Report into the state of a colony for liberated slaves and retired West India Regiment soldiers in Sierra Leone, 1827
West India Regiment soldiers who were no longer needed by the British Army, or who were too old or injured, were retired. In the 19th century, there was a lot of discussion about what to do with these men. Some were sent to live in remote parts of Belize and Trinidad, but others were sent all the way back to Africa, to the colony of Sierra Leone. This colony had been founded partly as a safe haven for those who were liberated from slave ships after the slave trade was abolished in 1807.
Interviews with retired West India Regiment soldiers
In 1827 a number of these men were interviewed for a report on the state of the colony for Parliament. Most of these men had been members of the 4th West India Regiment that was disbanded in 1819 because it was no longer needed. These men were therefore younger and probably fitter than those who were retired due to age or ill health. These men had each married and had children in Sierra Leone. All received small pensions from the Army, but the daily amount depended on their rank when they were discharged. Since the pensions were not really enough to support a family, all of the men earned additional money either by farming, or by running businesses. Several employed extra men to work for them. All of the men had built their own houses, and some had built several, earning extra income from renting them out.
These short biographies show that for disbanded soldiers there was plenty of life after the Army.
- Article by:
- Tim Lockley, Elizabeth Cooper
Tim Lockley and Elizabeth Cooper delve into the soldiers’ experience, exploring how their daily lives were dominated by routine, discipline and training.