The Soldier

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Thomas Waddle, aged 18 from Duddingston in Midlothian, enrolled in the Army on 9th of August 1800. He was recorded in the attestation registers held in the City Archives as having blue eyes and a fair complexion, reaching a height of 6 feet and was a potter by trade. He enlisted to serve in the Clan Alpine Fencibles Regiment.

Army Attestation Register
Thomas Waddle’s entry in the Army Attestation register on 9th August 1800. From collection held at Edinburgh City Archives.

All Army recruits had to take an oath of allegiance in front of a magistrate, and the attestation registers held here in the City Archives provide a list of all recruits taking that oath. Scottish regiments recruited in many areas but the oaths had to be made at the main military centre, as Edinburgh then was. This explains the wide-ranging parishes of origin you find within the registers.  The registers also include foreign nationals who could join the regular army on the condition that they swore the oath, which was a particular trend during the Napoleonic Wars.  Full-time members of volunteer regiments, such as drummer boys, and those who chose to join the militia rather than the regular army were also listed in the registers.

Gordon Fencibles

The Clan Alpine’s carried out their duties in Ireland but were disbanded in July of 1802 when they returned to Scotland. Thomas left the regiment at this point but we can see him re-enrolling again in November 1802 into the 3rd Guards Foot Regiment, otherwise known as the Scots Guards, which saw active service in the Napoleonic Wars. He was at this time residing in the Parish of Inveresk, and still going by the profession of potter.

 

 

Army Attestation register
Thomas Waddle’s entry in November 1802 within the Army Attestation register. From collection held in Edinburgh City Archives.

The trail of records for Thomas ends with his discharge record from the War Office Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service Records held at the National Archives in Kew. Here we can see that Thomas is finally discharged from the Regiment on 6th October 1818, age about 39 years old. After 19 years of military service, he appears to have no use of his right elbow and is in generally bad health.

Thomas Waddle FindMyPast Attestation Image_cropped
Thomas Waddle’s discharge paper, 6th October 1818. From online attestation records on Find my Past website: http://www.findmypast.co.uk

Tracing soldiers can be a time-consuming effort, especially when soldiers move around and re-enrol at different points. As we can see with Thomas, there can be uncertainty about ages and exact dates of birth, with many general soldiers being illiterate. By using evidence within the Army Attestation registers here in the City Archives, as well as the surviving records held at the National Archives, you must follow trails of information to find who you are searching for.

Edinburgh remembers its soldiers through the oaths they swore to serve. We preserve these records to tell us about the past; but we want you to tell us what we should collect about life today for tomorrow: www.edinburgh.gov.uk/archivesurvey