A Soldier’s Progress: Some Military Records Pertaining to John Richardson, a Pioneer Canadian Poet and Novelist

by William F.E. Morley

     John Richardson (1796-1852) is generally regarded as Canada’s first native-born novelist to gain an international reputation.  His narrative poem Tecumseh, in Byronic ottava rima, was published in 1828 only two years after Lord Byron’s death.  Although Richardson was born in the same year as Thomas Chandler Haliburton, his three-decker novel Ecarté, concerning gambling and low life in Paris, was published in 1829, seven years before the first Sam Slick volume appeared.  In the following year, Richardson’s long poem of social satire, Kensington Gardens, was published, as was his novel Frascati’s, another three-decker and also set in Paris.  All these works were published in London, and already the dashing young Richardson was be coming the talk of the town.  In 1832 his most successful novel, Wacousta, was first put into print in London; within six months it was appearing on the American frontier, in the Ohio State Journal, and in one year a dramatized version began its successful run in New York City.

     Yet, although he early established his reputation in the gentle arts of literature and poetry, Richardson was pre-eminently a military man.  Many of his works bear ardent witness to this, from his Tecumseh and Movements of the British Legion, to Guard in Canada (about his constant embroilment in duels and affairs of honour), Wacousta (Pontiac’s Conspiracy, 1763-5), and his novels and historical narratives of the War of 1812-14, such as Canadian Brothers, Hardscrabble, and Canadian Campaign and War of 1812, to name a few.  Richardson’s autobiographical accounts, Personal Memoirs (1838) and Eight Years in Canada (1847) clearly substantiate his military habits and interests.  It is not, I think, by chance that Richardson preferred always to be known by his military title — and thus has his name come down to us:  Major Richardson.

     The following notes represent a foray into the documentation of Richardson’s military career.  They take him from the start of his service in 1812, as a Volunteer, and his first commission as an ensign recommended by Sir George Prevost, Commander-in-Chief of the British forces, at Kingston, Upper Canada, in 1813, until he was placed on half pay in the West Indies, in 1818.  These extracts were mostly drawn from the War Office Monthly Return of Services, in the Public Record Office (PRO), London, in 1969, under the expert guidance of Commander Michael Godfrey, then the Search Assistant in the Rolls Room.  The Appendices contain other military records, briefly spanning the period beginning with Richardson’s position as a Gentleman Volunteer with the 41st Regiment, Fort Maiden, Upper Canada, in 1812, to his retirement from active service and the sale of his commission in 1840, after he had returned to Canada from Spain and England.  This information is taken from the annual Army List, most of it from the unique annotated set held in the Ministry of Defence Library, London.

I. War Office Return of Services
     (WO 21, vol. 172, 1, 130)
     This is a record of Richardson’s military service to 1828, in his own hand, and signed by him on the verve of the leaf, where the date October 1828 appears.  The following information appears in the several columns on each page.  An oblique mark here: /, separates the columns; quotes enclose Richardson’s own handwriting.

Name, “John Richardson” / Age on first appointment, “Fifteen” / Dates of appointment, promotions, etc., “Joined the 41st Foot on active Service as a Volunteer in June 1812 — Taken prisoner by the Americans and detained 12 Months — Obtained an ensigncy August 3d. [possibly altered to a ‘5’, but the ‘d’ remains2] 1813.  Promoted to a Lieutenancy July 27th. 1815 — Placed on 1 half pay 25th. Decr.3   1815 — Retired [?Returned?] to full pay May 25th.  1816 — Placed on half pay October 1st 1818” / Regiments, “Ensigncy in the 8th or Kings — Lieutenancy in the same corps. — Reduced with the 2d. Battalion of the Regt. — Reappointed to the 2d. or Queens Royal.  Retired on half pay of the 92d. or Gordon Highlanders” / Successive ranks on full-pay, “Ensign, Lieutenant” / How obtained, “the several promotions and ex-changes obtained without purchase or paying the difference” / Successive ranks on half-pay, “Lieutenant” / Why placed on half-pay?  “Retired from the West Indies both from private motives and from ill health, that is from the effect produced by a violent attack of yellow fever during which all hope of Recovery had been abandoned by the medical staff of Barbados —” / Desirous of service?  “Desirous, and anxious for Service — Repeated applications having been made and replied to on the subject by his late Royal Highness the Duke of York” /

On the verso of the sheet only a few words appear:

     Date of marriage?  “9th of August 1825” / Place of marriage?   “British Ambassador’s Paris” / [this was his first marriage, to Jane Marsh, of Leamington, Warwick] Where resident during the last five years?   “Paris and London” /

Then follows John Richardson’s signature, and “Lieut. H.[alf] P.[ay] 92d. Regiment”.

