These records detail those soldiers in the British Army who died, deserted, or were imprisoned during the War of 1812 (or the Anglo American War). There are over 12,000 men listed in these records. While the amount of available information varies, most transcripts will include the following:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Birth place
  • Former occupation
  • Year
  • Rank
  • Regiment or unit
  • Place or action
  • Company officer
  • Company number
  • Removal date
  • Manner of removal – This may include information on how a soldier died or whether he deserted or was a prisoner of war.

This information can help you to paint a picture of your ancestor. For example, we learn that Niven Adair, a former sadler born in Donaghader, was a private in the 21st (Royal North British Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot. His company officer was Brevet Major Renny and on 26 November 1814, Samuel Adair died of gangrene.

Discover more about the War of 1812

The War of 1812, known as the Anglo-American War in Britain, was a product of the Napoleonic Wars. Europe had been at war with Napoleon Bonaparte for over a decade and America experienced both gains and losses due to the conflicts. In 1803, to raise funds for the war, Napoleon agreed to the sale of the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of America and gave the country control of the Mississippi River. However, as the war continued, America was feeling the effects of the British economic blockade of American trade with France. Hostility in America towards the British was increasing; War Hawks such as Henry Clay and John C Calhoun were calling for a fight.

In June 1812, President James Madison became the first American president to declare war. He cited three reasons for his declaration: (1) Britain’s economic blockade; (2) the seizure of American merchant seamen into the Royal British Navy; and (3) British support and incitement of Native American tribe attacks on the frontier. The war was fought on both land and sea. The British Army raised several units and regiments in Canada, such as the Royal Newfoundland Regiment of Fencible Infantry. America attempted, unsuccessfully, a three point invasion of British controlled Canada. They were more successful at sea with a decisive victory at the Battle of Plattsburg Bay on Lake Champlain.

The fall of Napoleon and his forced exile in 1814 meant the British were able to focus their attentions on the Americans. After their victory at the Battle of Bladensburg, British troops marched on Washington and burned public buildings including the White House, then known as the presidential mansion. During this time, peace negotiations had started in Ghent. With the exile of Napoleon, the British lifted the trade embargo against the Americans trading with the French. A treaty was signed in December 1814, however it took months before news could reach those fighting in the States. Andrew Jackson’s famous victory at the Battle of New Orleans occurred after the war had ended.