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Iain Dubh

Oath upon enlisiting

All,
I realize that joining the army at the turn of the 1800's was a lot less formal than we do things today, but does anyone have any documentation on the oath that might have been taken on joining up? Was it as simple as signing the enlistment form and taking a shilling and whatever bounty was authorized?
Thanks...

Aye,
Iain
Eddie

Iain
The form of Oath appears on Attestation forms - the earliest I have come across is 1850 but on a pre printed form with just the year added in - so it predates  1850.
I believe the National Archives have Attestation and Discharge papers from 1760 onwards but I have not personally seen an early one.

Haythornthwaite  Armies of Wellington p48 deals with enlistment and states the recruit had to take the enlistment oath before a magistrate or JP within four days of enlistment but not within 24 hours.  The oath is quoted as
" I swear to be true to our Sovereign Lord King George, and serve Him honestly and faithfully in Defence of his Person, Crown and Dignity, against all His Enemies or Opposers whatsoever: And to observe and obey his Majesty's Orders and the Orders of the Generals and Officers set over me by His Majesty"

The recruit declared on oath his name, occupation, age, place of birth and further answered the following:

Are you already a member of any regiment, militia, Navy or marines?
Have you fits, or a rupture?
Are you in any ways disabled by lameness, deafness or otherwise?
Do you have the perfect use of your limbs and hearing?
Are you an apprentice?
Are you willing to go?

The form of oath is very similar to this 1850 one :

"I do also make oath, that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will as in duty bound, honestly and faithfully defend Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, in Person, Crown  and Dignity, against all Enemies and will observe and obey all orders of Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors and of the Generals and Officers set over me"

The 1914 version was virtually identical but  started "I swear by Almighty God" and ended "So help me God"

The same oath I think is still used up to the present day.
Iain Dubh

Thanks, Eddie, I appreciate the help...

Aye,
Iain
Ben Townsend

The biggest change in this period is the dropping of the requirement to declare catholicism, allowing the recruitment of Irishmen. Im struggling to remember the date of that innovation.
Eddie

ben wrote:
The biggest change in this period is the dropping of the requirement to declare catholicism, allowing the recruitment of Irishmen. Im struggling to remember the date of that innovation.


Haythorntwhaite again same page as quoted above above - Catholic Relief Act 1791 dispensed with the need for the oath to contain an affirmation of being Protestant - though it was another 2 years before it applied to the Jocks under the Catholic Emancipation Act 1793.

Prior to 1791 the oath began " I ___________ do make Oath that I am a Protestant and by Trade a__________ and to the best of my Knowledge and Belief, was born in the Parish of ___________
Iain Dubh

Thanks for the information and the source... I just ordered a copy of Haythornthwaite's book.
Aye,
Iain

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