     The following year Ecarté appeared (1829), and the year after that Frascati’s (1830), both based on Richardson’s experiences during the years in Paris to which he here refers.

II. War Office Return of Services
     (WO 31, vol. 379)
     These are bundles of folded manuscript leaves with cover-title card:  “Commander in Chief Memoranda, 5th to 12th August, 1813”, and with a manuscript inventory inside entitled:  “Memoranda. Regulars. 5th August 1813.

     1) Letter from Sir George Prevost at Quebec, 5th April, 1813, with many recommendations for promotion, including these:-   “Messrs.  Jarvis, Richardson4, and Thompson, are at present Volunteers with the 41st5 and 49th Regiments . . . The above Young Gentlemen are all upwards of Sixteen years of age and eligible for commissions . . . Geo. Prevost . . .”

     2) Inventory leaves with outside title “Memoranda . . .” (as above) under page heading “8 Foot”:-   “Vol.[lunteer] Richardson to be Ditto [i.e. Ensign, from line above] vice Kidman”6.

     3) Leaf with outside title:-  “8th Foot. Lt. Thos. Cross, Ensign Veith, Ensign Kidman
. . . 5th Augt. 1813” Inside the leaf:-  “Kingston, Upper Canada, 10th June, 1813.  Sir -
. . . and for the Ensigncies, I must beg leave to submit for His Royal Highness’s favourable consideration, the several Young Gentlemen now serving as volunteers on active duty in this country, who have been recommended for Commissions in my previous dispatches . . . [e.g. 5 Apr. 1813, above] George Prevost, Commandt. of the Forces”.  A separate slip enclosed, in a contemporary hand but partly in pencil whereas the letters are entirely in ink:

“8th Foot, Ensigns Veith — With 2d Bn.
——— Kidman — Sick leave to 2d of August
——— [etc ] . . .”

     Items 2 and 3 above show that Richardson was promoted from a Gentleman Volunteer to Ensign Kidman’s position while the latter was on sick leave till 2d Aug. 1813.  William Kidman was himself promoted however, effective 4th August (cf. Army List, 1814, p. 159)7, so that Richardson gained the penitent rank of Ensign not upon the termination of Kidman’s sick leave but on the date of Kidman’s promotion.  Desmond Pacey, in his “A Colonial Romantic” (Canadian Literature, 2, p. 28) says that Richardson was commissioned Ensign 3d August 1813, the day Kidman would have reported back from sick leave; but the Army List just cited shows that Richardson’s promotion was not effective till 4th August.  The actual dates were always adjusted to avoid conflict of seniority.

III. The Military General Service Medal 1783-1814, a Roll of the Names of the 26,240 Officers and Men of the British Army who Fought in the Peninsula and Elsewhere . . . Compiled by Col. KO.N. Foster. [n.p., Germany 1947].  This book is without imprint, but the Foreword is dated “Germany, January 1947”.  The book was printed in Germany.  Page 318 records as follows: -

“41st Foot, Officers . . . Richardson, John. Volunteer. l clasp, FD [ie. Fort Detroit, attached to his Military General Service Medal] Aft.[erwards ] 44 Foot.”

     It is interesting to notice that Richardson was keen enough to apply for the MGS, even though he was 3,000 miles from Europe.  The MGS Medal was not issued till 1847 (Wellington opposed it), and in that year its approval was advertised throughout the world8.  Those eligible had to apply in writing — so Richardson did so from Canada.   Those killed in action in the Napoleonic Wars, or who died before 1847, did not get the medal.

