Find your ancestors in Ireland, Royal Hibernian Military School staff list 1864

What can these records tell me?

While the amount of available information varies, most transcripts will include the following:
  • First name(s)
  • Last name
  • Year
  • Role
  • Wages (£ S D)
  • Allowances
  • Religion
  • Resident
  • Notes
  • Place

Discover more about these records

In 1765, following the Seven Years War, the philanthropic Hibernian Society opened the Hibernian Asylum, and in April 1769, the society petitioned and was granted a charter from King George III to open an establishment in the aid of orphans and children of soldiers. The Royal Hibernian Military School (RHMS), originally called the Hibernian Society of the Orphans and Children of Soldiers, located in Phoenix Park, Dublin, opened its doors in 1769 with 90 boys and 50 girls in attendance.

RHMS students fell into four different categories:

  • Orphan
  • Deceased father
  • Deceased mother
  • Both parents living (father possibly on foreign service) -- A contributing factor to the destitution of military families centered on those called away on assignments overseas. Only six families would be selected, by drawing lots, to accompany a battalion sent abroad. Those left behind were without support and easily fell into a state of destitution, which would lead them to call on the aid of RHMS.

By 1816, their numbers had soared to 600 students, due in large part to the casualties sustained during the Napoleonic Wars, and by 1922 the campus had expanded from three acres to thirty-three. The school remained coeducational up until 1853 when the female students left for enrollment in their own establishment, the Drummond School, located in the village of Chapelizod.

In the mid-nineteenth century, children as young as 12 could enlist in the Army but generally enlistment began at the age of fourteen for those who so desired it. The percentage of those who enlisted straight from school fluctuated over the years. Between 1800 and 1850 around seven percent enlisted. That number increased dramatically to fifty percent between 1850 and 1897.

Talks about moving the school to Northern Ireland began in 1921. However, the cost was prohibitive and so the school was moved to Shorncliffe, Kent, in 1922. Their original premises were then taken over by the newly founded Republic of Ireland. Having decided not to take on any new students, RHMS merged with the Duke of York’s Royal Military School in 1924.

Many of the school’s records, which were stored in London, were destroyed during the London blitz in 1940. Surviving admissions registers are now in The National Archives and have been transcribed by Peter Goble.