Hugh Paterson (1781) of Edinburgh

This July 7th, Becky and I stepped foot in Edinburgh Scotland. It is kinda surreal with it gray overcast and old architecture. We were there to look into some family history records.

Prior Research

My dad, Hugh Jr. (also son of Hugh Jr.) and his sister took a trip to Scotland some years ago.

The Hugh Jrs (Both were Hugh Jr. and didn't know it.)

The Hugh Jrs (Both were Hugh Jr. and didn't know it. Well the younger one knew he was a Jr.)

Hugh Jr. and Sisters

Hugh Jr., (my dad) and his sisters on their Scotland Trip.



They traced our family lineage back six generations (from their generation and seven from mine). Hugh III (Me) --> Hugh Jr. (1953) --> Hugh Jr. (1928) Hugh --> (1890) William (1855) --> William (1822) --> Hugh (1781)
My dad told me that Hugh (1781) was station at the Castle but could not find, or did not find what unit he was in or what he did. With this to go on (and a few notes from my aunt's research database) Becky and I spend a day in the ScotlandsPeople Centre, the National Archive and central point of genealogy research in Scotland.

ScotlandsPeople Centre

ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh Scotland


Finding Hugh (1781)'s military record was on th top of the list because I was not sure which other documents my dad and aunt's had actually acquired and which facts they just copied from source documents. Their trip was in the days before thumb drives and USB sticks were popular (late 1990s). So, I set about to find the parish for the marriage of Hugh (1781) to Barbara Morrison.
Parish Record of Hugh Paterson (1781)'s Marriage to Barbara Morison

Parish Record of Hugh Paterson (1781)'s Marriage to Barbara Morison on 2 July 1816.

This record told me that Hugh was a corporal in 1816 in a unit called RVB. My dad told me that he did work at the castle so I went and talked to the archivist at the ScotishPeoples Center to see where the military records for the castle in 1816 were kept. There should be at least a record of which units were stationed at the castle during 1816. For these records the archivist said I needed to go to the castle, as the Scottish National Archive did not keep military records. The archivist also told me that it was important to know if I was looking for a records from a unit in the regular army or if I was looking for records in the volunteers. (The volunteers became the regional armies now in the UK and are similar to the national guard or reserves in the Unite States.) RVB units were also often given home assignments (in the UK) because they were often staffed with recovering or wounded soldiers.

So over to the castle I marched and asked the help desk if I could talk with someone who was an archivist there. After a few phone calls back and forth to the archivists office from the help desk to explain what I was looking for and to give them time to look, Thomas an archivist at the castle's Royal Scots Regimental Museum came down and took me to his office. He was most helpful. We looked up the units over the time in question:

    Edinburgh Castle Garrisons

  • 1813
    Jan - April R. Perth M.
    Mar - June Det 4/1 Foot
    Sept '13 - Nov '14 Depot of the 1st Foot
    1813 - Ayr M. in Edinburgh
  • 1814
    Aug - Oct 2"91
    June -July, Dumfries M.
    W. Norfolk M.
    May - August Stirling M. in Edinburgh
    May 1814 -Aug 1815, 2/79th in Edinburgh
    1814-1815 Depot 4/1st foot
  • 1815
    July Depot 1st Foot, relieved 21st F. (Absorbed by 1/1 foot Aug.)
    Aug 1815 - Feb 1816 1/1st Foot
    July - August 1815 4/1st Foot
    June 1815 - July 1816 3rd R. Vet. Btn.
    2/79th Foot
  • 1816
    Mar-Oct 1816 42nd Foot
    Sept 1816 - April 1817 92nd Foot
    Oct 1816 Depot of 21st Foot
    1st Foot

The RVB in the marriage registry seems to be for the 3rd Royal Veterans Battalion.

And then we looked up Hugh (1781) on findmypast.co.uk and also visited the UK national archives online.

Record of Medal given to Hugh Paterson

Record of Medal given to Hugh (1781) Paterson. Bottom right of image.

The image of the record we found said that there is a record for a MGSM awarded to Hugh Paterson:

Cpl Hugh Paterson, 42nd Foot - Military General Service Medal 1793-1814, 3 clasps Coruna, Salamanca, Orthes

Since the MGSM was only established on June 1st 1847, and awardees had to be alive to claim it, it would mean that Hugh (1781) was still alive in 1847. The medal was awarded retroactively for service back to 1793. So that would explain his eligibility. The three clasps earned would be for battle he served in:

Map showing major battles of the Peninsular War

Map showing major battles of the Peninsular War with those Hugh (1781) was given clasps for circled.
Credit: Wikipedia.