IV.  Army Lists
     Extracts referring to George Richardson, meaning John Richardson9.  Gentlemen Volunteers were not listed, so the earliest reference to Richardson is on his promotion to Ensign:

1814, p. 159: 8th or King’s Regiment of Foot:-
“Ensigns George [i.e. John] Richardson 4 do. [i.e. 4 Aug. 1813]”.
1815, p. 177: 8th or King’s Regiment of Foot.:   “Ensigns George [i.e. John] Richardson 4 do.”
1816, p. 215: [John Richardson promoted to Lieutenant with 8th Regiment 27 July 1815] 8th or King’s Regiment of Foot: - “Leiutenants George Richardson 27 July [1815], date of promotion to Lieutenant]”.

1817: Richardson disappears, with any assurance that he is our man, till 1820.  The most likely entry is as follows:

p. 637: Canadian Fencible Infantry, on the English Half-Pay:-
“Lieutenants John Richardson Rank [attained] 11 Sept. 1811 [far too early, but the PRO officer Godfrey assures me that rank was often back-dated to increase seniority].

Placed on half-pay 24 June 1816”.

     However, as we have seen from Richardson’s own hand (WO 21, vol.172, above), he was placed on half-pay 25 December, 1815, but was returned to active status 25 May, 1816.  He then sailed to the West Indies with his Regiment. This does not conform with the above entry in the Army List, 1817.

     There is one other possible reference, in the Army List entry for 1817, thus:-

p. 571: On the English Half-Pay:
“Lieutenants John Richardson Elank 15 Dec. 1807.  Placed on half pay 26 Feb. 1816”.

In 1807 (if this date is not an error) Richardson would have been only 11 years of age — surely too early for a lieutenancy, even allowing for seniority backing; but the half-pay date is remarkably close:  the Army List records 25 Feb. 181610.

1818, p. 523: 9th Regiment of Foot: -
“Lieutenants John Richardson Rank [attained] 15 Dec. 1807  Placed on half-pay 26 Feb. 1816 [same man as p. 571 in 1817 Army List]”.
p. 200: 2d or Queen’s Regiment of Foot:-
“Lieutenants George Richardson Rank 25 May 1816 [too late]. [Commissioned] 27 July 1815 [wrong, too late; promoted to Lieutenant on that date]”.
p.612: English Half-Pay, Canadian Fencible Infantry:-
“Lieutenants John Richardson Rank 11 Sept. 1811 Placed on half-pay 24 Aug. 1816 [just before our Richardson sailed for the West Indies, Nov. 1816 — wrong man]”.

All other John Richardsons in the 1818 Army List are surgeons, are too highly ranked, or in English county regiments.

1819, p. 615: English half-pay, Canadian Fencibles:-
“Lt. John Richardson 11 Sept. 1811 half-pay 12 Oct. 1816 [same man as p.612 in 1818 Army List]”.
. 523: 9th Regiment of Foot, English Half-Pay —
“Lieutenants John Richardson Rank 15 Dec. 1807, half-pay 25 Feb. 1816”.
(All other John Richardsons have too high a rank, or are in county regiments, and this one has the wrong first date, but correct half-pay date.
1820: The same Lieutenant John Richardson again:-
p. 528: half-pay since 25 Feb. 1816
p. 597: 92 Regiment of Foot, English half-pay, Lieutenants John Richardson Rank since 27 July 1815, ha1f-pay since 1st Oct. 1818. (This is our Richardson.)

     And so on — the Army List continues, but the foregoing exhibits the sort of information that a continuing search will yield, even for just one officer.

V. Annotated Army Lists in the PRO
     (I was told that no other set with marginal and interleaved manuscript annotations exists, but I found another, differently annotated, in the Army Historical Section Library, Ministry of Defence, London.)

1815: PRO Document No. IND:5505, on p. 177, shows George (i.e. John) Richardson under Ensigns, from 4 Aug. 1813 (correct), but the name is ruled out in ink and “Lt” entered in ink.  Opposite, on an interleaved page, is a manuscript list of ensigns, one line of which reads:- “Robert Young 27 July v. Richardson” (i.e. on 27 July 1815 Richardson was promoted and Young became his vice, that is, took his place — correct).

