British military and naval records (RG 8, C series) - Introduction and index

About the records

Background

From 1759 to 1871, the defense of Canada was primarily the responsibility of British military and naval forces. Therefore, the military authorities created different types of documents most of which are held at the National Archives in England in various War Office and Admiralty series. However, other records created in Canada remained here when the British Forces left in 1871. Library and Archives Canada holds many of those documents and they are regrouped into one major fonds, Record Group 8 (RG8).

This fonds covers a wide range of military and naval subjects such as British regiments in Canada, the Canadian militia, the War of 1812, the Rebellion of 1837-38, the Fenian Raids, ordnance, fortifications, chaplaincies, commissariats, canals, the management of Indian affairs, the Provincial Marine Establishment, etc. Other subjects relate to civil administration, such as land, roads, bridges and public buildings.

There is also correspondence relating to appointments and promotions, claims for losses, rations for military widows, deserters, prisoners, settlers, etc. It includes muster rolls and pay lists for Loyalist regiments, militia units and British regiments. Overall, it represents 99 m of textual records and more than 100 maps and architectural drawings.

These are the principal series of records for any study of military and naval affairs, as well as civilian life, in the territories now forming Canada, in the period 1757-1906.

Within the British Military and Naval Records (Record Group 8), the records were organized in series and sub-series, then sub-divided according to subjects (eg Indians, Canals, Telegraphs), types of records (eg letterbooks, order books, muster rolls) or responsibility centres (eg Military Secretary, Adjutant General, Commissariat Office). Within these subdivisions, the sequence is generally chronological.

The three series are:

I. British Military Records ("C" Series)
  A. Correspondence of the Military Secretary of the Commander of the Forces, 1767-1880
  B. Records of the Canadian Command, 1785-1883
  C. Records of the Nova Scotia Command, 1762-1899
  D. Miscellaneous records, 1757-1896, which come mostly from private sources

II. Ordnance Records
  A. Reports and Returns, 1757-1878 (volumes 1 to 89)

III. Admiralty Records
  A. Admiralty Lake Service Records, 1814-1833 (volumes 1 to 72)
  B. Admiralty Pacific Station Records, 1858-1903 (volumes 1 to 39)

Overview of the collection

The Preliminary Inventory [PDF 3,639 KB], published in 1954, provides an overview of the collection. It briefly describes each sub-series and provides the relevant volume numbers. This inventory is available in English only, in accordance with the long-standing tradition of describing archival records in the language of the documents.

To learn more about this fonds, consult the archival description: MIKAN 105012.

Volume descriptions

The microfilm shelf-list in Finding Aid MSS1800 contains 2,019 entries. Each entry provides a description of the contents of the volume, the volume number and the microfilm number. You can search for references in Archives Search. In the search box, enter RG8 and a keyword(s) such as:

  • RG8 prisoners
  • RG8 66th Regiment
  • RG8 New Jersey Volunteers

If you prefer, you can view a pdf version of Finding Aid MSS1800 [PDF 15,594 KB].

There is also an Inventory of the military documents in the Canadian archives prepared by Lieut. Col. E. A. Cruikshank (Public Archives of Canada, 1910). There is a subject index at the end of that inventory.

For a more detailed search, you can use the nominal/subject index, described below.

About the index

Most of the RG 8 records were acquired in the 1870s by Douglas Brymner, who was later the Dominion Archivist. Over the following decades, Lt. Col. A. E. Cruikshank and others indexed selected volumes. The card index covers most volumes in series I A and I D. It contains over 519,000 entries arranged alphabetically. Most are personal name entries, but there are also many subject and place entries, such as battles, canals, forts, regiments, etc. It covers mostly the period of the American Revolution (1775-1783) to the mid 1800s. Series I B, I C, II and III have never been indexed. The card index was microfilmed in 1977.

How the index cards are arranged on the microfilm reels

The microfilm reels have been digitized and the images of the index cards appear in the same alphabetical order as on the microfilm reels.

How to search the index cards

Step 1: Identify the relevant microfilm from the following list. Click on the underlined microfilm number to view the images.

Step 2: You can browse through the index cards images as you would through a microfilm reel. You can move through the images one by one, or skip ahead by entering a new page (image) number in the page navigation box.

