Find your ancestors in Army Schoolmasters - Punishment Ledgers

What can these records tell me?

These records include both enrollment ledgers for the Royal Military Asylum (RMA) schoolmaster program and school punishment ledgers.


  • First name(s)
  • Last name
  • Age
  • Year
  • Admission date
  • Previous occupation
  • Education
  • Rank
  • Regiment
  • Enlisted status
  • Enlistment date
  • Regimented to
  • Return date
  • Return status
  • Notes and observations
  • Bond and witness

Punishment Ledger

  • First name(s)
  • Last name
  • Year
  • Event date
  • Status / position
  • Regiment
  • Reported by
  • Reason for punishment
  • Punishment
  • Punished by whom
  • Page number
  • Ledger

Punishment Ledgers for 1847

The RMA kept ledgers of the offences and their corresponding punishments that were doled out to misbehaving students. By 1874, the severity of punishments had greatly lessened. For instance, one student’s offence was “going out improperly dressed on Sunday 14th although warned not to do so by Sgt Porter.” For his punishment, he was “admonished and forgiven.”

By comparison, in the 1852 punishment ledger a student received 18 cuts (or lashes) and 2 days in the black hole (solitary confinement) for encouraging another boy to use shameful language to his sergeant.

Army Schoolmasters

Around 1840, space was made at the RMA to open an army schoolmaster training school. The course was advertised in the national press and volunteers were screened for admission. Applicants who were accepted were required to sign a bond before beginning the course. This was used as assurance that students would not give up the course part-way through. Students were also required to pledge that upon graduation they would enlist and serve for ten years, teaching at whatever military unit they were posted to.

The outcome of the first batch of students was not promising; only fourteen of the twenty-nine enrolled made it to graduation and enlisted. The system of evaluating potential students was not standardised; meaning the evaluation undertaken at one recruitment center could be quite different from that of another recruitment center. Applicants were tested on eight subjects: reading, scripture, English history, ancient history, geography, arithmetic, geometry, and algebra. An applicant was required to sit for an examination paper but with the unregulated system of evaluation, there was opportunity for an applicant to have someone else write the paper for him.

In time, the selection committee was able to attract a higher caliber of applicant and the school became a success. For many years, the schoolmaster positions were filled for some two hundred battalions, squadrons, and batteries. In 1870, the first nationally financed education system, under the Elementary Education Act, was instituted. As such, the demand for teachers grew and those schoolmasters who completed their required years of service in the Army were then assured employment in the national school system.