1816: PRO Document No. IND:5506, on p. 215, shows George Richardson under Lieutenants, from 27 July 1815 (correct), name ruled out in ink and manuscript note in column: “1/2 pay”.  (Correct, as of 1st Oct. 1818, when John Richardson returned from Barbados — cf. WO 21, vol. 172, above, and under 1818, below.  Note that though this is the 1816 Army List, it could have taken a couple of years to annotate it up to date.)

VI. War Office Monthly Returns, Windward and Leeward Islands
     (WO 17, vol. 2505, 2506, 2507, 2508)
     These bound volumes of returns show names of officers, and numbers (only) on duty (station strength) of other ranks, at each station in the Windward and Leeward Islands, month by month, officers first by rank. So, to find Richardson, one must check the column marked “station” for Barbados.  The volume above represent:-  2505 —1816;   2506 — 1817;   2507 — 1818;   2508 — 1819.  From the other evidence, this is the maximum period during which John Richardson could have served in the Barbados with the 2d Foot.

1816: Monthly “Return of the General and Staff Officers at present serving in the Windward and Leeward colonies under the command of Major General George William Ramsay commanding the Forces. Head Quarters Anti gua, 25th of December, 1816”. Section headed “Remarks. Shewing the Regiments or Detachments which may have arrived at, or left, the station during the preceding month . . .” (WO 17 / 2505 / A):-


Date of Disembarkation

Rank and Names of Officers Disembarked

Field Officers

2d Foot

6th, 7th, and 8th December, 1816

Lt. Richardson and Massey


















On Board What Ship





Transport Wilson

From What Station

(Note:-the dates of disembarkation refer to officers and men of 14 different regiments; the 2d Foot is first on the list, but this and the 6th West India Regiment both arrived in the Transport Wilson.)

     Under “List of the Officers Present” for the same month:—
“2d Foot Lieutenant G. Richardson” The ‘G’ here is unmistakable, and quite dissimilar from the Js on the same page—so the forename ‘George’ continues in error!  At the head of this 2d Foot list is “Lt. Col. H.C.E.V. Graham”, officers, present; and absent, “Col. Jas. Coates”; then follow Renames of Majors, Captains, Lieutenants, etc. (WO 17 / 2505 / B).

1817: “General Monthly Return of Officer, 1817”. “Regiments, 2d Foot”:-

Colonels Lt. Colonels Majors Captains
" 1 " 6


Cornet or Ensigns

Pay Masters
10 4 1
Adjutants Quarter Masters Surgeons Assistant Surgeons
" " 1 1
Vetinerary Surgeons Troop Qr. Masters
" "

    — “General Monthly Return of Sarjeants . . . and Rank and File . . . 25th January, 1817”:-

Corps Head Quarters Sarjeants Trumpeters or Drummers Farriers
2d Foot Barbados 37 17
Fit for Duty Sick On Command On Furlough Total
555 73 " " 628
Increase Decrease: Dead/Deserted
4              11         4

1817:-“List of Officers Present [at 25 Jan. 1917] 2d Foot, G. Richardson . . .”—At 24th February. 1817:

List of Officers Present, 2d Foot, Lieut. G. Richardson. . .

— At 25th March,


" "
— At 25th April,


" "
— At 25th May,


" "


(Note:- 25th May, 1817, Returns for Windward and Leeward Islands are headed: “. . . Head Quars. Barbados . . .”, whereas before the Head Quarters were at Antigua.)

— At 25th June, 1817:- “List of Officers Absent, Lieut. G. Richardson on a General Court Martial, Tobago” (as an officer of the court:- cf. his “Recollections of the West Indies”, in his own journal New Era or Canadian Chronicle, Brockville, Ont., vol. 2, nos. 1-12, 2d March—24th June, 1842; so Richardson was also in Tobago).

