Recruitment of Soldiers in the British Army


'All recruiting parties should consist of 1 Commission-officer, 1 Serjeant, 1 Corporal, 1 drummer, and 2 private men.'

for A.B. of the ___ Regiment of Foot, commanded by ___________________________ the ______________ Day of ________________ 17 _______

  1. You are to enlist no man who is not a Protestant and a native of Great Britain; if any Irishman or foreigner, through mistake, should happen to be approved of, and, within 3 months after joining the regiment, shall be discovered to be so, he will be discharged at your loss; provided it can be made appear, the Officer had reason to suspect him.
  2. You are to enlist no man under the age of _______ nor above _______ unless he has served in the army; in which case he will be accepted of, provided he does not exceed _________ years of age. No man who has been whipped or drummed out of any regiment, will be approved of; if any such is found out, within 3 months after joining the regiment, he will be discharged at your loss.
  3. You must enlist no man under the size of 5 feet _______ without shoes, or who has not straight limbs, broad shoulders, a good face, and every way well made. Neither must you enlist any man who cannot wear his hair, who is thin, nor has the least defect in his knees.
  4. You will take particular care to have all your recruits carefully examined by a Surgeon; for a man who is subject to fits, or has any appearance of a rupture, broken bones, sore legs, scald head, ulcers, or running sores, on any part of his body, old wounds ill cured, or any infirmity in body or limb, will not be approved of, but will be discharged at your loss, if discovered within 3 months after joining the regiment. Should you discover that your Serjeant, Corporal, or other man of your party, knew that any of your recruits was afflicted as above, and concealed it from you, he or they shall be brought to a Court-martial, and severely punished.
  5. All recruits must be duly attested before a magistrate; a receipt taken on the back of their attestations, and witnessed, for the bounty=money agreed on. If any of your party enlists a man for you, you must allow him 5 shillings as an encouragement.

    The attestations of enlisted men are to be sent to the regiment by the Serjeant or Corporal who brings the recruits to quarters, who is to deliver them to the Commanding Officer, and he give them top the Adjutant, that recourse may be had to them, if necessary.
  6. You must enlist no strollers, vagabonds, tinkers, chimney-sweepers, colliers, or sailors; but endeavour to get men born and bred in the neighbourhood of the country you are recruiting in.
  7. For every recruit, approved of at the regiment, you will be allowed ____________ out of which sum no more than _____________ shall be given to each recruit as bounty money.
  8. The non-effective fund shall be charged with the real expenses of all the recruits who may die before they join the regiment, provided the day of their death, and the exact bounty-money given them, be certified on the back of the attestation.
  9. Not less than _______ recruits shall be sent at a time; they are to go under the care of a Serjeant or Corporal to the regiment, with money to subsist them.
  10. You must take great care that the recruits furnish out of their bounty-money, with linen, shoes, stockings etc.

    A return of their necessaries must be sent with them to the regiment, signed by you, and also a return of the sir-name, age, size, country, and description of each recruit etc.
  11. All subsistence given to the recruits before they join their regiments, shall be charged separately from the levy-money.

When you arrive at the place where you are to recruit, you will write to the Commanding-officer at head quarters, and acquaint him of it; and also if you change your place of recruiting. No Serjeant, Corporal, drummer, fifer, or private man, once enlisted in this regiment, must be discharged, but as the Articles of War direct.

When you send any recruits to the regiment, you must give notice of it to the Agent by letter, inclosing a state of your account.

N.B. When directions are given to enlist lads for drummers or fifers, they are to be inserted in the certificates; when the Commanding-officer shall think proper, they shall be put into the ranks, and serve as private soldiers, without being entitled to any further bounty-money.

Form of a Beating Order

Royal Cypher of King George III, G.R.


