Muster Books and Pay Lists (WO 12/6316-6317): 53rd (Shropshire) Regiment of Foot: 1759-1766; 1776-1798

Call Number: HIL-MICL FC LMR .G7W3M8S3
Category: Military
Creator: Great Britain. War Office.
Description: 2 microfilm textual records () ; 35 mm
            War Office 12, generated by the Commissary General of Musters Office, comprises the Household troops, the cavalry, Guards and regular infantry regiments of the line; as well as, special regiments or corps, colonial troops and various foreign legions and troops.

The muster rolls record the name, rank, military station and pay period of each soldier while they were with the regiment. They were prepared by the commanding officer of each company of a regiment for the purpose of paying the officers and soldiers. During a muster, each man was physically checked against his name on the roll and a note was made if their circumstances had changed since the last muster, for example, on duty, recruiting, sick, furlough, deserted, transferred or died. In addition, notes related to officers include promoted, absent, and resigned. Pay lists record rate of pay.

Formed in 1755 as the 55th Regiment of Foot, this regiment was renumbered in 1757 to the 53rd. It took on a county title in 1782 as the 53rd or Shropshire Regiment of Foot. For the period of these musters, the Colonels and their commission dates were as follows: Major General John Toovey, formerly of the Royal Dragoons, 1759; Lieutenant General R D Horn Elphinstone, formerly of the 120th, 1770; General Gerard Lake, 1st Viscount Lake, 1794; and Major General Welbore Ellis Doyle, formerly of the 105th, 1796. The Lieutenant Colonels, in order, for the years 1760-67 include William Arnott, Steven Hugh Williams, William Hull, and John Lindesay; for the years 1777-98, Henry Watson Powell, Richard Symes, and John Abercrombie.

It was sent out to Gibraltar soon after it was formed and remained in that fortress, with occasional service at sea as marines, until the end of the Seven Years' War in 1763. After garrison duty in Ireland from 1768-1776, the regiment sailed for Canada to serve in operations for the relief of Quebec from the Americans. Under Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester, they participated at the Battle of Trois Rivieres and the Battle of Valcour Island. Under Major General Burgoyne's command, its flank companies (Grenadier and Light Infantry), contributed to the Northern Campaign of 1777 to separate the New England states from those of the south by moving south from Quebec to gain control of the Hudson Valley. It surrendered with the rest of the force at the Battle of Saratoga on 17 October 1777. The other eight companies served under Major Christopher Carleton of the 29th Foot in a raid conducted in the fall of 1778 against targets in upstate New York and the Vermont Republic, called Carleton's Raid; as well as in multiple raids during 1780 called the Burning of the Valleys. Lieutenant Houghton led the 53rd in one of these raids towards the Connecticut River in the Royalton Raid. After the American Revolution, the regiment remained in Canada until 1789 when it performed service at home.

The 53rd participated in the Flanders campaign with the Duke of York and fought at Famars and the siege of Valenciennes during the French Wars of 1793. It took part in the Bremen retreat and, on arrival in England in 1795, had the newly-raised 109th Regiment drafted into its ranks. In May 1795 the 53rd left Southhampton in November to conquer the French West Indies. It took part in the capture of St. Lucia, served on St. Vincent and the capture of Trinidad. It returned home from St. Lucia and Martinique at the Peace of Amiens, 1802.

            The muster lists of men in the 53rd Regiment of Foot are arranged in chronological order, and include Proof Tables at the end of each indicating the total number of effectives for each muster.  There is a separate muster for each company commander until the muster covering the date 15 Dec 1783-24 June 1784; thereafter, they are amalgamated into one full muster for each pay period.  Reel 1 covers the pay period from 25 Dec. 1759 to 24 Dec. 1766 signed at Gibralter.  Reel 2 covers the pay period from 5 April 1776 to 1789 signed at various places in Quebec, 1790 - 1794 signed at Scotland, and 1794-1797? signed at the Island of St. Vincent. Subjects pertain to British military affairs and personnel during the wars between France and England, known as Anglo-French Wars - 1755-1763  (also known as the Seven Years' War) in Europe, 1792-1802 in the French West Indies, and 1775-1783 (the American Revolution) in North America, specifically in this instance, in present-day Quebec, Canada and the State of New York, United States.

During the American Revolutionary period, the amount of companies listed varied between 9 and 10.  As an example, here are the company commanders for the musters signed at various locations in Quebec  - Belloeil, Chambly, and La Prairie, for the pay period 5 April 1776-24 Dec. 1776:  Major General Robert Horn Elphinstone, Lt. Col. Henry Watson Powell, Major Earl Balearre, Captains Hutchinson Dunlop, William Hughes, Robert Longfield, Alexander Scott, John Wight, and James Wiseman.  Captains George Mure and Fane Edge appear on the proceeding muster.
Originals: The original records are held by the Public Record Office, Kew.
Archival Ref. No.: TNA: PRO WO 12/6316-6317
Finding Aids:
Electronic Finding Aid Record: Muster Books and Pay Lists 53rd Regiment of Foot.pdf

The diary of Lieutentant William Digby of the 53rd Regiment from 1776-1777 may be found on under the published title The British invasion from the north: the campaigns of Generals Carleton and Burgoyne, from Canada, 1776-1777, with the journal of Lieut. William Digby, of the 53d , or Shropshire regiment of foot.

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