The first chunk of Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service Records 1760 to 1913 have been released on Findmypast.co.uk today. The records released today are a small part of the whole collection, covering men discharged in the period between 1883 and 1900.
Findmypast.co.uk have provided some useful resources for understanding these records, which is just as well. Even the words "Chelsea Pensioners" are a bit misleading, they were not necessarily residents of The Royal Hospital at Chelsea, but received a pension that was administered by the hospital.
Like any database it is important to know what is and isn’t included, why would a soldier be in this collection? For example, according to the website it "doesn’t contain the records of soldiers who died in service or who took an early discharge because they didn’t receive a pension."
Having used these records in their paper form I can safely say that they are real goldmines of information, of course the contents do vary from soldier to soldier, but they contain detailed descriptions of soldiers along with relationship information (next of kin), not just details of their army service.
The records are not that different from the WW1 Service Records (1914-1920) previously released on Ancestry.co.uk, expect of course the condition and the fact that the vast majority have survived.
For my own research I know there will be several relations contained within this release, although I am in no rush to get their details yet. It is another database that I will need to check regularly as I go through my family history, like I already do with the WW1 Service Records. I am sure lots of previously unknown soldiers will turn up, filling in some gaps in my database.