A visit to the National ArchivesPosted: February 11, 2014
The purpose of our visit to the National Archives was to continue our search for William Richardson, my wife’s several times grandfather. Richardson joined the Royal Artillery as a drummer in July 1785 and ended up as a sergeant major when he retired in March 1824 after thirty-nine years of service. We have been trying to reconstruct his career using the monthly Royal Artillery Pay Lists and Muster Rolls. My wife started at the end of his career and has been working backwards … and I started with his enlistment and worked forward.
Although most of the records are in very good condition considering how old they are, sometimes we come across some that are in need of conservation … and today was one such occasion. I opened one box that contained six month’s worth of bound Pay Lists and Muster Rolls … and was confronted by a pile of crumbling documents that were tied together with thin, waxed twine. I did not bother to even try to look at them any further and immediately returned the box to a member of staff. I also notified the onsite document conservators using the computerised document damage reporting system.
The state of these documents was in direct contrast to one of the others I consulted today. This was a bound copy of Pay Lists and Muster Rolls for the Royal Irish Artillery. (Yes, such an organisation did exist!) The documents were bound together in a vellum-covered book that had a gold embossed Royal Crest on the cover. It was very impressive and looked almost brand new … and most of the pages were blank!
It was a very pleasant change to be doing some historical research using original documents … and with a bit of luck my wife and I will be doing more in the near future.