THESE are to authorize you, by beat of drum or other wise, to raise so many volunteers in any country or part of our Kingdom of Great Britain, as are or shall be wanting to recruit and fill up the respective companies of our regiment of foot, under your command, to the number allowed upon the establishment; and you are to cause the said volunteers, to be raised and levied as aforesaid, to march under the command of such Commission or Non-commissioned officer, in such numbers and at such times, to any place or port you shall think proper: and all Magistrates, Justice of the Peace, Constables, and all other Our civil Officers whom it may concern, are hereby required to be assisting unto you in providing quarters, impressing carriages, and otherwise as there shall be occasion; and for so doing, this Our order shall remain in force for 12 months from the date hereof, and no longer.

Given at Our Court at St. James’'s, this ____ day of ___ 17 ___ in the year of Our reign.

By his Majesty’s command,


To all aspiring heroes bold, who have sprits above slavery and trade, and inclinations to become gentlemen, by bearing arms in his Majesty’s ______ regiment, commanded by the magnanimous _________ let them repair to the drum head [Tow-row-dow] where each gentlemen volunteer shall be kindly and honourably entertained, and enter into present pay and good quarters: besides which, gentlemen, for your further and better encouragement, you shall receive _____ advance; a crown to drink his Majesty King GEORGE’s health; and when you come to join your respective regiment, shall have new hats, caps, arms, cloth, and accoutrements, and every thing that is necessary and fitting to complete a gentleman soldier.

God save their majesties, and success to their arms.

Form of an Attestation

I A.B. do make oath, that I am a Protestant, and born of Protestant parents; that I am no apprentice, nor belong to any regiment of militia, or to any other regiment in his Majesty’s service; that I am by trade a _________ and, to the best of my information and belief, was born in the parish of ___________ in the county of ______ and the kingdom of ___________ and that I have no rupture, nor was ever troubled with fits; that I am no way disabled by lameness or otherwise; but have the perfect use of my limbs, and that I voluntarily enlisted myself to serve his Majesty King George, as a private soldier, in the ______ regiment of _____ commanded by ____________ and that I have received all the enlisting money which I agreed for. As witness my hand this _____ day of _____ 17 __.
Witness present, __________ C.D. of the above ________________ A.B. Recruit. ________ Regiment.

These are to certify, that the aforesaid ______________ aged ________ years __________ feet ____________ inches high, ______________ complexion, _______________ hair, ___________ eyes, ____________ made, ____________ came before me, one of his Majesty’s ____________ for the __________ and maketh oath (as above) that he had voluntarily enlisted himself to serve his Majesty’ King George, in the above-mentioned regiment : he also acknowledged, that he had heard the 2nd and 6th sections of the Articles of War read unto him, against mutiny and desertion, and took the oath of fidelity, according to the directions of the third section of the Articles of War, as follows:
E.F. Mayor.

I A.B. swear to be true to our sovereign Lord King George, and to serve him honestly and faithfully in the defence of his person, crown and dignity, against all his enemies and 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.

So help me God.
A.B. Recruit.

Sworn before me the _______ day of ____ in the year of our Lord, 17____ at _______ E.F.

Table: Return of recruits raised (Photopgraph)
A facsimile of an original 'return' form for recruits.

The Lieutenant-colonel, or Officer commanding the regiment, is not to make any alteration in its clothing, without further orders. The mens new coats must be dipped in clean water, and dried in the sun; after which each man must be fitted with a suit. A foraging-Cap and stopper, comfortable to a pattern-one, must be made out of the old coat; but the skirts must be taken into store, and made into breeches, when the ammunition-breeches are near worn out.

Directions for making the Skirt-Breeches

Each man must be measured, and care taken that they are lined with strong new linen, are full in the seat, come well over the hips, and low under the knee, with a strap for the buckle, and four buttons and button-holes.

No taylor must presume to purloin or steal any part of the cloth; nor are the waistcoats to be worked upon, till the coats and breeches are well finished, and fitted to the soldier. The offender if found out, will be severely punished.

Transcript by Alan 'Kael' Ball. Published on .