    —At 25th July, 1817:-         “List of Officers present, 2d Foot, Lieut. G. Richardson”
    —At 25th Aug., 1817:- " " " "
    —At 25th Sept., 1817:- " " " "
    —At 25th Oct., 1817:- " " " "
    —At 25th Nov., 1817:- " " " "
    —At 25th Dec., 1817:- " " " "
1818: At 25th Jan., 1818:- " " " "
    —At 25th Feb., 1818:- " " " "
    —At 25th Mar., 1818:- " " " "
    —At 25th Apr.., 1818:- " " " "
    —At 25th May., 1818:- " " " "
    —At 25th June., 1818:- " ' " "
    —At 25th July, 1818:- " " " "
    —At 25th Aug., 1818:- " " " "

(Commander Godfrey suggested that the Muster Rolls might indicate what Richardson was doing at this time; but a Muster Roll search is very time consuming.)

     1818:  At 25th Sept., 1818:- “List of the Officers Present, 2d Foot, G. Richardson” but line drawn through his name and “Lieut. G. Richardson” added in fresh darker ink at the bottom of the list of “Officers Absent” (as though the change were made after the record had been completed, and thus very recently).  The entry under “Officers Absent” reads in full:-

“* Lieut. G. Richardson, Commander of the Forces [officer granting the absence] 16th Sept. 1818, to be placed on Half Pay”.  Under the same date, there is a page headed:-  “Regimental and Staff Officers who have obtained leave of absence during the preceding month to return to England . . . Lieut. G. Richardson, 2d Foot, 16th Sept. 1818, for the purpose of being placed on Half Pay”.   Richardson’s name is last on the list; all the other names above (6) are dated in August, the “preceding month” of the Return, as stated in the heading.  So again, Richardson must have got his name in just as the return was being made, and perhaps with his usual urgent nature he requested the change be recorded immediately.  Note that the official reason given for Richardson’s leave of absence to return to England is “for the purpose of be ing placed on Half Pay”, whereas the reason he gave in the record of his mil itary service (WO 21, vol. 172) was “both from private motives and from ill health”).

     With permission to leave the West Indies granted, 16 September 1818, Richardson could have left for England on or any time after that date.  I continued the search for a more precise date of his departure.   His name is not given under “Remarks” for the month, and there is no indication Richardson was sick.

     (Note:-  The meaning of the asterisk *  is not known to me, but it may be simply a clerical symbol to draw attention to a late and out-of-order entry.)

     Above two entries:  WO 17 / 2507 / C & D.

    —At 25th October 1818:   Richardson’s name is absent from the “List of Officers Present”, but still included with “Officer’s Absent”, thus:-  “Lieut. G. Richardson, Commander of the Forces [approving Officer], 16th Sept., To be placed on Half Pay”.   (WO 17 / 2507 / E)  Again, Richardson is not mentioned under “Remarks” for the month, and there is no indication that he is sick (under “Regimental and Staff Officers who have obtained Leave of Absence . . . to Return to England” the reason given for one officer is “Benefit of Health”; but no such reason is given for Richardson in the similar entry for last month, Sept.— q.v.).   Commander Godfrey stated that though sick absences are usually reported, if Richardson’s name is still listed he could still be on the island; but apparently since on half-pay as of 16th Sept., he is not on strength, simply waiting for a ship to return to England. So the search continued.

     (Note:-  I observed that in March 1818, the 2d Foot are serving in Barbados; in April, they are serving in St. Vincent; in May there are detachments of the 2d Foot in Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent; June, St. Vincent (only); July, Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Lucia (though, as in other months, the “General Monthly Return” shows only St. Vincent—these entries are not clear and need further examination); August, Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Lucia; Sept., St. Vincent—and here Richardson goes on half pay.  It seems that Richardson might have spent some months in St. Vincent, and perhaps in others of the islands mentioned, for all the detachments are staffed with officers.  Only the Muster Rolls are likely to settle Richardson’s exact whereabouts, and even this is not a certain reward for the long search-time required.  In his “Recollections of the West Indies”, already cited, Richardson mentions visiting only Barbados, Grenada and Tobago, this is new information.

