Muster Books and Pay Lists (WO 12/11020): Royal Newfoundland Regiment of Foot: 1782, 1795-1809

Call Number: HIL-MICL FC LMR .G7W3M8R74
Category: Military
Creator: Great Britain. War Office.
Description: 1 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.

These 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.

At the time of the American War for Independence, American privateering and the entrance of France into the war on the side of the Americans were major concerns for St. John’s; so much so that Major Robert Pringle, chief engineer, was granted permission to form a provincial unit to be called the Newfoundland Regiment. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and the regiment was placed on the British Establishment as of 25 June 1782. At the end of the war in 1783, the regiment was disbanded.

With England and France at war, in the spring of 1795, Captain Thomas Skinner, chief engineer was promoted and granted permission to form a company to be called the Royal Newfoundland Regiment of Foot, also known as the Royal Newfoundland Regiment of Fencible Infantry. He promoted and appointed officers of his own Corps of Engineers and from the 2nd Battalion Royal Artillery who were also stationed at St. John’s.

There was discontent among the citizenry and the soldiers towards the British establishment at this time. In this atmosphere Brigadier General William Skerrett, who was known for his toughness, was installed as commanding officer of the regiment to keep control of the soldiers and the population in general in St. John’s. The result of his harsh controls was further discontent and the mutiny of his soldiers in 1800. His reaction was to send the regiment to Nova Scotia, except two companies that stayed loyal. With the Treaty of Amiens between France and England, the regiment was disbanded in 1802 and those transferred to Nova Scotia were absorbed into other regiments.

Fourteen months later, with the threat of Napoleon in France, British army units were called from America to help defend the homeland from a threatened invasion. This meant Newfoundland was left to its own devices to defend itself. June 1803, General Skerrett received orders to raise a regiment to be called the Newfoundland Regiment of Fencible Infantry. He recruited locally. In 1805 the regiment was officially called the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and served one year in Halifax to help her defence.

In 1807 it was sent to Quebec where it spent 5 years in garrison during the threat of invasion from the Americans which culminated in the War of 1812.

            The muster rolls and pay lists are not filmed in strict chronological order. The pay periods include 8 May 1782, 25 April 1795-Dec. 1801, and 25 July 1803-June 1809. The locations when indicated include St. John’s, Placentia, Chatham Barracks, Hilsea Barracks, and Quebec. Aside from Name and Rank, there are column headings for Date of Commission, Cause of Absence and Date of Attestation. Remarks such as too old, a small boy, subject to fits, and lame hand can be found on some musters. For most of the documents, the amount of pay is included for each soldier; also, for some pay periods, the “general state of the public accompts”, showing the amounts paid out by the paymaster for each company, are available. Proof Tables show the totals for effectives and non effectives mustered.  

The 1782 muster has 3 companies listed, led by Lt. Col. Robert Pringle, and Captains John Caddy and John Rogers.

Originals: The original records are located at The National Archives, Public Record Office, Kew.
Archival Ref. No.: TNA: PRO WO 12/11020
Finding Aids:
Electronic Finding Aid Record: Royal Newfoundland Regiment of Foot Content List.pdf
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