Posted by: Christine | May 30, 2013

Samuel the Soldier – a conclusion

I have written before on my research into Samuel Madder, his army career and death in the Peninsula War. After a recent visit to the TNA I think I have come to the point where there is nothing else to find about him.

To recap. There is a large Madder family tree all descended from Samuel Madder (1804-1870). Was Samuel connected to the Madders of Norfolk, to which I belong? I had discovered that Samuel was an army orphan and his father, also called Samuel had been a soldier in the 3rd Foot Guards (Scots Guards). I had been told that the Guards Regimental HQ in London holds personal records for members of the Foot Guard regiments. On writing to them I discovered that this didn’t include soldiers discharged before 1819. They recommended looking at Depot Description books at TNA (WO67).

Before I had investigated these records I discovered an online transcription of Napoleonic War records which mentioned Samuel so I looked at the original of these on my next visit to Kew. In WO 25/876 I found that Samuel had enrolled in the 3rd Foot Guards on 24th November 1800 and that he had previously been in the Norfolk Fencibles from 10th July 1798. At last a Norfolk connection.

Next I looked at muster lists (WO 12/1802-1812). Using these six-monthly returns I was able to follow Samuel through various Companies around England and to Portugal in 1809. Included with the muster list was a casualty list showing that Samuel had died on January 6th 1810. Since there were 70 other deaths reported on the same day and the previous deaths were in Oct 1809, I concluded that it was a report of all deaths over a period. Could I find exactly when he died and how?

I looked next at the recommended Depot Description books. In WO 67/3 I found a description of him, his age at enlistment and his place of birth, Brisley in Norfolk. I could now fit him into the family tree. In WO 67/2 I found confirmation of his date of death, January 6th 1810. Then in WO 67/1 the description was repeated with a date of birth and it gave the name of the place he was recruited, Tatterford in Norfolk.

More information and images of documents can be seen in my previous posts Samuel the Soldier and Madders against the French.

Was there anything else I could try? Last on my list were Pay Books. Surely I could rely on the British Army to know exactly when a man died, so as not to overpay him. On my recent visit I ordered these books (WO 12/1843). I was glad my shoulder had recovered when I saw the size of the book I had to collect in the TNA map room.

3rd Regiment of Footguards - Pay Book (TNA WO 12/1843)

3rd Regiment of Foot Guards – Pay Book (TNA WO 12/1843)

The lists contain details of money owed to the soldiers over several years (Samuel is near the bottom – in the final column one word – dead)

Top half of page - Samuel Madder near bottom

Top half of page – Samuel Madder near bottom

An interesting fact is that the entry after Samuel Madder is Richard Walker, who had also served previously in the Norfolk Fencibles, for the same length of time. I wonder if they were friends who joined up together and after eleven years, both died in Portugal.

Samuel Madder and Richard Walker - friends?

Samuel Madder and Richard Walker – friends?

As we can see from the final calculations, Richard died on (or before) the 15th September 1809. The date for Samuel is still given as 6th January 1810.

Money due to Samuel and Richard

Money due to Samuel and Richard

Perhaps all those 70 men did die on the same day, but since there would have been no battle at that time of year, I will just have to accept that the British Army has let me down. If the pay office didn’t know his exact date of death, no-one did. They probably died of wounds from the Battle of Talavera on 28th July 1809, or disease.

The search for Samuel Madder has taken over a year and several visits to TNA, as well as a bit of background reading as well. It just shows that not everything is available instantly, on-line.

I think I have proved the link between two separate Madder families. I wonder if DNA would back me up? Are there any direct male descendants of Samuel out there, willing to take a test?


  1. […] will be the reverse of the research I was doing recently on Samuel Madder, whose death I never managed to pinpoint precisely. Thomas, if he is who I think he is, was […]

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