     —At 25th November 1818:-   “Officers Absent, Lieut. G. Richardson, [granted by] Commander of the Forces, 16th Sept. 1818, until placed on 1/2 Pay” [Lord Combermere was Commander of (he Forces—he Signs all the returns “Combermere, C. of the Forces” or “Combermere, Commr. of the Forces”, etc. Remark the future tense:   “until”.  (WO 17 / 2507 / F)

     (Note:-  Under “Remarks”, several ships are recorded as having left for England, with men whose service had expired.  There is no other reference to Richardson in the Nov. 1818 returns, however.)

    —At 25th December, 1818:- “Officers Absent, Lieut. G. Richardson, Commander of the Forces [grantor of the Absence] 16th Sept., until placed on 1/2 Pay”. Under the page headed “Proof”, there are no “Invalids sent Home”.  There is no reference to Richardson under “Remarks”, and though several persons are reported as discharged, no ships are reported as coming or going.  This is the last reference to Richardson I found (WO 17 / 2507 / G)

    —At 25th January, 1819:-  Richardson’s name is omitted from “Officers Absent” list, nor is he under “Officers Present”; and it is the same for February.  Richardson has evidently sailed, but there is no explanation under “Remarks” for January or February 1819, nor elsewhere in the Returns for the two months.  However, the “Remarks” for January refer to the ships London and Thomas as having arrived from London on 13th and 16th Jan. 1819, respectively.  It seems quite likely that they brought confirmation of Richardson’s save arrival in England, and that his name was carried as Absent until this news reached the West Indies headquarters.  Although perhaps only the Muster Rolls can indicate the exact date of Richardson’s departure from the West Indies, the evidence is reasonably clear that he sailed 16th September or soon after, reaching England in time to be placed on half pay (as he himself states:  WO21, vol. 172) on 1st October, 1818.

     (Note:-  These War Office Monthly Returns are a mine of information, but very detailed, and need lengthy study and analysis.)


  1. This document is mentioned, and quoted, by Dr. Desmond Pacey in his “A Colonial Romantic”, pt. 1, Canadian Literature, 2, p. 24-5 & n., but vol. 172 is incorrectly transcribed as 772.[back]

  2. In fact, it was 4 August, 1813—cf. Appendix B.[back]

  3. There is a discrepancy here too; the Army List says 25 Feb. 1816—cf. Appendix B.[back]

  4. See Appendix A. [back]

  5. Richardson was with the 41st (cf. WO 21, vol. 172, above; and also Alexander C. Casselman, Richardson’s War of 1812 (Toronto, 1902), p. xvi, for an elaboration).[back]

  6. Vice’, or ‘in the place of’; here, in the place of Kidman, who was promoted.[back]

  7. See Appends A.[back]

  8. The medal was promulgated by General Order no. 582, issued from the Horse Guards, 1st June, 1847 (cf. WO 1 / 558 in the PRO).[back]

  9. See Appendix A.[back]

  10. See Appendix[back]



     In several places Richardson’s name is given as George Richardson, but this seems to begin when a dash given under George in the line above, is assumed to mean “ditto”.  This is evidently an error of interpretation, the dash apparently meaning ‘forename unknown’.  Commander Michael Godfrey, Search Room Assistant in the Rolls Room, at the PRO, was so sure that this is an interpretative error that he corrected the entry in the Army List, and said he had no objection to being quoted in his opinion.

     The Prevost letter of Quebec, 5th April 1813, cited under II above (WO 31, vol. 379), contains what appears to be the beginning of this mistake, where the following is given:-

George Jarvis
Augustin Thompson

This is picked up in the cover title: -

volr. Geo. Jarvis
volr. _____Richardson
volr. Aug. Thompson

The dash would seem to indicate that Richardson’s forename was unknown at that moment, and not that it was the same as the one in the preceding entry.  Another manuscript page in the same bundle (WO 31, vol. 379), but undated, containsa list of names of promoted officers and volunteers in the “8 Foot” regiment, all bracketted to the name “Lt. Gen. Sir Geo. Prevost”.  Two of the lines run as follows:-

vol. George Jarvis, to be Ensign vice Vieth
vol. Richardson to be ditto vice Kidman

The second line here is the only line on the page in which the first name bears no forename or initials.  This seems to substantiate the interpretation that Richardeon’s forename was unknown during this period of his promotion to Ensign.