Step 3: Return to this page to read the section below on on How to interpret the index cards and consult the records.

List of volume and microfilm numbers for the digitized index cards

Note: For the second item, Airey – Arms, the first few images are cards that are out of sequence and include entries for Airey, Ammunition, Andens, Anderdon, Anderson, Andrews and Archer. Starting on image 30, the cards are in order from Admiralty, Lords Commissioners of to Arms.

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Entry name (From - To) Microform Sequence Microform
A Company: Aal, John - Admiralty, Lords Commissioners of 1 C-11790
Airey - Arms 2 C-11791
Armstrong - Band, R.G. 3 C-11792
Band, Thomas - Beadell, Benjamin 4 C-11793
Beadell, Benjamin - Bishop, Wm. 5 C-11794
Bishop, W.C. - Boudreau, Joseph 6 C-11795
Boudreau, Joseph Isaie - Brige, John 7 C-11796
Brigend Place Huron Co., Ont. - Buik, Thomas 8 C-11797
Building Materials at Kingston - Calder, Robert 9 C-11798
Calder, Thomas - Carr, late Pte. 10 C-11799
Carr, Late Mrs. (wife) John Carr Pte. - Chenique, Joseph 11 C-11800
Chenique, Joseph - Clayton, Samuel 12 C-11801
Clayton, Samuel - Collins, Thomas, Pte. 13 C-11802
Collins, Thomas, Pte. - Coteau du Lac, L.C. 14 C-11803
Coteau du Lac, L.C. - Crebassa, John George 15 C-11804
Crebassa, J. Geo. - Daly, J.C.W. 16 C-11805
Daly, Luke (D.S.) - Deane, Joseph 17 C-11806
Deane, Thomas - Detroit 18 C-11807
Detroit, Mich - Downie, Wm. 19 C-11808
Downing, Adam Giff - Dunn, Joseph 20 C-11809
Dunn, Joseph - Elliott, John 21 C-11810
Elliott, John - Fenton, John 22 C-11811
Fenton, Private Jas. - Forbres, Jacob 23 C-11812
Forbres, James M.D. - Foy, Lewis 24 C-11813
Foy, Lewis - Freer, Noah 25 C-11814
Freer, Noah - Gass, John 26 C-11815
Gass, John - Gold, Joseph 27 C-11816
Gold, Louis - Gratuity 28 C-11817
Gratuity - Gubbins, John 29 C-11818
Gubbins, Joseph - Hanlon, Peter 30 C-11819
Hanlon, Peter - Hay, Thomas 31 C-11820
Hay, Thomas - Hill, Anthony 32 C-11821
Hill, Anthony - Horse Guards 33 C-11822
Horse Guards - Hunter, Lieut. Gen. P. 34 C-11823
Hunter, Peter, Lieut. Gen - Jackson, John 35 C-11824
Jackson, John - Jones, James 36 C-11825
Jones (Johns) John - Kerr, Robert 37 C-11826
Kerr, Robert - Lacroix, Joseph F. 38 C-11827
Lacroix, Joseph F. - Leader, William 39 C-11828
Leader, Wm. - List 40 C-11829
List - Macaulay, George 41 C-11830
Macaulay, George - Major of Brigade, U.C. 42 C-11831
Major of Brigade, U.C. - Maby, Peter 43 C-11832
Maby, Peter - The Military Commissary General 44 C-11833
The Military Commissary General - Militia, U.C. 45 C-11834
Militia, U.C. - Montreal 46 C-11835
Montreal - Muroe 47 C-11836
Murphy - McDonell, Alexander 48 C-11837
McDonell, The Hon. Alexander - McKay, Stephen Samuel 49 C-11838
McKay, Stephen Samuel - Navy, U.S. 50 C-11839
Navy, U.S. - O'Bryan, John 51 C-11840
O'Bryan, John - Order, General 52 C-11841
Orders - Parish, David 53 C-11842
Parit, Nicholas - Pensioners, Chelsea 54 C-11843
Pensioners, Chelsea - Pope, James Capt. 55 C-11844
Pope, James Capt. - Prevost, Sir Geo. 56 C-11845
Prevost, Sir Geo. - Quinn, Mic 57 C-11846
Quinn, Michael, Pte. - Regiment, Royal Artillery 58 C-11847
Regiment, Royal Artillery - Regiment, 16th 59 C-11848
Regiment, 16th - Regiment, 41st 60 C-11849
Regiment, 41st - Regiment, 70th 61 C-11850
Regiment, 70th - Regiment, 100th 62 C-11851
Regiment, 100th - Regiment, Royal Canadian Rifle 63 C-11852
Regiment, Royal Canadian Rifle - Richmond, Duke of 64 C-11853
Richmond, Charles Duke of - Rogers, Edward J. 65 C-11854
Rogers, The Rev. Edward J. - Routh, R.I. Comg. Genl. Canada 66 C-11855
Roux, Abraham - St-Jean, Paul 67 C-11856
St-Jean dit Coitoux (ou Poitoux) - Sears, James 68 C-11857
Sears, James H. - Sherbrooke, Lt. Gen. 69 C-11858
Sherbrooke, Sir John C. - Signey, Lewis 70 C-11859
Signey, Lewis - Smith, M., Pte. 71 C-11860
Smith, M., Sergt. - Standard, Peabody 72 C-11861
Stander, Benjamin - Streback, Jordon M. 73 C-11862
Strech, John - Taylor, Brook 74 C-11863
Taylor, Brook - Thompson, Mathew, Pte. 75 C-11864
Thompson, Michael - Travis, Elisha 76 C-11865
Travis, Henry - Vanhotts, George 77 C-11866
Vanhouft, Garret - Walsh, John 78 C-11867
Walsh, John - Wellesley, Lord Charles 79 C-11868
Wellesley, Lord Charles - Williams, William 80 C-11869
Williams, William - Woodly, George 81 C-11870
Woodly, George - Zouch, Ann 82 C-11871
 

