Colonel Simon Fraser, Commanding Officer
78th Regiment of Foot, 1757-63

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Recruitment

One question most often asked by genealogists' is where they can obtain a roster of soldiers, recruited in Scotland, who served with Fraser's Highlanders [originally numbered 2nd Highland Battalion] in Canada during the Seven Years War, 1757-63. 

At the outset, the chances of identifying your ancestor as a soldier from the regiment are slim, but not entirely impossible. Officer biographies are much more common and often contain genealogical data that we're able to connect with, whereas the scarcity of non-commissioned officers' records (serjeants, corporals, and private men) makes identification more difficult. And it's because of the latter that we're forced to seek additional records for clues.

In the case of our ancestor [William Alexander Campbell - nickname 'William' - his spouse, Marie Josephte Chartier,] the clue came in the form of a private bill of sale William had notarized in Saint Vallier, Quebec, Canada, in 1793, 30 years after the conclusion of the war! Located within the original instrument from 1761 was an official endorsement from Jacques [James] Abercrombie, Major, 78 Regt. Researchers for well over 100 years had speculated William was a private soldier from the regiment based on oral family history, and it was not until early 2017 that we would finally uncover the proof buried in old notarial records located at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.

This is just one example of the need to look past standard military and regimental records available. It also underscores the value of careful and thorough research and documentation in tracing that elusive ancestor who may have originally been recruited in Scotland, and later settled in Canada after the disbandment of the old 78th Regiment or returned home in 1763.

Soldiers' Documents

Soldiers' documents are primarily kept at the National Archives in Kew, Richmond, Surrey, United Kingdom; however, very few original recruitment records for the regiment are in existence. The National Archives has acquired transcript extract of warrants relating to the formation of the 2nd Highland Battalion in 1757, and this material is available on microfilm reel C-10866. Additionally, the National Army Museum in London published a pdf leaflet specifically designed to provide information about obtaining soldiers' records, if available.

Enlistment Contract

These do certify that          Born in the Parish of
County of           Aged          Years came before 
me and declar'd that he had Voluntarly and of his own free will
enlisted himself to serve his Majesty King George as a Soldier
in Major James Clephane's Company of Lieut Colonel Fraser's
Second Battalion of Highlanders: that he had received the en=
=listing Money agreed on, and had no impediment to Render
him unfit for the Service. Accordingly he had the Articles
of War Read to him, and took the Oath to Majesty as by Law
directed

Second Battalion of Highlanders Enlistment Contract, 1757
Second Battalion of Highlanders enlistment contract, 1757

Returns of Recruits at Dundee for Major Clephane's Company

If your ancestor was recruited by Major James Clephane of the 78th, who hired his cousin, a professional recruiter named John Strachan to recruit near Dundee, Scotland, some of these papers have been preserved and show the names of recruits, ages, birthplace, occupation, etc., as follows:

Alexander Bell, 19 years, 5'3" enlisted in Dundee 10 February 1757, born in Kirriemuir, a laborer, fresh complexion, brown hair, hazel eyes, round visage.

Alexander Findlay, 17 years, 5'3" enlisted in Dundee 19 February 1757, born in Monifieth, a laborer, swarthy complexion, black eyes, black hair, round visage.

Peter Moody, 17 years, 5'1" enlisted in Dundee 20 February 1757, born in Glamis, a laborer, fresh complexion, black hair, hazel eyes, long visage.

William McKenzie, 17 years, 5'2", enlisted in Dundee 20 February 1757, born in Kingoldrum, a weaver, fresh complexion, brown hair, grey eyes, long visage.

William Fife, 18 years, 5'2" enlisted in Dundee 21 February 1757, born in Kirriemuir, a weaver, fresh complexion, brown hair, hazel eyes, long visage.

George Wright, 21 years, 5'5" enlisted in Forfar 24 February 1757, born in Brechin, a laborer, florid complexion, brown hair, hazel eyes, round visage.

David Morris, 24 years, 5'3" enlisted in Perth 4 March 1757, born in Dron, a laborer, fresh complexion, brown hair, grey eyes, long visage.

Peter Robb, 17 years, 5'3", enlisted in Careston 8 March 1757, born in Glamis, a laborer, fresh complexion, black hair, hazel eyes, long visage.

Angus Laird, 17 years, 5'3", enlisted in Dundee 10 March 1757, born in Cluny, Perthshire, a laborer, fresh complexion, brown hair, grey eyes, long visage.

John Molyson, 18 years, 5'4", enlisted in Dundee 15 March 1757, born in the Mearns, a laborer, pale complexion, brown hair, grey eyes, long visage.

George Gordon, ........, 5'2", enlisted in Dundee 17 March 1757, born in Kintore, a laborer, pale complexion, flaxen hair, .........


Sources:
Anonymous. Size Roll of Clephane’s Recruits. Elizabeth Rose Family papers. GD125/22/16(15), National Archives Scotland, Edinburgh.

Anonymous. Enlistment Contract, 1757. GD125/22/16/14/1, National Archives Scotland.

Fonds Cour Supérieure. District judiciaire de Montmagny. Cote CN302. Greffes de notaires, 1709-1953. Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, Montréal, Québec, Canada.

Strachan, John. Return of Recruits at Dundee for Major Clephane's Company. GD125/22/16/17, National Archives Scotland.

©  Jeffrey Campbell, The 78th Regiment of Foot, 2017.  All rights reserved.

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