Saturday, May 26, 2018

Francis Padlow, 37th Regiment, doesn't write to his Wife

Francis Padlow was a miller from the town of Kettlethorp in Lincolnshire. At the age of twenty-five, in 1762, he chose a new career by enlisting in the army. By the early 1770s he was in the 37th Regiment of Foot, and at the beginning of 1776 he went with that corps to join the war in America.

He left a wife behind, in the town of East Retford in Nottinghamshire. Where they met and when they married is not known; in fact, we don't even know her name. But in March of 1778 she sent a letter to the War Office asking whether her husband was still alive; she had "not heard from him since the year 1773." The office reviewed the regiment's muster rolls and was able to confirm that he was still serving in the 37th as recently as May of 1777 in Bonham Town, New Jersey, although he was "absent by leave" at that time. That was all they could offer, not bad, really, considering the challenges of communication.
The muster rolls used by the War Office in 1778 to confirm Padlow's service survive to this day in the British National Archives, and there are further volumes after those recorded in May 1777. From them we see that Francis Padlow continued for most of the remainder of the war, albeit listed as "sick" most of the time. He was discharged in early 1782 because he was "rheumatic"; he was recommended for a pension.


With other "invalided" soldiers, he sailed from New York to Great Britain, then went to Chelsea Hospital outside of London where he appeared before the pension examining board on 8 March 1783. Having served twenty-one years as a soldier, he was granted the pension. But there is no record of whether he returned to the wife he'd left behind ten years before.

Learn more about British soldiers in America!

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