How to interpret the index cards and consult the records

Most index cards provide the following information:

  • Subject (name, place, regiment, etc.)
  • Author and recipient
  • Brief description of the document
  • Date of document
  • Volume number, e.g. C1819 (disregard the C prefix for volume numbers)
  • Page number, e.g. p. 62

Note that the cards do not include microfilm reel numbers.

C. Volume numbers

Sample cards from the index

Fort George

FORT GEORGE,
Col. Tucker directs the batteries to open fire on the enemy.
Major General Riall to Lt. General Drummond,
12 Mile Creek, 20-7-1814
C. 684                   p. 180

This entry indicates that the document can be found in volume 684, page 180.

Godard, the late James Mason

GODARD, the late James Mason, 1st Lt. Prov’l R.A. Drivers, L.C.
Statement of his services in War, 1812-1814; date of decease; his widow petitions for pension, and her children to be placed on Compassionate Fund.
Clarinda Godard to Dalhousie.
Montréal.  12-12-1822.
C. 194                   pp. 122-126

This entry indicates that the document can be found in volume 196, pages 122 to 126.

Hall, Thomas

HALL, THOMAS
Maryland Loyalists
1778-79
C. 1904 P. 25-34-36-43

This is an example from Loyalist muster rolls (volume 1904, pages 25, 34, 36, 43).

Hardie, John

Hardie, John       Bugler
90th Winnipeg Batt. Rifles,
North West Campaign of 1885.
Scrip 4211
C 1848 A

These North-West Campaign entries are obsolete references. Volume 1848 is a list of the members of the North West Field Force of 1885. Volume 1848A does not exist. However, the scrip number is still valid; in this example, scrip number 4211. For information about scrip records for the NWFF, please see Record Group 15, Department of the Interior (MIKAN 156385). Note that these records do not contain genealogical information. The finding aids, aperture cards and volumes mentioned were not digitized and must be viewed on site.

Keep in mind that most of those veterans sold their scrip instead of using it to obtain a land grant. There is sometimes a file relating to the sale (assignment) of the scrip through a lawyer. To find a reference, use Archives Search. Enter RG15 and the surname in the search box. Those records are in series RG15-D-II-1 and are available on microfilm. Those reels are being digitized on our partner website Héritage. If the reel is digitized, click on the reel number to see the images. You can browse through the page images; the content (text) is not searchable.