Military General Service Medal

The Military General Service Medal (MGSM) was established on 1 June 1847. This was a medal given to anyone who served in battle. A clasps was given for each battle the clasps are inscribed with the name of the battle and the medallion's edge was inscribed with the soldiers name.

1847 Military General Service Medal

The 1847 Military General Service Medal medal would have looked like the one in this picture and its current market value is between 1,500USD and 2,800GBP. Image credit: ArtFund

Follow up work

There are still a few outstanding questions which need to be answered:

  • Was Hugh (1781) in the same unit his whole career?
  • Why did he leave the military?
  • Why did he join?
  • Can we get a copy of the documents in Kew?
  • Was Hugh(1781) born in Stirling, Stirlingshire or was he born in Edinburgh?
  • Who was the William Paterson in the 42nd Foot mentioned on the same page from the MGSM record?
  • What were the military records of the two witnesses from the wedding? (Ref. Aunt Debbie's Copy of the marriage certificate.)
  • Why did he and Barbara move up North?

Probably the easies of these questions to answer is Can we get a copy of the Military Records from Kew? Yes we can! But we have to go to the National Archive (Kew) in London and we have to ask for the documents in advance and we have to apply for a viewers card. How to do that:

  1. Apply for the documents in advance: https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/visit/advance-orders.htm
  2. Get a readers ticket: https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/visit/readers-ticket.htm
  3. Don't for get to check the times: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/visit/times.htm

Nomrale Karte [maptype=G_SATLLITE_TYPE;panzoomcontrol=large;overviewmapcontrol=hide;scalecontrol=hide;maptypecontrol=show;align=center]

The documents available are from a collection two different collections of documents (WO 121 and WO 97).
WO 121 is from the War Office and then within that collection they are form the Records of the Royal Chelsea and Kilmainham Hospitals (1702-1980) and then within that collection they are in a collection of records which pertain to the Royal Hospital, Chelsea: Discharge Documents of Pensioners (1760-1887). So, it might be that Hugh Paterson was discharged from the 3rd Foot from a Hospital, which could indicate that he was actually wounded at the last battle for which he got a clasp. There are some discrepancies in the summaries, notably the discharge age and the place of birth. This may be because the records were not linked in paper form, and where something was stated on paper it was not available to the creator of the second document. Without seeing the documents it is hard to tell if they refer to the same person or not, but all probability is that they do refer to the same person.
WO 97 is also a sub section of the War Office, Royal Chelsea and Kilmainham Hospitals (1702-1980) collection but is the sub collection Royal Hospital Chelsea: Soldiers Service Documents.

The following are the three links to the three known documents with their known summaries:

  1. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/displaycataloguedetails.asp?CATID=-4654847&CATLN=7&Highlight=%2CHUGH%2CPATERSON&accessmethod=0
    Item reference: WO 121/191/275
    Scope and content: HUGH PATERSON alias HUGH PATTERSON Born STIRLING, Stirlingshire Served in 42nd Foot Regiment; 3rd Royal Veteran Battalion Discharged aged 33 after 11 years 9 months of service Residence or place where pension paid stated in document. See film image 663
    Covering dates: 1816
    Held by: The National Archives, Kew
    Legal status: Public Record(s)
    Language: English
    New (2012) UI Link: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/Details?uri=C9364228

  2. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/displaycataloguedetails.asp?CATID=-4654585&CATLN=7&Highlight=%2CHUGH%2CPATERSON&accessmethod=0
    Item reference: WO 121/191/13
    Scope and content: HUGH PATERSON Born [Not Known] Served in 42nd Foot Regiment; 3rd Royal Veteran Battalion Discharged aged [Not Known] Original certificate of discharge missing. Residence or place where pension paid stated in document. See film image 7
    Covering dates: 1816
    Held by: The National Archives, Kew
    Legal status: Public Record(s)
    Language: English
  3. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/searchresults.asp?SearchInit=0&txtsearchterm=hugh+paterson&txtfirstdate=&txtlastdate=&txtrestriction=WO&hdnsorttype=Reference&image1.x=35&image1.y=12
    This last link is to a search for "Hugh Paterson". It shows that there is another document in another collection WO 97/580/153. I am not sure what this other document is. WO 97/580/153 is available here: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/displaycataloguedetails.asp?CATID=-3951551&CATLN=7&Highlight=%2CHUGH%2CPATERSON&accessmethod=0

    Scope and content: HUGH PATERSON alias HUGH PATESON; HUGH PATTERSON Born STIRLING, Stirlingshire Served in 42nd Foot Regiment Discharged aged 30
    Covering dates: 1803-1814
    Held by: The National Archives, Kew
    Legal status: Public Record(s)
    Language: English

    WO 97/580/153 is available online through Findmypast.co.uk
    New (2012) UI Link http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/Details?uri=C8755141

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