The earliest Tattersfield known to have seen military service was Richard. His Discharge documents, held at the Public Records Office, covering his army career, give all the information presently known about him. He was born in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, but no record has been found of his birth, baptism, early life marriage or death.
Richard was a big man for those days, 5′ 10″ tall, with hazel eyes and a fresh complexion.
On Christmas Day, 1783, he enlisted with the 2nd Foot Regiment. He was already 36 years old, and a tailor by trade. He served in that Regiment, as a private soldier, for the next 13 years, after which he transferred to the 10th Foot Regiment in 1796. He continued to serve, as a private, for 11 years, which included 3 years in the West Indies. The latter period seems to have counted as 4 1/2 years in the assessment of his Total Service. Within that period, he re-enlisted on 8 Aug 1805.
On Christmas Day 1807, twenty four years to the day since he joined the Regiment, he transferred to the 8th Royal Veteran Battalion. This may have been a holding unit for time-expired soldiers. The Colonel, presumably honorary, was General John W.T. Watson. Richard served, still a private, for 3 years 122 days in Captain James Harvey’s Company.
Royal Hospital Chelsea keep many registers of pensioned soldiers. Richard appears in a “Pensioner Register of Soldiers Who Served in Canada.” Perhaps the period of service in “West Indies”, mentioned above, included some service in Canada also.
Finally, on 23 April 1811, at Fort Cumberland, which guarded the naval base at Portsmouth, he was discharged from the army at the tender age of 63. He had served in the army for 27 years and four months.
From 12 May, 1811, he was entered on “The Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioners Register of Soldiers Who Served in Canada, 1743-1882.” He was described as a tailor, aged 63, and receiving a pension of 1 sh 3 1/2 pence per day. He was 5 ‘ 9 3/4″ tall, and his colourings were grey, grey, dark. It is not clear whether the reference to service in Canada meant that RICHARD went there, or whether it covered his service in the West Indies.
To prevent any improper use of his Discharge document, if it fell into the wrong hands, his age, height, colour of eyes, complexion and trade were recorded on it, plus the fact that his hair was grey! It is recorded that he had been “Well conducted in this Battalion”. Evidently Richard could not write, as he signed with a X to acknowledge he had received “all my Clothing, Pay, Arrears of Pay, and all just Demands whatsoever……and 6 Days Pay and Marching Money from the Date hereof. Received no Clothing for the present year Shoes excepted”. His rate of pay seems to have been one shilling three and a half pence per day, or about 6 1/2p per day in modern money!
Presumably the 6 days marching money was to pay for the time it would take him to walk to Huddersfield from Fort Cumberland on the south coast. Would the army shoes issued to him have lasted the journey?
Why was Richard, now aged 63, discharged? The Surgeon to the 8th Royal Veteran Battalion, M. Balfour, signed the Discharge form to confirm that Richard Tattersfield “…is considered unfit for further Service….in consequence of being worn out”.
You had to be tough in those days!
“The Chelsea Pensioners’ Discharge Documents 1760-1887” seem to show that Richard attested with the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment-2nd Foot, on 24 April 1811, the day after he was discharged from the 8th Veterans. Was this a technical move to manage the payment of his pension?
Header Image: Detail taken from Pownall's enormous (46" by 40") wall map of North America and the West Indies. Published from the late 1780s, with the edition shown in the image being that of 1794, the map details the exact condition of knowledge of the region when Richard Tattersfield was in service there. Public Domain.