Consulting the records with C. volume numbers

Original records in the RG8 fonds have been withdrawn from circulation as a protective conservation measure. They were microfilmed between 1966 and 1972 and those microfilm reels have been digitized.

For index cards referring to documents in the C Series, when the cards were originally typed, a C prefix was added to the volume number. Disregard that C prefix. Make a note of the volume number and the page number. Keep in mind that only the first page number of the document is indicated on the card. The document might continue on subsequent pages.

Use one or both of the following lists to find the volume number and the corresponding microfilm number. Example: Volume 46 is on microfilm C-2618.

The following link takes you to a single-page content list that shows all the volume and microfilm numbers. The list is useful for researchers who want to be able to do a quick scroll through the list and/or print it to use as a reference guide when consulting multiple volumes in this series.

RG 8, C Series: Volume and microfilm reel numbers for the documents

The following link takes you to the digitized records. Find your volume number, then click on the underlined volume or microfilm number to view the images.

British military and naval records (RG 8, C Series) - Digitized documents

You can browse through the images as you would through a microfilm reel. You can move through the images one by one, or skip ahead by entering a new page (image) number in the page navigation box. Note that the digitized image number is not the same as the document page number.

Use the following link for other options such as visiting Library and Archives Canada to view the microfilms on site or hiring a free-lance researcher. Note that LAC does not accept copy requests for material that is digitized on our website.

How to access Library and Archives Canada records.

M. volume numbers

The original card index included some references to records that were later transferred to other RG 8 volumes or to other Library and Archives Canada collections. The following examples are from obsolete "M" Series references.

Godard, James Stanley, Esq.

M.96

Godard, James Stanley, Esq.
Married Margaret Sutherland, widow,
Montreal, March, 1780
M. 96, p. 121

These are entries from the parish register of Christ Church Anglican, Montreal. The correct reference is MG 8 G65; however, on the microfilm, they are shown with a former archival number, MG 8 G19, volume 22, microfilm C-3023. This example is on page 121 of volume 22. Note that volume 22 starts on image 377 of the digitized microfilm reel.

Pinsonnault, Paul Théophile

M.661

PINSONNAULT, Paul Théophile.
Captain, Chasseurs of St. Philippe, L.C. Militia.
1812-1815
M. 461, p. 62

This volume is a War of 1812 militia list.  It was transferred to RG 8, volume 1717, microfilm C-3840. This example from the Lower Canada Militia is on page 62 of volume 1717.

W.O. 28 volume numbers

Scherner, Frideric de Rauschenblat's Co.

SCHERNER, Frideric, de Rauschenblat’s Co.
W.O. 28, X, Pt 3 (M336)
437

These War Office 28 records relate to the period of the American Revolution and contain correspondence, letters and muster rolls of the British army, Loyalist regiments and German regiments. The originals are held at the National Archives in England. Library and Archives Canada holds transcripts of those records (microfilms C-10860 to C-10862). The page numbers on the index cards relate to those transcripts.

The full reference for the example above is:

War Office 28, volume 10, part 3, page 437 (disregard M.336), microfilm C-10862.

You will find the relevant volumes on the following microfilms:

C-10860: volume 2 to volume 5
C-10861: volume 6 to volume 10, part 1
C-10862: volume 10, part 2 to volume 10, part 4

Important note about War Office 28 references

Many of the images for volume 10 are illegible on these microfilms. You are advised to consult the originals of volume 10, which were filmed on microfilm B-2867. The page numbers from the index do not correspond to microfilm B-2867, so the only option is to view microfilm B-2867 to search for the relevant document. A list of volumes and microfilm reel numbers [PDF 36 KB] is available for War Office 28. The contents of volume 10 are described on pages 21 to 24 of that list. You can visit LAC and view the reel on site.

Alternatively, the War Office 28 records are digitized on Ancestry.ca. That subscription website is free at many public libraries. In Ancestry, under Search, select Card Catalogue then under Canadian Records choose the filter Military, then select Canada, Records of British Military Headquarters, 1775-1856. Go to Browse this collection. Volume 10 is under the series called America: Letters, Returns, etc.

Other resources

Other military records exist. Consult Military Heritage for more information about those records.

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