Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Army Form B.96 - 1880 Attestation


Here's Army Form B.96 (late W.O. [War Office] Form 497); the attestation form used to attest soldiers enlisting for six years with the colours and six years on the army reserve.

The soldier in question, James Blackford, enlisted with the 56th Regiment of Foot (later The Essex Regiment) at Portland, West Bromwich on the 19th May 1880. The document has the word "copy" written acros the top of it and in fact this would not have been the attestation form version that would have been used for James. Look at the top left of the document and there's a date there: 9-80 (September 1880), whereas James actually joined in May 1880.

Other points to note: The printed signature next to the royal cypher reads C Ellice AG.  This is General Sir Charles Ellice who was Adjutant General between 1876 and 1882.


Note that in common with the 1846 attestation I wrote about earlier, the surgeon was supposed to check that the Recruit was free from a whole host of conditions, here listed as: "scrofula; phthisis; syphilis, impaired constitution; defective intelligence; defects of vision, voice, or hearing; hernia; haemorrhoids; varicose veins beyond a limited extent; inveterate cutaneous disease, chronic ulcers; traces of corporal punishment, or evidence of having been marked with the letters D or BC; contracted or deformed chest; abnormal curvature of the spine; or any other disease or physical effect calculated to unfit him for the duties of a soldier."

The letter D stood for Deserter, and BC for Bad Character; these initials branded on the skin.


James's number is expressed as 44 Bde / 1349.  This was the 44th Infantry Brigade Depot.  The 44th Infantry Brigade Depot at Warley, Essex was home to the 44th (East Essex) Regiment of Foot and the 56th (West Essex) Regiment of Foot.

He appears to have been a good soldier, earning two pay rises and being transferred to the Army Reserve on the 19th May 1886, six years after enlisting.  A note at the bottom of his record records that he died at Birmingham on the 10th October 1890.


The physical characteristics of the soldier, as well as his trade: a striker.


Where he served: three years at home and three years overseas.  Next of kin details are recorded, his character noted as Very Good and again, the date of death recorded.


More medical notes.  The day before his transfer to the Army Reserve his character was noted as Steady and Temperate.


Two cases of syphillis recorded, presumably picked up when he was in India.

All document images reproduced on this post are Crown Copyright, The National Archives. Pension records can be searched and downloaded from Findmypast which offers a FREE 14-day trial.

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