four regiments of Foot at Gibraltar and the three regiments now going thither, and to direct Colonel Clayton who is to embark at Portsmouth for his government of Gibraltar, to see this service performed. I am thereupon commanded to acquaint you with it, and to signify to you that it is His Majesty's pleasure that, upon the arrival of Colonel Clayton at Portsmouth, you permit the eight companys to be drawn out at such a time and place as he shall appoint for making the aforesaid draught, and give him all the assistance you possibly can on this...
NOTE: Amongst the out‑pensioners of Chelsea Hospital on 7th July, 1720, was one Christian Walsh, a woman who had served many years very faithfully in the late wars in Flanders in the habit of a man, and received several dangerous wounds. - Correspondence at the Record Office.
...occasion that the men so draughted may immediately be put upon the King's ships."¹
In response to the above letter, it appears that seventy‑three men were selected for embarkation, the remainder of the regiment being evidently not fit for the service. Of these seventy‑three men,² forty‑three embarked with Colonel Newton's regiment on board the Royal Oak, and thirty with Colonel Anstruther's regiment on board the Lenox.
The men took their clothing, but not their arms and accoutrements.
An order, very important to the non‑commissioned officers of Invalids, was received in November. On the formation of the regiment it had been decided that all vacancies for sergeants in the regiment should be filled by sergeants of the out‑pensioners of Chelsea Hospital, selected by the colonel. This decision does not seem to have been very strictly observed, and consequently a new order was received that in future all promotions to sergeants should be made by the Board of Chelsea Hospital, and not by the officer commanding the regiment. This order remained in force as long as the regiment preserved its invalid character.
During this year there was a considerable reduction in the strength of the regiment, many of the very old men returning to the out-pension of Chelsea Hospital. The establishment of foot regiments on 25th December was reduced to one colonel, one lieutenant-colonel, one major, one chaplain, one adjutant, one quarter‑master, one surgeon, one mate, ten captains, ten lieutenants, ten ensigns, thirty sergeants, thirty corporals, twenty drummers, and five hundred private men. Whether this establishment referred to the 41st is extremely doubtful.³
¹ War Office Common Letter Book
² These men served in the defence of Gibraltar.
³ Derived from War Office Common Letter Book.
On 13th October, Colonel Fielding received a letter from Mr. Secretary Arnold, saying that " several tumults and disorders having been committed in the island of Jersey, the King hath therefore thought it for the good of his service to order a detachment of three hundred men, including commission and non‑commission officers, to embark thereä an d His Majesty hath also thought fit to direct Colonel William Hargrave to proceed to Portsmouth, and to take upon him the command of the said detachment, and embark with them to Jersey; I am commanded by Sir William Strickland to acquaint you with it."¹
During the absence of these three hundred men at Jersey, the Invalids were at first assisted in their duty by workmen belonging to the Royal Navy at Portsmouth. This plan, however, does not seem to have worked very well, and consequently four companies of Lieutenant‑General Sabine's regiment (Royal Welch Fusiliers) marched from Birmingham² to Portsmouth.
On 3rd November, the detachment of Colonel Fielding's regiment at Jersey, except two companies, was ordered back to Portsmouth, as Jersy was quiet, and the great number of soldiers quartered there caused some expense to the inhabitants.
Both the Portsmouth and Plymouth companies were reviewed by the lieutenant‑governors of their respective towns in the autumn.
During this year the regiment was busily engaged in preventing smuggling, which was very common in and around Portsmouth.
¹ War Office Common Letter Book
² At this time there were only two regiments of foot in South Britain - Lord Mark Kerns at Bristol, and Lieutenant-General Sabine's at Brimingham. Bristol being in a disturbed condition, the relief was effected by the latter.
The following is an estimate, dated 23rd March, 1737, for clothing thirty‑five companies of invalids (ten companies of Major‑General Fielding's regiment and twenty‑five independent companies):
- L s. d.
Each man to have a red coat lined with Blew Baize, the facings of the sleeves to be turned up with Blew cloth, brass buttons ; and a pair of breeches, lined....................1 9 0
For a blew waistcoat, lined, with brass buttons....................0 7 0
One hatt....................0 3 6
A pair of white stockings....................0 1 6
Two shirts at 3 shillings each....................0 6 0
Two neckcloths....................0 2 6
Two night caps at Is. 6d., or instead of them four watch coats to a company....................0 1 6
A sword and belt, 5s. 10d. ; a pair of shoes, 4s.....................0 9 10
£3 0 10
For a company according to the above computation, including two sergeants, two corporals, and a drum ≠ their cloathing to be better than the private men - is at £3 0 10 per man for a company....................£152 1 8
The letter accompanying the above estimate mentions that the sergeants' hats were laced with gold, which was approved by His Majesty on a memorial of Colonel Fielding.¹
In November, a considerable amount of treasure, taken on board the Spanish man‑of‑war San Jose, was handed over to the regiment to guard until the arrival of a detachment of horse grenadier guards from London.
On 8th November, each of the six companies at Portsmouth, and two at Plymouth, furnished a draft of ten men towards the four newly-raised independent companies.² The distribution at this time was: - head‑quarters and six companies, Portsmouth; two companies, Jersey; two companies, Plymouth.
¹ Miscellany Book, Record Office.
ARMY LIST, 1740
Lieutenant‑General Fielding's Regiment Of Foot.
41st Regiment of Foot Military Living History Group
Synopsis of Contents
Headings of Chapters
List of Full Page Illustrations
Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20
Mr. Milne's Chapters on the "Dress and Equipment" and "Colours."
Succession List of Colonels
Biographies of the Colonels
Succession List of Lieutenant-Colonels
Biographies of the Lieutenant-Colonels
Regimental Plate Pictures