The annual Army List picked up the dash as though it were a ‘ditto’, as the following citations illustrate.

Army List, 1813, p. 145 (8th — or the King’s — Regiment of Foot):
“Ensign — William Kidman 6 June 1811 [date of Ensign promotion]”.   (Richardson is not listed — he is still a Gentleman Volunteer, and only officers are listed.)

Army List, 1814, p. 159 (8th — or the King’s — Regiment of Foot):
“Lieutenant — William Kidman 4 Aug. 1813 [date he became Lieutenant].

.  . . . . . . . . . . . . [lines omitted] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Ensign—George Richardson [‘George’ given for ‘John’] 4 do. [i.e. 4th Aug. 1813, the ‘do’ being a contraction of ‘ditto’]”.

Army List, 1816, Annotated, held in PRO, p. 215, shows George Richardson as holding Lieutenant rank since 27 July 1815, and as being on half-pay at the time the 1816 vol. was annotated, usually about two years’ later.

Army List, 1820, p. 597, shows John Richardson as Lieutenant in the 92d Regiment of Foot from the 27 July 1815, and on English Half-Pay from the 1st Oct. 1818.  The promotion to Lieutenant date agrees with the Army List, 1816, p. 215, the first appearance of John Richardson’s promotion to Lieutenant, then in the 8th King’s Regiment.

     This confirms that the George Richardson of the Army List for 1814-1816 is indeed our John Richardson.


     The following is in extension of Richardson’s manuscript record of his military service to 1828, as cited under I above (WO 21, vol. 172).  The resumé is pieced together from a close reading of the annotated set of issues of the annual Army List held in the Army Historical Section of the Ministry of Defence Library, Whitehall, London, England.

Gentleman Volunteer

(No records were kept for Gentlemen Volunteers, but he has told us that he was in the 41st Regiment (stationed at Fort Malden, Upper Canada) at age 15, and that he became a Gentleman Volunteer in June 1812, at the declaration of war.  He was not 16 till 4th October l812.)

Ensign (Without Purchase) 8th Regiment of Foot FROM 4 Aug. 1813
Lieutenant 8th Regiment of Foot FROM 27 Jul. 1816
Lieutenant (Half Pay) 8th Regiment of Foot FROM 26 Feb. 1816
Lieutenant 2nd Regiment of Foot FROM 25 May 1816
Lieutenant (Half Pay) 92nd Regiment of Foot FROM 1 Oct. 1818


Lieutenant (Half Pay) 92nd Regiment of Foot AT 12 Jun. 1840
Lieutenant 92nd Regiment of Foot AT 12 Jun. 1840

(From 1813 to 1819, Richardson is listed as George; from 1820 to 1840, as John; from 1818 to 1840 Richardson was on half pay continuously.)  On retirement, Richardson took the place of Lieutenant Gray as an active officer, and immediately sold his commission to Ensign Swinton — cf. Army List 1840, July, p. 923.

(From 1813 to 1819, Richardson is listed as George; from 1820 to 1840, as John; from 1818 to 1840 Richardson was on half pay continuously.)

     Richardson took the place of Lieutenant Gray as an active officer, and Immediately sold his commission to Ensign Swinton — cf. Army List 1840, July, p. 923.

     (Note:- Richardson was a major only in the British Auxiliary Legion in Spain, not in the British Army (cf. Personal Memoirs, e.g. p. 52 and 73, where he describes himself as Lieutenant Richardson of His Majesty’s Army).  Occasional issues of the Army List indicate what commissions are worth.  The issue for 1841 (the closest one to 1840 which includes the com mission evaluation list) suggests £700 for a lieutenancy on the active list, and £335 for one on the half pay list.  A military historian assures me, however, that this was only an indication.  Richardson could have obtained considerably more for his commission if the demand were great — and the promptness of the sale suggests that it was.  Note, too, the skill with which Richardson managed to arrange his transfer to the active list, the sale of his commission, and his retirement, all on the same day.   This increased the value of his pen sion as well as of his commission.  It is characteristic of Richardson.)