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Friday, 8 October 2010

Peter Pringle - A Scottish Chelsea Pensioner

A change in this post from my Danson and Rawcliffe stories.  Have you seen online the new records for the Chelsea Pensioners Service Records at www.findmypast.co.uk?    They go back to 1754 and make fascinating reading.

My interest  was in Peter Pringle of Duns, Berwickshire  who in the 1851 census was described as a "Blind Chelsea Pensioner", born Duns.  His wife Arabella was born in Ireland and his son John was born in Chatham, Kent.  The helpful background notes on the website outlined that not all pensioners lived at the  Royal Hospital Chelsea, with others, like Peter receiving “out relief.”

I was keen to find out more about Peter's military career.  An online list of soldiers named a Peter Pringle as serving in the Peninsula War and at Waterloo - though there was nothing to confirm if this was “my” Peter Pringle.  Another online listing of army births, held at the National Archives, confirmed the birth at Chatham in 1824 of John, son of Peter Pringle and also the birth in 1826 in Hobart Town (Tasmania?)  of Arabella, daughter of Peter Pringle.  This surely must be the same family, bringing to light an early Australian connection, with Hobart set up as a penal colony in  1803-4.  Had Peter served on a convict ship?  All this information got more and more absorbing, so I have been eagerly awaiting the release of the pensioner records online.

The record on  Peter Pringle related to his discharge in 1829,   "through physical infirmity of chronic rheumatism".  He had served since 1801 in the 20th Dragoons, 14th Foot and 40th Foot.  Unfortunately the section on service was very difficult to decipher, but the place names look to be Spanish, with a reference to  Peter being twice wounded at the capture of Cuidad Rodrigo (?).   I also found out he was 46 years old , 5 foot 6 inches tall, with blue eyes and fair complexion. His conduct as a soldier had been "extremely good".
I was a wee bit disappointed not to find out anything more on the the possible Australian connection, but it was still great to see this record  and add further colour to the Pringle family story.  

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